Wismo is a lightweight mobile app that takes two forms: a free version and a paid version that more than justifies its modest price. We’ll dive into the differences between the two in the Key Features section.
Getting Started With Wismo
To get started with Wismo, you’ll need to provide your name, email address, and phone number. You’ll then create a username that doesn’t contain personally identifiable information, such as your first and last name or your home address.
Next, you’ll answer some basic questions about your personal finances, covering your monthly income, housing costs, and transportation costs.
Once you’ve done that, you’ll land on your app’s dashboard, which lays out:
- Your initial Personal Spending Index (more on that below)
- Your recurring spending based on your answers to the initial questions
- Your daily budget based on the information you’ve provided so far
- Your daily spend, which starts at $0 and increases as you enter transactions
Adding Income & Expenses
Now, you’re ready to begin tracking your spending for real.
On the main dashboard, use the “+” button to add a new one-time transaction. Snap a picture of the transaction receipt, if one exists, then enter the amount and spending category. Or, simply enter the amount of the transaction and its category. Use “custom” for transactions that don’t neatly fit into preset categories such as “getting around” and “services.” For more detail, you can add the payee’s name and notes about the expense.
When you’ve entered all of your expenses, click “Close the Books” to get your final spend tally for the day and see how it compares with your daily budget. Your daily budget is your monthly income minus recurring expenses, divided by the number of days in the month.
An important word of warning: Wismo shares transaction amounts and categories with other users. In other words, your fellow Wismo users will see that you spent $50 on “fun.” However, this information is anonymized and doesn’t included payee details. Other users will only see your username, not your real name.
You can also enter recurring expenses in about a dozen categories, including housing and transportation, utilities, insurance, subscriptions, health, loans/debt, and savings goals.
Add subcategories for more granular tracking. For instance, your “transportation” category might include fuel, your parking pass, rideshare fares, and public transportation expenses. You can organize expenses however you see fit. If it makes more sense to you to add your car loan under “transportation” rather than “loans/debt,” go for it.
You can add new income buckets under the monthly income tab. This space gets pretty granular, with categories such as “other jobs,” “support,” “investments,” and “retirement.” Add subcategories to put an even finer point on things – for instance, to track your various streams of freelance income.
Finding Friends & Peers
Use the “Friends” tab to find other Wismo users. You can filter by age, annual income, sex, and occupation to zero in on folks who more or less resemble you. Once you’ve found some users to follow, you can compare your spending habits to theirs as revealed in their public feeds (more on that below).
Here’s a closer look at the key features of the Wismo app.
Personal Spending Index (PSI)
Wismo is built around the Personal Spending Index (PSI), a numeric distillation of your cash flow based on your self-reported or verified income and expenses.
The formula is simple: (Spend ÷ Income) x 100 = PSI. A PSI of 100 indicates that you’re spending exactly as much as you earn. A PSI under 100 indicates surplus income that you can – and probably should – put toward savings, while a PSI over 100 indicates negative cash flow.
For obvious reasons, Wismo recommends keeping your PSI under 100. As long as you’re diligently and comprehensively tracking your income and spending, the app makes that a whole lot easier.
Wismo isn’t as big on reports as more robust budgeting apps, but it does have some user-friendly visualizations for users who like that sort of thing. Use the Reports tab to visualize:
- Your total expenses for the month
- Your daily spending for the month
- Your recurring expenses for the month
- Your PSI by month
Your public feed displays other Wismo users’ spending activities in near-real time. The “Everyone” bar is a comprehensive roundup of all non-private users’ spending; the “Friends” bar covers just those you’ve followed. Users are identified by their usernames and avatars.
Remember, if you’re using Wismo’s free version, your spending is visible in other users’ feeds. There’s no way to turn off this feature without upgrading to Premium. Wismo is transparent about its information-sharing practices, advising users to omit obvious clues to their identities from their Wismo usernames. But if you’d still prefer to keep your personal spending under wraps, you may want to consider the Premium version.
When you upgrade to Wismo’s Premium plan, you’ll enjoy these enhanced features.
- Linked Accounts. Premium users can link financial accounts to Wismo, eliminating the need to enter non-cash transactions manually. Wismo uses bank-grade, 256-bit encryption for security and peace of mind.
