Have you ever started an expense tracker and then simply let it die a silent death? Was it on Excel or a book? How long did it last? Enter, the Walnut app aka the Walnut Money Manager. The tool is free and more importantly, it tracks all your income and expenses accurately, giving you some drool worthy reports and charts. Finally, your mom is going to be proud of you!!!
The Walnut App
The Walnut money manager is a free budget tool that helps you track your income and expenses easily. It is quite automatic and one of the best free personal finance tool out there. The app will categorize all your expenses and income automatically, based on the type of spend, amount, date etc. Then it prepares intuitive dashboards and reports that show how much you spend over a period of time, where.
This kind of data on your personal finance is pretty powerful in getting control of your finances. You will be able to draw enough insights to prove to your wife that you guys order a lot on Swiggy at last!!!
The Walnut Money Manager is available on android as well as iOS platform. The iphone expense tracker currently provides a few additional features such as paying bills and splitting bills with friends etc. These features are to make it to the android expense tracker soon.
What is captured and reported
The following details are captured in the tool
- Credit card expenses and payment
- All purchases with credit or debit cards
- Income and credits to your accounts
- Refunds and cashbacks into your account
- Bank balances
- Balances of your Credit cards
- Sodexo card balance
- Paytm and other wallet balances
As you can see, this is a personal finance tracker that can easily replace a couple of tools and make it easy to get an idea of your financial position and improve your money management.
How the expense tracker works
The expense tracker from Walnut goes through all business text messages (text messages from non-10 digit numbers). Using Machine learning and AI, it categorizes expenses and income based on the message. Eg:
- A message from TX-ICICI that says I got a salary of Rs.2.5 crores is considered as Income (LOL, I only wish)
- A message from BT-AMEX or TG-PAYTM saying I paid an Electricity bill of Rs.500 is considered as an expense towards Electricity/Utility
- A message from my wife saying she took Rs.500 from my wallet is not considered as expense as it is from a 10 digit mobile number.
All data is captured accurately and at any given point of time, Walnut can tell you
Reporting and dashboards
Reporting is one of the best features of this app. The team has done quite a lot of work to build a great algorithm that captures expenses under the right category. Later, these are reported to you in nifty dashboard that give clear messages on where you should focus.
Walnut Prime is the loans part of the Walnut app, that seems to help these folks make some money. Based on your usage of the app, the app selects people who are eligible for a personal loan card. The Walnut Prime is kind of a loan pass, that sets a credit limit (similar to the one on ET Money I spoke of earlier)
Once you have completed the formalities, you have a ready line of credit. So you can use it any time you want and you only pay the interest for the money you use.
The interest rate you get depend on multiple factors, but you can consider this as a back up funding source in case of emergencies.
Is it really Free?
Yes, in short it is free. Then again, so is Google, Facebook and Youtube. In today’s world, there is no such thing as a free lunch. Actually, that has been the case from the Roman era. As a user, using the tool to track expenses and spends, you need not pay any money.
However, in order to be profitable, the app does have a couple of revenue streams. They target users based on spend history to provide loans and earn from that. Net-net, your data and usage history is their fodder. But, from the assurances provided by the team, your data is anonymized, which means, no personal information is stored or taken any where.
Let’s look at the trust and security factors in detail.
Trust and Security
Data Stored locally
The data collected on your phone is stored locally on your phone. So, you need not worry about someone getting their hands on your financial statements. If you change your phone this data is lost. You do have an option to download data as an excel/csv file or back up though.
The Walnut money manager does allow for a backup option wherein, your data is stored in their server (not clear on where the server is located). The app does allow you to delete backups and once you have done migrating your device.
SMS from individual numbers are ignored
Walnut team has made it clear that personal text messages from individual 10 digit mobile numbers are ignored. This is of some solace as messages from business numbers narrows down the type of messages you get drastically. Of these messages, OTPs are a concern, the Walnut team states that the app ignores OPTs and we got to take their word for it.
Data being shared to 3rd party
This by far is one of the biggest concerns. The Walnut app promises to not share your personal data with any 3rd parties. They do say that anonymised data is sent to their server, meaning your usage and patterns will be annonymised, but still available for consumption and analytics purposes.
Walnut Money Manager
Some questions on the Walnut Money Manager
Walnut Money Manager tracks all your income and expenses, reporting them in a beautiful dashboard. It also provides a simple and one point solution to track all your account balances and spendings.
The app is safe as your data is stored on your phone. If you chose to back up then the data is moved to the cloud, which can be deleted later on.
The Walnut app goes through your text messages that show the money you get and spend. Based on this, it maintains a tracker that shows your income and expenses.
You can apply for a loan on the Walnut app once you have used the Walnut app for some time
Yes, Walnut Prime in itself is not going to take your data or money. It is only an option for you to apply for a personal loan, as such it is relatively safe.
There are a number of paid and free apps for expense tracking. Walnut money manager and the ET Money app are one of the best ones out there that are free.