Applications for Personal Finance Management

I may not have a formal degree in any finance-related course, but I don’t need any formal academic background to recognize the importance of managing my personal finances. In my opinion, you handle your personal finances properly if you:

  • Create an ideal budget based on your total income
  • Save funds for future needs and emergency situations
  • Trace the transaction records and current amount of your financial resources.

Again this is just my two cents, the items I listed here are the stuff that worked for me based on my experience V(-_-)V.

With all the tasks above, you can be patient enough to use spreadsheets through MS Excel or Open Office Math. However, there are existing software applications that could be more ergonomic and robust in terms of features. The following apps listed below are some of the tools that you can use to aid you in your personal finance management. Please take note that you need not to use all the apps listed below. See the available features and sample user interface and see what do you think will work you, but then again, if you really want to go hardcore and use all of them, then by all means comfort yourself XD.

Expense Manager

Platform: Android

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This app is pretty simple, but it covers the basic features essential for your personal finances. It records transactions for your income and expenses. Each transaction is created with a single entry. Each entry contains a lot of useful fields that could further describe your transaction:

  • Account Name
  • Date of Transaction
  • Amount
  • Payee
  • Category (user defined)
  • Payment Method
  • Ref/Check No.
  • Description
  • Photo of Transaction (uses camera of the mobile device)

Account is summarized based on total current income and expenses. You can also create your budget based on a specific time interval (daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, one-time). Other than that, you can assign recurring income and expenses by specifying the schedule of the recurring transaction. The good thing about this application is that it runs on your Android device, so you can trace your finances on the fly since you always (or most of the time) carry your device wherever you go. The best part of all… it’s free.

Personal Finances Pro

Platform: PC, iOS

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My favorite application so far. I’ve been using this for more than three years and it really served its purpose. Other than what Expense Manager can do, it also provides the following features:

  • Transaction Calendar
  • Loans
  • Financial Report
  • Currency Manager
  • Budget Forecast
  • Project File Password Security
  • Family Member Profiles

The user interface is totally user-friendly. The project variables like accounts and categories come with a large list of icons which adds intuitive detail to your data. Reports contain the percentage of allocation for your income and expenses. You can filter the data based on categories, duration, and family members. You can also see the trends of your transactions which tell you from which category you usually earn and spend. The application also has a standalone version that you can use to install on your USB flash disk or any other external storage device. The data can be exported to a CSV or text file. The only catch is that the software is a paid application. However, they also have the freeware version that contains basic features you’ll need for personal finance data. I think this version will suffice if all you need to record is your personal cash flow :). Take a look at this comparison table to have a better idea of what you will get for free. Maybe if you earn enough, you can include buying the personal license for your next budget XD.

YNAB (You Need A Budget)

Platform: PC, MAC, iOS, Android

I found this software in an unexpected place… Steam. The platform widely known as a portal for video games also distributes software¬† applications such as this. It’s a shame I wasn’t able to purchase this during the Steam sale. Anyway, this app almost has the same features as Personal Finances Pro, but YNAB promotes their product with a tie-up methodology which comprises of four steps:

  • Rule 1: Give every dollar a job
    • Assign a specific amount for each category. This way, you won’t look at your entire income as a whole when you’re planning to spend money on something¬† but rather the allocation to the category where the purchase item belongs.
  • Rule 2: Save for a rainy day
    • Allot a budget for recurring, less-frequent expenses by separating the amount to monthly intervals. The funny thing is, I use this method long before I knew about YNAB. And I’m using Personal Finances Pro for this.
  • Rule 3: Roll with the punches
    • Be flexible when overspending. Adjust the allocations accordingly when such situations occur.
  • Rule 4: Live on last month’s income
    • You allot a budget for your next month’s expenses. YNABers call this the buffer. This is to give the user enough breathing room for paying the bills instead of timing it for the next paycheck.

