Most of us would benefit from keeping track of our finances more carefully, and in the age of smartphones this no longer involves a pocketful of receipts and all your third grade math skills. I reviewed a lot of finance apps over at iPhone Appstorm, and was surprised not to find a similarly crowded market for Android apps.
MoneyWise stands out as a fully-featured expense tracker with a free (ad-supported) version for those of us who can’t afford to spend money on apps that stop us from spending money. Let’s find out if MoneyWise can help take take the pain out of financial responsibility after the jump!
When you first open MoneyWise, you’re taken straight to the ‘add transaction’ or ‘register’ page; there’s nothing to configure or sign up for. You can enter as much or as little detail about a transaction as you like: from just a number to categories, tags, a description, and whether a transaction is cleared or pending. There’s also a handy built-in calculator, so you can easily add your third of the lunch bill.
That’s the basic functionality of MoneyWise, and I appreciate the straightforwardness and minimal requirements. If I’m going to be keeping track of every penny I spend and earn, it had better not take me long. That said, the interface could be a bit more streamlined to make this simplicity more apparent.
None of MoneyWise’s features are exceptionally unique or innovative, but they’re useful, they work the way you’d want them to, and they get the job done.
The free version of the app has limitations on a lot of the features – basically a limit on the number of categories, tags, accounts, and exports you can make.
Here’s what you can do:
You can see a list of every transaction you’ve entered from the ‘list’ screen, which allows you to filter by category or tag, whether it’s an expense or income, whether it’s cleared or pending, or by text string.
Categories and tags are easy to add and customize if the defaults don’t suit you, and you can set custom colours for your tags. View an overview of your entire ‘account’ from the ‘balance’ tab, which will show you how much money you’ve got if you’ve been keeping track of everything.
You can use the same filtering functions to view a pie chart graphic of your spending (and any filters you select under the ‘list’ tags will stay selected in the graph tab). Graphs are the real meat of these kinds of applications; the real power of tracking your finances is the awareness of your own habits. Seeing exactly where your money has been going in an easy-to-read graph can be a real eye-opener.
One feature I’ve yet to see in a finance tracking app is the ability to filter out a certain category from your charts. The majority of my money goes to rent, so I’d like to be able to easily see where the rest of it goes, while still keeping it in there to see the big picture.
Make a Budget (or Two)
You can create multiple budgets with a lot of configurable options: each budget has a set of rules for assigning various transactions based on tag or category. Budgets are highly customizable, you can choose to include only income or expenses; make a monthly, yearly, or open-ended budget; decide what day of the month to count from; or only include cleared transactions.
When you select a budget from the list, you can see an overview of your monthly progress, including a progress bar of how much you’ve spent, how much you have remaining, and a daily allowance to help you stick to your budget. My only complaint about the budget feature is that some people might like to create budgets for different lengths of time than months or years.
You have the option to export your data in either .csv or HTML format, and to back up your info to Dropbox. I tried both export options, and was a bit disappointed. The .csv export didn’t work out properly: the columns weren’t separated, making the data pretty useless for graphing or adding to a bigger system of finance management. The HTML export fared much better, outputting a properly formatted table of all my transactions and accounts.
You can easily copy and paste HTML tables into Excel (but not Numbers)
Other than being ad-free, the Pro version comes with a number of additional features and removes some limitations from the free version. The free version limits the number of accounts, categories, and tags that you need, and the number of times you can export your data. The Pro version also includes a recurring transaction feature, where you can select a transaction and set it to repeat at pretty much any interval. Also included is the ability to do batch operations, and transfer data between accounts.
If you’re not going to be using many categories (there are a lot built-in already) and don’t need to export data, the free version should be enough to help you keep track of your finances. If you’re more serious about your expense management (or just really hate ads) the $7 might be worth it to you.
MoneyWise won’t blow you away with gimmicks, fancy features or a flashy interface, but it will do what it promises. If you’re willing to put in the effort to keep track of where your money goes, this app is an ideal tool to help you gather, organize, and analyze data about your spending habits, and maintain awareness of your budgets. It would be nice to see a bit of refinement in the interface, and better export options, but it functions very well as it is.
I always go back and forth between using mobile apps, Mint.com, and being totally ignorant of my spending, but hopefully this one will stick. How do you keep track of your finances on the go?