I have recently implemented a new personal financial and budgeting program called Buddi for managing my own finances. I was using Quicken on the Mac but was astonished to find out that there is absolutely no API for interacting with the software. How could a company that has such a large market share of a mainstream product not have a way for other companies or people to integrate with it? It did look like they had API for the windows software but not for the mac.
Anyhow, to improve the work flow of my life, I wanted to have a personal financial platform that I could write plug-ins for or at least have scripts or something tie into it so that it would allow me to do something like automating the process of entering in bills or other mundane financial task a little easier for myself. I have also been playing around with the idea of a Google gadget or something that could allow me to enter transactions from any desktop in my house or display my balance information. With out the ability to integrate into the software this would become a real pain.
This is what lead me on a search for a new financial application. One of my criteria was that I wanted the software to be completely cross platform. Our family computer is a Mac and that is a necessary platform for the software to run on but my own personal workstation is a Linux box, and it would be nice to run the software on that system as well. I also wanted the software to have a published interface for integrating with it. That lead me to two productsÖ
Buddi and MoneyDance
They are both Java applications so they run on Windows, Mac, and Linux. I canít really give a review of MoneyDance since I did not try it but it looked like a pretty impressive application and filled all the requirements. However, Buddi looked like a very polished application as well and it was open source so I opted to try it first. At first I wasnít sure if Buddi was going to have enough features but after a while that is exactly why I liked it. With Quicken I always felt like I wasnít getting the most out of the software because it has all these features that seemed to get in the way and slow you and the application down more then they helped you. With Buddi, the application feels extremely snappy and easy to navigate around in.
One feature that people seem to always ask me about is whether or not Buddi integrates with the bank and downloads your transactions automatically. First I say no, but then I tell them why that is a good thing. Even when I was using quicken I was not downloading my transactions because I felt it really took away one of the benefits of tracking your finances. If you are always just going to download your transactions, why even bother using standalone software. Just log on and look at your account online. Itís the exact same data because all you did was sync it. I feel that if you just automatically download all your transactions then there is a much higher chance that you are going to miss a transaction where you were charged to much or a transaction that is not yours. By entering in your transactions throughout the week and then balancing your account on the weekend you have a much better grasp on your finances. If you manage your finances properly anyways, you should be entering them in as you spend money so that you can see exactly how much you have left. Then there is no need to sync with your bank. Entering transactions for Buddi is extremely easy too. One of the features that I immediately liked was that it remembered a lot of what I had already entered into it and it would fill in a lot of fields automatically as I entered transactions. It has an extremely refined interface for an open source application (and believe me, I use a lot of open source apps).
Where Buddi excels is itís budgeting features. Itís primarily designed to allow someone to create a budget and to easily track spending and to monitor how well you are staying on budget. Since one of my primary goals was to better track my spending on projects and to more easily budget for future projects then this was a huge draw for me to use Buddi. It even has graphs and charts to show your spending and budgeting.
Overall Buddi is not perfect in that it does not have some of the bells and whistles that you may be use to in a financial application. Some of these shortfalls that I canít live without, I will be trying to help address soon. Most of the bells and whistles I am happy to trade for a nice simple and easy to use application. If you absolutely have to have these features then maybe take a look at MoneyDance, but I highly suggest you try Buddi first.