Minding Your Money

Published Date
01 - Aug - 2007
| Last Updated
01 - Aug - 2007
 
Minding Your Money


Managing personal finances was only for those with a commerce background, or so you thought. Turns out it's not: you have Buddi, a free, open source personal finance and budgeting program. It's available for Windows, Mac, and Linux, and also as platform-independent Java, from http://buddi.soundforge.net. The Windows version is just a 4.5 MB download. Buddi does not require installation-it can run standalone. Upon first run, you are prompted to create a new database. After doing that, you can opt to encrypt it. You are then ready to get started with your new personal accounting database.

Set Up Your Accounts
You will notice the My Accounts tab in the first screen. You can create two types of accounts, Credit and Debit. Credit accounts are marked in red, and debit accounts are black. Click New, and specify the account name, starting balance, and account type. You will notice that the Net


View and manage your accounts


Worth value is listed at the bottom of the window. This is the sum of the balance of all your accounts. If you make a mistake while creating or adding an account, worry not-you can always delete it and start over.

Get To Know Budget Categories
Clicking the My Budget tab will take you to the Budget category list. Click New to create a category. Budget categories are the details of the credit and debit of an account, and are therefore divided into Income and Expenses. There are a number of preset parent categories in each of the two to choose from, and these can be modified to suit your needs. Examples of categories under Income are salary and interest earned; examples of Expenses are money spent on groceries, fuel, etc.
                                                                 
Manage your budget categories


In these categories, you can enter the amount received or to be spent. You can create sub-categories under parent categories as necessary. The Budgeted Net Income / Month at the bottom of the window shows the difference between the budgeted income and the expenses.

Managing Transactions
This is perhaps the most important section of the software; you will likely spend the most time here. You can define money transfers, either between accounts or to budget categories. To open the transaction screen, click on the account to which you want to transfer or from which you want to withdraw-in the My Accounts tab-and click Open. You can enter the details of transactions such as amount, date, description, transaction number (such as a cheque number), category from and category to, as well as a memo to yourself about the transaction. Click


Add, edit and review your transactions


Record, and it will appear in the Transaction window along with the updated Net Worth. If you made a mistake while entering the details, you can simply select the transaction and click Update (which was earlier the Record button).

Generating Reports And Graphs
Buddi has a nice reporting system that helps you monitor your spending habits. Reports can be easily created-select a report and timeframe, and the results will pop up in a browser window. Graphs and reports include a textual breakdown of income and expenses


Graphs will help you analyse your budget


compared with the budget estimates, pie charts of expenses and income over a given time period, breakdown of Net Worth, changes in Net Worth over time, and more.

Backing Up The Database
Buddi automatically keeps a rolling backup of the most recently used data files (the number of backups depends on the settings in the Preferences), and you can manually back up or restore as necessary. You can work with more than one data file, too, if you want to keep a permanent backup of a previous database. Buddi will automatically open only the last used database and keep the other databases untouched.

Fiddling With The Preferences
Clicking on Edit, you can enter your preferences. Preferences has several tabs, the first being View, where you can set the appearance of the interface such as whether deleted accounts and categories should be shown. In the Locale tab, you can set the language, date format, and currency format. Since INR or Rs is not available in the drop-down list, click Other and enter Rs. Buddi also has support for third-party plugins, which are JAVA files (.JAR); you can manage these in the Plugins tab. An example of a useful plugin is one that lets you import and export reports to CSV files, which can be read by applications such as Excel. In the Advanced tab, you can set the budgeting interval and the number of backups, and add or edit the existing account types.




Jayesh LimayeJayesh Limaye