An In-Depth Look at 3 Personal Finance Apps for OS X

When it comes to choosing a personal finance app for your Mac, you’ve got quite a range to choose from. We even did a roundup of 15 of the best candidates a couple of months back and picking one can be quite difficult owing to all the different range of features in each one.

Well, we can’t look at all 15 individually (otherwise we’d be here until the end of the year!) but instead we’re going to look at three of the most popular in a bit more detail, Moneywiz, iBank and Money, comparing the features and, most importantly, which out of these three is the best personal finance app for you.

What am I going to be looking at?

In this roundup, I am going to be looking at and comparing the following key features I would look for in a good personal finance app:

  • The app’s interface and its overall usability.
  • Integration with financial insitutions, allowing you to download all your transactions automatically from your bank’s online banking service.
  • How the app works with basic transactions (entering an expense, schedulding, investments and so on)
  • How well the app reports on your finances.
  • Whether you can sync with a mobile device.
  • How customisable is the app?

For each app, I will give a score out of 10 then add up all the scores at the end and divide by the number of categories, thereby giving an average score.

Which programs am I going to look at?

I am going to focus on three different (and popular) personal finance apps for Mac. Bear in mind that these apps are for personal use only, e.g. tracking the balance in your checking and savings accounts and aren’t suitable for business use (e.g. accounting). These are:

  1. Moneywiz from developers Silverwiz.
  2. iBank from developers IGG Software.
  3. Money from developers Jumsoft.

So, without further ado, let’s start looking at the apps!

Introduction

All three apps that we are going to look at today are available off the Mac App Store and apart from Moneywiz, free trials are available for both products off their website. To familiarise myself with the programs, I used the free trials (which are time limited by the way, not limited in features), apart from Moneywiz for which the developers very kindly provided me with a promotional code.

Interface and Usability

One of the most important features for me when it comes to any program is how the program looks. I’m looking for clean, non-complicated interfaces and apps which don’t take 3 hours to learn how to use. Let’s see how each one stacked up:

Moneywiz

Moneywiz’s interface is exactly what I want Mac apps to be like: clean, simple and completely free of clutter. Your accounts, budgets, scheduled transactions and reports are lined up on the lefthand side in different, easy-to-access sections and all you have to do is click on the individual sections to bring each one up.

Moneywiz Main

The main interface for Moneywiz.

You can also add a new account, budget or transaction easily from the plus icons on the bottom left and right hand sides of the screen and accessing any feature of the program takes no more than a couple of mouse clicks. On starting the app a wizard also pops up which helps you set up all your accounts in Moneywiz and add their respective balances, meaning you can be up and running within a few minutes.

Score: 9 out of 10

iBank

iBank’s interface is a little more “busy” than that of Moneywiz but still manages not to overwhelm the user with loads of unnecessary features. Along the top you’ve got icons for adding new accounts, reports and budgets and, if you use iBank to manage your investments, download buttons so you can update currencies, stocks and so on.

iBank Main

The main interface for iBank.

Along the left-hand side of the app you’ve got quick and easy access to your accounts, websites (if you use online banking, for example, or certain websites to manage your investments) and budgets. Like Moneywiz, iBank also features a wizard which helps you set up your accounts (and integrate with your financial institution – more on this later)

Score: 8 out of 10

Money

Money greets the user upon opening with an extremely simple interface reminiscent a bit of iTunes. Along the left-hand side you’ve got your “library” of accounts plus easy access to your scheduler, reports, budgets, categories and so on.

Money Main

The main interface of Money.

There’s no wizard when you first start up the app but setting up your accounts is really easy thanks to Money‘s easy-to-use interface. You’ve also got quick access to reconciling your account and viewing any recently added transactions running along the bottom of the screen.

Score: 8 out of 10

Integration with Financial Institutions

Moneywiz

Unfortunately Moneywiz offers no built-in integration with financial institutions, so you’re going to have to enter all your transactions data manually. You can, however, import your bank statement file in CSV, OFX, QFX or QIF format by simply going to File then Import… and although it is better than having to enter all your transactions manually, it is certainly not as convenient as simply setting up the application to sync with your existing online banking service.

Score: 6 out of 10

iBank

iBank integrates with a whole range of financial institutions to offer either direct downloading (whereby the app connects directly to your financial insitution and securely downloads all your transactions automatically) or web download (where you log into your internet banking service through the integrated browser in iBank).

iBank FI

Adding your financial institution into iBank (although almost all are based in either the United States or Canada).

