If you’re like me, or the millions of other ordinary folk on this wonderfully rewarding planet of ours, then you need to keep a track of your finances. There are any number of tools about that can help you do this, some even provided by the banks, but I’ve been reluctant to take the plunge and spend a great deal of my hard-earned money on an all-inclusive finance management package just to keep track of a few outgoings here and there.
But, then I came across the Account Tracker iOS app, and on the face of it, it’s the ideal, simple solution for just noting down what you’re spending and producing a few forecasts here and there so I know how much to spend and save each month. Well, I’ve been using it for a couple of weeks now so here’s the full review.
The first noteworthy positive is Account Tracker’s ability to handle multiple bank accounts. I’m not sure about you, but I like to keep my current account separate from my savings, if only to reduce the temptation, so it’s a convenient feature to have. Once you’ve set up an account, given it a name and entered the starting amount, you can begin adding in any recurring payments you may have going in or out of any particular account.
Frustratingly, the application doesn’t tap-in to your bank account and keep it updated in real time as many of the premium packages do, which subsequently means you’re relying on memory or a reference to your online banking to keep it up to date and accurate. For me, it slightly detracts from the point of the app, which is meant to add convenience, bypassing your online banking system entirely.
However, there’s a lot of good in Account Tracker, most notably the interface, which is extremely tidy, as you may have come to expect from iOS applications of any real quality. In aid of organisation, you can add payments to pre-defined categories that you may decide to create, such as direct debits, sundry etc. and whilst it may not add any great functionality, a lot of what makes an app like this great is how plain it is to interpret.
It’s not all about that, though, and Account Tracker delivers many great functions not only to keep your finances in check, but also to help you be more stringent with your spending. First of all, you can keep a minimum and maximum amount tied to each account, which provides an alert should the total dip, or be forecasted to dip below a certain, user defined level. I seldom have much above that limit, which is unfortunate, but it keeps me restrained if I ever fancy a flutter on the footy or other such irrelevant spending.
However, whilst it may contain a few great functions, and look great whilst doing so, there is certainly one major pitfall I’ve found with Account Tracker. Personally, I’ve no real need for it as my finances are something I’ve no real need to remain coy about, but opinion on the matter will inevitably be divided, and whilst you can’t actually make transactions using the application, it is a mere record of what you’re doing with your money, the lack of security is a little disconcerting, to say the least. There is no option for password protection, for example, and seeing as though this application is only available on mobile devices, including the iPhone and iPod Touch, as well as the iPad, losing your device isn’t a particularly difficult feat, leaving your finances available for public viewing.
Whilst we’re on the topic of security, I’d like to finish on a positive. The latest update of Account Tracker brought with it Dropbox backup compatibility, meaning both your iPad and iPhone versions of the software can copy a backed up data file to your linked Dropbox account, which can be easily setup in the settings of the application. This backup can’t be encrypted, which is again unfortunate, but considering there’s no simple password protection, encryption may be a little too much to expect.
All in all Account Tracker is a modest iOS application, which looks great and will inevitably aid you in financial stability should you utilise it properly, but for users looking for something more secure, more substantial and with real-time management of money, there are much better options out there, but a pretty penny may need to be spent. £1.79 for a universal iOS application is certainly nothing to turn your nose up at, and it does deliver great value for money for lightweight users such as myself and many of you I’m sure.