PotW: Billbot

December 6, 2020

Most of our engineers are aware of the revolution the internet promised us just a few decades ago. It was going to free information from the shackles of books and magazines. It would make education free to those in search of knowledge. It even looked as though it was going to evolve how we watched and paid for TV. If you look hard enough you will find that it delivered on most of those promises. We have things like MIT OpenCourseWare and edX.org; The Internet Archive and digital libraries; plus, YouTube and many free streaming services like Pluto.  But, the good stuff has always come at a price. When Netflix arrived on the scene it led a lot of people to cut the cord and stop paying high subscriber fees in favor of paying much less for on-demand content. That was quickly followed by Hulu and Amazon Prime Streaming. Then, eventually all of the major providers caught on to what was happening and they came out with their own subscription services. Now we are essentially back in the same boat in which we started: paying for multiple services which total to that of a normal cable bill. Some people call it subscription hell, where you have to subscribe to one service just to watch one favorite show and another service to watch another favorite show. But, that’s the boat we find ourselves in, so how can we make the most of it?

I found a neat little app for iOS and Android that allows you to track all those subscriptions in one convenient place. It’s call Billbot. Admittedly, it is just an expense tracker, but it has a lot of built-in categories for services you already use. It has a database of over 200 different templates, which covers most popular services here in the U.S. But, you can also add custom subscriptions and include emojis and accent colors. Opening the app, you don’t have to make an account—that was refreshing. You can simply start adding subscriptions. All you need for each subscription is the amount due and the date of the next invoice. But, you can also add information like a description, category, billing cycle, reminder, and change the currency. You can even create profiles for different household members. You can have one profile for yourself, the rest of your family, or even your business.

It may not pay the bills for you or automatically pull them from your bank account, but on the flip side there is no sign-in or sharing of financial data with this service. It is very privacy driven, like some of the other apps we’ve mentioned on this show. So, let us know what you think of this service on social media or on our own Discord service.

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