Cha-Ching manages money in a fun way

Written by: Dave Cryer

Categories: Reviews

Cha-ChingI find dealing with money boring, but at the same time if I have a spending spree my online banking access is not always bang up to date. This can sometimes cause me a problem, as I have all my fresh shrunk wrap purchases on the table, but don’t know if I have enough left for a steak ‘n’ chips or if I will have to manage with cheese on toast.

This is where Cha-Ching steps up to the mark. This superb money manager from Midnight Apps promises to breathe some fun into managing your money. Well, the title gives it a good start, as do the icons within the app. Everything has a feel good factor.

Most of the time the app is split into a three pane view. The vault on the left gives you quick access to your paid and pending transactions, as well as an account list. Setting up an account is easy, you name it, assign a bank name to it, starting balance, and type of account. You can choose from checking, savings, credit or online. There is even space to enter the URL of the bank, which can then be viewed at any time using the ‘online’ tab, instead of having to go into your internet browser. Within the aptly named ‘Vault’ you can also set-up budget accounts, along with folders and smart folders for organizing and sharing across a network.

Getting my test account ready took me about two minutes, and this is where the fun starts. Entering a withdrawal from my account was really easy, with all the details input through the right hand pane. You also get the option of taking a photograph of the item purchased, which is great fun. I snapped the photo of my DVD purchase using the MacBook’s built-in iSight camera. This could prove useful for companies who may need proof of purchases for insurance purposes.
It is also possible to enter pending transactions for forthcoming expenses, and also if they are repeating you can choose between daily, weekly, bi-weekly, monthly and yearly repeats. So what started out to look like a simple app, is full of very useful features, but remains easy to use.

I have only just touched the surface so far, so stay with me. At the top of the Cha-Ching application window when in accounts view, there are three tabs. ‘Overview’ is just that, it shows you your latest incoming and outgoing money, as well as upcoming transactions. The ‘Transactions’ tab again shows you a list of what is happening with your hard earned cash, but also provides a third pane showing more details about each entry. This third pane is also where you enter new transactions. The final ‘Online’ tab, which I mentioned earlier is a built-in browser, where you can view your online account. This makes it very easy to cross-reference things, without having to switch ot of Cha-Ching and into Firefox or Safari.

Well, now managing my money is fun again. Cha-Ching is in beta form at the moment (version 0.5) and already it is shaping up very nicely. The only thing I would like to see are some sound effects, like the cha-ching sound when I put money in, and maybe a discouraging arrrgggghhhh sound when I take money out.
Overall, I am really impressed, Cha-Ching offers lots of features, a very clean and easy to use layout, and that all important Mac feel. If you want to manage you money without it seeming like a task, then breathe some fun back into your banking and check out Cha-Ching. A 30 transaction demo is available from the link below, with a single user license costing $14.95.

Product: Cha-Ching
Cost: $14.95
Supplied by: Midnight Apps

There are 9 comments on Cha-Ching manages money in a fun way:

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  1. dorsey mcintosh | Jan 22 2007 - 04:00

    Is this a complete Quicken replacement? Does it work with multiple currencies?

  2. jrupees | Jan 22 2007 - 05:52

    Let’s welcome Cha-Ching to the game! We’re long overdue for a usable Mac app in this space. (Nope. Quicken for Mac doesn’t cut it. In fact, Quicken is the last Windows app I still use.) If they can have the following features by the time 1.0 rolls out, I’ll gladly thrown down $50 for a copy.

    -Importing from Quicken (for Windows).
    -One-click auto-updating from banks, credit card companies, investment firms, etc. using OFX. In other words, I click one button, and Cha-Ching fetches the latest transactions and balances from *all* of my institutions (that support OFX) in one easy step. (Sorry. QIF is too manual and way old-school. It’s OFX or nothing for me.)
    -Simple reports. For example…
    -How much have I spent on category x over the past n days?
    -What is my ROI year-to-date for investment x?

    Good luck!

  3. nawid | Jan 22 2007 - 05:11

    The goal of the app is to be a quicken killer which they are steadily achieving. However they still have a ways to go so give it a while longer.

  4. Nathan | Jan 23 2007 - 02:09

    I downloaded it and gave it a try. I liked it for the most part, but it one complaint I have is the Budget section. When I think of budgets, I think about pie charts, and that is one thing this app seemed to lack. I would like to be able to manipulate that graph by click and drag, and have the computer work the numbers for me. That’s what computers are for anyway, right?

    Btw, I would be interested in a review of the Samson H4.

  5. Jason | Jan 23 2007 - 08:25

    I’ve used MS Money for years – I like it over Quicken (for PC). The Mac platform is desperately in need of a substitute, though. Cha-Ching is pretty neat for a first version (that’s still in Beta). Additional features I would like to see:
    * Support for auto-updating transactions or import from .csv file
    * Smart naming (I really don’t like having to name each transaction – it should auto name based on to: from: or tags)
    * Export current view of transaction list
    * Graph of future balance based on pending transactions
    * Split transactions – be able to represent a single transaction as multiple

  6. David | Jan 23 2007 - 10:39

    I started using Cha-Ching and two things I notice that would be VERY useful for version 1.0 would be a way to reconcile an account to a bank or credit card statement and some way to graph income vs. expenses by date or monthly, and memorized transaction like Quicken does would be a plus as well. Also as someone already said having the ability to split transactions, say to split out taxes from wages on a paycheck or something would be nice.

  7. Alex Curtis | Jan 23 2007 - 10:29

    I saw on MacBreak’s MacWorld coverage that the developers of Cha-Ching will be offering Bonjour support. I think budgeting collaboration would be an interesting feature. It’d be really cool if Cha-Ching could interface with–and take advantage of the community collective knowledge on the client-app level, instead of a web-app.

  8. dlcole | Jan 25 2007 - 01:17

    I looked for a way to reconcile the account – found none. Looked for some, even basic instruction, none.

    I realized that some of the names that come up in the, “To”, and “From” panels are from my address book. Not helpful at all.

    WHere does the check number go?

    I like the look, over all, and it has promise, but I do find it rather puzzling and not very intuitive to use.

  9. tom.landy | Jan 27 2007 - 05:42

    great software, if only I knew where it stores the info i give it so I could use it between my laptop & desktop!