It looks like BillMonk, which I rely heavily on, is slowly dying of neglect.
BillMonk’s Facebook application hasn’t worked for months now (check out the complaints!) and adding things to your Library by searching Amazon now never returns any results. The developers are nowhere to be seen.
BillMonk is full-featured, yet simple to use and was (as far as I know) the original ’social money’ application. Back then the developers were great, responding to feedback and fixing bugs. What a shame it all seems to have downhill since they were bought out by Obopay!
So what’s plan B?
Can’t We Just Keep Using It?
I’ll try and continue to use BillMonk, but this is problematic because I really need both the Facebook and standalone website interfaces, as more friends communicate via Facebook only and not email.
Moreover, who knows how long it will be until one day we wake up to find BillMonk has just stopped working or disappeared? Luckily, you can export all your BillMonk data, so you won’t lose previous transactions even if BillMonk ceases to exist one day. (I suggest all users of BillMonk start doing this. Seriously, who knows if its days really are numbered?)
How About the Alternatives?
A lot of people seem to recommend two alternatives: the flawed Buxfer and the simple Scred. Unfortunately, neither are good enough. For a start, neither of them allow you to track things you lend/borrow from friends, as oppose to money.
I evaluated Buxfer a long time ago and dismissed it. Today, I looked at it again and came to the same conclusion. It is slow and very much focused on tracking your entire financial life (e.g. expenses, bank accounts, etc) — something I have no need or desire for. It is also very US-centric and you can’t export data out of it unless you pay for their premium service.
Scred appears to be nice and free from bloat, but it is too simple. Its sparse look and feel also doesn’t really appeal to me. (The fact that it has a multi-platform mobile application that even works offline sounds great though!)
So What Do We Need?
To be honest, what we really need is just a clone of BillMonk that works. Its ability to track non-money transactions and itemised bills is what nobody else offers.
The one thing I don’t like about BillMonk is its Debt Shuffling feature. Its mechanism is not naturally intuitive and some of my friends hate it. I’d prefer a pool system, which is basically like a simple central pot of money between a group of friends and each person owes money to or takes money from the pot. (Incidentally, Buxfer and Scred offer this.)
I’m desperate enough to seriously consider writing a simple replacement myself… and I’d have a lot to learn since I’m not an application developer! Are there really no alternatives?