As the sole proprietor of a small business, one of the things I struggle most with is money management. It’s not that I’m bad with money; it’s that my income flow is erratic and hard to keep up with. I’ve tried using Mint, but I find that it spends too much time asking me to volunteer my banking information, and not enough time letting me live my life like I normally would. Its focus on budgets isn’t very manageable.
When I set out to try Dollarbird, it looked like it handled everything I needed for my basic needs. It makes me aware of how much I’m spending and allows me to monitor my cashflow, all without presuming it knows more than I do about my finances. Let’s take a deep dive into the app and see if it could work as well for you.
What Dollarbird Is
Dollarbird is a simple, but still highly functional app for managing your money. It allows you to monitor your transactions throughout the month, and doesn’t ask for any access to bank accounts. Because there’s no user ID or cloud saving, that means that your financial information is kept completely private, which I really appreciate. Beyond that, you can also protect access to the app with a password, which makes handling your finances a little more secure.
The way Dollarbird works is simple: you purchase something, pull out your phone, and punch the purchase into the app manually. That sounds like a pain, but that’s the compromise you pay for wanting additional privacy. You also add any income or related money straight to the app.
The app keeps a rolling number at the bottom of a monthly calendar view that allows you to see how much cash you have left. It also displays your income and expenses on a daily basis. In other words Dollarbird is all about tracking what’s important: cash on hand.
I’m busy trying to pay student debts, so not overspending is becoming more and more important to me. I need to make sure I have some cash in my accounts at all times. I know that, at the end of the month, a certain amount of money will automatically disappear from my account and be transferred to lines of credit that I accumulated over my college years. Dollarbird lets me plan for that accordingly. I can enter future expenses, and because Dollarbird is smart enough to let me schedule all my bills, I can set up that expense to appear on my forecast every month. I can even set up a reminder so I know my money is being withdrawn.
Dollarbird takes my future expenses into account when it’s calculating how much money I have on hand. It keeps a month cycle, so it doesn’t take all future expenses into I account. This is a clever away to avoid being constantly in the red. It also helps me avoid my biggest issue: I frequently forget that I have some expenses coming right out of my account, and think that my chequing account’s balance is my actual spending money when it’s not. Dollarbird helps me keep focused on what I actually have available and let’s me live in my means.
Dollarbird also comes with some handy analysis tools. You can see a graph of your past and upcoming months, which is handy if your receive a regular paycheck. With one quick glance, you can look at your total expenditures for the month and analyses what categories you’re spending the most in. Neither of these features are as powerful as they afore-mentioned Mint, but because they’re a little more user-customizable, they feel more flexible.
The easiest way I can think of to describe Dollarbird, as a whole, is this: it’s a user-controlled forecast app for your personal finances. In that sense, it’s quickly becoming my most-used iPhone app. But its features would be nothing if it were not four Dollarbird’s implementation.
Banking on Design
Dollarbird fits right in on iOS 7 with its colourful iconography and simplicity. When I sat down to write the review, I had to review the app to make sure I wasn’t missing any obvious features. Its simple monthly calendar layout and lack of options make the app understated, but visually obvious.
There’s a few things that I really like about the app, though, so I’m going to point them out. I love that the current date is bold and the selected date is highlighted in blue. I especially love the iconography. Each spending category is given a small, round icon with its own colour. Categories are user-customizable, so I was able to create categories for Work and Tech-related purchases. Sadly, the app does not allow you to choose a unique icon for new categories, but it does allow you to choose colours. There’s a plethora of options to choose from as well.
All this is wrapped up in an app that’s simple and delightful to use. There’s one powerful feature I haven’t had time to write about, though. In the Settings, you can export all your information to a CSV file. While I don’t need that, I know a lot of people are going to love the ability to get their monthly expenses off their phone and onto their computers, so I applaud the developer for allowing the user that sort of power.
Dollarbird is an app that’s both playfully designed and surprisingly powerful. The app lets you track all of your meaningful personal expenses without ever getting in the way of your actual life. The developer says that versions are coming for Android, iPad, and the web, but I hope those don’t infringe on the privacy that I feel is essential in making Dollarbird what it is.
Most importantly for me, Dollarbird is a financial app that I actually want to use. Highly recommended.