Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Moneytree Review

I have been using Moneytree for a couple of weeks now since I posted my first blog about it, and I believe I am ready to give my short review.

Who Moneytree is for?

This is for both Japanese and foreigners living in Japan, who want to manage their personal finances including expenses, on their Apple gadget. This is for those who want to keep it simple but still keep in track of their personal finances.

Who Moneytree isn't for?

This is not for people who are not living in Japan or who do not have Japanese bank or credit card accounts. This is also not for people who are not comfortable entering their bank or credit card details in the Moneytree app.

This is not for Android users as it looks like its iOS only, as of this writing.

What are the good points about Moneytree?

Once you enter your bank and credit card details, it would automatically synchronize the data on Moneytree with the data from those institutions. This means you will always see an accurate picture of your accounts, and no more need to manually enter every transaction from your bank or credit card accounts.

It is also good to know that Moneytree has the backing of Japan's biggest banks, namely, Mizuho, Mitsubishi-UFJ, and SMBC. Of course, it supports other banks and credit card companies as well.

Entering manual expenses is possible and simple.

What are the bad points about Moneytree?

If you have banks not in Japan or if you also want to monitor expenses not in Japanese yen. I tried creating a manually maintained cash account in US dollars but looks like it is not possible.

Will you be using it from now on?

Yes. Love the simplicity and the automated synchronization with the banks. Coming from MoneyWiz, I needed some getting used to not having to enter every expense I made, but I quickly got used to it as it's definitely simpler.

I do miss the ability to keep track of my non-Japanese yen cash but that is one sacrifice I am willing to take in exchange for the simplicity and ease of use.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Tax Free Counters and 220v Rice Cookers

The other day, I went to visit BicCamera in Yurakucho and saw this floor plan near the escalators. Notice anything weird?
BicCamera Floor Guide
In the English and Japanese translation, you can clearly see two items highlighted in red - Tax Free Counter, and 220v Rice Cookers. Tax Free Counter, I would understand why tourists would be looking for that, but 220v Rice Cookers?!

I don't blame them, Japanese made rice cookers really are cool. :)

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Moneytree - Promising New Personal Budgeting App

On the way home from work, I chanced upon this article featuring how this small Tokyo startup is getting funding from big Japanese banks -- Mizuho, MUFJ, and SMBC, not to mention Salesforce, which is one of the world's largest technology companies. This is notable news in Japan because Japanese banks are notoriously risk-averse, and this could be a good sign to the small entrepreneurs of Japan.

This startup is called Moneytree, and is actually a personal budgeting app for iOS. I am personally interested in personal budgeting applications and have been a heavy user for more than a decade now. I started with Microsoft Money, which I used to record my expenses on a PC back when I was still working for my first company.

The iPhone came and I have since then moved to an iPhone-based app called PocketMoney, which I really liked. Unfortunately, the developer passed away a couple of years ago, and the future of the app became a big question mark.

Tried hard to look for an alternative, and I then settled for MoneyWiz, which I have been using for more than a year now. It's not as good as PocketMoney and the GUI is a little clunky, but at least there are regular updates and the support team is phenomenal.

Now after reading the article, I am ready to try Moneytree. Considering it is based in Japan where I live, and it has the backing of big Japanese banks, I think this would be a perfect match for me. I'm almost sure it will have the best support for Japanese bank and credit card companies.

I downloaded the app this evening and after a couple of hours playing with it, I am liking it already. Can't beat auto-download of bank and credit card details, with the added bonus of of auto-download of mileage and point card details. Once it's setup, it is a very low-maintenance budgeting app.

I will start using this app in parallel with MoneyWiz and decide later which one to keep. From what I am seeing now with Moneytree... it's looking like it's time to make that switch again. :)

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Chuo-ku Tennis Association

The Chuo-ku Tennis Association is an association of people who play tennis and either work or live in Chuo-ku. I became a member of the Chuo-ku Tennis Association a few years ago to be able to join tournaments hosted by the association. They usually have singles, doubles, and mixed tournaments at the Ariake Tennis Forest Park.

If you can read Japanese, here is a link to their website:

Tokyo's Most Famous Sisig

Over the weekend, the Filipino community of Tokyo converged at Yoyogi Park to celebrate the yearly Philippine Festival in Tokyo. Advertised highlights of the festival were Manny Pacquiao, Jolina Magdangal, Marvin Agustin, among others. We didn't see any of them so we just settled for the food and the refreshing Filipino fiesta atmosphere.

We arrived around noontime just in time for lunch. One of the bigger food shops near the entrance was Pangaea, which we remember as a restaurant featured in a popular Japanese show Sekai Banzuke (世界番付) a few years back. The sisig from this restaurant won first place in one segment of the show listing the top B-class dishes (B級グルメ) besting dishes from other countries.

After seeing the show, my wife and I even went to their Ueno restaurant to have a taste of this sisig. The restaurant doesn't get plus points for location as it is located smack in the middle of Ueno's red light district, but good thing the sisig was good. The egg topping was a pleasant addition and it really bring back good old memories of feasting on sisig while drinking San Miguel beer with your friends.

Unfortunately for us during the Philippine Festival, the sisig was a little too popular, and it looks like they don't have it ready at the time we wanted to have lunch.

One hour waiting for sisig at the Philippine Festival in Tokyo 2015.

We eventually settled for their other offerings. I had pork BBQ, while my wife had Chicken Adobo. We didn't feel as bad as we know we can easily go to their Ueno restaurant whenever we do get the urge to have good old sisig.