"Old school" money management software or app?
August 12, 2009 6:41 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for software or an application to help me keep track of my expenditures...but I want to be able to enter those expenditures myself.

I've been playing around with some of the personal money management stuff that's out there these days - Mint, Quicken Online, etc. - but I find that I'm much more mindful of my spending when I'm actually keeping track of what's coming and what's going out by entering those myself.

I've used Quicken on my Mac in the past - I think I have the 2003 version. I know there are a few posts on personal finance software for Macs, so you don't have to refer me to those. I may be buying a PC in the next couple of months, so PC suggestions are welcome.

Now, although I'm willing to just buy some software, I'm also kind of liking the idea of an application I can use on my iPod touch - something I can use to keep track of my expenditures when I'm out and actually spending money. Something that could sync between my iPod touch and a Mac or PC would be pretty neat.

Another option I'm wondering about is if there is some sort of web-based application I can use to do this. I really do like Mint, other than the large problem of me not being able to enter expenditures manually (at least from what I can tell). Is there something like it that will allow me to enter my expenditures "by hand"? I've looked at a few Google Spreadsheet templates and have been unimpressed - I like the functionality of Mint & Quicken to include several accounts.

So, I guess these are my criteria:
- Something that allows me to enter expenditures and income on my own.
- Something that allows me to include multiple accounts (checking, savings, credit cards, etc.)
- Something that has some level of portability - that I can do online, or use with my iPod

posted by rikhei to Work & Money (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I use moneydance and enter everything by hand. (I don't know if you've done this before; I've found that I do get behind and catch up once every 3 months or so.) They have an iphone app in (non-public) beta as of mid-july, don't know what the timeline is for it.
posted by advil at 6:49 PM on August 12, 2009

Xpenser might work for you. They have an iPhone app but it's not particularly good - on the other hand, you can send expenses via email or text.
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:10 PM on August 12, 2009

iXpenseit is a pretty good expense tracker for the iPhone. You can assign your expenditures to different accounts but it doesn't actually sync with your bank, and I don't think there's a desktop or web app associated with it.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 7:30 PM on August 12, 2009

I wrote quite a long rant about this when I switched from PC to Mac last year: Microsoft Money and a Mac

The article I wrote includes links to at least 20 personal financial apps for the Mac. I didn't like any of them, but you might find one that floats your boat.

I do not think such a thing exists, sadly, although you are not alone in your desire. It's been just about the most popular post on my site since I wrote it.
posted by GatorDavid at 7:32 PM on August 12, 2009

GnuCash is exactly what you're describing.
posted by ellF at 7:41 PM on August 12, 2009

I've been using iBank on the Mac (it's Mac only) for close to 2 years now. It's not perfect, but does seem darn close to what you want, especially with the iPhone/iPod Touch app now out. You can enter and categorize your own transactions and you can also download transactions or statements from your bank online. It does its best to match up manually entered transactions with downloaded ones, so you don't end up with duplicates. Handles multiple checking/savings/credit card/investment accounts well too (does the right thing with regard to balances being positive for checking accounts and negative for credit cards) and you can make entries for transactions between accounts that don't screw up your spending categories. It has a nice budget monitor too that lets you track your spending by category as compared to a preset budget for the month. There's also some pie chart and line graph reporting features that I don't use very much, but could be useful if you're trying to figure out precisely where your money is going.

Most importantly, they now have an iPhone/iPod Touch app for $5 or thereabouts. If you get iBank and the iApp, you can sync the desktop and mobile apps automatically so any transaction you enter on the phone automagically appears on the desktop. The budget monitor is also on the mobile version, so you can see at a glance whether buying, say, $100 worth of groceries would blow your grocery budget for the month. This seems like it would be great for you.

One note: the syncing can happen in 3 ways--MobileMe, Local Network (requires you have your phone on the same WiFi network as the desktop in order to sync), and WebDAV. In other words, you need MobileMe or a WebDAV server to sync if you're not at home. Should you not have either but want to be able to sync on the go, I'd be happy to provide you with some WebDAV server space (the data is all encrypted by iBank using a password of your choice, so I couldn't see what you're buying or anything. Not that I, you know, care what you buy). Just MeMail me if you're interested.
posted by zachlipton at 9:14 PM on August 12, 2009

I too am using ibank, and it seems to do what I want (have only just started with it, but have everything set up the way I want it now. I'm in the UK so no online banking access, good old manual entering in transactions and then reconciling with my statements.

Before that I was using good ole fashioned excel spreadsheet which I designed myself. Very simple accounts sheet, no complicated macros (though goodness knows there are plenty of those to find on the internet if you look, you don't have to do it yourself). Could be onlinable if you set it up on google.

The reason i switched to money management software was I wanted an easy way to set up scheduled transactions and the ability to post them so I can make sure I have enough money in my account after bills have come out (I get paid weekly, not monthly which makes things a little odder for me; haven't quite got used to it yet!).

I haven't looked into it yet, but I understand it syncs with iphone / touch as there is an app.

I tried out moneydance as well - couldn't wrap my head around it at all. It uses the double entry book keeping method, which is a little too much like law school accounts for my liking!
posted by nunoidia at 12:25 AM on August 13, 2009

GNUcash sucks. Seriously, unless you're a programmer who doesn't mind looking at an ugly and counter-intuitive interface all day, it's useless. Avoid.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:09 AM on August 13, 2009

I use iBank on my iMac and the recently released iBank app on my iPhone. I can enter transactions as soon as I purchase something so I don't have to remember to do it later. They sync through wifi and I'm in love. ♥
posted by Aleen at 11:23 AM on August 13, 2009

@DarlingBri: Exactly why is that the case? It's a well implemented double-entry accounting system, it's stable, it's cross-platform and portable, and it's easy to work with. It may not be your cup of tea, but I don't think "it's useless" by any stretch of the imagination.
posted by ellF at 1:46 PM on August 13, 2009

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