Review: MoneyWiz a sleek personal finance Mac app
At a Glance
One of the biggest difficulties in using personal finance software is the tedium involved in entering data, especially if you use your Mac at home and your iPhone or iPad on the go. Wouldn’t it be easier to just log into one central account and have your app sync everything for you? MoneyWiz does just that. MoneyWiz supports tracks cash, credit cards, and savings accounts; it doesn't support 401Ks.
MoneyWiz supports importing files in either the OFX or QIF formats. These formats are commonly used by Quicken and by most financial institutions so it’s likely that you can import your data into MoneyWiz with ease. I imported a checking account and several credit cards in a manner of minutes: I paused only to assign categories for payees as a means of cataloging transactions.
Once you’ve added your data, you can view your transaction history or data, including your net worth, average spending, projected income and the like from the Reports screen. This screen offers colorful bar graphs and pie charts with data for the last month or all time or any custom timer period in between. The charts are small but can be enlarged or saved in PDF or CSV formats.
Budgeting is an important part of any personal finance app. While some apps ask that you create a budget as soon as you use the app, MoneyWiz leaves the budgeting to your discretion. This is another way of saying that you can use budgeting if you want to but you don’t have to: the app works fine without it.
If you opt to create a budget, you’ll do so using those payee categories I mentioned earlier. For example, I set an amount to budget each month on clothing and told MoneyWiz to track my spending. MoneyWiz tracked my purchases (including how much I spent and where I spent it) and alerted me when I reached or exceeded my target amount I can spend each month. Budgeting is easy enough to set up, although it would’ve been nice to see a graph of spending from the budgeting screen, too.
MoneyWiz’s Schedules component offers an estimated financial forecast based on any scheduled payments, such as monthly cable bills or twice annual auto insurance bills. While the idea is sound, the execution isn’t as polished as the rest of the app: I ran into a frustrating bug in which MoneyWiz did not change months correctly. For example, I switched from June to September but MoneyWiz told me I was still looking at June despite the fact that I switched months manually. Setting recurring payments seemed to work fine despite the bug, and it seems likely that this bug can be fixed through a software update. While it isn’t a major issue, it does distract from the overall polish of the app.
While MoneyWiz for the Mac is a full-featured standalone application, it works best when synced with its companion iOS software, also called MoneyWiz (the iPhone and iPad apps are separate). All three versions of MoneyWiz sync with each other using the aptly named Sync Everything feature found in each version. Note that using this feature requires SilverWiz to store your data on its servers, albeit with standard AES level encryption.
To use the sync feature, you must set up a username and password on one device and then enter the same login info on any other devices running MoneyWiz. Logging in initiates a quick multistep sync which took about a minute or so to sync on both my MacBook and my iPad 2.
The wireless sync between devices worked well in testing. Although the initial sync of all accounts took several minutes, subsequent syncs of new transactions or accounts took mere seconds. MoneyWiz syncs everything in the background as long as you are logged in to Sync Everything.
Between easy imports, fast wireless syncing and a sleek and polished look throughout, MoneyWiz is a top choice in the Mac personal finance field.
[Brendan Wilhide is a frequent Macworld contributor.]