The New Transaction screen includes an auto-complete feature that fills in names of transactions before you finish writing them, based on your previous transactions. Most desktop finance programs include this handy convenience as well, but it is pleasantly surprising to see auto-complete on a PDA. Even more exciting is that the new Transaction screen has a built-in calculator, so you can enter the amount as an expression rather than figuring out the amount yourself (for example, if you know you wrote a check for $26.32 + $50.96, but you don’t remember the total amount, and you don’t want to do the math in your head). The calculator also doubles as a numeric keypad so you can enter the amount easily without worrying about whether you need to switch to Transcriber, Keyboard, or some other input method. The keypad/calculator feature is incredibly convenient and simple, and, dare I say it, ingenious.
You can also schedule repeating transactions, using a flexible system that allows you to define almost every possible type of repeating pattern you could possibly want. Repeating transactions can be configured to pop up a reminder when you need to enter them, or to enter themselves into your register automatically without requiring any user interaction.
You can search and filter your register entries, but there isn’t any feature specifically designed to help you reconcile your checkbook against your bank statement. Reconcilement essentially refers to accounting for discrepancies between your checkbook and your bank’s records, which are generally caused by delays in processing and mailing that can make your statement out of date before you even receive it. Thus, for modern users who pay with credit cards or other electronic methods, and read their bank info online, these delays are often eliminated almost entirely, which makes reconciling your checkbook against your bank statement a trivial task - just make sure they are the same. Nonetheless, some sort of reconcilement tab or wizard would’ve been nice.
The Budgets tab allows you to create an unlimited number of costs and expenses that you regularly incur, which you can file into any of the numerous available categories. Using the calculator keypad once again, you can set limits for each expense, representing the maximum amount you intend to spend on that particular item within a particular time frame (you can choose monthly, quarterly, annually, or other options). Based on your register entries, your actual spending will be shown alongside your budgeted spending to help you figure out where you are spending too much, and where you may need to change your budget. Although some people probably feel that they can handle their budgets without having to go through the extra work of formalizing it in a computer program, people who can’t handle their budgets on their own could greatly benefit from this section of Finance.
Under the reports tab, you can see graphs and charts of various statistics, including your account balances, spending by category, net worth, profit and loss, among others. Although they are not the most complex or powerful features of the program, the graphs are easy to read and can help you visualize overall trends with your finances.
Additional features of Spb Finance include the ability to password protect your information to keep it confidential, as well as a handy Today screen plugin that can be configured to display your balances, scheduled transactions, budgets, or any combination of the three. You can also choose to have your information automatically backed up to a file (you choose where the file is stored).
However, the most impressive extra, in my opinion, is that Spb Finance can export files to QIF, CSV, Microsoft Excel, and OFX formats, and it can import files that are in the QIF, MS Money for PPC, or OFX formats. These are all common file standards for banking programs across most platforms, so this opens up options for transferring data between the program and a desktop finance program for which Finance doesn’t have built-in syncing support. The only let-down is that this feature cannot be combined with the automatic backup feature, which would have allowed you to automatically have a copy of your information saved to a second format. Although this would’ve expanded the possibilities for integrating the program with your existing setup even further, overall, Import/Export is another feature that tends make the user exclaim, “Wow, I thought only desktop computers could do that.”
Chuck Your Checkbook!
With the tremendous variety of financial programs available, using a paper checkbook nowadays can sometimes make you quite primitive. If you’re looking for a program for your Windows Mobile device that can keep track of your checkbook and help with your financial planning while still remaining easy to use, then it is almost certainly worth entering one more debit into your checkbook to cover the registration of Spb Finance.
Pros: Supports auto-complete; excellent calculator/keypad built into transaction entry screen; imports and exports common desktop file formats; convenient Today screen plugin; automatic backup feature.
Cons: Exporting to another file format cannot be combined with automatic backup feature; no reconcilement feature.
Web site: Spb Software House
Spb Finance, $24.95