iPhone App Review: Budget with Back in Black

iPhone App Review: Budget with Back in Black

July 17th, 2012 by

UPDATED REVIEW. Creating and sticking to a budget is a challenge for everyone, and has become more important than ever in these difficult financial times. Developer Fission Media Group has recently released Budget With Back In Black for iOS devices, a finance app that not only helps you track income and expenses, but also lets you track real-time spending and create custom-designed goals to work towards. Payment reminders, icons for spending categories, monthly overview for past months, and in-app backup and restore with the ability to email backups round out a huge set of features for this ambitious app.

Fission Media Group has released a new update for their highly-acclaimed Back in Black budget app. We’ll take a look at the newest feature, the interactive spending pie chart (it’s way more exciting that it sounds, trust us). While the rest of the app is just as slick and polished as it once was, the new feature deserves a new look, which you can read about below.

How It Works

The main screen includes the four basic categories that you would expect in a budgeting app.

  • Income: Enter your income sources and their frequency, including a start date and any pertinent notes.
  • Fixed Expenses: Enter your auto, rent, insurance, utilities, and any other custom category of expense here. You can include reminders to pay the expenses, add icons to the categories, and take a look at all expenses on a single categorized list.
  • Goals: Long-term priorities in your monthly budget. The app includes several categories with accompanying picture (for motivation), but you can create your own and add a custom photo from your device. The goal screen is highly configurable: set a dollar goal, start and end dates, your monthly installment amount, or just make it an open-ended running total for savings. Set a reminder to help you keep on track. You can even put a picture on the goal, for those visualization types.
  • Spending: Track purchases made in a variety of categories, and set a budget for each so you can see how you’re doing against your budget. As with the other screens, you can make custom categories with icons.

The main screen of the app keeps a running total of all of your spending for the month, starting with the income and subtracting as you add fixed expenses and purchases. “Unassigned Income” at the bottom shows you how much you have left (or don’t, as the case may be). A Reminders tab slides up to show you all of your open reminders, and a Months button shows you a list of all of the months of data you have to review, in addition to providing access to the backup and restore screen.

There is also a great tutorial under the “i” icon on the top-right corner of the main screen. The tutorial doesn’t so much explain how to use the app in detail (since it’s really very simple), but does a good job of explaining why you’re using the app in the first place and what every step in your budgeting process should look like.

The newest feature is the pie graph, and interactive and detailed graphical look at all of your spending.

Each category of spending gets its own wedge of the pie obviously, and the pie wedges fill in gradually as your spending in each budget category goes up. If you go over budget on an item the wedge “overflows”, making your pie look like it has a pie graph tumor sticking out of its boundaries. You can view all of the different spending categories on the pie graph, meaning you can see how you’re doing versus budget on expenses, spending, view your unassigned income, and see how well you’re saving up for your long-terms spending goals. You can also tap on the pie wedges and “zoom in” to another screen that shows your spending details.

Pros And Cons

Budget With Back In Black has the look, feel, and operation of a premium budgeting app, but at the low price of $3.99. The operation of the app is simple and intuitive, with big fat buttons for big fat fingers and screens that aren’t cluttered with useless information and flashy graphics. The developers have somehow managed to make personal finance sexy and smart at the same time.

They opted to boil budgeting down to the core basics: how much do you make, how much do you spend, are you spending too much or not? You don’t keep track of multiple account balances and detailed daily spending statistics. This is a budgeting app, not a checkbook, and by focusing their efforts on making the best budgeting app possible the developers have done just that: made the best budgeting app possible.

My original review mentioned that they didn’t try to cram charts and graphs into the app’s tiny screen, but the new pie graph has a brilliantly readable design. Large buttons, good graphical design, and intuitive operation; it’s a winner.


Back In Black is a straight-up budgeting app for iOS that does one thing and does it well: tracking the money coming in and out of your wallet. The visual appeal of the app is in its simplicity, but that simplicity hides a very deep and powerful budget tracker that can help you better manage your money and save for your financial goals. At $3.99 it’s a great deal and worth checking out, and the new pie graph makes it an even more useful addition to your financial arsenal.

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