Mobile app review: Pennies


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App name: Pennies

Publisher: Emile Bennett

Price: $3.99

Available on: iOS (Available for Apple Watch)

What’s it supposed to do? Help you budget and manage your spending in a simple-to-use interface.

I finally did it. After reviewing countless free budgeting apps, I finally decided to pay for one of those fancy finance apps. Can a paid budgeting app really be that much better than a free one? It’s a question I’ve had in the back of my mind for a while. And after a co-worker suggested I give Pennies a shot, I figured this was as good a time as any to find an answer.

Ease of use (5/5): Pennies is all about simplicity — no charts, no complicated graphics, no frills. Great, so I just shelled out $3.99 for a basic budgeting app? Eh, not exactly. The simplicity makes for a great user experience. It takes less than a minute to get set up, and a few more minutes to pick up on the navigation.

Features (3.5/5): Sometimes a lack of features is a good thing. Apps overloaded with features can be overwhelming, which makes an app largely ineffective. Pennies straddles the line elegantly, with enough features to be engaging but not so much that you’re ready to toss your phone out the window.

One of my favorite features is your spending and finance “health.” The app changes color based on how much money you have left in your budget. If it’s green, go ahead and treat yo’self! Blue, you’re on track and a purchase probably won’t hurt you. Red, you better check yourself before you wreck your budget.

Pennies lets you easily create multiple budgets and customize them. For example, you can set them to different time frames (monthly, weekly, etc.) and have any extra money roll over to the next budget. The app also gives you the option to receive push notifications reminding you to enter your expenses.

Effectiveness (4/5): Strangely enough, the app’s price tag made me feel more obligated to enter my expenses. Add in the fact that Pennies is painless to use, and it proved to be an effective budget tracker. Enjoyable, even!

Value (3.5/5): It’s difficult to say whether Pennies helped save me money. I can quantify the cost; it’s much harder to determine whether Pennies deterred me from spending. I enjoyed using this app and was more diligent with it than I have been for previous apps. And that makes me lean toward, yes, it most likely save me money.

Verdict (16/20): Pennies is fun and easy to use, and engages the user in a way that makes the app effective. Sure, $3.99 is a little pricey for a budget app, but you will appreciate the extra money you’ll save in the long run.