A few years ago, I had just started my first real
job and was a few months from getting married. I hadn’t ever
money before this and was certainly not doing any meaningful form of budgeting, but with no savings, a mountain of
student loans, and a honeymoon to pay for I decided it was time to get a bit more serious about my finances.
My first thought, like many, was to try out one of the numerous budgeting tools that connect to all of your accounts and
track things for you. However, I got tired of this very quickly.
The categorization was never right, the tools offered
for actual planning and limit-setting seemed like an afterthought compared to the slick net worth graphs and credit card
offers (looking at you Mint), and ultimately these just didn’t help me change my spending habits at all. (By the way, if
I’m just trying to see how much I’ve spent on eating out this month, I don’t want the first thing that pops up to be a
graph showing me how my student loans drop my net worth into the negative tens of thousands).
Searching For A Manual Solution
After realizing this “budgeting” was not really working, I turned to the favorite method of many old-school budgeters -
the envelope method. This seemed like a great way to be proactive with my money - or at least get it organized and give
every dollar a job(™). There was just one problem - in this day and age, there was no way I was actually going to put
physical cash in envelopes and carry them around. I figured the next best thing would be a digital envelope system.
And so I started looking for a budgeting app that would give me the benefits of manually budgeting, and as someone who
appreciates a good user experience, I wanted it to not be a pain to use. My requirements were pretty reasonable - I
- 1. Set up my own spending categories
- 2. Track my bills and record when I'd paid them
- 3. Stay in sync with my soon-to-be wife
- 4. Have a reasonably intuitive and simple interface so that both of us stayed interested in using it
I couldn’t believe how difficult to use or weirdly designed every app I tried was. None were great, but I ran into the
same problem with
every one of them - 90% of the time I opened the app I just wanted to do one thing - enter a purchase. Yet in every one
of them, entering a purchase was cumbersome. Pie charts of my spending are cool, but it turns out they don’t help much
after the first time you’ve seen them.
Back to the Spreadsheet
Eventually I gave up and created a Google Sheet with some light automation that allowed us to add purchases to a running
and select a category from a drop down.
Even with the slightly awkward exercise of doing this in the Google Sheets
mobile app, I still found it easier than any of the dedicated manual/envelope apps I’d tried.
Creating Go Budget
After a few months of this, it was starting to get old, and one day I realized that I might as well apply
my software development skills and try to make my own app.
From there Go Budget went through many iterations, starting with a prototype that I built for Android and used with my
wife but never released, until eventually the coronavirus shutdown afforded me just enough spare time to build a new
version of the app ready for public consumption.
With the help of some awesome beta testers (thanks r/apple), Go Budget went from a basic spending and bill tracker to a
full-fledged budgeting tool with support for many currencies and all sorts of income and budgeting situations (all with
an interface that is pretty nice, I think).
So that’s the story of Go Budget - my attempt to bring envelope budgeting into the smartphone age.
Anyway, I hope you find Go Budget useful - if you have any questions, suggestions, or other feedback, feel free to drop
me a line any time!