If you’re interested in winning a free year’s worth of PearBudget, head over to The Thrifty Wife. Ashley’s got a contest going on through Feb. 28th. Of course, we hope you win!
I mentioned a little while ago that I’m going to be a guest contributor this year at Simple Mom, talking about “money stuff.”
My first post — Warm and Fuzzy Budgeting — is now live. In it, I talk about a few things, like
… and more.
I’d love for you to check it out!
Also, big thanks to Ruth for her help with tightening it up.
A few days ago, we asked for feedback on the little green lines under the category names, asking if they were something you found useful.
We got a lot of feedback (you can see it here), and it seems like a lot of you really love them. That’s awesome! And we’re so glad to know they’re useful!
I just got a concerned e-mail from a user asking about them, so I wanted to share a note with all of you — we’re absolutely keeping the bars in there.
So, to all of you who jumped in on the conversation, thank you for sharing your input on it, and helping to shape PearBudget. We really appreciate getting to see how you use it.
I cannot remember my password b/c and it has been several hours since I was told that I would be receiving an answer via email.
If you ever find yourself in this situation, shoot us an e-mail, at email@example.com. Chances are good that when you signed up, you either …
When you e-mail us, mention any other e-mail addresses you might have used. We can search the database and find your account (often, even if part of it’s misspelled).
The other day, Sarah and I realized that we don’t actually use the little green bars underneath the category names in PearBudget very much. If you haven’t noticed them before (you wouldn’t be the only one), here they are:
Sarah and I used to use them a fair amount, to see how much we’d spent in the current month, versus how far through the month we were. But recently, we haven’t been using them a lot. I chatted with Ruth about it, and she agreed that they aren’t terribly useful to her, either.
Since we’re always looking for ways we can clean up the interface, we were wondering: do you use those bars? Have you even seen them before?
If you don’t mind adding a comment over at our Facebook page (here’s the place to comment), we’d love your feedback. So if you could reply, with two bits of info?
Any other thoughts you have on it would be great!
Thanks for your feedback! (And while you’re at our Facebook page (facebook.com/pearbudget), we’d love it if you’d like us!)
Behind the music: The green lines are actually a type of information graphic that we developed, called Sparkbars. They’re a bar chart version of Edward Tufte’s Sparklines. I still think they have some utility, just, perhaps, not in this context. Or, absolutely in this context. That’s where your feedback is helpful!
Back in late 2010, I made some noises about how we’d be bringing on some people to help us make PearBudget run a little smoother. I’m so excited to introduce to you our “Employee #1,” Ruth Szpunar!
We pride ourselves on a few things here at PearBudget. At the top of the list is customer service. We know that you have lives you need to live, and that any issues you come across with your personal finance software are going to be a problem. So when you contact us, we do our best to get back to you as soon as we can. (It’s not always as fast as we’d like, but we try!) As more users have come on-board, and as we gear up to make some big changes on PearBudget’s codebase, I wanted to make sure that we would be able to fully serve all of you whenever you have a question, a feature request, a concern, or a bug report. So we began to think about who we could hire who could make our customer support even better. We wanted someone who knew PearBudget inside and out, who likes helping people, who’s smart and able to understand the sometimes-cryptic questions we get, and who’s cheerful and engaging. We found all of that in Ruth.
Here’s a quick background on Ruth that we’ll be adding to the site soon:
Ruth Szpunar loves to save money. She’s an avid coupon clipper, and when she discovered PearBudget in October of 2009; she was an immediate fan. She’s worked in customer service for over 13 years and is thrilled to be joining the PearBudget team.
When Ruth isn’t busy chasing around her two energetic kiddos (ages 1 and 4), she works as a part-time reference librarian. She is a not-yet-recovering Facebook addict. When she manages to tear herself away from a computer, she enjoys reading cozy mysteries, and her favorite TV show of all time is Gilmore Girls. She owes the z in her last name to her husband—it’s actually pronounced spoon+are.
We are so excited to have Ruth on board. She’s going to be taking on most of the help requests that come in via e-mail, and she’ll also be handling much of the interactions with you guys on Twitter and Facebook, although I’ll still be on both of them, answering and chatting and whatnot. She’s also going to help us in a couple of areas (she’s already been encouraging me to set PearBudget up with a “real” blog, so stay tuned for that).
So if you have a burning question about PearBudget that you’ve been waiting to ask, now’s your chance. Just send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org, and you’ll get to hear from Ruth!
Does PearBudget have a BB app?
We have a few interfaces that should work on your BlackBerry. I’d love your input on them, though, as I haven’t had a chance to test them myself. One of them is the stripped-down mobile version (pearbudget.com/m), the other is the Android-friendly version (pearbudget.com/a). You can also, of course, try the iPhone version (pearbudget.com/i), but I’m not totally sure how that one will render on a BlackBerry.
Those of you on a BlackBerry of some sort, if you can give it a shot and let me know how the different versions look, I’d really appreciate it.
How is it that one spreadsheet could change my life? After using pear for a few months I began noticing funny discrepancies between my records and those of my financial institution. Needless to say I have a new bank and the start of a new financial future. Thank you PearBudget for helping me control my money!
Wow! Thank you! We’re so glad PearBudget helped you find those discrepancies, and hope your new bank works out better for you!
A PearBudget user asked a question over at Yahoo! Answers about getting out of debt, and finding resources to help them make sense of the situation they’re in. I posted an answer there, but figured I’d re-post it here, in case it’s helpful to any of you.
