Nonsense percentages in statistics.

Flaws in Budgetbaker’s Wallet

Flaws in Wallet from BudgetBakers

I have recently installed Wallet from BudgetBakers and was so amazed that I bought Premium account. Unfortunately after a week of usage I must say, that in my opinion Wallet is failing in many (subtle) ways to be useful for everyday life. Surely it depends on personal preferences what type of functionality one finds useful, but I believe that many parts of Wallet can NOT be used in useful way at all, which is not obvious on first sight.

Previous period comparison

You can easily compare your expenditures or cash-flow with previous period, but is this really useful? You can select variety of periods (7D, 30D, 12W, 6M, 1R, current month, current week and custom ranges), but what period you should select so the comparison really makes sense? Lets have a look

  • seven days: not useful unless you have very regular week spending habits. Also anytime you make one irregular higher expense, it breaks this function for next 14 days. For next seven days you seem to be overspending by a lot (tenths of percents). From day 8 to 14 you will seem to be easily saving, because the higher expense will fall to “previous period”.
  • 30 days: this seems to be better, at least for me. I have most of the higher expenditures with monthly recurrence, like mortgage, gas of mobile bills. However this function is often broken exactly because of this. If I pay mortgage in July and August of 16th, the function will go wild at August 15th for a whole day, because previous mortgage payment is suddenly outside of the 30 days period. It can turn the other way round — if there is a weekend and the mortgage payment arrives to bank say at June 17th and June 15th, for 2 days (15 and 16th June) I will have two mortgage payments in current period and the comparison will be useless during these two days.
  • 12 weeks: this has same disadvantages as 30 days, but the glitches come and go in even more unpredictable patterns.
  • 6 months and 1 year: these are probably useful, only if I stay with Wallet for at least one year. In the meantime they are useless.
  • Current month: this could be probably useful if one makes sure that regular monthly payments are not done around month edges, so I was eager to insert and categorize enough data, to see, what it tells me about my spending. Here are the differences between consecutive months, I got: Jun +79%, Jul -17%, Aug -15%, Sep +69%, Oct -57%, Nov +90%. What is going on? After spending quite a time to find a bug and make the numbers more meaningful to me it turns out, that I made one bigger expenditure in Jun, Sep and Nov. These expenditures not only make numbers in Jun, Sep and Nov look high, but also Jun, Oct, Dec look low. This pretty much ruins all the numbers and does not say anything about my budgeting. Only independent analysis in external tool tells me, that in reality (with exception of these three expenditures) all months are pretty equal. In fact only Jul has excessive regular expenditures, which is hidden in Wallet results.

There must be some changes to make these numbers more useful. There at least should be way to filter out exceptional expenditures. AFAIK it is impossible in Android app, and it is very difficult in web version as there is no way to filter out things depending on tag.

Budgets

Budgets. Wallet allows you to set “budgets” which allows you to plan how much you want to spend on some categories per month. I tried to use this feature and set budgets on different categories and it turns out that in my case there are these types of categories:

  • “repetitive” categories: categories like mortgage, electricity, gas, … contain only regular payments made automatically by my bank. Budget in these categories equals monthly payment and are always 100% used up
  • “rare” categories: categories in which expenditures are only exceptional and most of the time unavoidable, like car repair. It is very difficult to limit such categories and surely not on monthly basis. It can have limited sense to put yearly budget on these. It would however be much better to have common pool of money which would be attributed at will to these exceptional expenditures. It can be done via tags, but it is not very convenient.
  • “petty cash” categories: like food, restaurant, … for these categories it is actually useful to make budget. In my case however it is only like 10% of expenditures.

Also there is no way to find out what is a good estimate of expenditures in individual categories, since there is no way to get average spending in categories.

Structure of expenditures

App contains many nice looking “Structure” graphs. The structure however looks very different in each month (in my case) due to the fact, that “exceptional” expenditures can not easily be filtered out. In addition to filtering out these, I would like to see something like “average month expenditures”, but it is nowhere to be found.

Other minor things

  • Month daily balance graph: In my case in always looks about the same. There is on peak in the middle (salary arrives) followed by drop-down when regular payments are maid. Overall only end balance and difference to start balance is meaningful.
  • In statistical reports tables on monthly bases contain individual category numbers, but as many of them contain few expenditures or none, the difference to previous period in percents is totally useless, ranges from 30% to 220%.
  • Planned expenditures: this enables one to plan and execute regular payments. Does it have other uses? Is this used in future balance estimates or not? It seems that no, in which case it can much better be handled by banks native payments with future due date.
  • Debts: by only debt is managed by bank (mortgage]. The debt section allowed me to pair the mortgage account, but the section remains empty even after the pairing. Only new account is defined.
  • Receipts: theoretically they can be photographed, and attached to the expenditure. However since the expenditure on the card appears in Wallet via bank sync with 2–3 days delay it is very difficult to manage this. It would be great if one can have “temporary” receipts which could be attributed to expenditures later.
  • I understand that it is really difficult to make mobile UX for more complex actions, so I hoped that they are accessible in web app. However it seems that web app is even less powerful than, mobile one, which is missed opportunity IMHO.
  • there are no in-depth tutorial videos for how the more advanced futures are intended to be used. There are some functions which I do not get: how to use things like estimate to next period, how do I use debts, how to use Budgets that they are really useful, …

Conclusions

I would really love to make this app useful for my daily use, but currently big part of the GUI does not give me any insight of is plain misleading. I believe that in many cases, it only needs minor changes to change it and hope that the Budgetbakers can change it in future. In the meantime I would welcome if there is a way to hide some of the pages and panels completely, which unfortunately is not possible.

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