During my college years, the time when I first lived separated from my parents, the money was scarce; I tried to keep up with my financial life by maintaining a record of my daily expenses in a notebook. I dutifully wrote down each transaction, and after a month I gave up. The experience taught me one thing: the easiest way of personal money management is not to do it. Because managing your personal finances means a commitment to meticulous details and continuous input of each of your financial transactions. Not everybody is up for that kind of torture.
Today, years later, I realize that you can’t always leave your financial condition to its own devices. But I also don’t want to go back to those boring routines. So I did a little digging and found Wally, a free personal financial assistant app that is easy and fun to use.
One to the worst things about tracking your finances is the data entry part. Unless you hire someone to do it for you, there is no shortcut for the process. Wally makes the tedious job easier and fun by automatically geo-tagging the transactions using your phone’s GPS. You can also snap pictures of your transaction receipts, and the app will automatically scan and enter them.
When you open Wally the first thing that you are going to see is the “Expense Screen” – you can change this option in “Settings.” Here is the place where you input your spending. Aside from the amount of the expense, you can also input the type of expense, the location, and the date. You can add notes to the transaction, and set it as a recurring or one-time occurrence.
To configure the type of transaction, tap the “What” icon. You can add a new kind of transaction by tapping the “Edit” button.
There are many ready-to-use categories that you can use to classify your transactions, such as Personal, House, Food & Drinks, Transport, Clothes, Fun, and Misc. Each category has several sub-categories. For example, under “Personal” you have Mobile, Medical, Taxes, Insurance, etc. Under “House” you have Groceries, Rent, Phone, Electricity, etc. Chances are one of these sub-categories will fit your transaction. If you can’t find the perfect one, you can always create a new one under “General.”
Another organization tool that you can use is the location feature. Wally suggests you file your transactions on the spot right after you make your purchase. This way it can use your location and automatically geotag it. But recording it later is also fine; you can search for the location and add it to the entry.
There’s this little “cycle” icon in the middle left of the screen. You can tap it to turn a one-time transaction into a recurring one. Some examples of recurring transactions are phone bills, magazine subscriptions, and school fees. At the other end – in the middle right of the screen is the date setting. If you file your transactions, later on you can input the date here.
After you save the input, you can view the summary of all of your expenses. The options are to either view it weekly or all together under “All Expenses.”
The Sidebar and More
There are more things that you can do with Wally from the sidebar. The first item in the list is “Review.” This menu will give you the general overview of your finances grouped by month.
The next one is the place where you input the data of your income. Even though it’s optional, you can get a better picture of your budget if you know your positive and negative cash flow.
The last part of customization lies within the “Settings.” You can set a passcode to prevent others from prying into your private information. If you want Wally to launch into the Expense Screen for faster expense input, switch the option to on. Other things that you can customize are Currency, Reminder, and when Financial Week and Month will start. You can also edit your Personal Details, enable the Automatic Receipt Scan (still in beta), enable iCloud backups, and Export all data.
During my short testing, Wally was fun and easy enough to use to make me want to start managing my personal finance again. One bug that I found is that the scanning receipt process gave me more failures than success. Hopefully, this issue will be fixed in future updates.
How about you? Do you keep a tab on your financial life? What application(s) do you use? Have you tried Wally? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.
Image Credit: Ken Teegardin
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