"Hi! I have set up a budget with pear budget but we really don’t know how to go about spending our budget or acting on it. We went to a credit counseling place that originally said they could help with our budget but when we got there all they wanted us to do was file bankruptcy or consolidate our credit cards. They were truly not helpful. Is there anyone out there who helps people with this sort of thing. We are desperate for help with this. Thanks a bunch!"
AVOID the for-profit credit counseling places. The ones that advertise on the radio? They absolutely do not have your best interests in mind. They are businesses and are looking to profit off of you.
There are some credit counseling places that are reputable, though. I don’t have any experience with them, but I would check out the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (http://www.nfcc.org/) to see what options they list. Be wary, though. Getting out of debt takes a lot of work, and any counselors that promise to do it “easily” (file bankruptcy!) are counselors you want to avoid. There’s a really good list of questions at http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/credit/cre26.shtm that go over the things you should look for and ask of any services you’re considering using to help you make a “Debt Management Plan.”
I would also recommend listening to the Dave Ramsey show (online or on the radio), and checking out his books from the library. He has some great advice.
Oops! I thought I had posted this a few weeks ago, back when I first wrote it. I’m sorry it never made it out of the drafts folder. Here you go!
I wanted to share a really amazing PearBudget review with all of you. It absolutely nails the value of a budget, and why it’s not the burden people often think it will be:
A budget is not restricting, but actually empowering! Budgeting enables you to do more with your money. It helps you make decisions about where you will spend your money so you can stop dreaming about that fun vacation and start planning for it. By telling your money where to go, you won’t spend too much on things that are of little importance, leaving you without enough for those things that you really want.
The post — Make and live by a budget!! - New Years Resolutions Worth Keeping - Potential Goal #4 — is from Stacey (I posted an e-mail she sent us last year), who blogs at A Good and Simple Life.
I just love how perfectly she encapsulates why budgets matter and why the value of a budget outweighs its cost — (About PearBudget:) “Once Mason got a job again, one of the first things I did was to sign us back up for PearBudget again. In hindsight, the $3 a month we would have spent (a total of $30) would have been a small price to pay for financial peace of mind and stability. I guarantee much more than $30 slipped through our fingers during those 10 months.”
If you want to read more, you can check out Stacey’s PearBudget review.
Thanks so much for the great review, Stacey!
If you’re having an issue with logging in to PearBudget from your iPod Touch or iPhone, could you leave a comment on PearBudget’s Facebook page? We’re trying to troubleshoot an issue a customer’s having, but haven’t seen it before, and aren’t quite sure what’s going on. Thanks!
One of our biggest goals when developing PearBudget was (and is!) to make budgeting simple. And one of the things that makes most budgeting programs complex is that there’s so much stuff on the screen. So we’ve tucked away features and made the interface as simple as possible. So — yay! — there are gems waiting for you to discover them. But — oh no! — if you don’t know they’re there, you might never look for them (and, then, never discover them!).
So we’re going to start writing a Tip of the Day, showing how to do different things in PearBudget. We’ll be uncovering certain features (like the Go Card!), showing how to do different things (“how do I set up a recurring receipt?”; “how do I export my info?”), and giving tips that are bigger than software (“how do I talk to my partner about money?”).
We’re putting together a list of the things we think you want to hear about, but we’d love to know what you’re interested in finding out about. So … let us know! You can send us a message by e-mail (email@example.com), or on Twitter, or on our just-getting-started Facebook page.
(Speaking of our Facebook page, if you’re the type of person who likes things like that, we’d sure love it if you headed over there and like our page. If not, no worries! We just got it going last week, and are still not totally sure what to do with it, so if you have suggestions, let us know! Should we stop posting to the blog and just make that our blog? Should we make things more interactive with it? We’re open to your thoughts.)
Anyway, right! Tip of the Day! We’re going to start writing them and will probably start publishing them once we have a cache ready to go. Another thing we’d love to know: are there any discoveries you’ve made in PearBudget that you want to share with others? Let us know those things, too!
do i enter monthly bills(i.e. utilities, mrtg) in the Receipts section or no?
Yes, as long as you want to include them in your budget. Most people do.
We do have a “recurring receipts” feature, where if it’s the same amount every month, you can have PearBudget enter those receipts in for you. Just click on the category name to get the pop-up box for the category, and then click on the gray bar at the bottom of the pop-up to get the additional options. One of the options there is to set up recurring receipts. Hopefully it’s clear from that point on, but if you have questions, let us know!
Have you ever thought of making monthly budget categories roll over to the next month if they were not used? Or if you have extra cash at the end of a month, include it as income in the following month?
We have, and we plan to. We try to not say too much about future features, mainly because we don’t always know how long they’ll take to develop. But one thing we’re hoping to add in 2011 is the ability to make any category “roll-over-able”.
For the time being, if you have a monthly category, and you want to see what it would be if it were rolling over each month, click on the category name (to get the pop-up box for it), and then click on the “year in review” tab in the pop-up box. This’ll show you the total inputs for the year, minus the total outputs for the year. That “total” number at the bottom should tell you what you’d have available in the monthly category, if it were rolling over. (I know that process is a little involved, though. If/when we get the “any category can roll over” feature in place, it’ll be a lot smoother for you.
how can we change the amounts in individual budget categories? There doesn't seem to be a way to do that.
Just go to the Plan page, and you’ll see your categories. Each one should have a row, and in the row should be a box with the current month’s planned amount in it. Just adjust that number as you see fit. When you click anywhere else on the page, it’ll save the new number.
When your next month’s budget is created, it’ll use that number to create the new budget. You can tweak that new month’s budget numbers, though, and it won’t affect the earlier month’s numbers.