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Computing That Serves

CS student-created budgeting app will finally save your budget

Winner of 2017 Mobile App Competition is like a digital envelope system

You’ve tried it all: spreadsheets, software, the envelope system. And despite your best efforts, it seems like every month you blow your budget.

BYU computer science student Clay Ellis wants you to give it one more shot, but this time with the help of the budgeting app ProActive Budget. Ellis' design of the app landed first-place at the 2017 BYU Mobile App Competition. The app is like a digital envelope system that connects a special Visa debit card to budgeted categories you create in the app.

Here’s how it works:

  • Download the app for free and link it to your bank account.
  • Transfer money from your bank account to your ProActive account and split that money into your budget categories.
  • Before each purchase, you must tap on the category you will spend from.
  • If there isn’t enough money in a category, the ProActive Visa is declined.
  • If needed, transfer money between categories. When you make transfers, your spouse (or anyone else on the account) gets a notification.

“It helps you form good spending habits by making you look at your budget every time you spend,” Ellis said. “Discipline is built right in.”

See a pair of shoes you like? You have to decide on the spot whether you have enough money in your clothing category or if you need to transfer money from another category. No buying now and paying later. No piling up credit card debt.

“There’s nothing like it out there and it has the potential to change the lives of millions of Americans,” Ellis says with a straight face. “And I believe it when I say millions.”

The app is available for free on the iTunes App Store (although there is a $5 monthly fee to use it) and currently has nearly 1,000 users.

Other top finishers in the 2017 Mobile App Competition include Venga, an app that’s “like Tinder for rental properties,” and Dundidit, an app that allows users to upvote the coolest thing to happen in any spot on earth.

The Mobile App Competition has been hosted annually by the Rollins Center for Entrepreneurship since 2009. Past winners include journal apps, card playing apps and others (see the full list of past winners here).

“We always encourage students to think bigger and this year we were excited about some of the top apps and their potential to impact many people’s lives for the better,” said Jeff Brown, assistant director of the Rollins Center.