SplashMoney v4 for Palm OS

Reviewed by: Mark Goldstein, August 2005
Published by: SplashData, Inc.
Requires: Palm OS 4.0 or later (Tungsten T3 users need Palm's DIA Compatibility PRCs installed), 675KB of free memory for the application and 100KB for the data; Windows 98, ME, NT4, 2000 or XP; Mac OS X (conduit only); online banking support requires Internet connectivity, Palm OS 5.2 or later for handheld connection, and a bank that supports Direct Connect technology
MSRP: US$29.95 (download)

The last time I reconciled my bank statement was—hmmm, let me see now—months ago. No excuses—it's definitely my bad. Everything seems to be okay though. When I go to the ATM to deposit a check or withdraw cash, the balance seems (according to memory) to be correct. This is not a particularly good way to do things and I don't recommend it to anyone. I own a copy of Quicken (2002? 2003? 2004? I couldn't remember when I started reviewing SplashMoney because I hadn't opened Quicken in months). I am a dope. I hold down a good job; I'm doing responsible work. But I'm a dope. I try to treat my money responsibly. Every so often I toss a few bucks into my mutual fund portfolio (such as it is) and a savings fund (401K, RRSP, they're all the same and the interest rates are terrible). Every so often I go through a minor panic wondering if there are enough funds in my account to cover a check I just wrote. Right now I know just what you're thinking. You think I'm a dope. You think I need some financial management software; something I can carry around with me all the time so I can start practicing better financial management habits. You're right. I own and abuse a PalmOne Treo 650 too, so I leaped at the opportunity to review SplashMoney v4.

SplashMoney is a personal finance application for Palm OS and Windows. It contains features for recording checking, savings, credit card and cash transactions. You can track account balances, download bank data from online banks, reconcile your bank statements, generate budgets, reports and charts, synchronize data between your handheld and desktop computer, and transfer data to Quicken, Microsoft Money or a spreadsheet. I installed and used SplashMoney for two months on a PalmOne Treo 650.

Managing money is a habit that more of us need to learn and perform on a regular basis. Since my Treo 650 is glued to my hip and used at least a couple of dozen times per day for a wide variety of tasks, I decided to start using it with SplashMoney to track all of my daily expenses, regular and incidental income, and (over time) all of my other financial dealings. Getting started and entering data proved to be easier than I thought because information can be entered in the PDA or the Windows desktop software. Every time you HotSync, the desktop software and the PDA program are updated, providing you with an accurate, fully synchronized financial picture. The process of digitizing all of my finances, which I thought would take days to organize, in fact took less than an hour on a lazy Saturday morning.

The very first thing I did was set up a budget. SplashMoney makes it easy to do so with its budgeting feature. It's a simple approach which provides a huge range of expense categories (including savings) to which you can allot various amounts (or nothing at all), spreading your monthly income across the board. Because each expenditure entered in the register also has to be categorized, everything you spend is automatically matched up with the budget and the allotted amounts gradually reduced as you spend money throughout the month. Looking at the budget view regularly, gives you a clear and up-to-date view of exactly how you're doing minute by minute, day by day, week by week, month by month and year to date. I don't know what more control anyone could possibly want (except possibly for a more poorly developed impulse buying gene). In any event, and as every financial manager worth his salt will tell you, budgeting is the foundation of good and productive financial management. I'm feeling much better now.

The primary activity which supports the basic accuracy of everything you enter manually is of course regular transaction downloads from your bank. That and your monthly bank statement allow you to verify and reconcile your monthly statement. If you don't reconcile your monthly bank statement, you will not catch errors made by the bank, errors made by creditors, errors made by clearing houses and errors made by you. Because SplashMoney supports the standard QIF and OFX files offered by all the major banks, it's easy enough to set up your bank account logon in the software and download transaction files. SplashMoney automatically imports the files and enters everything in the register. It all works very much like Quicken or Microsoft Money on a desktop computer. If you already use Quicken there's a setting in the SplashMoney conduit to upload transactions direct to Quicken. If you're already using Money there's a setting in the conduit to export transaction direct to QIF (the data exchange file format).

You can print all sorts of different reports and view your financial data in a variety of ways. But the most important stuff is well covered up front. I like SplashMoney and I'm going to continue using it now that the review is done. The program makes me feel as though I have much greater control over my money. It's true too, because the act of consistently tracking expenditures and income against a budget makes me keenly aware of all the little things that suck up so much hard earned cash every month. Bad habits are sometimes remarkably easy to break!

Cons: After doing an account reconciliation, the software can actually be set to do an automatic adjusting transaction of the account doesn't balance. We think this sort of feature should be buried deeply in the program in an effort to force most users to properly balance their accounts. Every penny counts. Not yet compatible with Quicken 2005. There's no easy way to import a complete transaction history from Quicken or Microsoft Money into SplashMoney. You absolutely have to manually delete the current QIF file exported by SplashMoney after it has been used by Quicken or Money. If you don't, bad things can happen.

Pros: Supports most account types including checking, savings, credit card, cash, asset, liability, money market and line of credit. Budgeting and scheduled transactions can be set up with reminder pop-ups—very handy, especially if you're traveling (on vacation, on business). SplashMoney has lots of little bells & whistles including an auto-fill feature which remembers repetitive transactions, category support which offers classes and splits for more accurate descriptions, multiple currency support (I have U.S., UK and Canadian transactions). We also tried SplashMoney on a Sony Clie TH55 (WiFi-enabled of course) and it worked just as well as it did on the Treo 650. Daily, weekly and monthly management and tracking of all your money. SplashMoney works well, it's easy to use and the interface and workflow are reminiscent of Quicken. It produces a variety of useful printable reports which are well laid out and easy to understand. SplashData has put a lot of effort into creating a useful and easy to use program that should integrate quite well with your online banking and any existing financial management software. More than that as well, SplashMoney functions perfectly well as a standalone personal financial management program. You don't need Quicken or Money to use SplashMoney. Highly recommended.

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