Review: Ace Budget
Ahh, to be able to keep on a budget. The goal of pretty much anyone who doesn't have extra $10 bills laying around that are used to light cigars.
And with that goal will come just about every attempt by people to "help" us, usually via making some money of their own.
Enter - Ace Budget.
Ace Budget is a finances tracking program designed to keep you from spending outside your means. It is a simple design - you create spending categories, enter items within the categories, and then track your finances.
Of course, any budget program is going to be limited by your ability to enter the data in a timely fashion, but let's assume you will do that.
On the main screen of Ace Budget you have your overall tracking data -the different budget categories, how much money you have spent in each category, and how much is left in each category. At the bottom is the total budget - how much you had, how much you have spent, and how much you have left. The coding is simple - green means money left over, red means you are in the...well...red, and a parenthesis means the number is negative (never a good thing). In the sample budget provided by the program, there are two categories listed - "swipe to delete" and "sample budget". Each category also has an icon - green icons mean you have more money, red means you are overspent (in case the big red numbers weren't enough of a warning).
To create a new budget category (food, entertainment, utilities, etc) you simply tap the "+" button. There you can create a new named category, what the monetary budget is (how much you have to spend), the cycle for the budget (weekly, monthly, yearly, etc), and the start date. In addition, you have the option of allowing a budget category to roll over each new cycle.
In each budget category, you can add individual expenses or income. I am not sure how important the income is, since you are tracking a planned budget, not actual bank account values. The budget is theoretical, so income shouldn't really be a factor when determining if you are within your budget or not- income influences whether you can sustain the actual budget itself!
Adding an expense is easy - again, just hit the "+" button. An expense can be set up as recurring for regular predictable expenses like rent. You actually create a list of recurring expenses, and when adding a new expense, you can choose from that list if you like.
There is an ability to export data via email as a CSV file. You can look at historical data, but it is simply tabulated.
Unfortunately, there is no ability to graph the budget or get overall budget reports. It would be beneficial to see visually how you’re spending if, as well as get reports on the categories that you are routinely over budget or under budget on. In addition, it would be nice to be able to summarize how much you have spent within a user-defined period and on what (how much per month on shopping, or utilities, or gas, etc). In my opinion, these are the kinds of features that will make a budget program shine, as opposed to be merely adequate.
Pros: Easy to read and use, simple method for inputting data, lots of options
Cons: Lacking some features to make it stand out
All in all, this is a pretty straightforward budget app. If you are looking for something that will track expenses and tell you how much money you have left to spend, this program does it, and it does it well. However, if you are looking for more - graphs, for example, this program lacks what I see as a lot of the bells and whistles that will make it stand out. It is a good program, just not great. For $1.99, it certainly won't break your budget, and is reasonably priced. Three and a half out of four stars.
* = No redeeming qualities or features, probably not worth it even if it is free
** = Few redeeming qualities, or is simply isn't worth the price
*** = Some good features but also some clear flaws.
**** = A solid app, worth the money if interested, a few flaws or problems or slightly overpriced
***** = Top of the line app, no problems or drawbacks.
Price is factored into the ratings. Ratings are lowered if I feel the price of the app outweighs the benefits/enjoyment/features it provides. Likewise, an app that is a good value for the money will have a higher rating.