I’ve been doing monthly budgets on spreadsheets since I finished Uni, started work and finally became financially responsible for myself (sorry it took so long dad!). I first starting using Appleworks, then I think I might have moved to NeoOffice for a bit, and then for the last few years I’ve been using Google Docs. The spreadsheet itself has had a few tweaks over the years, but there’s nothing mindblowing about it: I just wanted to make it as quick as possible to get my bank statements into it (more on that later), have some basic forecasting of how much cash I’ve left until payday, and provide some basic tracking of what categories money has been spent on (e.g. Shopping, having my nails done, etc).
Admittedly I’d heard about Mint a few years ago and was quite excited by it, but since it was US only (and automatic import only) I just dismissed it. For some reason it never occurred to me that a multitude of competitors would spring up and I should be looking at them.
Roll on a few years and that’s just what I did. I tried a whole host of apps and almost gave up and went back to spreadsheets, but finally I think I’ve found something to replace them. Here’s my quick run down:
Mint - can’t use as it’s US only and doesn’t allow manual import.
Buxfer - This is like SmugMug vs Flickr for me. I.e. On paper Buxfer is the clear winner. For one it actually seems to have a business plan rather than relying on VC funding and aiming for a buy out: It has a fully functioning free account and then two levels of paid accounts offering really good extras, such as forecasting. But when it came to it, I just couldn’t gel with it.
Moneytrackin’ - Again, looks good at face value, it’s ad supported, which I don’t mind, but what really bugged me was that there was no way to turn off the notifications like “You haven’t submitted any tips”, “You haven’t uploaded a profile picture”, etc. Oh, that and however I set my date preferences it would not import my bank statements correctly.
MoneyStrands - replaces Expensr, which I believe was quite good, and as far as I can tell MoneyStrands isn’t matching up to it yet. I was impressed that it seem to offer automation of pulling statements from my bank, the first one that seemed to offer this, but then put off by the half-arsed implementation: they missed off the account number field! Not really a good impression.
Geezeo - Only displays in US currencies. So put me off. There’s so many to choose from you’ve got to narrow down the possibles some how. (Did go back and tried to register, but couldn’t with a UK postcode)
Budgetpulse - I honestly can’t remember. I swear I did look at it. (Since I couldn’t remember I went and had a look: Comes a close second. Does manual import, doesn’t do automatic tagging/categorising, which means doing a whole years worth of transactions would take forever. Also not as intuitive as Wesabe. And I didn’t like that you have to email to delete the account.)
Thrive - Automatic import only, like Mint, so counts it out.
Wesabe - Where I ended up. Wouldn’t say it’s a clear winner, but it worked well enough and didn’t put me off using it in the process: I.e. Quite intuitive, quick and pleasurable to use. The last thing you want to be doing with finances is spending too long doing them. Or learning how to do them. I’ve found I can work around it’s lack if budgeting tools by creating cash accounts for pending transactions, etc. It’s a shame I can’t then move these transactions to my actual account, instead I have to delete or archive the cash account, not such a big deal I guess if I’m importing data anyway. Also, its a bit of an arse that it insists a month starts on the 1st, where as my payday is earlier. Therefore my monthly targets are always going to be a bit off. However, the tagging is very good, and it didn’t take too long to categorise a whole years worth of spending. It may be lacking some of the tools the others have, but what it does do, it does well.
So there you go. Wesabe has replaced spreadsheets.
* As a footnote I feel it is only fair to slag off my bank, which it seems is the most un-internetty Internet bank ever. Not offering anyway to export data whatsoever. Instead I rely on these two tools. <Rant>How British banks get away with such consistently shit levels of customer service whilst at the same time doing their best to destroy the Economy, and then expecting the exact same people they are kicking out of their homes to bale them out via tax I don’t know. We seriously should have let the banks tank, that way we’d have been forced to build an economy on something other than make believe. </Rant>
** Grrrr Markdown formatting in Tumblr.