Why Centsible?

August 16, 2018

It seems like the last year has been chock-full of zero based budget competitors. Can’t blame them. Apparently YNAB left a lot to be desired amongst some users. Well, Centsible is my attempt at fulfilling some of these complaints. Should you make the switch? I’d like to go over how I got here, what Centsible is, and how it differs from the competion.

The story

One day I felt the need to track my finances and budget. At the time I had student loans and just found out I was going to be a father. So I had motivations. I started to do some research. My needs were short. Must be a mobile app. Other than that, it needed to help me spend less in order to save money for my financial goals. I used multiple free Android apps. Nothing really felt right. Then I found Goodbudget. It was good. I liked the idea of envelope budgeting since I was more intentional with my spending. So I bit the bullet and started using the paid version. Two months in I called it quits. It was decent, but the app was old and I found the budgeting flow itself clunky. I felt like there had to be better in the envelope budgeting space.

That’s when I found YNAB. It was pretty much the same as Goodbudget, but with a better budgeting flow. Nicer looking web app as well. There was just one problem. The mobile apps were terrible (before the revamped mobile apps). At the time I was working on a mint clone. I got as far as importing all my finances into a dashboard so I could see everything at a glance vs logging into each and every account. But it wasn’t trivial. I wondered how I could ever replicate this for other banks throughout the world. So I did what any developer would do. I seized the moment and pivoted. I would build a mobile first competitor.

Zero based budgeting

At it’s core, Centsible is a zero based budgeting application, also known as the envelope budgeting method. The idea is simple. Say you have $1,000 dollars to work with until you get paid next. Your job is to give every single dollar a job. And by give, I mean budget. That means after your budgeting extravaganza, you must have $0 dollars left over to be available for use. This doesn’t mean you used the $1000. Just means you have given it jobs to do until you get paid again. To think all the countless budgeting apps I had used to help me get control of my spending. None of them clicked the way envelope budgeting clicked. I was sold.

I have options?

You have EveryDollar, GoodBudget, and the popular vote, YNAB. Really though, none does it quite like YNAB. EveryDollar forecasts and you have to pay $100 to even add your accounts to your budget. Lame. GoodBudget was adequate. But the app felt old. And the budgeting process was clunky. My wife couldn’t deal with it. YNAB get’s it just right. Overall a great application. But…

Rules

Centsible tries to be as un-opinionated as possible. Our main rule is you must give every dollar a job. In my experience other competitor’s rules are a way to detract from adding new features since everything in the real world breaks them. Centsible can adopt any rules you need on top of the envelope budgeting method.

New feature development

My goal with Centsible is to continously improve it over time. I’d like it to be simple, yet powerful enough to fit complex use cases. And more importantly, I need it to grow as I grow financially. How this happens is up for debate. The state of feature development in other apps seems way too slow for me. I could remain complacent and wait for these features. Or I can do something about it.

Pricing

I know some of you hate the subscription model. But really, that’s the only way development can happen for the foreseeable future. And I’d love to transition from working on it partime to making it my full-time gig. So I’ll be pricing Centsible at a monthly price of $5, or get two months free if you subscribe for the year.

Multi-account budgets

I’ve encountered a problem while using competitors. All income is in a single register, even though the money lives in different accounts. This is a problem because although it may not matter where the money is while planning, it matters at the time of purchase or payment. So people could overdraft thinking they have the money in account A, but it’s actually in Account B. I could ask users to simplify their lives and close accounts. But… you have to close bank accounts to use an application? Crazy talk! So Centsible supports multi-account budgeting. This means each account has it’s own To Be Budgeted and categories. So it’ll be super easy to see how much money you have in each budget for each account.

Credit card handling

Centsible handles credit cards a bit differently than other competitors. This is partially because of necessity, and also because I felt like it could be simpler to understand. The way I have it working now is that the credit card budget activity actually holds a tally of the credit card balance. The available field keeps track of how much you have budgeted to pay said balance. This makes understanding credit cards super simple.

Multi-user accounts

It’s 2018. Let’s not pass around a single password to all our friends and family. Login with your own email and password.

What’s missing?

I am finishing up development of the V1 Android app. There are a few bugs and UI issues to work through, but I’ve personally been actively budgeting with it, meaning I’m comfortable enough to have others start using it about a month from now. I’ll move on to iOS, which should take 3-4 months. Below is a list of missing features and an explanation as to why they’ll likely be missing on launch.

  • Backend sync
    • I have been prioritizing functionality, so kept putting it off. I’ll get to it before the official launch.
  • Budget goals
    • I haven’t spent any time really thinking about this. It is definitely a high priority.
  • Reconciliation
    • Medium priority item. I find this really useful to have personally. So we’ll see when I can get to it.
  • Direct Import
    • Torn on this one. Personally I wouldn’t give my bank credentials to a 3rd party company. Centsible would need to pay them for the privilege to use their service, and on top of that they’ll scrape all your bank data and sell it. But if people really want it I can add it. If I do add it, it’d be a different subscription tier so others who don’t use it don’t pay for it.

I’ll be setting up a system for requesting things I should work on soon enough, so stay tuned. In the meantime, request an invite to be on the alpha testers list if you have an Android phone.

Cheers,

Andy