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Koku : Home Finance Made Easy

Koku : Home Finance Made Easy

For many years I was an avid fan of Microsoft Money, you could say I was a control freak entering every single transaction no matter how small to gain an accurate view of our home finances.

On moving to Mac I really struggled to find a home finance application that meets my needs and last year I did an overview of what was available (read it here).

All these applications worked but I found I was the failure. My biggest enemy was time and with  a deluge of money leaving my account I didn’t religiously keep my records up to date, it just isn’t possible to log every transaction accurately and the result is a pretty useless financial picture than can be miles (or pounds) from the reality.

Success through Simplicity

One simple, yet effective solution is Koku. Although designed for American Banks that allow direct access (Direct Connect) to account information it still works pretty well in the UK as in addition  to Direct Connect Koku also allows you to import digital bank statements (available from most UK banks) in OFX, QFX, OFC and QIF file formats.

One negative of the importing route (not of Koku) is that your global financial picture is only available at the end of the month at the stage when your latest statement is available and instead of being able to tag as you go you have to process an entire statement at once. On the plus side Koku makes the process of importing and tagging transactions remarkably quick and easy.

The Process

The process is simple. Import your statement file into the application, you can either select to create a new account or add the transactions to an account you have previously set up.

Tagging is simple and I found I was able to rattle through a month’s worth of transactions in just a few minutes. Koku remembers previously entered tags so it is only a matter of typing the first few letters and hitting enter to auto complete. As well as tags you can also enter transactions manually if you want to add to your records or make alterations to imported transactions.

Reports

Koku offers a range of comprehensive and attractive reports to help you visualise your current financial situation. The most important is the Distribution report that offers the ability to see how much money you spend on reach area over a given time frame. You can also customise the Distribution report to set periods, last month, last quarter and even enter custom dates.


In my install I have created a custom “previous month report” as I found the built in version ran from 1st May – 1st June and a number of my regular payments ended up counted twice. A quick custom report and I was able to produce a breakdown that offers a comprehensive and accurate comparison the previous month.

Clicking on a tag separates it in the pie chart highlighting the tag represented. It would be great if clicking on a tag showed a roll over of the transactions covered if you are querying the total for the tag.

Koku also allows you to track your overall total monthly spending. It is interesting to see how things change and generally starting a month saying “we need to spend less” actually results in the highest spending on the graph ever.

The graph is stunning, one improvement would the ability to double click on a bar to be taken to the distribution graph for that month.  This is a small improvement but at $25 I really think the developers are already offering excellent value for money.


Finally you can create an account snapshot. This chart lists the current balances of your accounts. Obviously this would be really useful if your bank offers direct connect.


If you can’t be bothered to open the application you can also get a list of your balances as a dashboard widget. In Koku click on the file menu and select “Install dashboard widget”.

Conclusion

Koku is simple and powerful. It is by far the simplest finance application I have used yet it was able to give me an accurate picture of my finances in minutes. I used to spend hours each month keeping my Microsoft Money records up to date and accurate, as the novelty wore off so did my grasp of what was really going on in my accounts. Koku offers a process that is effortless and effective.

I can see instantly see how healthy my accounts are, what tags/budget areas are over spending and if my spending is growing each month. It would be great that Koku had the ability to remember tags for particular payees although tagging an entire statement is a very quick process.

I am sure as the application develops we will see additional features and even greater enhancement to the graphing features. If you are looking for a quick way of visualising where your money goes Koku could just well be the answer.

Koku works, you can download a trial on the Fadingred website and the limited $25 price makes it doubly worth the money. If UK banks offered the direct connect service this application would near perfect.

Links:

http://www.fadingred.com/koku/

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