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CoinKeeper Adds A New Twist To Budgeting

CoinKeeper Adds A New Twist To Budgeting

November 19, 2011
CoinKeeper: Budget and expense tracking by i-Free icon

CoinKeeper: Budget and expense tracking ($2.99) by i-Free is a different way to look at budgeting.

There are many finance apps out there to help you keep track of your spending, but just how many of them make budgeting (dare I say it) fun? Well, CoinKeeper does just that – it’s budgeting with a piggy bank feel and gaming elements, such as levels and achievements. It supports most of the popular currencies, so you should be covered, no matter where you are.

When you launch CoinKeeper, you’ll be asked to enter in a set amount for every month. Then there’s a neat little feature when it comes to setting up the budgets. You can either do it manually, or you can have CoinKeeper do “smart budgeting.” This option allows the app to automatically calculate a recommended budget in each of the default categories, depending on the amount you entered. Of course, with smart budgeting, the app will know to give you more money to go for groceries rather than something else, like clothes.

CoinKeeper: Budget and expense tracking by i-Free screenshot

On the main screen of CoinKeeper, there are four color coded trays: Salary (green), Accounts (red), Budget Categories (black), and Goals (yellow). You can slide trays up or down to hide them, except for the budget tray (it’s always shown somehow).

At the top is your salary. You can add multiple salaries if you are so lucky to get them, but this should be the amount you entered when you first launched the app. Adding a new one will ask you to give it a name, icon, and the monthly salary. It will show up in the tray once you hit “Done” to save it.

The Accounts tray will allow you to enter various accounts, such as checking, savings, credit card, cash, etc. As you enter the account name, CoinKeeper will offer you suggestions, which is pretty nice. Select another icon to go with the account, and the amount. Save it by tapping on the big old done button.

In the budget tray, you will see how much you should be allotted each month, and how much you have spent. The more you spend towards your monthly allowance, the more red the circle will be. If your spending is pretty low, it will be green or yellow. The app comes with a set of generic categories for your budget needs (groceries, house, taxes, insurance, entertainment, etc), but you can also add categories as you go along; just give it a name, icon, and budget amount.

The final tray is goals. If you want to save towards something, like a house or vacation trip, create it in the same manner as the others and it will be saved.

Now, you may be wondering how it is you enter in a transaction in CoinKeeper. It’s not like other apps, where you create a new entry and add in details. To add an “entry,” you will simply drag the “coin” from one of your accounts and put it over one of your budgeting categories or goals. Then an animation will show, where it is like putting an actual coin in a piggy bank. A keypad will come up (with some basic math operations), and you can enter in the amount you spent, pick a day, and save it.

The tray implementation is simple and works. At first, I felt it was a bit counterintuitive when I’m used to the way other apps work, but after a while, CoinKeeper is pretty easy-to-use.

Underneath the trays, you will see a progress bar for your budgeting. The red will be the amount of expenses you’ve incurred so far for the month, and the green is the rest of your money. There are also two buttons on each side of this progress bar: Statistics and Profile.

If you’re the type who enjoys reports and graphical visualizations of data, you can see this in Statistics. You get a pie chart for the month, with a breakdown of how much you have spent in each category. The History view will give you a bar chart that will compare your expenses with income. Days will give you a graphic of a paper receipt, with a breakdown of your expenses for each day that is logged in CoinKeeper. Sometimes, if you are good with your money, you should earn some stars on your expenses, which you’ll find out more about in Profile.

With the Profile view, you will see the following information: Current balance, saved for goals, overall revenues, overall expenses, and days of budgeting. If you have earned any stars, they will appear next to these stats. Additionally, there are some “skills” that appear in CoinKeeper, that you can “level up,” as if in a video game: Thrifty, Hoarding, Consistent, and Prosperous. Of course, doing this takes time, and I haven’t acquired any of them yet. But this does add a very nice gaming element to the app, which should make for a more fun experience when dealing with your finances (which is never fun).

CoinKeeper: Budget and expense tracking by i-Free screenshot

In Profile view, you can also edit (read: delete) your accounts, salaries, categories, and goals. Settings is accessed from the Profile view as well. In Settings, you can set a passcode for the app, toggle (and set the time of) notifications for recurring expenses, missed transactions, missed days, colored expenses, and daily reports. CoinKeeper comes with sounds on by default, but you can turn these off if they bother you (especially since it will pause any background audio you’re listening to).

CoinKeeper is a pretty well polished app. The latest update also includes instant iCloud backup, so your data is always backed up. It did take a bit of getting used to, since the concept is not like that of your typical finance app.

However, if you are put off by most finance and budgeting apps because it doesn’t have the “fun factor” that you’re looking for, perhaps CoinKeeper would be a good app to consider. It adds a gaming element that makes an otherwise boring type of an app actually fun. The interface is beautiful and sleek, and the app is easier and more fun to use.

The developers of CoinKeeper are also working on two features noted in the app description: synchronization and export options, and subcategories. This is a fine app that will continue to get better.

I would definitely recommend it if you are looking for a less tedious way to budget.

Mentioned apps

CoinKeeper: Budget and expense tracking
CoinKeeper: Budget and expense tracking

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