Budget Mania: Hello Wallet Upacked

Welcome to another riveting edition of BUDGET MANIA…mania…mania.

HelloWalletThis is the only strictly paid app that I’ll be unpacking. I found this app on a list of budgeting apps last year, right before EveryDollar came out. I needed help sticking to my budget because it was a battle! I had recently started using Numbers, and it was helpful, but it was a little tedious to manipulate, so I went out looking for something easier. The list had a lot of good things to say about Hello Wallet, though I can tell in hindsight that they hadn’t used any of the apps they were talking about, they were just regurgitating info off the websites. In any case, I tracked down this particular app and tried to sign up, only to realize that they had NO TRIAL AVAILABLE, which is just ludicrous for a pay app, to demand money without letting you see what you’re getting yourself into.

So not only does Hello Wallet NOT have a trial, they used to offer one and took it away! That alone made me leery, but I’m OCD and the kind of the person who used to take her computer apart for fun, so you don’t dangle tech carrots over my head and expect me not to figure out how to take them.

It took far too much time to get myself free access. They have links on their Twitter feed that say I can have a free account if I do this or that, and then the links took me to a dormant webpage full of dead links. But yeah, I wasn’t about to pay $100 for something I may only use for two weeks – especially not when the reviews for this app were full of complaints about the software being uber-buggy.

After all this, I can say that they do respond to the feedback emails you send them, in case anyone wanted to know. Haha. So without further preamble:

I really wanted to love this. It has some good things, and it means super well, but I find their guidance tools a little aggravating. They’re trying so hard to keep me on budget and on track that they’re making their software difficult to work with.

My favorite thing about this application is the Wellness Score. It gives you a score based on how well you’re doing in the following areas: savings, equity in your home, retirement, debt management, and a couple of other things. I like the thought of the guidance tools. They’re designed to help you figure out what goals you need to focus on next and where to make improvements and how. It’s good in theory, and all of this is lovely, but that isn’t why I wanted to sign up for the app.

The reason I love EveryDollar is that it works for how I actually like to budget. It’s easy to manipulate every month and it’s QUICK. I can lump all of my misc. spending into one category. And some months I want clothing categorized as “clothes.” Some months I don’t care if it’s “misc.” or “blow money.” I don’t buy clothes on any kind of schedule, so this allows me to be flexible and free.

The problem with doing this in Hello Wallet is that it’s not only a pain to manipulate the categories all the time, both on my phone AND on the computer, especially since some things can only be adjusted on the computer, the app also sends me emails yelling at me for going over budget all the time. To make my life easier I tried to do a static budget for common categories to minimize time spent online adjusting crap and minimize getting yelled at. Only after I did so, they yelled at me for “planning to overspend.”

When I still had “old faithful,” they sent me messages about paying down my debt, and I wasn’t even carrying a balance for more than three weeks. They also regularly sent me messages about needing more equity in my home because I’m literally 2% off of their recommendation. You think it wouldn’t kick in until at least 5%.

When I went on vacation last year, it yelled at me for spending too much money to the point where I had to tell the app not to count my vacation purchases towards my budget. Part of this is my fault for being too lazy to adjust my income for that month (because this is something else I can only do on the desktop site). And again, I know it’s trying to be helpful, but it’s really annoying. And the software is peppered with stuff like this. They’ll categorize something as a bank fee that isn’t, and then give me a “helpful” tip about calling the bank to get the fee reversed.

On the savings side, their emergency fund tool, that I talked about a few posts back, quotes me as needing $2k less than they’re saying I need in my account portal. It’s not a big deal, but it’s annoying. And speaking of annoying things, in their guidance section, they won’t move me forward to the next step because I don’t have disability insurance. I don’t want or need disability insurance. I work retail. I could break both arms and still be able to do something at work. I could still walk and talk to point to products with my chin, for example.

I guess my biggest problem with Hello Wallet goes back to why I don’t like You Need A Budget, the original or the new one – in order to fully utilize the features, I have to force my finances into a mold, and I just don’t like that.

Overall, I found that I either just categorized transactions and moved on, or I was irritated by something: syncing issues, the emails telling me I’m overbudget (when I’m not according to Mint, EveryDollar, Quicken, and MY BRAIN), or some other nuance that I would come across when I was on the app for too long.

One good thing about being a member is that you get notifications for webinars and email series, though this said, some of them are very basic. Every once and while, though, they’ll delve more deeply into something, and once you’re on the email list, you stay until you unsubscribe, so at least I don’t have to keep my account to get access some potentially helpful information.

There’s been considerably fewer tech issues since the last update, but it’s hard to say it’s worth $100 when there are more flexible apps out there and those apps are free. I appreciate what they’re trying to do, but I found all the help they were trying to give me irritating. I don’t mind being guided, I just didn’t like being shoved.

Happy Budgeting. 🙂

Hi ^_^