1. cjvitek's Avatar
    Bills for iPad, by iBear, LLC
    $2.99, ***1/2


    • Nice overview screen
    • Easy to input and categorize expenses

    • No automatic income
    • Categories are limited

    Ahh, money and budgets. One of the top reasons for arguments between married couples, and one of the top reasons for divorce! In the effort to simplify my own budget, I have been looking at a few budget app to help design and track expenditures. Bills for iPad was one of the ones I examined.

    When you first start the app, it looks very nice. There is an overview screen that is the basis for showing all your information – a monthly calendar, a listing of expenditures, a “file cabinet” that can be used for filtering what expenses you see, and even a “bookshelf” for things like the help guide and the export tool. Entering information into the app seems very straight forward – you simply tap the “plus” button, choose the expenditure type (rent, cable bills, credit card, etc), choose the date, and input the amount. You can choose whether this is something that was paid, is planned to be paid (with the date being the due date), or even if it is an autopay you have set up. You can also set the frequency of payment - monthly, daily, weekly, yearly...and even sent and end date for things like loan payments!

    Once you start entering items, they then appear as a circle on the calendar – a red circle for an overdue bill, a blue circle for a planned payment, or a green circle for a paid bill. In the list to the right, you can filter you items – overdue items, paid items, planned items, or see everything. Once you pay something, just tap the check mark on the list, and presto – the circle changes from blue (or red) to green! Very simple to use! In the top left of the calendar you can track your monthly budget and in the top right you can see how much you have spent so far.

    As simple as it is, there are still some problems. The first thing I noticed was that there is no way to input any regular salary or income. Each month you need to type in your budget – it doesn’t automatically repeat (although when you go to type it in again, the previous month’s budget will be the number already there). There is no way to input a weekly paycheck as a positive income source or anything like that. For some people, living week to week, knowing when they have money coming in is as important as when they have money going out!

    Also, some of the categories listed seemed lacking. They have lots of great ones for routine monthly budget items – cell phone bill, cable bill, mortgage, loans, etc. But they don’t have anything for entertainment expenses (if you go out to dinner or the movies), nothing for grocery shopping or other routine weekly expenses. They do have a miscellaneous category (including a household miscellaneous category) but for people who want to track their spending, this can be somewhat ambiguous.

    You do have the option of exporting information to csv and html, using iTunes or email, so you can track your spending long term, but there is no summary page or summary information available in the app (such as how much you have spent on credit cards, you average monthly electric bill, how much you spend a year on your phone bill, etc.) These kind of summary statistics would be very useful for budget planning. You also have the option of syncing data with the iPhone or Mac version of the apps, via dropbox or Bluetooth, but you need to buy those other apps individually.

    All in all, Bills for iPad is a visually appealing budget tracking app that ultimately lacks enough depth for detailed tracking of your budget. If you are looking for a simple app just to keep quick tabs on some routine monthly expenditures, this app might fit the bill, but if you are looking for something more involved to really track your spending and keep a tight lid on your budget, I think this app will fall short. It isn’t expensive at $2.99 (and there is a free version you can try), so it might be worth a shot for some people. However, when it comes to budget planning and expense tracking, I am looking for more in an app, so I can only give this one 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. Please comment on these reviews. All opinions expressed in this review are precisely that – opinions. You may agree or disagree. If you own the app, tell me what your opinion is. If the review prompted you to buy (or not buy) the app, let me know why. If you want more information about the app, go ahead and ask.

    *To all who are awaiting reviews – I apologize about the lack of reviews recently, but I hope to post a steady stream of app reviews of the next few weeks. If you have contact me regarding an app review, I will try to get back to you as soon as possible. Please note that contacting me (even sending a promo code) does not guarantee a review. If you have not heard from me within the next week or so, please send me another PM*
    07-27-2012 02:41 PM