Managing your money is a big deal. If there’s one thing that the economic meltdown taught us in the past two years, it’s that being prepared is important.
So, what can you do on your Mac to manage your money better? And, if you have money problems, what can your Mac do to help you manage debt, get out of debt, so you can manage your money better? It’s the tale of two Mac apps—Debtinator and MoneyWell. Different strokes for different folks.
There is no shortage of money or financial management tools for Mac users. Some are gargantuan beasts with every feature known to civilized man (Mac users, all of them), and many others with specific focus for specific folks.
For example, CheckBook is mostly a one trick pony which balances your checkbook, and won’t distract you with the latest stock market reports which tell you that Microsoft SMFT has pretty much flatlined the past five years.
Jumsoft’s Money takes the middle ground and lets you manage your checkbook, multiple accounts, budgets, credit cards, loans, and investments. The price is nominal though the learning curve is not.
Hands down, the Debtinator icon is the best of the two, implying that your debts can be destroyed, detonator and dynamite style. That’s the only piece of style in Debtinator which is focused purely on the utilitarian aspects of reducing your debt.
Debtinator does not tell you how to spend your money. It shows you where your money is going and eases you into the budgeting process. That process is the key to reducing your debt load.
First, list all your income sources in Debtinator. Then, list all your bills, including monthly recurring expenses. Finally, list how much money you want to spend in each category. Debtinator lets you adjust all the pieces so there’s money leftover at the end of the month, rather than having too much month left over at the end of the money.
By being able to see how much money is coming in, and where it’s going, you can make easy adjustments in both to come up with the money to pay down your debt.
Debtinator goes a few steps into smart money management by showing you how much money you save with lower interest on your debt. Nearly two dozen debt repayment stragtegies are included.
Despite the focus on debt management, Debtinator works well as a money management utility, too. Keep track of your monthly transactions and schedule payments to reduce debt but manage monthly expenses. You can even keep track of credit card expenditures.
The spartan interface won’t overwhelm you and won’t distract you from the purpose at hand. The toolbar is easy to figure out, and you get instant feedback on monthly savings as you adjust the income and expense categories.
Don’t expect a lot of bells and whistles, ala Quicken’s Intuit, but if debt is what you have, paring it down to manageable portions is what Debtinator does best.
There’s something about a real-time application on my Mac that warms my heart and tickles my credit cards. MoneyWell is a nearly full-featured financial utility for Mac users with a different focus. Sure, it tracks where your money went. Any good money utility needs to do that.
MoneyWell does not focus on what was, but was is, and what will be. After all, once you find out you’ve spent more than you made, it’s too late to do much about it. MoneyWell’s approach is elegant personified.
The Spending Buckets give you an idea where the MoneyWell icon came from. It’s a bucket. You determine what money goes in what bucket for what expense. One quick look at the Money Flow Graph and you can tell whether it’s a good money day or bad money daty.
This method is similar to the old envelope budgeting method, where people would stuff different envelopes with different amounts of money; some for rent, some for car payments, some for food, others for utilities, and so on. Crude? Yes. Effective? Very. MoneyWell uses buckets.
That means you see where your money goes before it goes. But that’s not all. MoneyWell carries a few buckets of basic features, too, including the ability to connect to your bank accounts online, import Quicken files and reconcile your monthly expenses with a click.
Getting out of or reducing debt is important, and Debtinator’s focus on that aspect of money management is admirable. On the other hand, what gets us into debt is not fully knowing where money goes and how much of it is gone before we find out. Plugging that gap is what MoneyWell does best.
Alas, neither Debtinator or MoneyWell has an iPhone version for easier tracking (MoneyWell’s developers say they’re working on an iPhone app).