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Show HN: Keep track of earning expenses better than excel sheets
33 points by kingsidharth on Dec 1, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 37 comments
I started to track my expenses on excel sheets earlier this year. It was interesting to see how much I spent casually on just another hangout with friends or on education.

Excel sheets are painful, at least for me.

So I built this with my friend: (it's just MVP)

http://accountant.besperk.com

Edit:

Coming up next:

> Mobile site and apps asap.

> Graphs and reports

> SSL

> Custom Alerts (when you cross a certain limit, that you define, for certain tag)

> Pre populated tags.

Tech used:

> Rails

> on Heroku

My co-founder is offline will ask him to add more details on tech used side.




-- EDIT --

[ To give these messages context. This comment could have been construed to say something else. I said 'what makes your app worthless is this' after taking about how he describes a lack of technical info and before I talk about the FAQ.

I later updated this line to make it clearer. I should have added an edit note but didn't. I apologise. I just added the edit note and this blurb at the beginning to give the rest of the conversation context.

This is why there is discussion about lack of designer's tech knowledge devaluing an application. This was down to my poor writing. Wasn't my intent. I hope everything is clearer now.

I will no longer be using the edit button on HN ]

-- END OF EDIT --

This is worrying:

> My co-founder is offline will ask him to add more details on tech used side.

You have already got this far. Why do >> you << not know this already?

This text in your FAQ, for me, makes your application worthless. [Edited -- Original line could have been read as lack technical information devalued the application. This was not intended]

> Do you have access to my account information?

> Yes. But with 100s of people using the app, it's really not interesting to run after your details. If your financial data can make world economy crash, please do not use the app.

What you have said is this. "Yes we have full access to your account information." Then to follow it up you effectively say this. "We may snoop on your account so if you have sensitive info do not use this application."

Its really really bad. Data security should be the most important thing you do. Especially as your app is to do with people's finances. User data should be encrypted. I don't understand why you need to have access to individual clients data. Can you explain please.


Honest question; in a small MVP like this, how would I, as a developer, ensure that I cannot access user data? I understand that you can encrypt at the app or database level, but at the end of the day I would have (or could get) the encryption keys (obviously in an established company there would be protocol about who has access).

I guess you could use the users own password to encrypt the data, but then you're pretty stuffed if they forget it. Ideas?


Honest answer.. I don't know. Its not so much about encryption. It is more about data protection and restricting data access.

In their FAQ regarding if they have access to account information... "Yes. But with 100s of people using the app, it's really not interesting to run after your details."

I would expect that in a lot of application's it is possible to pull out client data one way or another. The way this is written makes it sound like client details are sitting on a desk and the only reason they aren't rooting through your details is because you aren't interesting enough.

Well.. what happens when you apparently offend the designer on HN and become of interest.

The answer should be technically yes but no. A developer could engineer access or pull data from a client database. However, breaches like this aside, there is no formal way to access your account or see your data.


Yup I do agree with you that the FAQs should come across as though they will do their absolute best to protect your financial data and restrict who can see it.


Being a designer I do not get the hang of what gem went in this app. SO yeah that's the first part.

I do not know how this makes the app worthless. Honestly? Designer doesn't know what goes behind it so app is worthless.

Data is not encrypted because shipping a MVP was the main goal till now. But it's on the list yes.

Follow up does not say sensitive data. Follow up says if you're data is so interesting that everyone is after it pelase don't share.

Edit:

PS: Dude when you edit your original comment. do mention you edited it. In the comment itself.


You should read what I said more carefully.

I said it is worrying that the app has got this far and you do not know more about it. Your post sounded like you know little about the technical side of the application. This might not be the case and if is I apologise. I feel if there is a start up with 2 people. Both should have a good idea of what the site is built on and what technology stack you are using. You don't need to be a developer to know this stuff.

I said your app is worthless because of your FAQ. You effectively say you have access to all data I put in and if I have any sensitive data don't bother. I feel my financial data is sensitive so why bother? This is the key question.

It is how you come across in your FAQ which greatly devalues your application.


You did not say "App is worthless because of FAQ" so no point reading it carefully.

I do not think both people SHOULD know the stack or whatever.

As far as data goes, yes you're right. We should work on that a bit more.

Edit: You edited your comment, you can mention in the comment itself that you edited it instead of calling me "wrong"


Updated my comment. Scary thing is you still haven't responded to the fact your FAQ points towards a complete disregard to data protection.

You could have shut me up instantly by saying. "The FAQ is poorly written. There is no formal way to access client data... blah blah"

Instead you have no response. It doesn't seem to bother you that you suggest you can access any clients personal data at the drop of a hat.

Regarding knowing what your site is built on. You don't seem to understand that you aren't a designer. You are a co-founder. At least I thought you were. If not disregard what follows. As a co-founder you should know what is going on in your company. You should know what your website's technology stack is, you should know about your costs, your pricing and your marketing strategy. It is in your interest. This isn't about programming. It is about business ownership and knowing what the hell is going on with your product.

If you approached an investor and you couldn't answer a few questions about the technology used in your site you would be sunk moments after setting your foot in the door.

If none of this bothers you then fine. My boss knows no programming but he knows how many servers the company uses, the OS on the servers. The database system. He knows current storage (%) total vs available. he watches the technologies we use for updates. Yet he know's nothing about programming or design for that matter. He is a sales person.

It is in his interest to know these things because his product is a website and he doesn't want to look like a dick in front of his clients or financial backer.


welcome to HN. i personally think "worthless" might be just a bit rude but the H does stand for hacker, so naturally the audience would be interested in the technology you employ to keep their data safe.


