My Mac, and to a certain extent, my iPhone, are becoming expensive reminder machines. First it was real Post-It Notes on the refrigerator. Then Stickies on my Mac. Then iCal.
Without a doubt, these are progressively expensive ways to remind me to do something. Like pay the bills. How many ways can your Mac remind you to pay bills?
In the spirit of inexpensive, elegant one-trick-pony Mac utilities that I love, there are plenty of ways for our Macs to remind us of whatever needs reminding. Meetings. Birthdays. Job interviews. Shopping lists.
All of those are important but even more important is the need to pay bills on time. After all, it gets tough to recharge your iPhone or MacBook when there’s no electricity, right?
One of my favorite Mac utilities for paying bills is CheckBook. It looks like a digital checkbook with a high resolution screen.
For $15 you a simple, straightforward utility that manages your money. The Scheduled Entry feature is a nifty way to get a notice about what’s due, how much is due, and when it’s due.
But, first and foremost, CheckBook is, well, a checkbook.
I’m obligated as a Mac user, Apple fan grrrrl, and Queen of Cheap™ to remind you of iCal’s reminder capabilities. Yes, Virginia, iCal will remind you of whatever you want.
There’s email reminders, pop up reminders with sound, but I wouldn’t use iCal as a reminder to pay bills. First, the reminders are annoying. I don’t like to pay bills when I’m annoyed, you know?
Second, iCal doesn’t seem to be connected to money management, though there are some Mac money management software utilities which speak iCal. But you can’t beat the iCal price, right?
At the other end of the simplicity scale is complexity and somewhere in between is Budget. Budget is like having envelopes stuck with cash, each envelope marked with an amount.
This is elegant, if a bit simplistic. Budget lets you, well, budget your monthly expenses using an envelope metaphor, which is simple, but quickly expands to take on functions usually found in money utilities like Quicken.
I like the envelope idea, though. And the obvious reminders.
Another straightforward money manager is EasyMoney, which is, remarkably, rather easy to use, but not big on reminders.
You can schedule expenses and display all transactions, and like CheckBook, it even looks and feels a bit like a checkbook, though a little more clumsy. What I really want and need is a simple utility that tells me what I need to pay, how much, and when.
Most of this small sample of Mac money management software falls between $15 and $30. You can buy some for less, quite a few for much more, and the more expensive ones carry a singular problem.
They’re difficult and complex to use, and don’t do a good job of actually reminding you what is due, when, and to whom. Little old Chronicle does.
Sure, it’s just a simple checkbook with a reminder. Set the recurring bill, set the date, set the amount, and you’re good to go. Chronicle tracks what gets paid and when, and remembers when you need to pay something.
Alerts? Hello! Chronicle syncs with iCal which syncs with your iPhone so you get reminded of what to pay. If you’re a MobileMe user, reminders get pushed right to your iPhone.
There area few other features, but none worth worrying about. What you want is a way to balance your checkbook and get reminders of what you need to pay, how much you need to pay, and when you need to pay it.
Oh, and with enough reminder time to actually get it paid but not with so much reminder time that if you forget to pay something it’s your fault. Simple checkbook balancing, bill paying with alerts. I like it.