I’ve stated that Buckets is a “keep-going” (not a start-up). Let me explain.

map and compass

In summary

  • We use Buckets. We want it to stick around.
  • I’m a budgeting nerd.
  • I enjoy budgeting and working on Buckets.
  • I get tremendous satisfaction knowing that people find it useful.
  • I’m still enthusiastic about the work even after having worked on it for 7 years.
  • If I’m ever unable or unwilling to continue, my first choice is to make Buckets open source.

History

Early years - PHP and MySQL

The bank was the closest business to my house growing up. I visited it a lot. In 7th grade, I asked my mom about T-Bills, CDs and stocks and she helped me get an appointment with someone at the bank to tell me about them. The surprised man said that he wished he had been interested in investing when he was my age. I thought it was weird that other kids weren’t interested. Who wouldn’t want free money?

As a teenager, I started buying CDs (I still remember that amazing 7%, 2-year CD!). And suddenly, I didn’t just have a single bank account any more. I needed something to help me manage my combined accounts and categorize them. So I grabbed some PHP and MySQL and made the first incarnation of Buckets. It was no-frills and perfect.

Africa

At 19, I served for two years as a missionary in southern Africa. I learned firsthand that money does not bring happiness. If anything, it feels like the inverse is true. There are extremes, for sure, but more money isn’t the basis for a happy life. I’m grateful to have learned that lesson (though it sure is hard to believe sometimes).

College - Spreadsheet

Once in college, without a computer of my own, I built a budget tracker in Google Sheets. It met my needs and was extensible enough to allow for any kind of crazy thing I wanted to do. It worked great… until I met a cute girl and married her.

Marriage

Suddenly, my home-grown spreadsheet wasn’t cutting it. My wife and I were determined to be united in our finances. We looked at several applications, but most were either too accounting-y, too simplistic, too invasive, or not cross-platform. (It’s here that I must admit that I did, in fact, convince my wife to use Linux as our first desktop OS. I liked it. And we’ll leave it at that).

So we started with a spreadsheet and spent 2 or more hours every month updating it. It was painful. It was often confusing. There must be a better way!

And that’s how the first version of Buckets was born: a web application first hosted locally, then eventually opened up for others to use. It was perfect for us.

But no one bought it (except kind friends). Thanks, friends. However, even though no one else liked it, I still enjoyed working on it.

Desktop

Then, in August 2017 I ported the web app to a desktop app and we tried it for our budget that month. We knew immediately that the desktop was where Buckets belongs. So in October 2017, the first cross-platform, desktop version of Buckets came out.

People like it. In fact, complete strangers have paid for it.


Future

I enjoy working on Buckets, and foresee working on it for many years to come. Will Buckets make me a millionaire? Nope, probably not—at least I don’t expect it to.

Where does Buckets go from here? Here’s a high-level road map (subject to change and missing lots of detail, of course):

  • Fix every reported bug
  • Off budget accounting (net wealth, etc…)
  • Debt management
  • Mobile companion app (won’t have all the features of desktop)
  • Full documentation
  • Partial categorization
  • Accessibility
  • Improve bank macros
  • Code sign the application

I’m hoping to get to the mobile app before the end of 2018.

— Matt