Yeah even after 400+ days on HN. I fail to understand why Designers are not just respectable :|


> Designers are not just respectable

That would be "Designers living in vaccum."

You need to decide if you are a designer or a co-founder, and if you are owning the product or merely contributing to it. Because designers shouldn't be making public comments on product privacy policies.


In referrence to original comment:

He mentioned I should know the stack. Privacy policy was not mentioned. Nor did I say being a designer has anything to do with Privacy Policy.

I said, being a designer I do not understand what stack it is and that doesn't make the app worthless.


worthless is still rude


The application looks nice.

BUT...

What else do you call a financial application which hasn't set its cornerstone as data protection.

I saw this app and thought it looked nice, I could see myself using it. I then read a bit more about it in the FAQ and I cannot use it. My financial data may not send the world into an economic downturn but it is something I care about and what to keep safe. If this application cannot do that then I cannot put my financial details into it...

If this was sorted out the app would look very promising. Such an apparent disregard for data protection isn't acceptable for a financial app and in its current state looks like it shouldn't be used.


Updated my original comment so it cannot be read as your technical knowledge influences the value of your application.


Honest question, how do you query encrypted data? And how do you process them (summarize, group, categorize, etc.)?


You need to add a pricing page (or put it on the homepage) so people understand what they get for free and what costs $5 a month. I didn't sign-up, but I hate when I do sign-up for something thinking it was free and then it turns out the free option doesn't do anything.


Valid thing. Actually pricing is on home page but was testing it (A: on , B: off) guess you got the off part.


I find this really hard to believe. Factual statement, not trolling.


Open Icongnito / Private Browsing window. It's likely to show you the B version. Though there are 10 combinations so might take some time.

If you want I can give you a screenshot.


http://toshl.com/

This is a similar product that already has native apps for many mobile platforms and it's free to use (there is a pro account with some additional features).

disclaimer: I'm friends with the folks who built this, I just wanted to post this here for comparison.


This is really good. Thanks for sharing :)


Probably it is just me. But let me try to get it straight. We made something like Mint, but took away the tough components to implement for eg. automation, getting data from credit card spending etc. We justified it by saying that it gives you better understanding of your spending "on the go". No idea what that really means. Mint does give you fairly up to date information of your spending, budgeting and all kinds of good stuff. So while we were at it, we thought since we are doing less work ourselves than what Mint does and making users work harder by making them enter all their information manually unlike Mint. Lets charge money for it. Does no one else see problem with this approach?


I am not sure if my example will make any sense here.

While mint aims at helping you reach your saving goals and plan your budget.

Accountant helps you reflect on your spending habits.

It's like the slight difference between a To-do List and Checklist. Both are similar but not same. You can call To-do list a daily checklist but when it comes to the experience and result, they are a bit different.

I do not have more data or examples to explain it. Tried my best.


I think you need to do a better job at clearly explaining why people should use your product over mint/other sites. Currently, it appears that I need to manually enter all my expenses. That is not gonna happen for most of the users. As an example, I just came back from a really hectic one week trip to seattle. I used 2 or 3 cards to pay at tens of places. Its not possible for me to now recollect what I spent during last one week. With mint, I can track all of it really easily. How can your site do a better job, and help me in this case?

Your site appearance is nice btw.


Very valid pain point. Shall take it into consideration.


Very nice design overall though I'd like something even lighter.

Some minor feedback:

* Your message/notification box width is larger than your content box width and they don't align.

* Report generation is missing or I can't find it.

* Your ToS section on privacy is not clear and seems to reference to the same document for it, but I couldn't find a section for that. It's important to have it, more so when you're dealing with people's expense data.

Please tell us more about the technology you use and plan to use, hom much time you've spent building it.


Adde to post.

Somehow I missed privacy policy. Shall put it up soon.


What does your site offer over Mint (which is free)?


From FAQ: (though it's about automation, but goes same for overall vision)

  Why don't you automate it? Like Mint.com etc?
  That's not our purpose. When you consciously recall where 
  you spent money and document it. It has a different effect. 
  That's the aim of the app.

Expanding on it: While building Accountant, I had one thin in mind. Why look at what you did after a month? Why not look at it on-the-go? The only way I could think of was to consciously put the data.

Example: End up spending 1000 bucks on DVD rentals and then regret. Or know when you're spending the 500th buck and stop. Just a lame example but presents the use case.


Not to be harsh but the lack of automation kills it for me.

I don't want to consciously recall where my money goes. I want all of the benefits of that conscious recall--e.g. staying within my budget, being able to see if my spending has changed month to month, and being able to look up where I ate 3 weeks ago---without being forced to recall day-to-day what I've been doing.

Without automatic categorization, what you have is a prettier interface than excel but functionality that no one who can sling together a few excel macros will think is impressive.


Since this post sounds like pubic beta/self marketing, You should provide a couple of ready accounts for users to try this out.. i dont want to give up my email just to see the innards for your brain spill!


For that reason we did not use email double opt-in.

You can use test@testing.com or whatever.

In case you are wondering why not just a login to use? because sign-up process is important part of the whole experience. When I ask for feedback, I would like feedback about it as "whole" not just part.

Maybe I think it's an important part because I am a designer. But I am all ears if you have a stronger reason.


How is this better and/or different than Mint.com?

Mint connects to your bank account and does automatic categorization, and compares your spending habits to that of the state and US as a whole.


Can I integrate this with my online banking service? Bank of America shows my account history in ledger format, so I have to do the work in Excel to categorize the expenditures.


Just a heads up to those thinking of giving it a spin, there is no way to delete your account once its been made unless I missed something...





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