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Open your palm but don’t spread the fingers. Elders in my country say that if there are gaping holes between your fingers, you must be bad in managing your money. Their “logical” explanation goes like this: no matter how much money you have in your hand, because there are holes, everything will slip away easily.

Call me superstitious, but I believe them. I happen to be a “holes in hands” kind of person. My monthly income today is several times over my first salary, but at the end of every month, I’m in the same position as I’ve always been: zero amount in my bank account with no idea where the money went.

With several mouths to feed, I realize that I can’t go on like this forever. I have to take action to improve my financial life.

Improving is not only about increasing the income, but also about stopping the bleeding – by cutting the unnecessary spending. To be able to do that, I have to know the details of the ins and outs. I desperately need software to manage finances.

Powerful Money Manager

I consider finding iCompta around the same time as reading Dean’s article MoneyManager2 - Easily Manage Your Money On Your Mobile Phone MoneyManager2 - Easily Manage Your Money On Your Mobile Phone Read More as a nudge to start managing my money more seriously. I’ve come across Buddi before (mentioned here Students: Free Apps To Help You Excel at School [Mac only] Students: Free Apps To Help You Excel at School [Mac only] Read More , here 15 Cool Tools for Easy Expense Tracking and Budgeting 15 Cool Tools for Easy Expense Tracking and Budgeting Read More and here Free Alternatives to 10 Popular Commercial Mac Applications Free Alternatives to 10 Popular Commercial Mac Applications Read More ), but never succeeded in persuading me to take the first step.

After playing around with iCompta a little bit and seeing what it can do, I think I’ll settle with this particular software to manage finances.

There are three categories on the left pane:

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  • Accounts: is the place to list down all your accounts such as bank accounts, Paypal, and credit cards; and all the money that comes in and out. You can set different currencies and assign different persons for each account.
  • Budgets: is the place to list down your expense and income. You can put household, personal and/or company budget here.
  • People: is the place to list down the people with the account. They could be family members, office partners, or just yourself.

00 Three categories.jpg

You can add new accounts, budgets, and people clicking on the ‘Add’ button at the bottom left of the window.

04 Add New.jpg

I don’t live in a country that trades with the US dollar so the first thing that I adjusted was the “Categories & Currencies”

01a Categories & Currencies.jpg

The app automatically put my country’s currency as the default. And every time I added a new one, iCompta would connect to the web and automatically calculate the exchange rate using the default currency as the base.

01c Currencies.jpg

There’s also an option to add categories here. Just click on the plus button (+), define the category, and choose a color for it. You’d want to add as many detailed categories as possible because they will come in handy later.

01b Categories.jpg

The next step I took was creating accounts. Aside from assigning name, there are also options to set the currency, account type, owner and co-owner of the account. If you have cards (credit and debit) related to the account, you could add them here.

02a New Account.jpg

Finished with the accounts, I moved on to People. iCompta integrates well with Mac’s address book so you could get the names from it. Don’t forget to set the currency for each person.

03 New Person.jpg

Then there are the budgets. They are the tools to track the money flow on a periodical basis. For each budget item, you could add related accounts and categories with their amount. The amount could be positive (credit) or negative (debit). To set a repeating budget, leave the ending date empty.

05 Budget-2.jpg

The hardest part

Basically, that’s about everything that you have to do to start managing your money with iCompta. But the hardest part is yet to come.

To really get the result, you have to use the app consistently. Add each and every transaction right after it happens and do not procrastinate. (I’m actually talking to myself here)

iCompta comes with tools to help you with the general monitoring and overall progress. There are reports, statistic pie chart, and balance evolution graph. All these are accessible from the bottom bar of the window.

06 Reports-1.jpg

Since I’ve just started, I don’t have anything to show yet. We’ll see what happens after a month. With the help of iCompta, I think I’ll be able make a difference.

One thing is missing, though; iCal integration. It would be nice if iCompta could add regular expenses to iCal and create reminder few days before they are due.

Do you manage your financial life? Have you tried iCompta? Do you know other free alternatives? Share using the comment below.

  1. Steve Katz
    November 29, 2009 at 4:32 pm

    I've been using Buddi for a couple of years now. I like it because of it's simplicity, and, incidentally, it really works.
    In regard to handling money, I recently posted an article called "Money" on my blog, whilewalkingthedog.com. It's an interesting observation on what happens when you don't understand how money works.
    Cordially, Steve

  2. Leisureguy
    November 29, 2009 at 11:52 am

    Money slipping out of your grasp? Sounds to me like implicit spending. This (free) Excel workbook will enable you to locate the holes through which the money drains so that you can put your budget on a foundation of reality.

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