About Dollar Bird
DollarBird is a budgeting application, but with a twist. It uses a calendar system to track your spending. This is very different from other budgeting apps that track spending by categories. The basic concept of DollarBird is daily cash management. That can make it the perfect solution if you’ve tried using budget apps before, but without much success.
DollarBird is a cloud-based platform that’s available for iOS and Android, as well as the web. Not only does it allow you to track your income and expenses, but you can also forecast cash flow. Another interesting departure from the norm for budget apps, no bank account information is required. All data is manually added to the app by the user.
DollarBird is also in the middle of a transition. They’re going from the original version to DollarBird 3. It will be an upgraded version, however you can migrate from the original version–currently being referred to as DollarBird Classic–at any time.
DollarBird, with its calendar based budgets and its manual inputs, differs from other budgeting apps. For example, Personal Capital also offers both a free and paid version. But both versions center strongly on investing, with budgeting only as a secondary service (mainly through the Cash Flow Analyzer feature). Mint, on the other hand, is a pure budgeting app. It has only one version, and it’s free. It also enables you to import your information automatically. The other major competitor, YNAB, offers only a paid version. But it has more innovations, like its “Age Your Money” strategy of setting up your budget so that you live off of last month’s salary. It also offers the choice of both manual or automatic input.
How DollarBird Works
Once you download the app, you use a three-step process:
Step 1. “Check your pockets and bank accounts”
In this step you enter how much money you have in your bank and other sources of income.
Step 2. Enter your salary and other recurring transactions
Next, set your salary and usual monthly expenses to be recurrent so you don’t need to add them again. At this point, you’re ready to project your cash flow. You can add income and expense categories even after the initial setup.
Step 3. Follow through
In this step you develop a habit of adding your transactions as you make them. Or more specifically, you have to confirm that your recurring transactions actually happened (see “Unconfirmed Transactions” below for an explanation as to why this is necessary). Once again, the DollarBird app is completely manual, so you will have to do this on an ongoing basis. You will also need to correct variances on transactions that vary from the expected amounts.
The app has an AI-based auto capability that will sort your expenses into categories. But if you don’t agree with where an expense has been placed, you can always override the automatic system. You can even add new categories, and delete ones you don’t use, as you deem necessary.
This is where you’ll find planned expenses and income items in the DollarBird app. Once you set up a transaction as recurring, you simply confirm the transaction each time an income source is received, or an expense is paid. The change will then be reflected in the actual balance of your bank account.
DollarBird also enables you to export your data. A CSV file will be sent to you by email.
This is a bit of a contradiction. There isn’t a way to set a cap for categories yet, but it is being considered for the near future. Users are still able to see their average spending on categories each month, but are not able to allocate a dollar amount in advance. So at the moment, DollarBird is a budgeting tool without the option to manually set a budget. Though this is largely offset by the Projected Balances feature (more on that below).
This is a central feature of the app. When you’re in the calendar view, you can swipe to the month of your choice (current, past or future). An overview of your spending will be displayed on the dashboard. It will include expenses by category, and also provide comparisons with past month averages. You can expand each category to pull a list of transactions within that group.
But perhaps on a more practical level, each calendar will give you a projection of your likely month-end income and spending based in the latest month-to-date trends. The month-end projection will change a little bit each day as you adjust transactions.
By tapping on a future date, you’ll create projected balances. You can get projections for all 12 months of the year. The projections will be based only on confirmed transactions. If they’re unconfirmed, you should either confirm them as paid, or delete them. The confirmed transactions will form the basis of projected balances for whatever future month you want to pull up.
This is part of collaborative finance management. Under the paid version of the app, you can create an unlimited number of teams, up to three members, each of whom can be part of any one of those teams. Team members are able to share and contribute to your calendars, which means they should also be members of DollarBird. But even if they aren’t, you may still be able to add them on your team.
Like the missing budget capability, DollarBird currently does not allow for reminders and alerts. However, DollarBird does indicate it may add them in the future.
This seems to be another weak spot in the DollarBird app. Customer service seems to be extremely limited. Meaning it’s limited to the “Submit a Request” page, which presumably is email contact. The company is also based in France so it’s reasonable to suspect that responses will be delayed by at least several hours.
No information is given on the website in regard to contact by phone or live chat, nor is a direct email address listed. Even a search on the Help Center page failed to produce any further information.
DollarBird Plans and Pricing
DollarBird offers three different plans:
The Free Plan
There’s no charge for this plan, but you can upgrade to the Pro or Business versions at any time. The Free version comes with one calendar. It’s an excellent way to see if the app works for you before committing to purchasing the paid plan.
The Pro Plan
This is the advanced collaborative option for partners, families, freelancers, and just about anyone else. This version comes with 20 calendars, and you can have three team members. The annual fee for this version is just $25.99 per year, or $2.17 per month.
The Business Plan
This version offers collaborative financial tracking and planning for businesses and enterprises. It provides unlimited calendars, and allows you to add unlimited team members. No price is specified for this plan, as it will depend upon the type of business and the number of users and calendars required.
DollarBird Pros and Cons
- The price is right on this app. They have a free version with somewhat limited capability, but even the paid version is reasonably priced at just over $2 per month.
- A business app is available for small businesses, that’s readily expandable with unlimited teams and calendars. It could be a useful tool to help a small business track their finances.
- The DollarBird Calendar feature will work better for people who prefer daily tracking to longer terms. It also may serve as a valuable visual presentation of your financial situation.
- DollarBird lacks a budget-setting capability, which is most peculiar for a budgeting app. But they seem to work around this missing link with future projections.
- All transactions have to be added and confirmed manually. There is no capacity for automatic populating of transaction activity, so this app appears to be a bit labor-intensive.
- No alerts are provided when a bill due date is coming up.
- There seems to be a lack of simple customer service capability. Contact is limited to the “Submit a Request” page.
Should You Sign Up for the DollarBird App?
DollarBird is one of the simpler budgeting apps available. The use of calendars is especially intriguing. They can be a real advantage for people who are more comfortable with visual presentations, and the simplicity of small, day-to-day transactions. The app avoids overwhelming the user with a lot of numbers, charts and graphs.
The downside of this app is that it requires a lot of attention. You’ll likely need to use the app every day, so that you can manually confirm and/or modify your transactions. It gives you the ability to enter recurring transactions for both income and expenses. But even when those transactions are entered upfront, you must still confirm that they actually took place. In addition, if your transactions vary even a little bit from the projected amounts, you’ll be making a lot of corrections as you use the app.
The lack of a budgeting capability is curious, but it looks like that is largely overcome by the future projections capability.
Probably the best strategy with DollarBird is to work with the free version, and determine your comfort level. If you like the format and the features it offers, and it works for you on a personal level, you can then go on to the paid version. And at just over $2 per month, it’s a solid deal.
To sign up for the app, check out the DollarBird website.