Having said that, most of the financial insitutions that are supported by iBank are either based in the United States or Canada and, as I have only got British bank accounts, I couldn’t test out this feature (I also felt a little left out of the game!).

You can also import your accounts from Quicken (either for PC or for Mac), Microsoft Money and many other financial management programs, as long as they support either QIF, OFX and QFX.

Score: 9 out of 10

Money

Like iBank, Money also supports direct download from a number of different financial institutions, although the list isn’t as great as that in iBank and the feature is hidden somewhat (you have to go into Accounts then Edit Account… to choose your financial institution). And again, like iBank, all the supported financial institutions are based either in the United States or Canada.

Money FI

Adding your financial institution in Money.

Money can also import transactions data in OFX, QFX, CSV and QIF format directly into the program.

Score: 8 out of 10

Working with Transactions

Moneywiz

Moneywiz prides itself on its overall simplicity and working with transactions is extremely easy. To add a transaction, simply click on the Plus icon in the bottom right hand side of the screen and with this you can add an expense, income, transfer between your accounts in Moneywiz and you can also adjust a particular account’s balance as well.

Moneywiz Creating Transaction

Creating a new transaction in Moneywiz.

Transactions can be sorted, filtered by period, type and status and searched through. You can also set up scheduled transactions such as expenses (for example a regular bill payment), incomes (your salary, for example) or regular transfers between accounts (for example if you transfer a portion of your salary each month to a seperate account). Any transactions that are scheduled appear on a calendar within Moneywiz giving you a clear overview. Note that the app does not automatically “pay” your scheduled transactions – you have to confirm them yourself.

Moneywiz Schedule

Your calendar of any scheduled transactions in Moneywiz.

Moneywiz unfortunately does not offer any kind of support for investments; only current (checking), savings and cash accounts and credit cards are supported (as of the most recent version). There is, however, support for all world currencies and the app also features automatic conversion and built-in exchange rates, which are updated regularly.

Score: 7 out of 10

iBank

iBank supports a much wider range of transactions than either Moneywiz or Money. Besides the standard checking and savings accounts, you can also add loans, assets, liabilities, investments and 401k plans into iBank to keep track of them. There are also more transaction categories as well which allow you to keep better track of your spending, such as ATM withdrawals, online transactions, POS (Point of Sale – e.g. spending in shops) and cheques.

iBank Range of Transactions

The range of transactions available in iBank.

Transactions can be searched through and viewed either as a list or in an iTunes “Cover Flow” style, with iBank using an icon related to the transaction’s category to display it properly. You can also mark transactions as either cleared or uncleared (useful for POS transactions or cheques as they often do not clear straight away) and, for the purposes of categories, split transactions. Example: if you spend $100 at the grocery store, with $70 on groceries (one category) and $30 on something for your car (another category) then iBank will let you split this transaction into two (or more if needed) categories.

iBank supports scheduled transactions and features full integration with iCal (Calendar from Mountain Lion) so you can set it up to alert you on all your devices when a bill is due, ensuring you don’t forget to pay it! To save you entering simulataneous transactions, the app will also let you set up transaction templates as well.

iBank Scheduled Transactions

iBank lets you confirm any scheduled transactions to help you keep track of your spending.

Besides personal everyday finance, iBank also supports investment management. You can use it to track stocks and bonds, mutual fund, commodities and so on and quotes are automatically downloaded from Yahoo! Finance ensuring you have the most up-to-date information.

Score: 10 out of 10

Money

Money supports most basic accounts plus investments, assets and loans. There is also a “smart account” feature which gathers and updates information from all other acounts based on the information that you specift. Besides the basic transaction functions, Money can split transactions into two categories (like iBank) and you can add tags and attachments to individual transactions as well (for example, a scanned copy of the receipt).

Money Categories

Choosing a category for a particular transaction in Money.

Money also supports scheduled transactions and unlike Moneywiz can pay them automatically if desired (in the case of direct debits, for example).

Score: 8 out of 10

Reporting

Moneywiz

Moneywiz can report on most things including net worth, forecast your cash flow (if you have scheduled transactions, for example), pick out particular spending trends and so on.

Moneywiz Reports

A report created in Moneywiz, showing spending trends for the coming months based on previous spending plus any scheduled transactions entered into the app.

Any reports created can be viewed full screen and either saved locally to Moneywiz for later viewing or exported as either a PDF or CSV file.

