Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why should I pay money for BudgetWrangler when I can get services like Mint and Personal Capital for free?
A: In the case of Mint you’d be choosing BudgetWrangler to get more Security, Speed , and Granular Control over your data and your spending. Personal Capital is a different animal altogether. It’s great for tracking your net worth and investments but if you want to know how much you spent at Starbucks between April and July you’re completely out of luck. Mint categorizes your transactions the way it decides is correct. But how could it possibly know more about your spending than you do? Everybody is starting to realize that Artificial Intelligence is not necessarily "intelligent." BudgetWrangler Categorizes your entries easily, quickly, automatically the way you tell it to. It's powerful and automatic, but it's under YOUR control.


Q: Why doesn’t BudgetWrangler download my bank data automatically?
A: That’s not a bug, it’s a feature. The competing systems that do automatically download your data are notorious for their flakiness. All of them. It’s mainly because of a lack of true standards in the banking and credit industries. When the automated systems work, they’re great. But if something goes wrong…you’re pretty much stuck. I personally had to send my data file back to one software vendor and wait three weeks for them to repair it.

In addition your data is far less safe when it goes through a third party cloud aggregator than if you keep it on your own computer.

Finally if for some reason an import doesn’t work out right in BudgetWrangler you have lots of options to correct the situation. You can simply blow away the bad import, adjust things and try again. That can’t happen with Mint, for example.

I’ve found that the few minutes it takes to do an import are more than worth the time and effort for the accuracy, control, security, and peace of mind. And in the long run, it’s probably less time and hassle than trying to track down and correct a problem on a cloud based system…if that’s even possible.


Q: I’m having a problem with my import. Can you troubleshoot it for me?
A: I’ll try to help where I can but I’m just one guy. So I can’t make any promises. The good news is that pretty much everything I know about BudgetWrangler is in the user guide on this website.


Q: Can I use BudgetWrangler on my smart phone?
A: Yes, but why would you want to? BudgetWrangler is designed for sitting down thoughtfully at home and seriously “wrangling” your finances into submission. It’s not intended to give you live data “on the go”--you have your bank’s custom app on your phone for that purpose already. BudgetWrangler is for managing a lot of data and you’ll want a reasonable amount of screen real estate to do that comfortably.

But you can load BudgetWrangler on your handheld device and run it using a Dropbox account and Filemaker Go, a free app for iOS and Android. This is handy for checking your data on the go if you really need to, but since you are viewing a copy of your data, (not the live original) any updates you make on your handheld device will not be updated in the master file. So you'll have to do some manual syncing with Dropbox.

If you are determined to be a road warrior and have access to Filemaker Server you can mount BudgetWrangler data on that and serve it to any device on the internet if you so desire.

More info about using BudgetWrangler on your mobile device can be found here.

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Q: What are best practices for using BudgetWrangler?
A: You can use BudgetWrangler any way it works for you. You can hand enter every transaction if you desire. But personally I try to pay for everything with a card so the recording goes straight to the bank, I know that BudgeWrangler will ingest it, and I don’t have to worry about hand entering every receipt. With that in mind I find that if I spend a few minutes once a week or even once a month downloading and getting BudgetWrangler up to date it gives me all the info and peace of mind I need. It’s also a very good idea (because databases don’t do “undo” very well) to back up your data at the beginning and end of each work session. File > Save a Copy as...


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