Pinch Your Pennies with Squirrel

Everyone wants to be rich. That’s a great goal to have, but it usually takes a multitude of consistent steps over an extended period of time to actually get there. One half of the equation is to earn more than what you are making right now, and fast. From freelancing to running a business fulltime, there are so many options to explore when it comes to creating a new revenue stream.

Another half of the equation is taking control of your fund outflow by managing expenses. It might be a cliche, but a penny saved is indeed equivalent to a penny earned. Either way, you will have to keep track of both the income and expenses diligently. Squirrel helps you track and plan your finances on your Mac, let’s check it out.

User Interface

Squirrel is a personal finance application for Mac. In this day and age, managing personal finance has shifted largely to smartphone apps and a standalone desktop only version doesn’t make much sense. But wait! Squirrel has a companion app that syncs with your iPhone as well.

User Interface

User Interface

Squirrel doesn’t have a revolutionary interface design but instead comes with a standard three columned layout. An user interface with multiple columns isn’t anything new, but the layout is both attractive and effective. An option to collapse one column among the three at will makes the experience all the more pleasant.

Getting Started

Updating Currency

Updating Currency

I wasn’t sure how Squirrel found the country I was residing in but it automatically configured the app to the local currency, complete with the official symbol (the app might have got the info from the app store). To change it, head over to the Preferences section and use the drop down to select the right currency.

If you are from a different geographic area than the currency selected, Squirrel offers to convert it to the local currency too. Impressive!

Adding an Entry

Adding an Entry

Use the + symbol in the middle column to add new entries to the default account. All aspects of a transaction can be entered along with notes and tags. Use the down arrow to mark an expense or the up arrow for an income. Tags can be added on the fly and all tags can be accessed while adding a transaction.

Squirrel tallies every entry and displays the balance besides every account in the left pane. Bigger fonts would go a long way though!

Adding Accounts

Creating a New Account.jpg

Creating a New Account.jpg

You can create new accounts, folders or smart folders by using the + sign at the lower left corner of the window. Besides the name, you can select the currency for every new account and add the conversion value (if any) too. Once you create and add transactions to new accounts, the app balances all accounts and displays the total balance instantly.

Smart Folders and Rules

Smart Folders and Rules

Smart folders help you create filters to your transactions. Based on the type of criteria you set, transactions are filed into their respective folders. You can go nuts with the rules you can set and is a cool feature if you have too many transactions of similar kind.

Scheduled transactions and Budgets

Squirrel helps you track forthcoming scheduled transactions – like rent, bills etc. – and warns you when one of them is due to be paid.

Creating a Scheduled Transaction

Creating a Scheduled Transaction

The transaction amount can be static or dynamic. In cases of a dynamic transaction, you can specify any interests or cashback that the transaction might entitle and the values will be adjusted accordingly.

Scheduled Transactions

Scheduled Transactions

As I noted earlier, living within your means is the key to wealth and you can achieve that by setting a budget. Squirrel lets you watch your expenses and earnings using user defined categories or tags. Just set your allowances and stick to the budget by keeping an eye over the limits available every passing day. Squirrel also shows you the history of each budget, so you can analyse your spendings habits, and set your allowance accordingly in the upcoming months.

Reports

Colorful charts in the Reports section help you see your spending patterns. Squirrel generates interactive charts to show you where your money is going, based on your categories and tags. You can also print and export PDF files from your reports.

Reports

Reports

In addition to the colorful pie charts, you can skim through your past transactions using the history graph. Want to see what happened on a particular date? Just click on the graph and Squirrel will show you all the relevant transactions!

And for those particular about interoperability, you can import files in various popular formats like OFE (Open Financial Exchange), QIF (Quicken Interchange Format) and CSV (Comma Separated Values).

Final Thoughts

Squirrel features a powerful set of tools to allow you to manage your money from an attractive and minimal interface. When I say powerful, I really mean it! I have only been accustomed to a personal finance app on my iPhone and after seeing Squirrel, I really understand how useful a desktop companion app would be.

One major flaw with Squirrel is something we hardly ever come across. I encountered a spelling mistake in the menu item and the instructions on screen are poorly written and often tough to comprehend. Minor glitches these might be, but they make a serious dent to the image of an otherwise flawless app!


Summary

Squirrel is a personal finance application for Mac which helps you track and plan your finance with ease.

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  • table

    It would’ve been nice if you had experience using other personal finance applications (Quicken, iBank, Moneywell, etc.) and could compare against those, especially the actual finance parts.

    For example, what account types are offered? Between the developer’s website and this review, it seems only checking and credit card accounts are supported. Can each account type be in a different currency and transfers between different accounts allow the user to override the FX rate? Can you run expense reports against groups of accounts? (e.g. all grocery, gas and utilities costs between the checking accounts and credit cards),

    Squirrel seems to be a very basic and barebones personal finance application but this review doesn’t tell you that — you have to read in between the lines to squirrel this out. It’s a nice introduction but I do not think this was an actual review and no score should have been accorded.

    • http://nataliav.me Natalia Ventre

      I’m a Squirrel user, the account types are checking, savings, friend, cash and credit card, you can set up accounts in different currencies, make transfers between them and overwrite the amounts if necessary.

      The reports can be customized by account, category, tag, etc.

  • http://www.iconbox.ch Artemidis

    I have been using squirrel for a few years but I decided to change to Money by Jumsoft. Squirrel is nice and the developer is a great guy, but the development of squirrel is just to slow… The iPhone sync is broken since 5 months… The promised iPad app is not even in beta status… and so on. That’s why I changed to Money…

    It would have been great if you have compared other apps with Squirrel.

  • wannabgeek

    I actually find the minimalist interface much more appealing than the other players.

    The big advantage that Squirrel has over the opposition is it’s reporting ability. It can use tags, smart folders and filters to enable reporting that is much more advanced than it’s competitors.

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