Score: 7 out of 10

iBank

iBank features dynamic reports that update automatically as you make changes to your data and the app can analyse your spending habits either by category/payee over time and report on your account balances, taxable spending and debt management. You can view extended details about anything you see on screen and any scheduled transactions are used to forecast account balances or spending projections for the future. Reports can also be limited to certain categories as well.

iBank Report

A report created with iBank, showing both income and expenses sorted according to category.

When it comes to choosing categories for your expenses or income, you can define each category as either taxable or non-taxable and (if necessary) assign it a tax code, which ensures complete accuracy when it comes to filling out your tax return. iBank also supports investment reporting which helps generate reports relating to capital gains tax, security income, portfolio diversity and returns on investment.

Score: 9 out of 10

Money

Money has a wide range of different reports available (13, according to the developer’s website) and each report can be tailored to suit either a particular time period or a particular category or range of categories.

Money Reports

A list of different reports generated using Money

Some reports can be presented either in pie or bar chart format and can easily be saved and shared directly from the app. Like iBank, Money also allows you to edit categories and define them as either taxable or non-taxable, which again comes in useful when it’s time to fill out your annual tax return.

Score: 8 out of 10

Mobile Sync

Moneywiz

With the built-in Sync Everything! service, you can keep all your financial information in sync across all devices that have Moneywiz installed. There is an iPhone and iPad app available on the App Store and signing up to the cloud service is free – simply enter your e-mail address and a password of your choice from within the app.

Moneywiz Sync Everything

The Sync Everything! feature on Moneywiz ensures that your data stays uniform across all your devices.

The iPad version is virtually identical to the Mac version in terms of look and both versions for iOS have nearly all the features present in the Mac version – adding transactions, transferring between accounts, reporting and so on. Although the app takes no data relating to your account (e.g. your account number or routing transit number), any data synchronised to Sync Everything! is secure and encrypted using industry-standard AES encryption techniques.

Score: 9 out of 10

iBank

iBank has a sister app, iBank Mobile which is available on the iPhone and iPad and allows you to perform basic commands, such as adding transactions, reviewing account balances and so on. There is no cloud service and the apps sync via Wi-Fi over your local network or any WebDAV server.

Although a little more feature-rich, the iPad version is quite expensive at $14.99 and does not update itself automatically in the background (this is available via a yearly subscription of $39.99!). Although I have not tested the app personally, judging by the comments left on the App Store it seems to deliver more of a punch on the price, rather than on the features front.

Score: 6 out of 10

Money

Like the other two apps we’ve looked at today, there is also a version of Money for both the iPhone and iPad (and, unlike iBank, are much more sensibly priced!). Both apps allow you to perform a variety of basic “tasks” such as checking your balance, adding new expenses and scheduling transactions and both apps sync to your Mac via local Wi-Fi and a PIN code, which is defined when you first set the apps up.

Score: 8 out of 10

Conclusion

Well, there you have it – a quick look at some of the key features of these three great personal finance programs. Now all that remains is to add up the scores!

Moneywiz

Moneywiz received a total of 38 points out of a possible 50, giving it an average score of 7.6 out of 10. I loved the app’s interface (it is easily the smartest out of the three) and ease-of-use but I felt that the app really was limited somewhat in comparison to the other two. It is great as an app for simply managing your accounts and the cloud synchronisation service is by far the easiest to use but when compared to the likes of iBank and Money (especially when it comes to investment management), it does fall short on a couple of points.

Having said that, though, if you just want a nice, simple app to keep track of your finances then Moneywiz is a great option. It is available exclusively on the App Store and is very favourably priced at only $24.99.

Money

Money received a total of 40 points in my roundup, giving it an average score of 8 out of 10. The app does pack more of a punch features-wise in comparison to Moneywiz and features more advanced reporting and customisation possibilities (being able to define categories as taxable or non-taxable, for example). Don’t be fooled by the decidedly simple interface – Money is packing a lot of hidden features and is a good strong contender for a personal finance app.

Money is available exclusively off the App Store and is priced at $38.99.

iBank

Today’s winner, however, is iBank which scored a total of 42 points out of a possible, giving it an average score of 8.4 out of 10. Although both Moneywiz and Money feature better interfaces in my opinion, iBank’s features cannot be matched and the range of different financial products supported by the app plus the advanced reporting features make this a very useful app to keep track of all your finances, no matter what form they are in.

The only thing that slightly lets iBank down is the mobile apps (especially the iPad app, which in my opinion is extremely overpriced). If you can live with these, then go for iBank, as although it is the most expensive, you won’t find a more powerful range of features out there.

iBank is available either on the App Store or via the developer’s website and is priced at $59.99.


