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The XIII Labor Of Hercules

Spare no expense to save money on this one. - Samuel Goldwyn
This could very well describe my quest to find a good Android budgeting app. My needs were pretty simple - track expenses and incomes with category distribution, monthly budget reports and my account balance at any time. I didn't need multiple accounts, users, auto update from my bank accounts (I don't have any!) or investing tools. I needed to track cash, that's it. Bonus points for looking good, though not mandatory.

As it turned out, I had unknowingly embarked on one of the Labors of Hercules. What I thought would take half an hour, took more than 3 days. Here's a chronicle of the apps I tried out before finding one which had (almost) everything I wanted:

Step 1: Search for budgeting apps on Play Store
This got me a listing of more than 25 apps. After weeding out that ones which looked like they had a Gingerbread hangover or fake leather and paper, I had a handful of apps remaining.


Step 2: Try out a couple
After discarding a few, the first app I really liked was Trackash. It was simple, pretty and easy to enter transactions. It showed my entries in a facebook-like timeline and used twitter-like hash tags to show categories. Nice touch. Unfortunately it was too simple. It wouldn't even show my balance. If I made $100 and spent $25 in this month, how much did I have left? It couldn't tell me the answer to this absurdly simple word problem! Which also meant I couldn't see how much I'd managed to save in a particular month in the past. Not much use, though it was really pretty. Moving on...


Step 3: Get frustrated and buy an app
Because you know, money always solves problems (not!). Anyway after several fruitless hours of searching, I found what I thought was a good app and paid for it. Expense Manager had a beautiful HOLO interface, budgets, category distribution and was easy to use. Yet there was still some things missing. This too wouldn't show my balance. What is with budgeting apps which refuse to tell you how much money you have left? You'd think that was the first item they would think to include! It didn't have income categories either. So $3.50 for this app was a bust. Maybe it'll get better in the future, but for now it wasn't going to cut it.

Step 4: Give up
I'd resigned myself to using this app, till it got better. It wasn't bad, just didn't have everything I was looking for.

Step 5: Get lucky!
By accident, I stumbled upon Money Tab. Though it was't pretty to look at on a high dpi screen, it had all the features I wanted. It had income categories, monthly budget reports, previous month totals and templates which you set up to quickly add entries. It even had features I didn't know I wanted like syncing with Google so I can easily change phones in the future. It was perfect, except for the not looking nice part, which hopefully be improved by the developer soon. And I'm sticking with this one for now.


And thus a winner is crowned! Start to finish took me just over 3 days and $4.50 in the Play Store. Who knew finding an app to suit my needs would be this convoluted?

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