Personally speaking, I like simple tools. That’s why I dive into the MakeUseOf Directory and mine it for something that’s useful and simple. This time around I found The Birdy which as a personal finance tool is as simple as they come.
Anyone who hates the sight of a balance sheet will tell you that handling and managing household finance is often an arduous task. Heck, it’s even a marital bone of contention. That’s where The Birdy steps in with its dead simple one-email-a-day approach.
Of course, you can easily use something like Google Calendar or even a “spends and expenses” notebook, but The Birdy takes your simple financial entries and uses simple graphs to explain where you are spending your salary on. Plus, it reminds you daily with an email.
Let’s head for the (free) registration page and enter The Birdy.
How Does The Birdy Help Track Your Spending
You just have to watch your inbox. At a user-defined time, the personal finance tracker will send you an email. Here’s how the first email from The Birdy looks like:
As explained in the email, tracking your expenses for the day simply involves listing them down – one item per line. What’s of special interest are the hashtags used to format each of your expense items on the list.
The Purpose of HashTags to Track Your Expenses
Inspired by Twitter’s hashtags, The Birdy also uses hashtags to categorize your spending. Categorization helps in finally narrowing down your expenses to major spends like food, clothing, education etc. You can enter any hashtag you want for your purchases and even multiple ones for an individual purchase. For instance, you can put down a business lunch expense as both #food and #business. By adding multiple hashtags, The Birdy lets you emulate the arrangement of categories and sub-categories.
The Dashboard – Control Room for Tracking Your Finances
The Dashboard is where you can make sense of all your spending. It is dominated by the large pie-graph you see on the screen.
The Birdy gives you a few more options to enter your spends – you can of course, email them daily; you can also text them if you are in the U.S.; and you can enter them manually by clicking on the green Add a purchase button. The Add a purchase button is helpful for quickly entering details if you happen to have been amiss in entering your details for a day or more.
You can also look into the Calendar for a day by day view of expenses. Clicking on a date opens a pop-up with the individual hashtagged details.
The details come from the Purchases page. You can edit the details or delete them altogether. You can sort all your purchases by tags (which act as categories) or by age (Newest / Oldest). A CSV export of your purchase expenses is also provided.
The Tags page is the place where you can manage all your tags. You can combine two tags to bring separate expense heads together. You can of course, edit individual tags and modify their names if you wish.
First impressions could make you think that The Birdy is for U.S. only (only the text sms service is). That’s not so, as you can see on the Account Settings page. The Birdy supports major international currencies. Set the currency of choice, the time zone, and the time when you would like to receive the email, and you are pretty much set to track your daily expenses in a super simple way.
An iPhone, Android, or mobile app would have completed the picture…maybe, that’s in the near future (there’s a poll on the blog asking for desired features).
I am not too much for finance and complex financial tracking. The Birdy does not connect to my bank accounts; it remains a simple and secure tool to keep me within my budgets. How about your fiscal discipline? Is The Birdy easy as pie for you?