  • Marc

    The comment section in the previous roundup mentioned YNAB a LOT.
    http://mac.appstorm.net/roundups/finance-roundups/15-personal-finance-apps-for-the-mac/

    Still no mention?

    • Gus

      Really, YNAB is the best one. I’ve tried numerous personal finance apps, but no-one seemed to stick with me. It was always a hassle to continue but with YNAB I actually stick with it. The Budget feature which is great just lets you roll with whatever is happening.

      Not only that, the support is awesome. And they have info for almost anything you would like on either their huge FAQ with video chat-lectures or pre-recorded ones (even though they were a bit old last time I checked). A great company making a great product is something you should put there.

      One downside though, no Windows Phone app. That sucks for me.

    • Xyfix

      yup.. agreed. I don’t think other apps can compete with YNAB. especially on usability, features and most importantly the 4 rules of YNAB.

      • Chris

        I agree with the YNAB mention. Best budgeting tool I’ve ever used. It’s helped me stay on top of my finances and dig our family out of debt. Now we have a savings account, and can pay cash for everything … all with having even less income than we did last year. It’s been absolutely amazing. YNAB has been the tool that’s helped us do that.

        To be fair and give mention to another I will say that only thing that comes close to YNAB is maybe MoneyWell, but YNAB works very well for our family.

  • Marc

    But I have to say that this article was a great one, detailed with screenshots etc…

  • Juz

    A good quick article, but an area I was left wondering about was Budgeting. How do the apps allow you to set budgets (flexibility of monthly, bi-weekly, every X weeks etc is important here), modify them and track expenditure against them over any period? Moneywiz has something, just wondering how easy it is.

    That is an area where Moneywell, my current app is very strong.
    http://nothirst.com/moneywell/

    Another area I like is auto-completing transactions (e.g. setting category and payee based on transaction detail) such that i don’t have to. Not something covered here, but worth considering.

    And frankly, the “download transactions” item should be worth double points. That is a deal breaker for any finance app (and frankly, finance app review) I look at.

  • Luke Bacon

    Great review – thanks! It’s perhaps worth pointing out, as an iBank user, that the iPad version offers some slightly unique features which perhaps aren’t as well advertised as they should be. The annual subscription offers Direct Access for a far wider range of bank accounts than are included in the desktop product – including all of mine that are based in the UK with most major high street banks. My understanding is that the increased cost associated with this is because it’s delivered through a third party provider.

  • http://www.cjred.com CJ Dayrit

    funny…. i actually use these 3 finance apps everyday! though moneywiz still has the best syncing across iDevices.

  • Blair

    I know someone’s gonna say this eventually, so I might as well. Ha. What about You Need A Budget? The best personal finance app that never gets any attention or any articles written about it. I’ve used YNAB for two years now and there tech support is like no other and they really care about their software. It’s a very unique budgeting system makes it stand out from all the competition. And it’s charts are some of the most beautiful you’ll ever see in a finance app/software. Out of all the software I own, I actually rave about this one, and yet, no one else seems too. Ha. And the less attention it gets the more I feel compelled to rave about it. Guess I’m just loony. Ha. I urge everyone to try it out to see for themselves – they have a trial after all :)
    http://www.youneedabudget.com

    • http://www.cjred.com CJ Dayrit

      Yah true this is one serious budgeting app and will definitely change your financial management and i also urge everyone to try. But my current problem is its very ugly in the rMBP right now.

  • Pavig

    I’m surprised iCompta doesn’t get more of a mention. Though somewhat obscure, it’s extremely flexible and has great integration. I moved to it after quicken and have found it to be one of the few real competitors. http://www.lyricapps.com/iCompta/

  • Alexia

    Thank for review James. Recommend to complement them with free extended calculators like Numi (http://getnumi.info) to be more productive.

  • Mel

    This is awfully late, after your excellent reviews, but assuming one is migrating from Quicken (windows) to Mac, how well does each of the personal finance software — IBank, Money4 or Moneywiz — accurately import data from Quicken files? Are tags, assigned expense accounts, running balances, etc., imported accurately and in correct columns and places? If one has years of Quicken data, it makes sense to go with a program that will not screw it up.

  • Roger Kinrade

    I have been looking for an accounting package for some while, and looked at iBank. Unfortunately, despite what you say, it DOES NOT interface to my iPad. It will only interface with iPad 2 and above. That makes this product more than £400.00 in my case and way way to expensive to consider.
    It is important when reviewing proDucts to. Check the small print and ensure if you say it works with iPad, that it will work with all of them.

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