What do you need in a finance management app?

This is a copy-paste from my Reddit topic. I was asked by the mods and some users to post a topic on the forum as well, since Reddit doesn’t have the same users.


Hi there!

Following on a very popular thread here I saw that nobody had a definitive answer as to how to manage finances if you don’t trust Mint, YNAB, and others. Some were using self-hosted apps, some — apps with a very outdated UI (e.g., GNU Cash), some — spreadsheet software which is arguably even worse than outdated UI.

I believe privacy and good UI/UX are not mutually exclusive. I make a PFM web app, and I want it to be both very privacy-friendly AND user-friendly. I know how to make it privacy-friendly: the app is and will always be open-sourced (GitHub), and it uses real e2e encryption for every meaningful bit of data. So the privacy is there.

But to make it useful and user-friendly I also need to know what requirements people have. I believe some potential early adopters may be here on this subreddit, so it would mean a world to me if you answered a few questions:

  1. how do you manage your finances now? Details would be super helpful. What do you track exactly (loans, mortgages, assets, expenses/incomes, etc.)? How often do you do it?
  2. are you satisfied with it? is there anything missing in your current solution?
  3. imagine there are no tech limits at all. What should the most perfect (like, 10 times better than anything available on the market) solution do?

I really appreciate any help :heart: It’ll be very helpful in building a privacy-focused alternative for a very popular need. Thanks!

1 Like

You should go to privacytools element room and techlores room too

2 Likes

1. Closed source paid (one-time) app on Android. They have a web interface but it’s clunky and somewhat limited in features.
I use it together with my wife (we share income and expenses). We track everything you mentioned but the mortgage (it’s just tracked as a monthly expense, no complicated calculations). Every income and expense is manually typed into the app the same day it happens.
Android app has sections:

  • Income sources (Salary, Investments, Tax return, etc)
  • Accounts (Current, Deposit, Credit Card (I put a zero there, so it goes minus if I use it, same if I loaned some money from a friend))
  • Expenses (everything you can think about)

Every separate expense can have a label and a tag. You can browse monthly reports grouped by labels, and I think tags are used for searching and as memos (let’s say it’s one time Home Appliance purchase at Ebay, you don’t want a label, but you can add a tag to remember what it was).

Income Sources and Expenses both have an optional planned monthly value in small print, so you can quickly measure how much more you will get or spend. Expenses also change color if you spend too little or too much and it estimates that you’ll save money by the end of the month or the opposite.

The mobile app only uses drag and drop (can also import from SMS, but I don’t give it an access).
So you can drag from Income Source to an Account, between Accounts and from an Account to Expense.

2. Mostly yes, I just would like a platform independent web app, too.

3. Voice input with on-device speech recognition (working offline).

Hey <App name> expense 42 grocery label walmart yesterday
and a less formal option:
Hey <App name> I spent 42 bucks on grocery at walmart yesterday, please put that in

P.S. I looked up your Twitter and it seems we may have a same native language. Feel free to PM me if you need some more specifics about the app I use.

1 Like

I currently use Homebank. It seems to be sufficient for tracking family finances. Its fairly easy enough to use. It is open source software and is generally available on most Linux distros.

Previously i just used a regular Libre Office spreadsheet and after a year, it was a bit cumbersome to use.

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Cash, receipts, and an LibreOffice Calc document with some custom formulas makes up my budgeting and money management.

I have very few expenses and live a frugal life, so this system works out quite well for me.

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Thanks a lot for your elaborate response!

The mobile app only uses drag and drop

plus

it seems we may have a same native language

and I immediately know what app you’re talking about :joy: That’s kind of a hit among out people, that’s true.

I’ll reach up to you, as I have a few more questions :slight_smile:

I would never argue that Homebank and GNU Cash are limited in functions, but it’s hard to call them simple or pleasant to use for a regular person. As a simple exercise I tried to use both before started doing my app, as it is pointless to try to replicate a pre-existing solution.

I’m fairly confident I’m above the majority of the users in terms of financial knowledge and UX/UI understanding, so when I say it was difficult for me, it means it should be almost impossible for others.

Can I also ask you a few questions in DM?