Earlier today I spoke with Eric Tippetts, VP of marketing at VOICE2Insights, a Utah based company that has developed The Expense Tracker. This is a voice activated system that helps you to record expenses as you go. The system also allows you to enter online or via text messages. According to Tippett: "We found that different demographies have different data entry preferences so we give them the choice."
At times like now when money is tight, The Expense Tracker is a good way to help people keep on top of their finances. When you first sign up, it provides a budget based on surveyed information the company obtained from 25 finance specialists. Users can modify the individual expense line items to suit their own spending patterns.
Rather than simply recording expenses, The Expense Tracker sends users a daily reminder to let them know how much is left in the spending budget. "We found that when the family sits down to go through expenses at month end there's always a fight. This way, you can't get away from it." That's certainly true though I wonder whether some people might find that reminder annoying.
At year end, users can obtain an Excel formatted spreadsheet that can be handed over to tax preparers. Tippetts says there is an API so that developers of other services can add this into their own offerings. Assuming the API works well then any number of services like FreshBooks or QuickBooks could take advantage of The Expense Tracker.
Users can choose between a 6 month plan at $59.70 or pay-as-you-go at $14.95 plus a one time setup fee of $9.95. For those amounts, The Expense Tracker guarantees to help you find un-necessary spend.
For the future, the company is going to add in debt reduction calculators: "Making people aware that if they put a little more on their credit cards, how fast things get paid off." Next the company plans to add value by offering opportunities to get essentials at a discounted rate. Finally, they want to trend the nation and states to see how users compare with others in the nation and in their home states. Finally, they are finding demand from other countries and are working on an internationalization program that will include SIP dial-in.
Does this sound like a near perfect solution? The only thing that's missing is the ability to save or copy expense documents and have them managed by an online drop box. The user still has to keep hold of receipts, something we're all pretty ill disciplined at doing. However, as a first step towards pro-active budgeting where the service nags me daily then it might just represent the impetus people need to get serious about expense management.