Vito Prosciutto: Teaching community college math on the road to a PhD.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Controlling my life: Finances 

My wife and I have been trying to work out a way of being able to easily keep track of our finances in a way that gives us equal access to the data. Quicken falls sadly short on this front since it doesn't really seem to want to provide a way to synchronize between two computers (much less two different platforms, since I'm MacGuy and she's WindowsLady). After some searching, my wife found Mvelopes which we're in the midst of the free trial month. It solves the multiple-person access by putting all the data on an internet server and having (password-protected) access through a java applet.

What's also nice is the envelope-based budgeting. Rather than post-hoc analysis of your spending, you allocate your income to an assortment of different "envelopes" and then as transactions are loggged, you can assign them to the different envelopes. It's a very nice way of handling budgeting, although it remains to be seen how well this will work over multiple months, and this month will be a rather atypical month courtesy of spending relating to our move.

Another good feature: It automatically logs into your on-line accounts to get transactions for you, and seems to do a much better job of it than Quicken ever did.

The big down-side so far is that the java applet is a bit slow: It's unusable in safari, but passable in firefox on the mac. It seems fine under windows (curse those lazy developers who only test/optimize for one platform). It remains to be seen whether we'll go ahead and pay a subscription fee for the service when the trial is up at the end of the month. I'm leaning towards yes, but I think that I'd like something that was a local application and perhaps used Rendezvous or somesuch to allow syncing between different computers.

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