Isn’t it funny how money, while being such an important part of our lives, often goes overlooked when it comes to digital solutions to managing it or tracking it? Sure there are options out there, but I know I never really took any of them seriously. In a lot of ways, I was prone to simply flying by the seat of my pants, hoping and praying that the numbers all balance out at the end of the month and that I didn’t owe anyone money I didn’t have.
Wouldn’t it be nicer though if you had a comprehensive record of incoming funds and outgoing expenses? Something that could give you an at-a-glance understanding of where your money was, where it came from and where it went?
A Feature Set Driven by User Interaction
Moni is designed to make you think. In the interconnected world that we live in today, the fact that it doesn’t use banking APIs or plug into every payment system known to man may sound odd. It may even sound like a negative point; a detractor from using the service. But in fact, it’s at the heart why Moni is a successful budgeting app. Because like I said before, it makes you think.
Everything about entering data into Moni is a manual process. Usually a sentence like that is meant in a negative connotation was discussing an app. That’s not how I mean it. That’s a feature of Moni. Every purchase you make you enter in and your new balances calculate themselves, showing you how much cash you have left after buying that third latte today, or how much is left in that nest egg of yours after booking that trip to Bermuda. You’re in control. Isn’t that how it should be with your money?
Perhaps that whole process sounds tedious, like an added stress or more friction. And increased friction is what stops an app from becoming a daily part of your life, and from becoming a useful tool.
So while Moni is without question a manual tool requiring user interaction, it’s a feature of the system, and separates Moni from every other automatic expense tracker. Built into the core of the app is the idea that you are in control of your money, tracking where it goes and where it’s from.
An Elegant and Intuitive Interface
Now that I’ve prepared you for the way Moni works as well as the amount of user interaction required to work the app, let me highlight Moni’s greatest strength: its user interface. Everything about it is designed to be smooth, sleek and as efficient as possible. Moni’s UI tries as much as it possibly can to decrease the inherent friction found in the app.
Moni uses the card metaphor for navigating different views. Screens slide up or down revealing different amounts of information depending on different configurations. Spatially, the bottommost layer is the app’s settings. Above that is the main view, showing the overview of your accounts and your most recent transactions. From the bottom there’s a dark tab flanked by “+” and “-” buttons used to add or subtract from the account listed in the dark bar. Again, swiping is the main interaction method. Swiping up reveals a more detailed listing of transactions for the individual account, and swiping left and right cycles through your accounts.
A key part in alleviating the friction found in manually entering information is that those two buttons in the bottom left and right hand corners of the screen are always present. A simple tap and up slides the topmost card in Moni, a keypad used to enter in numbers, along with an optional notes field in the bottom left of the screen.
Without question, Moni is a product of the gesture-based UI mindset. Custom designed for a touchscreen device as responsive as the iPhone, Moni makes generous but intuitive use of slides and swipes to the betterment of the user experience.
Room to Grow and Improve
As much as I’ve raved about Moni and it’s skill in creating an app that leaves the user in control and removes as much friction as it could, I do have some small points of criticism to lay down.
Like most iPhone apps, Moni is a black box. Data goes in and gets presented to you through Moni’s UI, but data doesn’t come back out again. You can’t “round-trip” your financial transactions and data into an Excel spreadsheet or a SQL database. When it comes to something as personal as one’s day-to-day financial data, I want some kind of reassurance that if Moni disappears off the face of the earth for any reason, the weeks, months or years worth of data that I’ve been putting into it can come back out in an open, standards-compliant way so I can be free to migrate to another software solution.
Along similar lines, I’d love to see Moni expand the ways it presents your financial data to you. Simple lists of incoming funds and outgoing expenses are nice, but there’s so much room for potential. Reports, graphs, analytics, trends. Show me how the raw data I’ve been entering in, the facts and figures, can become interesting stories. Like how my subscriptions to services like Netflix and Spotify add up to a higher percentage of my yearly expenses than I’d anticipated. Or that the espresso machine I purchased helped save me hundreds of dollars I would have spent of daily trips to the local coffeeshop.
All in all, Moni is a fantastic app. It has a style to it that makes it a joy to use, but it’s a bit of an opinionated app, believing that you, the user, should be accounting for every transaction in your financial life. The app’s UI does all it can to cut down on the native friction to an app with such a manner, but at the end of the day, it still needs to become a habit to truly become a useful tool in your daily life.
If Moni has piqued your curiosity, give it a try today.