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Buxfer – My old friend

First off, my apologies for the long delay in the next installment of this series.  I have a couple of excuses, but rather than waste your time with them I will instead give you a link to a guest post that I wrote for  I talked about a couple of tools that I have already covered with this series, but I also talked about another very new tool.  I suggest giving the article a read.  Also, as always, here are some links to early installments of this series: part 1, part 2, part3.  So let’s jump into part 4 of this 6 part series.

As I’ve mentioned before, I am a long time user of Buxfer and I have encouraged many people to join the site in the last year or so.  The things that I like about Buxfer, I really really like.  However, lately, I’ve not been real pleased with some changes that have taken place.  This displeasure is actually what started this quest to find the best free personal finance tool available.

As with the other posts, I’m going to start my rundown of Buxfer by detailing the things that I like about it.  The first thing that I like about Buxfer is how easy it is to apply tags.  They take advantage of AJAX to allow you to quickly add tags, and you can set it up so it automatically applies the tag to all transactions with a certain name (IE apply the “Fast Food” tag to all transactions from “Taco Bell”).  This makes it really easy to get the most out of the reporting tools that Buxfer offers.  Which leads to the next thing I like about Buxfer…

Without a doubt, my favorite thing about Buxfer is the reporting capabilities that it offers.  You are able to see a line graph showing your balance throughout the month or see a bar chart that shows income vs outcome right next each other.  This makes it ridiculously easy to make sure you are living within your means, or to make sure you are doing what it takes to reach your saving goal.

As you can probably tell, I have been a very big fan of Buxfer.  I still find the analysis to be very helpful when it comes to managing my finances.  However, lately Buxfer has made changes that I’m not too big a fan of.  The first one is the decision to charge for some of the functionality.  Granted the price is only about the equivalent of one ATM fee per month, but the idea of signing up for a subscription is a major turnoff for me.  Luckily I’ve been a member for long enough that I was granted a higher membership privilege free of charge.  New users can also reach this level without paying anything by referring other people to join the service.

Finally, there is another change that I find to be extremely annoying.  When I first started with Buxfer, you could easily rename transactions with edit-in-place functionality, just like how you change the tags now (I.E. rename “WALMART SUPER PURCHASE FROM DDA” to “Wal-mart”).  However, a couple of months ago there was a “feature” released that now forces you to click in a couple of different places to achieve the same task.

I submitted a suggestion that perhaps this was not a great improvement to usability and received a very cordial email explaining their reasoning behind this change.  It had to do with the fact that many users were not aware of other functionality because it was not clear that an area was expandable.  Therefore many users never realized they could split transactions or mark it as transfer, etc.  Personally, I do not like how users are forced to take extra steps to accomplish something just because some functionality is being overlooked.  Surely there is a way to educate users about functionality without making trivial tasks more difficult.

So there you have it.  I continue to use Buxfer and I still get warm, fuzzy feelings when I use the analysis tools.  However there are a couple of things that make me uncomfortable to say the least and ultimately is the reason that I began this series looking at other personal finance options out there.  I guess that means that this is the part where you need to decide for yourself if Buxfer is the tool for you or if you would rather keep looking.  Regardless of your decision, I hope that you will continue to keep an eye on this series.

Discussion topic: Am I being too sensitive when it comes to the renaming of transactions?  Should I really be that bothered by something that only takes me another second or two for each transaction?

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