For many years I had one simple problem when it came time to paying my bills. I forgot. Forgetting to pay your bills is not a good thing, either.
Sure, I’d get them paid. Eventually. What I needed wasn’t the complexity of Quicken, or QuickBooks, or even a Quicken wannabe with a lower price. What I needed was a simple Mac app that reminded me when a bill was due.
143 Features Or Else What?
Despite very powerful technology below my fingers (my Mac) and in my purse (my iPhone), I struggle with deadlines and time. My fellow Mac360 writer, Alexis Kayhill, came to my rescue with 5 Easy Ways To Track And Reduce Bills On A Mac.
I have the Mac. I have the need. Even one way that works is better than what’s not working now.
So, I tried Little Fin’s little Mac app that could, Chronicle. To be honest, I didn’t expect much. I’ve been disappointed so many times before.
After trying Quicken again and again, including the latest resurrection of Quicken Essentials, and other Mac apps that are easier and more complex, I had settled on CheckBook. Why? It was like having my checkbook on my Mac. Of course, you have to check CheckBook to remember to write the checks, right?
Can You Remind Me Know?
If money management is a paint to be endured, where does bill paying fit into the equation? Chronicle, as I found out, has five basic functions I needed, but start with the first. Bill paying. Why?
Bill paying is the basic element. Chronicle tracks your income, yes, expenses, yes, but it reminds you to actually pay the bill before it’s due. No more late payment fees. Plenty of reminders. The bill paying function uses iCal for reminders, so you get reminders on your iPhone, too. Set it up and it doesn’t forget.
As you can see, the interface is simple, not complicated or intimidating. Once the bills are taken care of, the second basic function has to do with setting goals to reduce debt. Since you’re paying bills on time, debt gets reduced faster. I follow the logic.
Third, I found that Chronicle gave me a way to keep bill payments and receipts organized (even downloaded or scanned), something I admit I wasn’t very good at handling. Because I was paying bills on time, reducing debt (mostly credit cards; trips to Las Vegas while back in the states), and keeping receipts, within a few months I had an actual history from which I could predict a trend. That was the 4th of five basic functions.
The final function is paying bills. Unfortunately, Chronicle doesn’t write checks. I’m an analog person, I guess. But Chronicle’s 5th function combines bill viewing with paying. With an alert I can check Chronicle to see what else is due and when (an extra reminder), and even pay a few bills online (convenience).
From my perspective, the secret to paying bills on time is any simple system that reminds you on time, and spurs your to action. Chronicle’s Overview (screenshot above) gives a quick view at the bill to be paid, when it’s due, and the amount (including an average).
What is it they say? From little acorns big trees grow?
A big tree is a financial management system. 143 features don’t mean much if the basic of bill paying isn’t getting taken care of. Chronicle starts with that. You list the bills to be paid. Chronicle reminds you to pay them.
After a few months you see the inevitable. Debt gets reduced.
From that step I can see ways to reduce debt more, and set some personal spending goals.
From that step I also find Chronicle saves my payment history and receipts. From that I can plot trends, and suddenly I’m into money management—but without the expense or effort.
The next logical step was online bill paying and that was icing on my money cake. Make no mistake. Chronicle is not Quicken Essentials. There’s no room for your stock portfolio, mutual funds, hedge fund, or Las Vegas winnings. It’s basic and simple to get started. Paying bills isn’t an art. It’s not a feel good exercise and requires reminders (thank you iCal and iPhone).
Starting with bill paying is the first step to beginning a money management effort. Highly recommended.