Will Money Dashboard help you set a better budget?
Some of us are, to be blunt, fucking abysmal at budgeting money. That's because household budgets aren't as much fun as eating, drinking, sleeping, watching paint dry or pots boil, and so on.
In the US, consumers have been able to make use of Mint.com, a web-based service that scoops up all your bank transactions to let you budget more efficiently, and with the benefit of pretty coloured graphs; meanwhile the UK had to make do with Kublax until it went belly-up last year. Now there's moneydashboard.com - not a new site, but they've finished with their beta testing and are available for free sign-up.
There's a 30 second registration process, followed by a quick bit of buggering about to install Microsoft Silverlight if you haven't already. You then have to hand over all the details of any bank accounts you want to import, and the site will update and combine several different accounts in a series of graphs and bar charts. That's the easy part - after that, I have to admit to getting a little lost.
The interface doesn't feel very intuitive - for instance, clicking on the Set Budget tab (because I'm not told where else to click at this point) shows a list of typical monthly costs, but it's not obvious how you set budgets, alerts or anything else. And you can see how the back-end is tagging your transactions in order to correlate data, but some are wrong and plenty are untagged - meaning you've got to put constant effort in so the data is correct.
The Help section mostly involves long reams of texts, and there's no obvious starting point or even a basic tutorial to take your hand and guide you through every step of setting up. Overall, Money Dashboard feels like a little too much hard work - it's something I'll have another play with to see if I'm missing the bleeding obvious - but at the moment it doesn't seem any easier than plugging numbers into a spreadsheet every month.
The site has been in public beta since last October - any evangelists of the service so far? Let us know in the comments below.