Stay On Top of Your Bills with Bills to Pay

Keeping on top of all the bills that come in can be difficult. Have you ever wished you had an app to help you stay on top of them without much trouble, that didn’t cost an arm-and-leg like most financial apps? If so, you’re in luck.

Bills to Pay is exactly what the title hints at: an application in which you note the bills you need to pay. A newcomer to the App Store, Bills To Pay is priced at $5 which is low enough for anyone’s budget. But is it worth the admission price? Let’s find out.

We’ll imagine a scenario: we need to pay three bills in the following three weeks:

  • we paid a translator to translate a document for us, but he is UK based and charged us £10
  • we have an electricity bill for 800HRK (I live in Croatia, bear with me – it’s around $150)
  • we owe 6000HRK ($1000) for plane tickets to our cousin for last month’s trip to Canada

We know we’ve got some money coming in from our freelance design work, but it won’t all come at once and we need to pace out the payments. What we need is a finance app that can help us do that. Enter “Bills to Pay”.

After purchasing the app and installing it, it neatly embeds itself into our OSX menu bar. It sits there silently, until we click it when an empty screen greets us telling us to add a new bill by clicking the plus button at the bottom. Right off the bat we notice it recognised our local currency based on system settings, as the bottom of the window says HRK.

We proceed to add our bills onto the list. We know we’ll be getting the first influx of money in a couple of days, and we assume it should be enough to pay for the first bill, so, provided it’s October 9th, we decide we’ll pay that one on October 14th. The second bundle of money will be coming in around the 20th, at which point we figure we should be able to pay the electricity bill. Whatever we have left goes to the cousin – he can wait. Let’s add the bill.

Realising we can only define amounts in our local currency, we are disappointed but we adjust and enter the current local equivalent, 120HRK. We set the date and leave the frequency at “Once”, and save. This adds our bill to the list and colours it orange, since the deadline is only 5 days away. The colour in the menu bar is a bit distracting, however, especially if it has to sit there for 5 days.

Let’s add the electricity bill now. Since this bill arrives monthly, we might as well put the frequency at Monthly and change the next month’s amount when the bill arrives with “Edit”.

Finally, let’s add the debt to the cousin onto the list as well. We don’t know when we’ll be able to cover it, so we would prefer not to leave a date, but the application forces our hand and we pick October 31st.

It is now October 15th, and the money has yet to arrive. PayPal must be delaying it to get some more interest, so our BTP flag turns red – we are overdue. The notification popup lets us know this as well. Just as we close the notification we get an email from the bank that our payment went through. We pay the first bill and check it off the list by clicking “Paid”.

We are pleasantly surprised to see it ask us how much of the bill we want to mark as paid, but since we got enough to cover the whole amount, we just click ok and see it fade out before our eyes. Where did it go, though? Can we somehow find out which bills we’ve paid and how much total we’ve spent on a service of a given name/category? Sadly, no.

On October 18th we get a call from our cousin saying he urgently needs at least some money due to his own debts. The priority of our debt to him has escalated, and we would prefer to alter the order of the bills, or sort them by some kind of priority flag. Alas, this feature does not exist and the only thing we can do is move the date up. Without knowing when we’ll get the money, moving the date seems pointless, so we leave it as it is.

It is now the 20th, and we got 3000HRK for the logo we made last month. This means we can cover the electricity bill which, by now, has generated several warnings from the electricity company, so that’s what we do. Immediately, the bill disappears and another appears in its place with the date exactly one month in the future. Satisfied by BTP’s automation, we turn our focus to the debt to our cousin. We are left with 2200HRK, so we pay this partial amount and mark it as such. The amount decreases, and all we can do now is wait for our next bundle of cash.

Time to hit the specwork sites and look for more gigs.

Verdict

On one hand, the app is very light weight and integrates into the menu bar unintrusively. It’s very fast, and the interface is intuitive and very easy to learn.

However, the app does have its downsides. The inability to change currency is a critical flaw. Not all people operate in their local currency, and forcing them to use it renders the app more tedious to use than it should be what with the forced conversions. The ability to see paid bills and their total sum is another missing feature – sometimes I forget whether or not I’ve paid a given bill, or just want to know how much I spend on a given service every month. Prioritisation and email notifications would be great, too, but the app never advertised having those, so one can’t exactly call them “missing” features. Still, the app feels incomplete, and at $5, it just cannot rival the likes of free and near perfect applications like Todoist or Cashbase – both multi platform unlike this one, and both available on mobile devices as well.

Conclusion

Bills To Pay is exactly what it advertises it is. It’s an app focused on bills and on reminding you to pay them at a given date. While there is some limited customisation (you can change whether or not the app should notify you in the preferences, and how long before the deadline, you can also define the notification repeat rate, annoyance level, basic sorting and whether or not to open the app at system login), there are certain features that are definitive deal breakers due to which we cannot give this application more than 5 / 10. A valiant attempt, but definitely needs more work.


Summary

An iCloud-synced app to help you keep on top of your bills

5
  • Anthony

    Why pay for something like this, when with just as much work; but free (as it comes with OS X), you can use iCal/Calendar to do the same thing. I have it setup and it has worked perfectly since Puma. So, though we can use and pay for applications, when it scores only a mediocre review, users might want to investigate and use already existing tools that come with the OS.

  • http://www.tunabellysoftware.com Tunabelly Software

    We’ve gotten great feedback from our customers and the two biggest requests for Bills To Pay are a history view and the ability to use different currencies.

    We will be adding both features in version 2.0, so stay tuned!

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