MoneyWiz review - macOS/iOS personal accounting software

An excellent personal finance app in general, supporting just about every feature you'd expect. Split transactions and stock recording could do with a little work, but those are minor gripes.

I had previously been using iBank — as it used to be called before it became Banktivity — as my financial tracking application and, as it had an iOS version, I tried to continue using that when I switched to using an iPad as my main computer.

However, two things happened at once that made me rethink my use of iBank/Banktivity. First of all, I updated from iBank to Banktivity. This was a major update of the software as well as a name change. The trouble is, I didn’t like Banktivity on my MacBook anywhere near as much as I’d liked iBank. It just felt like a clunkier, harder to use application.

Secondly, the iOS version of Banktivity is feature-limited, excluding things like reports from the platform. Applications that are feature-limited on iOS really bug me and I just won’t touch them on principle. iOS is a proper working platform so please, developers, don’t give us cut down software on that platform. Not if you want me to use it, anyway.

So I started looking around at alternatives with the following requirements:

  • it had to work on MacOS and iOS with a full set of features on the latter,
  • it had to support split transactions,
  • it had to have a good array of reports,
  • it had to support investments (stocks, shares etc.),
  • it had to sync between platforms and devices.

I found it surprisingly difficult to find applications that ticked all the above boxes. There are plenty that satisfy some or even most of the requirements but not too many that satisfy all of them.

In the end, I went for MoneyWiz.

This is not going to be an extensive review because, frankly, finance/accounting packages bore the hell out of me. They’re important and I need one but I see them as a utilitarian thing.

The upshot is that MoneyWiz is pretty good. It ticks all the items on my requirements list and, after a few days of getting used to the app, I found it easy to use and well put together. Pretty much everything you would expect is there: there are accounts, credit cards, investments, reports, budgets and scheduled transactions, amongst other things.

MoneyWiz is fully-featured on iOS and it syncs between platforms via their own SYNCBits facility. Personally, I’d rather it synced via iCloud or Dropbox but you can also get MoneyWiz for Windows and Android, which I presume rules out things like iCloud as a synchronisation platform. It’s no great stress, anyway. What’s far more important is that the sync facility is reliable — in fact, I’d say sync facilities in general need to be bulletproof with multiple safeguards and reliable recovery if something does go wrong.

Something did go wrong as it happens but I was the cause of that. I originally downloaded MoneyWiz Standard on my iPad but then, when I subscribed to Premium and signed up for the SYNCBits synchronisation service, I did that all from my MacBook. So it didn’t pick up all the accounts, transactions, categories, schedules and such that I’d created locally on my iPad before going Premium. I really didn’t want to lose all this data so I contacted the MoneyWiz support team and they sorted me out within 24 hours and all my data was kept intact.

The lesson here is, if you experiment with Standard before going Premium and you want to keep your local data, sign up to SYNCBits from the same machine where you have that local data.

I have a couple of small gripes with MoneyWiz. Split transactions work in a less than friendly way. If you set up a split transaction it originally splits the total evenly between all the categories you assign to the transaction. That’s fine, you just go in an apportion the money as necessary and save the transaction. However, if you later go back and change that total for that transaction, it’ll split the money up evenly again. It would make more sense if it just let me change the total next to the category I want to change rather than have to go through and split out my transaction in its entirety again.

My other gripe is that when you set up a stock investment, it titles that investment by its stock symbol rather than its name. I have a few funds in my portfolio and I can’t remember what something like GB00B4RL9737.L is and it would seem infinitely more sensible to title investments by their name.

But those gripes are fairly minor and I think this is an excellent application over all. I’m not entirely convinced by the importance of supporting cryptocurrencies in MoneyWiz 3 but I guess other people have requested it. As it stands it’s a great personal finances application backed by good support. You can’t really ask for more than that and I’ve only taken half a star off for the minor gripes I mentioned.

Props to the developers for treating iOS as the proper working platform it is and providing a fully-featured version for it. Too many vendors seem to think it’s acceptable to provide a noddy, cut-down version of MacOS software for the iPad and iPhone.