I believe in the saying “A penny saved is a penny earned”. That’s because it has worked well for me in the past. Way back in 2010 I was making a decent amount money, but at the end of every month I’ll end up wondering where it all went. I don’t usually splurge on clothes, electronics and I‘m not someone who buys stuff on an impulse.
Yet, there was a big gaping hole in my bank account by the last week of every month. Frustrated, I decided to keep track of all my spending and see what eats into my earnings. Thankfully, I bought an iPhone 3GS at that time and the awesome Moneybook app helped me track every penny and reign in my spending.
It’s my opinion that a mobile app is the best way to keep track of your expenses rather than a desktop or web app. You always have the mobile phone with you and there is very little chance that you forget to add an expense while on the go. However, using a desktop app can have its own merits besides offering a bigger screen real estate.
Direct connection to banks, better organization, advanced reports are some things worth mentioning. That’s exactly what Koku 2 promises to deliver. Let us see if it outweighs the experience of using of my trusted companion Moneybook!
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In an effort to centralize your finances, Koku comes with a autoconnect functionality that imports data from your banks and credit cards. I am a big fan of this feature since the days of Mint.com as it saves the hassle of logging into multiple accounts to stay on top of your financial status.
The app auto connects with over hundreds of financial institutions across USA and Canada. And, therein lies the catch. If you are using Koku from anywhere else, you are out of luck and have to be satisfied with the manual entry mode. That might sound like a chore, but Koku’s interface and a simplistic workflow doesn’t make it hard to enter data by hand.
To help secure your financial information, Koku allows you to lock down the accounts with a PIN number right when you are creating the account. It’s a practical and thoughtful integration.
There are quite a few gems like this and one such handy feature is the auto currency detection. The app automatically configures to the local currency complete with the official symbol. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a way to change the default currency from anywhere in the app though!
Budgeting and Tracking Expenses
One great habit to improve your financial situation is to create a budget and stick to it. Everything will fall into place when there is a solid number in front of you. Better yet, create rollover budgets. That way, if you go overboard or under spend in a month, life would be very interesting the following month. I always look for these two budgeting modes in a personal finance app.
Koku has got a standard budgeting system. Set specific goals like how much you want to spend on coffee this week, or music this month, then watch as your budget gets updated with every transaction you add. Over time, Koku will show you how you’ve done in meeting your budgeting goals by analyzing your budget history, so you can view your progress.
Koku identifies and organizes related expenses with the help of tags. Color codes for tags are nice, but icon fonts, the mainstay in iOS apps would have been great. After adding tags, it’s a breeze to view your transactions or create detailed smart lists to view transactions that meet specific criteria.
However, I couldn’t check for sure if there was a rollover mode and nothing about this is mentioned in their website as well.
Following the Money Trail
I am very much used to having one budget for the entire month and manage my expenses within those limits organized neatly in various categories. The multi budget system of Koku is far more powerful and should save you from a huge headache during the tax season.
The app packs the same punch in the reports section as well. Create a pie graph to view your spending distributions. Or, use the bar charts to see how much you have overspent over the allowed budget. The distribution reports will clearly lay out how your spending breaks down across all your tags.
It might take a few tries to figure out the reports module, but considering the fact that this is key to reign in your spending, it’s absolutely worth your while to poke around a bit.
These days people use a variety of personal finance tools. To make a jump to another app and leaving all the data behind is a non starter for many of them. Data import from a CSV file is a workaround that is bound to bring more users to the app.
The companion app for iOS syncs via iCloud and is a USP if you are comfortable tracking finances from a mobile phone. But, an additional $4.99 for the mobile app sounds pricey. I don’t understand why developers don’t see companion apps for smartphones as a great marketing opportunity and as a means to bring down the barriers of adoption.
Koku for Mac is a fairly capable personal finance app that gets supercharged with an auto connection to financial institutions and the mobile app. You should definitely take these two factors into account if you want to make the most out of it.