Finance apps

Tracking money and budgets should not be THAT difficult! but mobile devices have actually made it harder in some ways. Over the years I have tried many and had issues with pretty much everything for one reason or another. As there maybe others out there looking I will provide my point of view.

First let me say what I am looking for:

  • connects to bank. Preferable an automatic connection rather than a download/load sort of thing.
  • budgeting with my choice of categories and sub categories. Must show roll up to total.
  • compare budget to actual
  • bill reminders including projection
  • runs on iPad/iPhone and has an Android interface to at least see current available vs pending vs projected
  • rules to rename downloaded payees and pick up associated categories
  • match downloaded transactions to previously entered transactions
  • transfer between accounts
  • split transactions
  • enter transactions on the fly

Quicken – used this since it first came out years and years ago on PC. Have always found it easy to use and incredibly feature rich. Back in dim time there was a loverly piece of software called pocket quicken which, via a cable, could be updated so you could carry your data with you on a Palm. Some may remember the Palm. I still like Quicken a LOT! but I can’t carry my laptop in my pocket! Quicken’s newest version has introduced an iCloud feature that allows one to use the Quicken app on a mobile device and voila! ah……nope! The icloud feature fails to connect to my bank and after working with the support folks for close to a month they still had no idea when the problem might….that is MIGHT be resolved.

Mint – So, you might say, why not use Mint? Well there are issues. The connection to my bank only sort of works as it tends to lag by several days. For example, our social security deposits do not show up until at least three days after they are visible on my bank’s site. Mint will tell you it loads all ‘cleared’ transactions and cannot explain why Quicken will load these but Mint will not! There is a mobile app for Mint but it does not provide for all actions so you still have to use a web browser to do some things. Unfortunately the web site does not play nice with Safari (or any other mobile browser I’ve tried) so some activities must be done on a PC. If I wanted to use my rapidly failing PC I’d have all kinds of choices but with my laptop failing I want to be able to do EVERYTHING from my iPad or phone.

Mvelopes-I have used this off and on since it was introduced. I like the idea as it is based on the old envelope budgeting system. I spent a lot of years with an envelope in the glove box for gas money and carried envelopes for groceries, clothing, personal stuff, etc! The free version does not have enough categories so I actually paid in advance for a lengthy subscription and gifted my kids with subscriptions too! This does not have the ability to do Bill reminders. It assumes every transaction you enter is Now rather than to be paid in the future sometime. I paid for the subscription because they PROMISED that bill reminders was coming. I stopped using it over 3 years ago, just checked, they still say bill reminders are ‘coming’! This lack of bill reminders makes it impossible to do projections. The iPhone app is garbage. It does not properly sync to the online account and won’t allow actions that are possible on the web site. The web site requires Flash! Yes Flash is free but browsers that use it on iPad are NOT and there is something wrong as the interface won’t run in Puffin (a Flash enabled browser for iPad)!

EEBA- another envelope budgeting system that our daughter Jessi uses is interesting. The paid version will let you use your bank accounts but you have to download the transactions and then load them to EEBA. This task can be done on the iPad which is good. The issue I found was that there is a disconnect, maybe just in my mind, as the ‘cleared’ balance is not the same as the reconciled and therefore ‘cleared’ balance! After totally restarting three times and a lengthy conversation with support the difference between these could not be resolved! In one of my accounts the difference was significant. As this made it look like I had more money than I actually did I could not accept it! I think I worked for various financial institutions too long! I want my finance tools to actually work and reflect the true picture of how much money I have or, in my case, do not have. There a couple of minor quirks I did not like but this failure to properly show balances so deeply bothered me I quit trying. Like I said, Jessi is happy with this program! I have considered just using the envelope function of this program but could get myself in lots of trouble without the banking functions.

There are a bunch of others I have looked at. In general they lack one or more of the simplest of things, bill reminder, budgets, bank connection or ability to enter a transaction on the fly. It is rare to find an app that does both budgets and bill reminders. I could live without bill reminders as my bank does this but not having any of the other things I need is a nogo.

If you want information on a particular app please ask! I may have tried it! And if you have any recommendations PLEASE tell me!

Author: bdeshaw

Mom, Grandma, raised a puppy for Canine Companions for Independence

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