In a nutshell: Moneydance is an easy-to-use program that helps anyone get a complete picture of their personal finances. Available on any computer and most mobile devices, Moneydance allows you to make budgets, follow your spending and automatically pay your bills.
If you’re struggling with bad credit and debt, chances are you’ve lost control of your finances. You might be thousands of dollars in debt due to an unplanned emergency like a natural disaster or medical incident, or perhaps you lived beyond your means by maxing out credit cards and taking out loans.
Regardless of why you’re in trouble, it might be time to sit down and get a comprehensive, unfiltered view of your finances. Moneydance, the personal finance software by Scotland-based developer The Infinite Kind, makes it easy to get a grasp on everything going on with your money.
It also has a number of other of features like automatic bill pay that help you avoid going into debt and screwing up your credit score all over again.
I spoke with the the software director Sean Reilly to learn more about how Moneydance helps everyday people around the world.
The Origins of Moneydance
Moneydance began back in 1997 when Reilly was looking for personal finance program that could run on Linux, a programming-intensive alternative to Microsoft Windows and Apple iOS.
Since there were no good Linux alternatives to budgeting software like Quicken at the time, Reilly set out to make his own. He initially released Moneydance as an open-source program, allowing anyone to edit and amend their own version of the software.
However, Reilly said contributors were scared, so he decided to make Moneydance a closed-source program and sell it himself.
He’s since “expanded it and added online banking, online bill payment, budgeting, investment management — pretty much everything I could think to add to a personal finance application while keeping the interface simple and unintimidating.”
Online Banking and Bill Pay
One of Moneydance’s handiest features is its ability to sync your existing banking data. This way you can easily store and edit your own database of financial history. You can organize your expenses and income by type, name, location and a handful of other helpful fields.
Although Moneydance can sync with thousands of different financial institutions worldwide, there are still a handful that aren’t available with the software yet. But in the likely event you can sync your accounts with Moneydance, just watch out for possible fees your financial institutions might charge.
Once you’ve synced your accounts, you can also take advantage of automatic bill pay if your institution offers it. This is especially helpful if you want to avoid credit score penalties from missed credit card or utility payments.
Reilly also claims Moneydance has better security when it comes to online banking features than larger competitors like Mint.
“With programs like Mint and other apps that are mostly online is that if you wanted to connect to your bank, you’d have to give them your bank logins, and that’s not really a secure way to operate anything,” he said. “We value customer privacy. We don’t want to know your online banking login information, so we write the software so [your personal information] stays securely on your computer. Your privacy is protected and your financial data is especially protected.”
A Comprehensive Overview of Your Finances
Once you’ve synced your accounts (or manually entered your information), visit Moneydance’s homepage — you’ll instantly notice a neat and helpful array of everything you might need to know about your money.
A pair of bars at the top of the screen help you track your budget as you go through the month, seeing how much of your expected income you’ve received so far and how that’s lining up with your expenses.
“Anybody can put together some software that can keep a list of transactions, but we spend a lot of time and effort to make it easy and nice for users.”
In the left column, you’ll notice fast facts about your checking account, credit cards, investments and even up-to-date exchange rates for the currency you use.
The right side includes a number of short- and long-term planning features like customizable reminders of upcoming transactions or bills.
Got a phone bill coming up one week and your rent on another? An editable calendar helps you see how that lines up with your regular paychecks so you can easily make a budget and plan ahead.
“Anybody can put together some software that can keep a list of transactions, but we spend a lot of time and effort to make it easy and nice for users,” Reilly said. “We try to add little touches that make the most common operations quick and easy.”
Mobile Options and Additional Features
Moneydance is written entirely in a programming language called Java. Tech jargon aside, this means the software is available on Windows, Mac and Linux computers, meaning you won’t have to worry about whether Moneydance will work on a different operating system if you decide to switch computers.
In addition, this allows Reilly and others to offer a variety of extensions to the software that incorporate new features not available in the base version. Extensions include a debt payoff calculator, a PayPal importer and a handful of other nifty features you can install at your leisure.
Reilly’s also released mobile editions of Moneydance that allow you to enter and view transactions on the go. Whenever you sync your device with your computer, Moneydance will update the changes on both the mobile and desktop versions.
“Moneydance has pretty much every feature that any other finance software has,” he said. “We try and do it in a friendly way so people aren’t intimidated by it. Your grandparents can pick it up and have no problem with it.”
Photo credits: infinitekind.com