Posted by Jamis on May 14, 2009 @ 09:55 PM
So, I’ve now been using BucketWise for almost two months, and it’s been fantastic. Admittedly, as the author of the application, I’m willing to overlook a lot of the warts and inconsistencies, but I can honestly say I’ve felt more control over my finances these last two months than I’ve felt in the last 10 years. It’s an awesome feeling!
Tonight, I tagged version 1.1.0 of BucketWise, which (if you haven’t been following along) fixes a few bugs and adds several new features (account reconciliation, memorized transactions, actor name autocompletion, simple budget reporting, and more; I’ll just refer you to the changelog for the full list). It’s really been a fun project to tinker on. The last feature I myself really want is scheduled transactions; I may be hacking on that one in the near future.
I figured this might be a good time to talk a little about how I, personally, am using BucketWise. I’ve been surprised by a few things, both good and bad: some features I’ve found to be less useful than I anticipated, and others have been surprisingly handy!
Firstly, when you log into BucketWise, you see a short list at the top, called “Recent transactions”. This list was intended to let you see, at a glace, what you most recently had entered. (It also provided a handy landing place for newly entered transactions.) It hasn’t been very useful, though; I find that what I really want is to see the register of transactions for my checking account. I may be reworking that dashboard view soon.
Also, bucket reallocations haven’t been quite as useful as I expected. I do use them, and they are definitely handy, but I find that if you shuffle money around too much, it muddies your register. The reallocations are basically noise, especially when viewing transactions at the account level. I’m going to be pondering ways to reduce their visibility.
Buckets, though, I’ve found to be spectacularly useful. I’ve got my savings account partitioned into three buckets (short term, medium term, and long term), and that’s been a great way to keep track of how those savings funds are earmarked. Also, I’m trying to save 10% of each paycheck (trying, but not very successfully yet!), so I’ve got a “savings” bucket in my checking account, too. When the funds get to a certain threshold, I transfer the money to my savings account. (Yeah, I could just do a transfer with each paycheck…but I find I’m more likely to do it if I do it infrequently. Not sure why that is.)
Buckets are also great for indicating money that was given as a gift. My wife and I share the same checking account, so when it was her birthday, I transfered money from my Paypal account and put it in a “Tarasine” bucket. She was then welcome to record whatever purchases she wanted against that bucket. Similarly, when I receive money as a gift (birthday, Christmas, whatever) I just deposit it into a “Jamis” bucket.
Lastly, having credit card debt repayment built into the application has been awesome. I’ve loved being able to immediately indicate which checking account bucket a credit card purchase will be repaid from, and seeing that those funds are set aside, inviolate, ready for when the credit card bill comes.
My checking account currently has 35 buckets, and I can see my wife and I adding more. Most are purely for budgeting purposes (“groceries”, “auto fuel”, etc.), but they are so handy as ways to arbitrarily earmark money. Tithes, charitable offerings, savings, and credit card repayment are just some of the ways I’ve used them. (In fact, I’ve found myself wishing I could mark additional buckets as being “aside” buckets; I’m still pondering ways to make that happen, if it needs to.)
I’ll probably blog more about BucketWise down the road, and talk about specific use cases and how it’s helped me with them. However, I’d love to hear from others, too. Are you using BucketWise? If so, what do you like and dislike about it? I’m definitely only writing this application for me, but I’m curious to hear what the experience is like for others.
Lastly, if you’re interested in giving BucketWise a test drive, I’ve set up a demo account that you are welcome to log into and play with. I’ll reset the data there periodically, so feel free to try out all the features! Just go to http://www.bucketwise.com, and log in with the “bw.demo” user (password “demo”). Note that this is hosted on a modest Linode host, and will almost certainly be swamped into unusability with any significant traffic, but you’re welcome to try it out.