Chronicle makes bill management stress-free.
I hate paper. I actually really love that the world is turning more digital because it suits me just fine. I would rather make notes using Stickies on my Mac or in Notes on my iPhone than writing out scribbles on a piece of ‘real’ paper. I don’t like the waste that paper makes and it really just ends up seeming easier to me to have a digital option for notetaking. A few years ago, I found myself lost in a mountain of paper bills. This was anxiety-inducing for me because of my hatred of paper and because it would always create clutter for me. Due to this affliction of mine, I would lose track of when bills were due and this ended up causing me more anxiety. So, I started looking for a digital solution for bill reminders and I found just what I needed with Chronicle.
Before I delve into the nitty-gritty of Chronicle, I want to point out that one of my main criteria for a bill management software was that it be available on all my computing platforms — iOS and macOS. Chronicle is. It is specifically made to work on both Mac and iOS and to sync through iCloud so you always have the same information no matter what device you are using. This was a big highlight for me and I am sure it is of some interest to others who might be looking at bill management software.
Chronicle is an app designed to eliminate surprises in your life and eliminate stress. It’s a bill management tool, yes, but when you have your bills properly ordered and monitored regularly, it can relieve a lot of stress in your life. Some of the key points about the app that LittleFin, developer of Chronicle, makes include:
- Never forget a bill: Chronicle reminds users of upcoming bills with pop-up notifications, plus shows bills in the menu bar (Mac) and with a notification widget.
- Plan & save for the future: Forecast view previews upcoming bills for months in advance, intelligently estimates amount due for variable bills, and for bills that repeat rarely (like car registrations), Chronicle calculates how much users need to set aside each month so they won’t be caught short.
- Understand spending: Users can track payment history, to see spending over time, and monitor unexpected bill increases.
- Pay bills online easily: Chronicle’s integrated browser makes it simple to pay bills and log payments quickly. Confirmation numbers and PDF receipts can be saved to the app for proof of payment in case of a dispute.
These are the reasons I started using Chronicle and why I remain loyal to the application family. I like things that work and Chronicle works. In the past, I’ve tried using applications like QuickBooks to keep track of my finances, but for a bill manager, it just isn’t user-friendly enough. In very simple terms, Chronicle allows me to have all my bills in one place so that I have an easy-to-understand dashboard of my monthly expenses. That said, let me describe how I use Chronicle.
I have different types of bills and Chronicle can help manage that in an easy way. When you first set up an account, you will select ‘new’ from the button in the bottom left-hand corner of the dashboard. A small window will pop-up where you will fill in the basic account information — bill name, amount due, repeat interval, payment method, payment URL, next due date, and any tags that might apply. Once you click ‘save’, the account is set up and you can move onto the next one. This input alone will give you the details you need to remember to pay the bills, but Chronicle gives you even more options. After you enter your account information, the account will appear in a list on the dashboard screen. You can double click on the bill and open up the detail view for that account. From here, you can add a remaining balance (if applicable), edit the due date, edit the amount due, and add notes. You can also see a full payment history on the account and additional reporting.
When you visit the dashboard, Chronicle will show you which bills are coming due soon and you actually have the option of paying directly from the app. When you click on a bill, a dialogue box pops up with payment options. If you choose to pay online, a browser opens inside the app. This provides you with the opportunity to pay your bill without even opening a separate internet browser window. Once you’ve logged a payment, the dashboard will then show the next date due on the bill and the payment amount (if it’s not a variable payment amount).
Chronicle 8, the most recent version, has a few new features that can be quite helpful, too.
- Forecast View: Allows you to select a month any time in the next year and see what bills will be due.
- Amount to Save: Helps create a savings budget based on of bill amounts so that you can plan for the future expenses. For example, you pay your auto insurance once every 6 months. Chronicle will calculate what amount you should be sitting aside each month in order to make that upcoming payment.
- Intelligent Estimated Amount Due: Chronicle will use your payment history, the type of bill, and the time of year to estimate how much will be due.
- Partial Payments: You can log individual payments without changing the due date of the bill.
- Income Source Filtering: Income sources now support tags, if you have multiple bank accounts, or some bills that are paid with different income sources, you can tag the income source and each bill with the income source it is paid from.
As I mentioned before, I use this app to make sure I don’t miss any monthly payments. There may be more advanced ways to use the software, but that’s not for me. I do want to make mention of something specific that Chronicle does not seem to do. When you log a payment, it doesn’t take into account interest when applying that payment to your account balance. For example, if I have a credit card with a balance of $500 and I make a payment for $100, Chronicle puts the entire payment amount towards the balance and the app then shows my balance as $400. This isn’t actually accurate for credit accounts, or any accounts that bear interest. Usually, a percentage of your payment will be applied towards interest and the rest will be put towards the principal balance. This is not something that Chronicle calculates. To remedy this, I would advise you to check your balance each month and enter it when you receive statements so that Chronicle remains up-to-date.
If you are looking for a bookkeeping system, Chronicle is not the answer for you, but as a bill management system, it really does a fabulous job of being user-friendly and working the way you need it to. Chronicle 8 is a paid update, but I feel that it’s well worth it.