Holding yourself to accounts

04 Mar 2017

A different subject altogether in this post, personal finance - and what I think is the best personal accounts software on the Mac platform.

I'm a great believer in keeping careful accounts of ones income and expenditure. Among the advantages is the ability it gives you to analyse precisely where your money is coming from and going to. Unless you keep a record, you can only guess at your major expense areas.

Some banks help you to categorise all your expenses made through your bank account. That could be enough for some people, but for me, with several accounts in two countries (Sweden and UK), the only way I can get a proper handle on my finances is by using a computer programme.

When I was a Windows user, I swore by Quicken. It was (and I think still is on the Windows platform) an excellent bit of software. But when I moved to Mac over five years ago, I had to abandon Quicken because its Mac version doesn't cut the mustard.

I tried several programmes and then settled on iFinance. It has many strengths, and did me quite well for a few years. But when I tried Igg Software's iBank (later renamed Banktivity), I knew it offered me more of what I needed, particularly in the field of multiple currency handling. This is a really vital area for me.

Migrating data from iFinance to Banktivity was relatively straightforward, though quite time consuming. Once that was done, I have not looked back. There have been one or two small gripes and bugs, but on the whole I am very satisfied.

Igg has recently announced the impending release of version 6, with a number of enhancements. I got a chance to take a beta version for a test drive, and can say that it is definitely worth the upgrade for existing Banktivity users - as well as making the case for new users moving to Banktivity even more compelling.

Among the new features that stand out are the ability to tag transactions (opening the way to more powerful reporting), a useful quick reports system, and most importantly universal search allowing you to search all accounts for a transaction.

Most powerful of all are the new Zones which you can set up the way you want, with two or more areas to display content side by side to enable better overview and comparison.

The help system is very good - an important thing for software this powerful.

Not everything is an improvement, in my view. It is very annoying not to be able to see at a glance your net worth on the base screen (it was there in Banktivity 5 but in 6 you have to go to the Overview Summary screen). There is more powerful filtering of transactions in the account view, but you have to click twice to do this; I prefer the one click options of version 5.

On my wish list would be a 'Go the the end' button to jump to the most recent transaction when you are at the top of the list.

There is a bug which means that when you sort by date, your choice is not remembered. No doubt they will fix this before final release.

But overall, it is an exciting and useful upgrade. And I have not even written about some of the features such as budgeting and portfolio management - since I don't use those.

So if you are a Mac user and have not tried Banktivity, give it a go. And if you don't keep personal finance accounts, try it. The feeling of being in control, in the sense of knowing exactly where you stand, is well worth the time and effort involved in keeping things in order. And holding yourself to accounts!


Note: They also do versions for the iPad and iPhone. These offer very limited functionality compared to the Mac version and are, in my view, disappointing.