Friday, September 5, 2003
Watch the Pennies with Spb Finance 1.0
Posted by Philip Colmer in "SOFTWARE" @ 09:30 AM
Once you've picked the account type, you enter the name and a description, followed by the currency and the opening balance.
Figure 5: Adding the name & description to an account
Figure 6: Specifying the currency for an account
Figure 7: The opening balance for a new account
If you already use a finance package and it can export a QIF file, you can import that into Spb Finance to save you the trouble of re-entering all of the data by hand. Some finance packages (e.g. Microsoft Money) don't follow the QIF specification very well. For example, Money doesn't specify an account name in the contents of the file or include details of the categories defined. Spb Finance spots that an account hasn't been specified and prompts you to specify which account you want to import the data into. Unfortunately, because of the missing category information, transactions imported from Money don't have categories assigned to them.
For the stand-alone version, of course, the import process is supposed to be a one-off one-way process, so once it is done, that's it.
Managing Your Finances
Now the accounts have been set up, let's look at day-to-day use of Spb Finance. The Accounts view shows each account and its balance.
Figure 8: The Accounts view
If you've got lots of accounts, you can tell Spb Finance to filter the display to just those accounts of a given type (e.g. just the bank accounts). You can also change the sort order of the display - name, type or balance, and then ascending or descending.
The bottom of that display shows current balance and ending balance. The manual says that the current balance is the current balance of all the accounts while the ending balance is the balance of all the accounts after all the transactions take effect. As far as I could tell, these two numbers were always the same, regardless of which accounts were being displayed and the state of the transactions in the accounts.
Clicking on an account takes you into the register view for that account.
Figure 9: The expanded Register view
The default view shows all of the principle information for a transaction across two lines - the date, payee, amount, reference, category and reconciliation state. There is also a condensed view that uses a single line and shows the date, reconciliation state, amount and an item of your choice which defaults to payee, but you can change it to reference, category or memo.
Figure 10: The condensed Register view
You can also change which account is being displayed in the register - including showing all accounts! I like the idea of that, but feel that the software needs to have some way of indicating which account each transaction is coming from. It would also be neat to be able to specify which accounts are combined, in case you don't actually want ALL the accounts but, say, all of the current accounts.