Buddi is for people who are looking for an electronic account register to track spending, along with a simplified budgeting tool. If you need convenient personal finance features such as transaction downloads or a view of all accounts in one place, Buddi is not the best option.
Buddi's home page says it's extremely simple personal finance and budgeting program designed for people with little or no financial background. All personal finance software is designed so you don't need an accounting degree to use it, so Buddi has some competition. Buddi runs on Mac, Windows and Linux computers.
Getting Started with Buddi
After downloading and installing Buddi, the first thing that needs to be done is to create an account. How to go about creating an account is not obvious since there is no icon for adding an account, which is more or less a standard in personal finance software. I clicked around Buddi and discovered the Create Account command under the Edit menu, and Buddi's online help documentation also explains that this is how you go about getting accounts set up, and the set up is very easy to do once you find it.
Setting Up a Budget
Setting up budget categories is relatively easy, and some default categories are included to get you started. If you want to add, delete or modify a budget category, you need to look to the Edit menu. When you assign a budgeted amount to a category in Buddi, the software does not automatically apply this amount to each month or week going forward. This works for someone with a budget that fluctuates quite a bit from month to month or week to week, but the rest of us need to use a command to copy budget amounts to future time periods, one week or month at a time.
Another strange anomaly in the Buddi budget tool is that if a budget amount is assigned using the weekly option, that budget category can't be viewed alongside the categories that are set up using the monthly option. A good budgeting tool shows all budget categories together, usually averaged out over a selected time frame selected.
Transactions and Securing Financial Data
To enter a transaction, double click on the account you want to record the transaction in - or any other account for that matter - because the transaction entry window does not default the funding account selected. Split transactions appear to be supported given that there is a split option listed in the categories when entering a transaction. However, I was unable to get transaction splits to save, and the save button was grayed out. The online documentation did not address transaction splits, and a quick search in the online support forum offered no answers.
Buddi offers an option to encrypt your data the first time a data file is saved, which is an excellent feature. If you encrypt data in Buddi and you forget your password, the developer says there is no way to open your data file without the password. Choose a password wisely, or opt out of encrypting your data.
Buddi has options to import, export and synchronize data (presumably across multiple computers), however, these options are grayed out and can't be selected. The online documentation mentions that a plugin is required to enable these features, and there is no guarantee that all available plugins work properly. Options should not appear for functions that require a plugin until the plugin is installed to avoid confusing the average home user. At the very least, Buddi should inform the user immediately that additional downloads are required to enable grayed-out functions.
Bottom Line Review for Buddi Personal Finance Software
Except for some stumbling around in the initial set up, Buddi is simple to use. Buddi maintains accurate account registers and does some very basic personal budgeting on any computer running Java Virtual Machine. Buddi would probably work best for someone who uses a lot of cash or who only has a couple of financial accounts. Buddi is not for anyone who wants the convenience of downloading transactions, a wide variety of reports, viewing financial accounts all in one place or flexible budgeting features.
Buddi's free price tag combined with how it has been translated into over a dozen languages may account for its popularity and for why it took first place in the 2011 Readers' Choice Award for Mac Personal Finance Software. In my opinion, there are better choices out there for most people who are looking for free personal finance software.
Although Buddi is free open source software, the developer accepts free will donations. To learn more about and download Buddi, visit Buddi - Personal Budget Software for the Rest of Us.