Can't Keep Track of Subscriptions: The App Billy

A new app called Billy wants to help you easily manage your subscriptions and bills, by keeping track of your fixed costs and recurring payments, and make these accessible via a simple mobile interface. That means tracking monthly payments like rent, alongside subscriptions to a variety of services like Dropbox, Apple Music, Spotify, Playstation Plus, Evernote, Google Drive, Netflix, your cell phone bill, and many more.

The app arrives at an opportune time, as today’s consumers are subscribing to services – like streaming music or movies – rather than buying physical products, like CD’s and DVD’s. Plus, many of the cloud-based services have associated monthly or annual fees that we often don’t take into consideration when managing our monthly budgets.

Combined, these services can end up eating away at our available income, and yet it’s still fairly difficult to get a quick overview of what we’re spending, where, and when those bills become due.

These are the problems Billy aims to solve. Today, the app offers a simple user interface that lets you choose from one of many popular subscription-based services, or enter in your own custom subscription for things you want to track, whether that’s rent and utilities, or a more niche subscription not yet included in the app – like your $10 per month Ipsy makeup sample bag, for instance.

At launch, you have to enter in these subscriptions manually – which is both a downside and a plus. It definitely takes more time to get started with Billy, but the end result is that the app could be more accurate and personalized than competing services.

Currently, there are a couple of other startups that promise to deliver similar insights into your spending, including Trim, which helps you find subscriptions and cancel those you no longer need, and TrueBill, which focuses on helping you manage your online subscriptions.

However, what I’ve found when testing these offerings is that automation (the services scan your bank account or credit card statement) is not always a perfect solution. They can get things wrong at times, or miss some of your recurring bills.

Billy, as a straightforward utility, doesn’t have that problem. However, the app’s creators say they plan to introduce automation in a future release. Eventually, the goal would be to eliminate the need for user input.

For now, though, Billy works as a basic budgeting tool. You enter your bills and subscriptions, due dates, and then receive notifications when bills are due. In addition to giving you a better idea about your spending, the app could also be useful for roommates splitting household costs, its creator notes.

Explains Billy founder Jeffrey de Groot, this bootstrapped app began as a side project, when he couldn’t find a budgeting app he liked on the App Store.

“I had this idea of getting a clear overview of all my subscriptions, but I just couldn’t find a simple app that did the job,” he says. “Most of them had too many features and felt like they weren’t designed with the user in mind.”

De Groot says he performed all the concepting and design work, and for development he teamed up with Joost van Dijk, who previously built a nifty app called Notifyr that brings iPhone notifications to the Mac.

Billy today uses a freemium business model that lets you add up to 4 subscriptions in order to try things out. If you decide you want to actually use Billy, you’ll want to pay $0.99 via in-app purchase to unlock unlimited subscription tracking.