O C F I T B L O G Investment Buckets Review: Budgeting With Variable Income

Buckets Review: Budgeting With Variable Income

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Buckets is a free budgeting tool designed for users who want to be closely involved in the budgeting process.

It’s available as a desktop download and as an Android App on the Google Play Store. Unfortunately, it’s not yet available in the Apple App Store for iOS devices. 

Buckets helps you to prioritize spending, track savings, and build a savings buffer, even when money is tight. Here’s what you need to know about this budgeting tool


buckets logo 2024

Quick Summary

  • Designed to make it easy to budget with variable income and expenses.
  • Unique “carry over” feature allows you to save money for large upcoming expenses.
  • Available as a desktop app or in the Google Play Store (Android).
  • Option to manually track expenses, import transactions from a bank website (CSV), or connect directly to a website.

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Buckets Details

Product Name

Buckets

Pricing

Free or pay $64 (one-time) to use on multiple devices

Platforms

Desktop, Android

Free Trial

Unlimited

Promotions

None

What Is Buckets?

Buckets is a budgeting software designed to help you manage savings goals, spending, and investments, even if you have an irregular income. What started as a spreadsheet on the founder’s computer has slowly but steadily become a highly customizable budgeting tool. The software is a passion project, so it doesn’t have enormous financial backing. Despite its humble operating team, the tool is now available everywhere except the App Store (it’s in Beta testing now).

What Does It Offer?

While Buckets is a budgeting tool, it is built to make financial analysis easier. When you have enough data, you may find yourself getting sucked into the various charts that are available in the software.

Choose Your Transaction Tracking Method

Every great budgeting app allows you to track your spending. Buckets gives you four ways to track your income and expenses: Manually, by CSV file import, by using SimpleFin, or by recording a script (called a Macro). Manual tracking requires you to update the app every time you make a purchase- sometimes multiple times each day.

Second, you can import transactions from a CSV file from your bank account. I tested this with one checking account and one credit card, and it worked well, but I can imagine it getting messy if you have multiple accounts.

Third, you can pay to use SimpleFin which grants read-only access to your accounts. SimpleFin is a technology that was created and maintained by the founder of Buckets. Last of all, you can put on your developer hat and record a script (called a Macro) that connects to your various bank accounts and pulls in the transactions.

The final option is one that other tools don’t offer. However, the security around it is dubious. It’s not clear how your credentials and personal data are secured when you use the scripting option.

Extended Analogy Makes Sense of Budgets

Buckets uses a bucket analogy to help you make sense of your money. Your income is rain that is captured in a large bucket. Money is poured from the larger bucket to smaller buckets (expenses). Each month you will “make it rain” which means top up your buckets with spending. When an expense bucket has money left over from the previous month, it requires less money to top up the next month. This allows you to adjust to the natural ebb and flow of spending each month.

Budgeting For Variable Income

“The ‘make it rain’ feature is great for those of us with incomes that change month to month! If you’ve got a surplus one month, you can ‘top up’ your savings buckets. On leaner months, focus on essentials, and if needed, dip into savings. While buckets won’t magic up more income, they’ll give you a heads-up if funds are running low. This can be a nudge to tighten spending and find ways to make a little extra cash when needed!”

Pay Once, Own It Forever

Buckets gives you an unlimited Free Trial, but paying $64 allows you to share a single license across devices. The $64 is a one-time fee that gives you continuous access as long as Buckets continues to operate.

Are There Any Fees?

You can opt for an unlimited free trial while you test Buckets. However, you may eventually want to pay the $64 licensing fee. The payment allows you to share a license (and data) between devices. It’s also a great way to fund further development of the Buckets apps.

How Does Buckets Compare?

Buckets is similar to budgeting apps such as You Need A Budget (YNAB) or EveryDollar
in that it caters to
those who want a “hands-on” experience with their money. Alternatives like Empower or Kubera allow you to be a bit more passive with your budgeting and financial tracking.

Buckets is a little bit uglier than YNAB, and it is a bit clunkier than YNAB and EveryDollar. However, it is an amazing bargain compared to YNAB which charges monthly or annual fees. If you budget on your home computer, and you use an Android, Buckets is an amazing tool. People who use iPhones may want to pass on Buckets because it is not yet available in the App Store.

Header
buckets logo 2024
YNAB logo
EveryDollar logo

Rating

Pricing

  • Free or pay $64 (one-time) to use across multiple devices
  • $14.99 monthly 
  • $99 yearly
  • $17.99 monthly
  • $79.99 yearly

Bank Account Syncing?

No

Yes

Yes

Platforms

Desktop, Android

Web, iOS, Android, Alexa, iPad, Apple Watch

iOS and Android

Free Trial

Unlimited free trial 

(no expiry)

34 Days

14 Days

Cell

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READ THE REVIEW

READ THE REVIEW

How Do I Open A Buckets Account?

The great thing about Buckets is that you don’t need an account to start using it. You can download the software to any device, and start using it right away. You only need to pay if you want a license key. The license key allows you to synchronize your account between multiple devices. You can pay for a license using PayPal or a credit card.

Once you have the license key, you can paste it into a box inside the app or software. Once that’s done, your account will automatically synchronize between devices.

Is It Safe And Secure?

Overall, Buckets is a secure application. All of your data is held locally, and you need a long license key to see what’s inside the app. That makes it hard for hackers to get to your data.

If you choose to connect to your accounts, the integration (SimpleFin) is a secure read-only integration. The connection between the app and your account is very secure.

However, I would advise against recording macros to connect to your bank accounts which is an option offered to users. While the macro is recorded locally (meaning on your computer or phone), it’s not clear how your username and password are stored. If someone gains control of your device, they may be able to easily log into your accounts and steal or transfer money.

How Do I Contact Buckets?

When you download Buckets, you can use the “Chat with Matt” feature inside the app. This allows you to send a message to Buckets founder Matt. You may also choose to email the company at hello@budgetwithbuckets.com. Buckets doesn’t list any physical addresses or phone numbers.

Is It Worth It?

“For only $64, Buckets is a fun pick for all you ‘budgeting nerds’ out there! Give the free trial a spin for a few weeks to see if it clicks with you. If you keep using Buckets for a bit longer, you’ll get a good feel for whether it’s the app for you in the long run.”

To get value from Buckets, you need to continually use the app. It won’t let you do a “one and done” budget setup. It is an incredible tool for people with variable income and expenses. However, it’s not worth paying for the app if you won’t use it.

Check out Buckets here >>

Buckets Features

Product

Free budgeting tool

Pricing

  • Free
  • $64 one-time payment allows you to use on multiple devices

Free Trial

Unlimited

Key Features

  • Budgeting
  • Track Spending

Automatic Bank Syncing

No

Transaction Import

  • Manual
  • CSV File import
  • SimpleFin
  • Record Script (Macro)

Customer Service Options

In-App Chat, Email

Customer Service Email 

hello@budgetwithbuckets.com

Platforms

Desktop, Android (iOS is Beta only)

Promotions

None

“Check out our review of Post Buckets: Managing Your Budget with Fluctuating Income! It’s up now on The College Investor.”

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