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Technology  21, Feb 2014

Find it hard to keep track of your money? Clara may solve your woes

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Clara is a personal finance tracker app to keep check on the money that comes in and invariably gets spent. Bryan Lim of Shoppink interviews the developer

Screenshot of Clara on iTunes (Inset: Meiwin Fu)

How many of us fail at keeping track of our money? We spend and then most times for the life of us cannot remember where! How do we know if we are spending too much or whether we are saving enough?

Enter Clara.

Clara is a personal finance tracker app, developed by Singapore-based Meiwin Fu, a software engineer with 10 years of experience under his belt.

Fu currently works at a small startup in Singapore, building software product for the enterprise. Clara became No 2 in finance category, under Singapore app store within the first day of its launch. And was in the Top 10 in some other countries. However, Clara is Fu’s personal project. Bryan Lim of Shoppink, interviewed Fu to understand what his app can do and what inspired him to create Clara. Excerpts:

Tell us more about Clara.
Launched yesterday (February 20, 2014), Clara is an iPhone/iPod Touch app for tracking personal finances. It is not really a new project; I have built similar apps in the past (read GotExpenses and Piggie). Both apps are no longer maintained. In fact, I started work on Clara as a replacement app to Piggie.

What motivated you to develop Clara?
I built Clara to answer simple questions: Where does my money go? Am I spending too much? Do I save enough?

Where do you get your design inspiration from?
There are few apps from where Clara draws its design inspiration; some could be pretty obvious. For example, the navigation tab bar is a design from a popular Twitter client, Tweetbot. The typeface used is Avenir. You may also find the swiping-right navigation familiar. I first saw this design used in Simplenote app. Then the animated amount input is inspired by Square Cash app. Lastly, you can see in the main view of the app, the summary details stick to the top as you pull down. This is the same design used by Apple’s own app store app.

However, as for how the app works, it comes from my own experience.

How long did it take for you to create the initial prototype?
I started building Clara around August/September 2013. At first, I was experimenting with a new idea/approach for tracking money. It took me three months to design and build. But it was later scrapped because I realised it doesn’t work (after using it myself for sometime).

So I started again from scratch. It took me another three to four months to design and develop the current Clara. Since this my personal project, I can only afford to spend very limited hours per week.

How does the app work?
There are three important features that I am looking for in a personal finance app:

  1. Tracking expenses and income is not a fun thing to do (unlike playing game like Flappy Bird). Because of this, the data entry must be effortless, so it wouldn’t discourage you from doing it.
  2. It must be flexible when it comes to categorising records. Apps that fix on categories or have complicated steps to create a category is a no-no.
  3. It should be simple, but not simplistic. Hence, it should provide basic analysis tool.

You could expect the first and second from Clara. As for the third, Clara could be a little complicated for new users. I just can’t make it simpler.

How much are you charging for it?
It will sell at US$3.99 (S$4.58). For the launch, I’ll be running a limited three-day promo at 50 per cent off.

What more can we expect from Clara in the near future?
There are few things I have in mind, such as iPad version, iCloud syncing, multiple vaults, PDF reporting etc. But I have not decided yet. For now, I will focus primarily on app stability and minor tweaks. I will gather initial feedbacks from users to help decide what to work on next.

The interview was published on Lim’s blog; and has been edited to meet e27‘s style guide.

You can download Clara here.

Bryan Lim

Bryan Lim

Bryan builds Shoppink, a merchant utility to reach mobile consumers. He writes at ytbryan.com and makes other apps too.

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