App of the Week: Pageonce, Organizing Your Finances So You Don't Have To

App: Pageonce Platforms: iPhone, Android, Blackberry, Windows Web site: Cost: Free (ad supported), $12.99 (pro version) - monthly and annual subscriptions also available

I will fully admit that I have struggled at times to keep track of my bills. I never liked the process of paying them -- never mind the forking over of the cash -- and I would tend to forget when they were due. Let's just say accounting was never my strong suit.

Over the years, I've used all sorts of different kinds of technologies to help me keep my personal and business books balanced. I've tried Quicken and Quickbooks. I've used online banking and even spreadsheets I created myself -- yeah, that worked GREAT! I finally settled in on the reality that I needed to set up auto-pay on all of my bills and just make sure the money was in the bank when the bill came, but that's risky unless you are certain you have the cash.

Recently, though, I stumbled upon an interesting app called Pageonce, designed to organize all your bills in one place and send reminders on when they were due as well as track the money in your various accounts. I had to give it a shot.

The free version works exactly like the Pro version, but has some serious limitations. I'll admit that the jump from free to thirteen bucks (there is also a $0.99 monthly option and a $8.99 annual option) is a little steep, but when I started getting inside the app, it was clear the leap was worth it.

Sign-up is fast and easy even on the phone. A difficult sign-up process is a big pet peeve of mine and, fortunately, there were zero issues getting started. A couple simple screens and I was ready to go.

Immediately, Pageonce prompts the user to begin adding accounts. These can be bank accounts, credit cards, bills, insurance, investments and the like. Any large institutions are available simply by putting in a user ID and password.

At this point, I should mention their security. I'm really careful with my online security, meaning I vary passwords and keep all my account information secure at all times. Pageonce uses bank-level encryption and is verified by all the best security firms on the web including VeriSign, Truste and McAfee. Knowing this beforehand made me feel much more comfortable with allowing them access to my accounts.

Unfortunately, no company can protect you from yourself. If your phone is stolen or lost, access to all your accounts would be one touch away, which is why Pageonce also provides advanced security options like not storing your password on the phone (always a good idea), passcode lock and limiting your account to a single point of access -- phone, PC, etc. -- as the Pageonce website provides a somewhat less robust, but handy interface as well.

Adding accounts was extremely easy. Bank account pulled statements. Credit card accounts grabbed current balance and due-date information. Insurance showed premiums and expiration dates.

For bills that weren't available through the interface -- smaller organizations and rent, for example -- the app allows you to manually add them. Pageonce has a large number of banking, bill and insurance companies on file, but I was surprised that BlueCross BlueShield was not one of them. When I didn't find a particular provider, I suggested it to Pageonce through a simple interface and set up the bill manually.

One of the limitations of the free app is the limit of five manual bill entries, and they do get taken pretty quickly.

Once the accounts are set up, a screen displaying cash on hand, credit card debt, bills due and investments appears. Toggle one button an see the individual bill accounts. Hit the pie chart icon and see some useful tools for analyzing your finances. It's not incredibly detailed, but it's an app.

One thing that was a bit annoying was my inability to locate control over notifications on the phone. There was an initial request to send them, but no place in the app to control those notifications in the future. On the website, there is fairly straightforward control for e-mail notification, but no mention of push. Pageonce support claims it is in the settings area, but it isn't, which is frustrating.

In fact, looking over the support forums, it's pretty clear one of the more requested features is advanced push notifications, which would make sense given the fact the app is dealing with paying bills and managing money.

Overall, I found Pageonce to be extremely easy to use and helpful. If they can get the push notification thing fixed, this will be one of the most functional apps I've ever tried.

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Jeff Balke is a writer, editor, photographer, tech expert and native Houstonian. He has written for a wide range of publications and co-authored the official 50th anniversary book for the Houston Rockets.
Contact: Jeff Balke