Debt Payoff Planner

Software Reviews

The holiday season is over, you've overeaten and overspent. Here's some apps that may help you regain the pounds in your bank account, not on your waistline.

Adonis Apps: Debt Payoff Planner 

Android, free or 50p

Sometimes, a debt tracker is exactly what you need, especially if things have piled up a bit and you have consequently lost track of your debt-to-income ratio. Seeing it all written down and calculated – and perhaps graphically visualised too – can both kick you into action now and help you keep a grip on things in the future.

The various app stores have lots of dedicated calculator programs that will let you list your debts and calculate the remaining balance. Many will also do projections based on increasing your repayments, including suggestions for which ones to pay off first, based either on their interest rates, the amounts owed (the snowball tactic), or a combination of the two.

That is exactly what Debt Payoff Planner for Android aims to do. The free version is mainly useful as a demo, as it allows only two debts, but the full version is rather more competent. A nice touch is the option to compare the various total costs and debt-free dates for different repayment strategies.

It is a bit US-focused, though not as much as some of the apps out there, and it is reasonably intuitive to use. And yes, it is to some extent a bit of a good-looking task automation – something a competent spreadsheet programmer could do for themselves, perhaps .

A few pence spent on a debt pay-off planner could save a lot of messing about in a spreadsheet trying to reinvent the wheel, though. In addition, the task automation makes it easier to take those first steps towards getting that necessary debt overview and making a plan.

Unlike some of the other purported debt management apps on the market, it is not merely a front for financial advisors of one shade or another. Perhaps you could benefit from the services of a licensed debt management company or insolvency practitioner, but not everyone could – or should – make that decision on their smartphone.

AndroMoney: AndroMoney 

Free on Android

If what you want is expense and income tracking on an Android phone, AndroMoney could be the answer. It makes it easy to track expenses and incomers as they happen – and if you don't have time to do it immediately, you can snap a photo of the receipt or invoice and attach the photo to the record for processing later.

You can also enter incomes and transfers whether repeating values or one-offs, and assign them to accounts. Each category has its own graphical icon – the rice bowl and chopsticks icon for eating out makes sense once you know the developer is Taiwanese.

Once again, you can set monthly budgets by categories, with optional alerts when you reach 50 per cent. You can also draw interesting reports, for example showing your monthly expenditure by category.

It does lack trend reporting though, and the graphical reports handle incomes oddly, appearing to aggregate them with expenses rather than offsetting them. The accounts pages do the sums correctly, however.

Talking of accounts, AndroMoney supports multiple currencies and you can backup to and restore from either SD-card or Dropbox.

It supports importing and exporting data in CSV (comma separated value) text files too which ought to be useful for importing to a desktop finance package such as Intuit Quicken, Microsoft Money, or one of several free open source packages.

However, we were unable to successfully import a CSV file into any of the apps we tested, perhaps because there is no standard format for them.

AndroMoney does get a bit lost on a large-screen tablet, but then this is very much a pocket tool for use on the device that you always carry with you. As such it is pretty elegant and effective – and, perhaps most importantly, free.

JF Solutions: Personal Budgeteer 

Free or £2.99 on Android

Another powerful income and expense tracking and analysis app, what sets Personal Budgeteer apart from the rest is the ability to sync accounts with other Android devices over Bluetooth. This allows for family budgeting and the like – assuming you have a single-platform family with no iPhone interlopers, of course!

It also has a number of instructional videos available on YouTube, which is just as well, given that its attractive user interface is unusual for Android – though perhaps less so for Windows, as it makes extensive use of a context-sensitive sliding menu ribbon.

Personal Budgeteer also features unusual terminology, perhaps as a result of being translated from Italian. It uses the concept of 'movements' – a movement is any one-off payment in or out of an account. A regular payment must be set up as a 'periodical', which can then automatcally generate movements. One annoying factor is that there is no obvious way to convert a movement into a periodic.

Again, movements can be assigned categories and sub-categories, and attached to one of several accounts. The free version has no ads but allows only 30 movements to be entered, the paid version is unlimited. You can have accounts in different currencies in use simultaneously, with Personal Budgeteer converting as needed within its extensive reporting capabilities.

An interesting touch is the inclusion of a 'personal financial trainer', which calculates expense/income ratios as a kind of alternative to defining budgetary limits. It takes time to get going, but once it has a reasonable view of your finances – ideally a 24-month window – it can generate statistical reports and forecasts to show how well you are doing against your norm.

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