- Privacy Mode. Premium users can set their accounts to Privacy Mode, bypassing Wismo’s social feed feature and rendering their accounts invisible to other users. If you’re leery of sharing financial information, even anonymously, it’s a strong argument for upgrading.
- Family Plan. Premium users can add up to four family members to track and share expenses together. That’s great for couples who’ve merged their finances and families with income-earning teens and young adults.
- Ad-Free Experience. Wismo’s Premium version has no ads, reducing the interface’s clutter. As personal finance apps go, Wismo doesn’t feel particularly commercial, but it’s nice to have the option to go completely ad-free.
Wismo’s Premium plan costs less per year than most full-service budgeting apps. That said, it includes features such as Privacy Mode that come standard in some free budgeting apps, such as Mint and its top alternatives.
Advantages of Wismo
Wismo has some notable advantages:
- The Free Version Is Totally Free. Wismo’s free version is truly free, with no hidden fees or upsells buried in the interface. As long as you’re willing to tolerate advertising and consent to anonymized data sharing, you’ll never pay a dime out of pocket to use Wismo.
- PSI Makes Cash Flow Easy to Understand. Wismo’s Personal Spending Index is a shockingly simple cash flow conceptualization that’s easy for even the most math-challenged to understand. A PSI under 100 means you’re spending less than you earn; a PSI over 100 means it’s time for some strategic spending cuts to get back on track. It’s as close to black-and-white as you can get in the world of money management.
- No Need to Disclose Sensitive Personal Information. Wismo doesn’t require users to disclose sensitive personal information, such as Social Security numbers or home addresses, as a condition of use. Indeed, any information you provide to Wismo is anonymized, and linked financial account numbers are protected via bank-grade, 256-bit encryption. Avoid including obvious clues to your identity, such as your first and last name, in your Wismo handle, and no one will ever be the wiser.
- No Obligation to Link Bank Accounts or Transfer Funds. Wismo’s Premium users can link bank accounts to the app for a more seamless, hands-off money management experience, but they’re under no obligation to do so. That’s a big advantage over budgeting apps that require – or aggressively nudge – users to take this step. Even with Wismo’s top-shelf encryption, it’s reasonable for users not to want to give yet another third-party app access to their financial accounts. Wismo clearly respects that.
Disadvantages of Wismo
Consider these potential drawbacks carefully before using Wismo – and certainly before upgrading to Premium.
- The Free Version Contains Advertising. Wismo’s free version contains ads. In practice, these ads don’t adversely affect the user experience, but they’re still present and unavoidable unless you switch to the paid plan. If you’re not too interested in the paid plan’s other perks, you may not want to upgrade solely to eliminate ads.
- Not As Robust As Some Other Budgeting and Spending Apps. Wismo is a pretty lightweight app. That’s great for consumers interested mainly in tracking and controlling spending, but not so great for serious budgeters seeking deep insights into their spending patterns and personal finances.
- No Desktop Version. Wismo is a mobile-only app. It’s not compatible with large-screen devices, such as laptops and desktops. If you don’t own a smartphone or prefer to manage your personal finances on a device with an actual keyboard, Wismo isn’t for you.
- Other Wismo Users Can See Your Financial Details in the Free Version. To use Wismo’s free version, you must permit the app to share all the financial information you enter with fellow Wismo users. Wismo only shares information anonymously and uses bank-grade encryption to keep account numbers from falling into the wrong hands. Still, Wismo’s open-source approach is sure to give some prospective users pause. Don’t feel bad if you’re among them.
Not everyone enjoys budgeting. Managing a traditional household budget is a labor-intensive task involving lengthy spreadsheets with categories galore and cells for every transaction. Modern budgeting apps streamline the process a bit, but they still require time and effort to maintain with any accuracy.
Fortunately, having a formal household budget isn’t a prerequisite of fiscal responsibility. I know a few financially savvy folks who’ve sworn off budgeting yet still manage to spend less than they earn and save for the future.
Wismo is different enough from other budgeting apps to attract folks who can’t be bothered with traditional budgets. Wismo is lightweight, intuitive, and fun to use – perfect for those with no patience for graphs, spreadsheets, and the other trappings of hardcore budgeting apps. Whether you’ve attempted budgeting or know you don’t enjoy it, give Wismo a try. You might be surprised by the experience.
Do you use Wismo to track your spending? How has it changed the way you manage your money?