Squirrel: The Furry Finance Master

10 years ago in Articles, Contributors, Essential Apps, Neat & Nifty, Reviews by John Fuller | 1 Comment

Squirrel, an Apple Design Award winner, is a personal finance application for Leopard. The application is powerful and has a clean, minimalist interface. While this product is not yet a 1.0 release, it contains many slick features and helps you to track your personal finances easier.

Like a normal personal finance app, Squirrel allows you to track your money over several accounts and account types such as savings, checking, cash, credit cards and friend accounts. In each account, you can activate “netbanking” where you enter the URL of your financial institution, and then can quickly jump to your account online while still inside Squirrel. You can switch back and forth between your online account and the local Squirrel database by simply clicking a tab in the top right corner of the main window.

Each transaction has the ability to be tagged and added into an category. Tags allow you to track certain types of purchases, like if you tagged your iTunes purchases with “Media” or “iTunes”. Categories work in a similar fashion. There is also a notes field for each transaction so that you can jot down anything you want to remember about the specific transaction.

These tags and categories can be used further in reports and smart folders. Reports give you information about your income and spending over a selected period of time. For instance, you could have a report for the entire year, and a report for the current month. Smart Folders are used to organize transactions based on varying qualities – similar to how smart playlists are used in iTunes.

In Squirrel, you are given the ability to set up budgets and scheduled transactions. Budgets utilize categories and tags to track your spending in various user-set up areas. You can set up a maximum amount of spending per area, and then Squirrel will show you how your spending compares with your outlined budget. Scheduled transactions can be set up for recurring transactions, like bills, and then assigned to specific accounts. There are other minor features in Squirrel, such as the ability to import various file types and to search throughout the application.

One of the coolest things about Squirrel, is how Leopard’s Core Data, Core Image, and Core Animation are utilized to produce graphs and charts instantly. A bar graph is displayed in each account and smart folder to show the account balance and trends that occur over time. In the reports, pie charts are shown to give indication of what percentage of your income comes from certain areas, or where you’re spending the majority of your money.

While Squirrel is an amazing product, there are some negatives. For starters, the ability to export your data is missing. If further down the road Squirrel is left unsupported and you have to switch to another finance application, it will be a major pain to try and either transfer the data or re-enter the data. Proprietary formats are not a good thing. There is also no syncing between multiple macs. MobileMe syncing is almost a necessity now. A minor complaint is that when you assign a dollar amount to a budget, you must re-enter the amount each reporting period versus Squirrel automatically setting the budget amount.

All in all, Squirrel is a great personal finance app, and one of my personal favorites. The program does have its flaws, but it hasn’t been officially released as a 1.0 product yet. You can download a copy, or purchase a license for €14,99.

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