Banktivity 6 Review

Since the dawn of time (or at least the early 2000s), Quicken has treated Mac users as second class citizens. As a result, MacHeads everywhere lacked access to the best personal finance software on the market. Enter Banktivity (or at that time iBanks). Banktivity works exclusively with Macs and Apple products. For the last 18 years, the company has worked to become the best personal finance software in the world. Have they finally achieved it?

Banktivity 6 boasts some impressive features. They are clearly the best all in one personal finance software for Macs.

However, those who are willing to use multiple apps can find more impressive software at lower prices. Here’s what you need to know about Banktivity 6 for Mac.

What is Banktivity 6?

Banktivity 6 is an all in one personal finance software for Macs (and other Apple products). You can create a budget, track your spending, set up bill pay, and monitor your investment accounts. The software gives you the power to customize reports, split transactions between categories, and otherwise monitor your financial life.

Users must download Banktivity 6 to a Mac desktop, but you have the option to synchronize with a Banktivity app on iPads or iPhones. The app has limited features relative to the desktop software, but can be powerful for categorizing transactions on the fly. Unfortunately, the app doesn’t give you access to your budget reports. That means, you might overspend if you don’t reconcile your spending every day.

Banktivity 6 requires macOS 10.12 Sierra and higher.

Banktivity 6 costs $64.99 per year plus an additional $39.99 for access to automatic account updates. Banktivity 6 is pretty useless without the automatic updates, so you’re all in cost is $104.98.

These are some of the best features in Banktivity 6.

Banktivity 6 Workspaces

Do you use two monitors for work or academic research? Dual monitoring is a game changer. It allows you to seamlessly move from details to the big picture without losing your focus. Banktivity 6 brought the dual monitor concept into their software with “workspaces.”

Workspaces allows users to use two sections of the software at the same time. That means that you can look at your budget report and your recent transactions at the same time. You can look at your portfolio and your unrealized gains simultaneously.

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Honestly, if this doesn’t excite you, Banktivity 6 isn’t the software for you. Banktivity 6 makes it easy to geek out over your finances. For some people (i.e. side hustlers or self-employed people) this attention to detail is a must. Other folks will find the detail is overkill.

If Banktivity 6 is already boring you, we’ve got some other recommendations. You Need a Budget makes a great budgeting software, Mint offers financial tracking, and Personal Capital allows you to track your investments easily.

For the financial geeks, keep reading.

Tagging For Custom Reports

Banktivity 6 isn’t a passive personal finance software. It only works as much as you’re willing to work. To make the most of Banktivity 6, you’ll need to categorize every transaction, and check out your reports regularly. Thankfully, Banktivity 6 makes this easy.

I often lament that most personal finance softwares aren’t easy to customize. They make it difficult to summarize data in a way that makes sense for my life. Not so with Banktivity 6. In addition to allowing custom categorization, Banktivity 6 introduced tagging.

A tag allows you to reference and report on specific transactions. For example, my husband and I are remodeling our bathroom. For a general overview of spending, I want to see the bathroom remodel transactions in the home maintenance category. However, I want to specifically track our expenses with the bathroom remodel. Tags make it easy to find and report on bathroom remodel spending. You could tag “Coffee” or “Vacation” spending to track project areas in your life.

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The robust categorization and tagging features make the reporting function far better. Banktivity 6 offers “Quick Reports” that are easy to use summaries of your spending. These reports are customizable and easy to save.

You can add comparisons of this year vs. last year spending (if you’ve got the data), and you can even save ad-hoc reports (like reports on Vacation spending).

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This year vs. Last Year reporting

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Critical reports include your net worth report, and your budget report. I don’t prefer the budget visualizations. They were clunky to set up, and not as helpful as I would like. However, the custom features more than makes up for the shortcomings.

Banktivity 6 Budgets

I also love that Banktivity is flexible enough for all users. Unlike most software systems, Banktivity offers “traditional” budgeting and “envelope” budgeting. Traditional budgeting means balancing your expenses and your paychecks for a given period. Envelope budgeting allows people with very irregular incomes or irregular expenses to manage their cashflow.

With automatic updates, this is a helpful tool.

It’s even easy to set up a budget for your home and your business in the same tool. Managing cash flow well is critical to personal and business success. Banktivity 6 makes that possible. However, I wouldn’t say that Banktivity 6 makes it easy. The budgeting feature remains a bit wonky. It requires lots of clicking around, and “filling the envelopes” is more difficult than it is with a tool like YNAB.

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I should also mention that you can track your spending from your iPhone apps, but you can’t adjust your budget from the app.

Portfolio Reporting

Banktivity 6 wooed me with their budgeting and spending prowess, but they didn’t win me over with their portfolio reporting.

I liked the portfolio ROI reports, and it was easy to import cost basis and other important metrics. However, the reporting wasn’t well designed for an asset class management approach to portfolio management. In fact, that’s probably by design. Banktivity 6 records transactions, to help you with tax management. Everything else they offer is a bonus.

For portfolio management, I recommend either Personal Capital or DIY.Fund.

Final Thoughts

The $105 price point seems steep, but regular investors, self-employed people and personal finance geeks will see the value in Banktivity 6. If your finances are complicated, you need excellent software, and Banktivity 6 offers that. You could cobble together a better suite of tools, but I like the simplicity of a single tool.

At the end of the day, I recommend the software to anyone who will use the features. If you’re not going to use the features, then you’re paying for unnecessary horsepower. Check out Banktivity 6 here.

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