I was just reading an article that said the average person actually spends twice as much as they think they do on streaming services each month. It is easy to lose track of the actual cost when all these services are just a line item on your statement, but with BillTrackr I know exactly how much I spend each month.

I did not get here over night though.

The dark ages

My younger self was a little haphazard making sure the bills were paid. I had a general idea when bills were due and with a little luck I paid it on time. Later on, I would opt to have the payment automatically drafted if that was an option.

A little older and a little wiser, I started trying to be more proactive instead of reactive in my finances. Maybe they tried teaching me some of these adulting skills in school, but if they did I obviously slept through it. I decided to check out some personal finance websites and try to handle my bills smarter. I started handling my bills, but smarter was probably a bit of a stretch.

First I tried creating a bill calendar. Every month I would print out a calendar and chart out each payment, figuring out what was due each week. The problem here was the human factor... me.  If I accidentally left a bill off, a $25 payment ended up being a $60 payment after the late fee was tacked on. It only took a few times to figure out this was not working.

Next I made a spreadsheet template to track bills. It was a step in the right direction, but I like a weekly as well as a monthly breakdown. I was spending more time every month tweaking the spreadsheet than paying bills. Again, human error would sometimes be an issue. A few late payments later and my spreadsheets were headed to the recycle bin.

Finally I looked at software and website offerings like Quicken, Mint, You Need a Budget, etc. I do not really have anything bad to say about them, but I do not like companies connecting to my financial accounts since it seems there is a new security breach published every week. I did like some of the features, but the cons outweighed the pros for me.

The modern age

I could not find a tool that did what I wanted so I decided to write my own and BillTrackr was the eventual result. BillTracker does not have a lot of bells and whistles, but it does one thing really well: tracking when bills are due.

Privacy was one of my biggest concerns with personal finance software and websites so BillTrackr uses Auth0, an enterprise level authentication service trusted by thousands of companies and millions of users per day. It was important from the outset that I not store any personally identifiable information and Auth0 made that possible.

Creating a bill is as easy as entering a name that makes sense to you such as "Power" or "Cable", the initial due date and the amount. All other fields are optional. If you do provide a payment URL you will see a "Pay Online" button on the bill detail that will open the payment website in a new tab.

The Bills page shows all your bills sorted by due date and gives you basic details about APR percentage (if you decided to enter it), amount due and the calculated yearly amount. Want to know how much Netflix is costing you per year? You do not have to guess.

Entering bills is the hard part, tracking when they are due is easy. If you want to see what is due this week head to the Weekly Forecast or if you prefer to see the whole month head to the Monthly Forecast. Operationally, both views are the same, clicking on the warning yellow payment button will open a dialog that will allow you to enter a payment amount. After making a payment the button will be green marked "Paid" letting you know it is taken care of. You can also go back or forward a week or month.

If you track your payments on BillTrackr it will also calculate your average payment amount once you make a few payments. It will also calculate the total amount you have paid over the lifetime of a bill. The Payments page will allow you to view and page through all payments while the Bill detail screen shows you payments for that bill.

Wrapping it all up

BillTrackr is a fun little side project I started after work and on weekends to learn VueJS. I am not trying to drum up business for my application, I do not track users beyond what is required to authenticate them and there are no ads. I am just a dude that likes to pay my bills on time. Check it out if you are too.