Ace Budget Review: Powerful, Affordable Tool for Keeping your Spending on Track
We recently brought you a review of the stylish, but shallow, Pennies application. Today, we’re moving on to Ace Budget from developer Steve Tran. Right off the bat, let’s get one thing straight: The fact that Pennies is currently selling for $1 more than Ace Budget is nothing short of an App Store Injustice. While Pennies is nothing more than a barely-functional tool that gets all its mileage out of one slick graphic, Ace Budget is a layered, multi-faceted tool than still manages to retains its simplicity and accessibility. These two apps don’t belong on the same playing field, but if we’re talking about a comparison between the two, then Ace is the way to go.
After purchasing Ace Budget, it’s important to realize that it functions as a real piece of software, and doesn’t attempt to hold your hand as you learn the ins and outs of setting up budgets, incomes, expenses, and reports. A bit of a tutorial could definitely help some users, but if you accept the learning curve, then you can have a wealth of information at your fingertips in just a few minutes . . . First off, determine which types of budgets you want to track. These are entirely personal decisions, and can be characterized by icons for things like gas, food, entertainment, etc. Each budget can be given a starting date and set on a schedule ranging from every day to every year, with or without rollover.
From there, you can set up recurring expenses and incomes, automatically taking care of your salary and monthly bills. Once all of the above has been established, you’re only task is to save receipts and add them everyday! It can’t be reiterated too many times how important this is. Without resolve to put in the time and effort it takes to track a budget, every application is just as useless as the next.
Each income and expense meter is displayed by a different color bar, allowing you to keep track of your position within each budget at a glance. It’s just like the gas gauge we found so appealing in Pennies, except Ace Budget provides a meter for each category, and the graphic is not nearly as flashy.
Everything we just described can be as complicated or as simple as you choose to make it. That is the power of Ace Budget: It’s capable of so much, but can be used to your specifications. Toggling “Advanced Budget Mode” on and off will determine whether you only track expenses against present limits, or track both income and expense categories. Experimenting with both modes should quickly show you which will be more useful for your situation . . . Ace Budget also provides you with reports in the form of “expenses vs income” and “expenses by budget.” These provide a visual way to see how you’re holding up financially across a period of months.
While praise for Ace Budget is well-deserved, it’s true that the app would be more appealing if it had more visual polish, and perhaps a tutorial to get you started. Setting up a budget can be a big undertaking, made even tougher if you have to learn a piece of software at the same time . . . But there’s still no denying that Ace Budget is a clear winner in the finance category, especially at its affordable price point. When held up against Pennies, it’s a great example of how appearances will only get you so far. Those serious about setting up a detailed budget and sticking to it don’t have to deliberate about this decision. Make the first good decision of your budgeting career, and choose Ace Budget over Pennies. You just saved a very valuable dollar.
Our Score: 4.5 Out of 5