Tamagotchi software

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Tamagotchi lifecycle There’s a lot of financial software out there I think of as “Tamagotchi software.” If you don’t remember Tamagotchi, it was a late-90s toy fad. Kids carried around small, egg-shaped electronic toys that showed a deranged mutant bunny on screen. The deranged mutant bunnies would grow into other forms of mutant bunny if their owners played with them regularly; otherwise, they would die.

There was something brilliant about Tamagotchi. The designers did a great job of rewarding kids for small actions, and yet making it hard for them to get to the top levels of mutant bunnydom. The result was addictive — sometimes I couldn’t help but wonder, when I saw a kid seemingly about to break out a personal day-planner just to schedule their Tamagotchi activities, which was the toy and which was the owner. Eventually, though, the game got old, and even the most devoted owners would send their mutant bunnies to the dump.

I always think of existing personal finance software as falling into the same category. If you’re really devoted, and play with it every day, your spending pie charts will get very colorful. If you walk away for too long, though, they fall over and die. Two of my fundamental beliefs about the failure of personal finance software to date are that: (1) less than 1% of all consumers are willing to put up with that model; and (2) even if you are willing to put in the work, all you get at the end of the day is a picture of where the money went, which is very different than getting actual help.

4 Responses to “Tamagotchi software”

  1. Sean Reilly Says:

    I’m a developer of personal finance software (Moneydance) and agree that a very small percentage of people find a use for this type of software. I think online banking and especially bill payment makes it more than worthwhile and much easier to keep track of your money, but what changes do you think could be made so that personal finance software could be more directly useful to more people?

    PS. Found your blog a few days ago and love it. I think a lot of Moneydance users would find it very interesting.

  2. Marc Hedlund Says:

    Hi, Sean,

    Thanks for the kind words. Moneydance is excellent software.

    I’ll be talking about some of our ideas for new kinds of finance software in the coming weeks. Until then, I won’t spoil the surprise!

  3. allan Says:

    I would think trading rules software with an investment journal to track actual trades against it would be quite helpful.

    There is nothing like flashing lights in the rear view mirror to wake you up.

  4. Brian Says:

    So, do you have any alternatives? I have looked at billQ (very nice, free) and MVelopopes (very nice, not free).

    Isn’t the entire idea of personal money management a little like Tamagochi software? Don’t you HAVE to keep on it everyday?

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