Chronicle: Simple Bill Management

All of us deal with bills in one way or another, whether through running a house, car, family, education, or expensive software obsession. It’s easy to lose track of what needs to be paid, and at what time. Rather than having an elaborate system of sticky notes, Chronicle aims to provide a central resource for storing all your bills and recording payments.

The application is still young with a number of areas for improvement. That said, I’m a fan of the concept, iCal integration, handy reminders, and quirky, original interface.

Adding and Editing Bills

When opening Chronicle for the first time, you’re provided with a list of all the different bills you have entered in the database:

Viewing All Bills

Viewing All Bills

The first thing to note is the display of a different icon for each bill. An extensive range of these are available and, whilst their design could use a little tweaking, they provide a decent visual code for which category a bill falls into. If a bill recurs regularly, the list displays when the next is due, or whether the current bill is overdue.

Adding a new bill requests the following information:

Adding a Bill

Adding a Bill

The majority of areas are covered, although it would be great to see some form of support for adding tags. In addition, there doesn’t appear to be a way to add a one off payment which doesn’t recur. Bills can either include a postal address for paying via mail, or a URL for sending payment via a website.

When adding a bill, a corresponding listing is also created in iCal. This contains a iCal reminder, set to display a message a few days before the bill is due. These reminders can be enabled or disabled via the ‘Reminders’ option in the menu bar.

Bill Details & Payments

When clicking a bill for further information, the interface swaps to a wooden desk, with a sticky note portraying the details of the current bill. All the information you could need is simple to locate, with the option ‘Payment Info’ either showing the address to which payment should be sent, or acting as a direct URL link to the provided website. Clicking the ‘Show History’ button within a bill will display a list of all the payments which have been paid towards this particular expense.

A Bill Overview

A Bill Overview

When you come to pay a bill, the payment can be entered through Chronicle. You’re also able to attach a receipt to the bill, corresponding with a particular payment.

Entering a Payment

Entering a Payment

Whilst adding a payment works well, unfortunately there is no way to edit or delete an entry once inputted. This is a fairly major drawback of the application, and something which does need fixing in a future release.

Preferences & Areas for Improvement

A few preference options allow you to modify different aspects of the app. These include the ability to change the background image used, currency displayed, and the number of days in advance to display a bill reminder:

Preferences

Preferences

The application is relatively simple, offering a very basic set of functionality for managing recurring bills and payments towards them. As I mentioned previously, development seems to be ongoing. A number of small issues regarding the interface and usability still need to be addressed before it’s an application I’d consider using on a more regular basis.

The concept seems good, and I like the informal layout of the interface. Viewing a bill and associated payments laid out on a “virtual desk” is something which provides a functional bridge between a paper system and a software tool. I’m certainly interested to see how Chronicle will grow and develop over the coming months.

A trial version is available, giving you the ability to add two bills to the database. The full version costs $17, and includes all future updates.


  • Matt

    I currently use a spreadsheet in Google Docs for this sort of thing, but find that I only update it when I remember to. If Chronicle had an iPhone app with wifi syncing, I might consider switching over. Also, it would be really cool if the Mac app had a built-in browser ala Cha-Ching so that you could actually pay your bill in the application.

  • http://www.littlefin.com Mike

    Matt, both of your ideas are great. A later version of Chronicle should feature a built-in browser. We’ve got a couple other updates ahead of that in the wings, but later this year, I think we will add that.

    I also feel like an iPhone app would be really useful, and we’re looking into that right now, too.

  • Urbangranolagirl

    This is a great, simple little app that does exactly what it says it does, and very efficiently. I’ve been doing us via a boring old spreadsheet, and I’d much rather use it’s nice GUI. Plus, handy reminder alerts, quick links to pay online, an overview page that calculates what you owe and what’s due soon (or overdue!), a place to attach receipts/confirmations, and a payment history log. It’s everything I need in one place.

  • Pingback: Fast and Simple Bill Reminders With Chronicle Mini | Mac.AppStorm

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  • Virginia Murphy

    Question- does the app not automatically calculate the new “amount owed” after you log a payment. From what I can tell it does not. This is a drawback.

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