I’ve just taken a look at the new version of Horizon ($29.99), a finance management system. As a user of Quicken for Macs, I doubted that this product would be for me, but I was interested in what it had to offer. The latest press release is below:
“Lucerne Systems announces the immediate availability of Horizon Version 1.1, a unique calendar-based personal financial management system. A patent has been applied for the concept of Horizon because it is so novel. Horizon’s calendar-based interface, coupled with a powerful calculation engine, lets you get a clear, simple picture of where your money comes from and where it goes. Horizon has been designed exclusively for Mac OS X, and uses many features unique to OS X 10.4 (Tiger).”
It is definitely an interesting concept. Most finance systems are based on setting up individual bank accounts and tracking movements in and out and between them. This is based completely on a calendar approach as to when things are going to happen within an individual month. As such it does exactly what it says in the press release. It gives a simple picture.
It is possible to set up unlimited categories e.g. mortgage, leisure spend, salary, groceries and show values as ‘cells’ against these for any single day. It then allows you to carry out spreadsheet functions on these cells (adding, subtracting etc.) to produce running totals and build a picture of what’s happening to your money.
It is very easy to use and has some nice little features like the option to set up repeat ‘cells’ for regular spend. However it is simple, and to be useful I think the use of categories is key. For example one category could represent the ongoing balance of a particular bank account.
One major frustration that I did have was that although you have the option to put text or a monetary value into a ‘cell’, you cannot have both. So, whilst you can have a category for leisure and record a value of e.g. $10 on a particular day, you cannot record ‘dinner’ $10.
Another little niggle was that there was no ‘right click’ option for simple functions e.g. editing a cell
Less of an issue but maybe a possible enhancement for the future is the fact that, whilst the calculation engine works well and is easy to use, it is all manual. Some automatic ‘running totals’ options e.g. (weekly or month end) for individual categories would be nice. What would be even nicer would be the option to set up a ‘summary’ all encompassing category which would effectively represent your ‘bank balance’. Just a thought.
Overall a simple and easy to use product, which I’m sure has a use for anyone who wants a picture of their money going in and out across over a month, without getting into a full blown financial management package.