Last week I checked out BudgetSimple.com. So far I’m pretty impressed. It was simple, as the name implies, and easy to use without over complicated and unnecessary functions. I followed along with the initial setup last week and found it very easy and intuitive to enter my income and expenses. Likewise, it also displayed this information in a easy to read format. This week I tried my hand at adding transactions to the categories I set up last week.
Adding a transaction was easy enough. Hit the green transaction button at the top of the screen and a new entry sub-screen appears. There it asks you to select a category, enter the amount, date reoccurrence and description. I found this part a little confusing.
Once you selected a category, you could be more specific with your transaction and add it as a sub category. When it appeared on you budget however, it is flagged as an “unbudgeted” amount. So anything that was not accounted for in your initial set up categories is considered “unbudgeted.”
I was under the impression that your expenses where only those charges that were reoccurring, like monthly bills. Transactions would be anything purchased throughout the month like “vehicle fuel”. The odd part was that even when you entered a “vehicle fuel” transaction under the category of “automobile maintenance,” it did not minus it from the total amount you had budgeted for “automobile maintenance.” It prompted you to create a separate line item under the “automobile maintenance” category, with an entirely separate budgeted amount.
I guess this was getting much more specific then I expected. This made my budgeting, for this month anyway, all wrong and difficult to rectify. I couldn’t tell how much I had actually budgeted since most of my transactions ended up in this “unbudgeted” category. I also had a hard time getting a handle on my spending since my transactions were not being subtracted from the total amount I had entered in the beginning. I know, this is confusing.
For example, a trip to a restaurant. The “restaurant” transaction should be a sub-category within your “entertainment” (main category) budget.
ENTERTAINMENT ENTERTAINMENT 250.00 0.00 250.00 RESTAURANTS/DINING UNBUDGETED 0.00 11.91 -11.91
An interesting note about the transaction entry screen. When I added a fee that was for a yearly service there was an option to check a box for a reminder email. I thought this was definitely a feature that would come in handy.This did not make sense to me until I read the help section listed under Budget Basics. There they have a nice description of your first three months. So this category, sub-category thing is just until you get a better idea of where you are spending. Your not expected to have all of this figured out in month one. Your just suppose to record everything. Then the next month you will list a more specific amount under these areas.
It’s a work in progress. I only assume the budgeted flag is to bring extra attention to a purchase that might be out of the ordinary and therefore not budgeted. This is fine, but I think this should have been told to the user upfront, maybe during the initial set-up, so they would have the right expectations during month one.
Once all the transactions are entered you can view them under a listing of budgeted, actual and what’s left. This was not all that helpful since most of my transactions where unbudgeted and I did not have a breakdown for each category. Maybe month two would have this more streamline once I knew what categories and sub-categories I would need to allot for.
One side note after the initial set up, I found an email in my mailbox a few days later that said this:
I saw you signed up for BudgetSimple yesterday. I just wanted to check in and see if you need any help figuring out how to use BudgetSimple, or if you ran into any problems. Feel free to reply to this email if you need anything!
-Phil, Founder of BudgetSimple
Thought that was pretty cool. Even though I’m not paying for the service this little touch or personalization would go a long way to making me a customer. just like in budgeting the little things do matter.