Other than the software itself, the official website gives free online classes as well as blog posts for financial advices. Overall, YNAB doesn’t revolve with the tool, but it’s more of a comprehensive program to help you save more money and get more out of your financial resources. Though it’s not for free, the amount of cash that you will save (if you’ll be faithful to the program) will worth every penny that you spent.

Whichever you choose, keep in mind that the tool alone cannot help you handle your money properly. It takes discipline to avoid spending more than what you earn. It’s hard but if you focus on long-term gratification, you’ll see moving forward that all those plannings were totally worth it. I hope you find a tool and approach that will make you save more and in turn make you financially abundant. Cheers! (~^_^)~

Photo Credits: iTunes, Google Play, Steam

Movie Review: Gatchaman

A nostalgic, sentai-ish, action movie is how I describe the live-action adaptation of Gatchaman. More popularly known in the Philippines as G-Force, the movie was released last October 2 through SM Cinemas (like Rurouni Kenshin and some other Japanese movies). Here, I try to review the different aspects of the movie.

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If you don’t want to know anything about the story before you watch the movie, then feel free to skip to the next section. As for the others, continue reading. For those who are old enough to remember (*cough* *cough*), Gatchaman is a task force of five individuals formed by the alliance called International Science Organization (ISO). Their aim is to protect the human race from the alien antagonists known as Galactors led by the mysterious masked man(?), Berg Katze. The members of the team are Ken – Leader and Team Tactician, George – marksman, Jun – electronics and bomb expert, Jinpei – the wiz kid hacker, and Ryu – the brawler and ship pilot. Actually, that’s all that I can remember about the synopsis of the original anime. The movie shares the same base plot. Other than this, the elements that add color to the story have something to do about their share of dark past, love interests,¬† family and friendship bonds, and… oh wait, I think that’s all they used XD. Generally, the progression was fast, which is good since there are only few boring moments. I have to admit, I agree with Kotaku’s review that the movie is full of cliches. With this, a lot of parts of the movie may seem predictable to you, depending on how much you watch action movies. However, I like the story angle on how Ken’s leadership was put to the test and on how he came with the realization on what a true leader is. There are also occasional funny moments brought by the antics of Jinpei and Ryu.

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I may sound biased, but Japanese actors and actresses are really good in acting. They have this way of expressing their characters in a moving and convincing way, and Gatchaman’s main casts are no different. They really captured the persona of their respective characters. While watching, it won’t take long before you realize what type of role this actor or actress is portraying. The most notable actress would be Eriko Hatsune.
[START OF SPOILER] She actually portrays two roles in the story, each with different personality. Her performance as Berg Katze stands out through her monologues and villainous acts. [END OF SPOILER]

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Since this is sort of a sci-fi type of story, special effects should play a vital role in the movie. I can say that it’s above average but not any grand as you will see in Hollywood movies. This is more like a sentai movie with a higher budget and more serious production. The costumes are well designed, especially the Gatchaman force. They dropped the bird-like design with something that looks more like an armor with agile-type build. No wonder it costs $ 40,000 each! The action sequences are impressive. The camera shots totally emulate the ones in the anime, including their flying formation. The first action sequence even introduced them one by one with a displayed profile, which you can typically see in most Japanese action series and movies. Nevertheless, it’s fun to watch. One thing to note for though, this first action scene may be the best one for the entire movie. I’m not saying that the rest of the action sequences are crappy. It’s just that, the first one was so spectacular you will expect something more for the latter part of the movies. The weapons used were loyal to its anime roots. Those who are familiar with the series will enjoy the montage of each member’s special skill. I was hoping there will be some sort of Henshin sequence, but I guess it’s not my lucky day. Spare my tokusatsu fanboy side XD. The rendition of the story is somewhat darker than the anime, so it felt like Nolan directed a sentai movie, and I like it.

All in all, fans of the series will enjoy the show while action movie enthusiasts may be satisfied most of the time and impressed at some point. Beyond the cliche, I think Gatchaman is a fun movie to watch and a good treat to all 90’s kids who are looking for a nostalgic treat. Oh, and don’t forget the after credits! (~^_^)~