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Spend Stack: A Better Budgeting Tool

Branson native Jordan Morgan created a simple way to keep track of your everyday expenses on your phone: Spend Stack.

By Ren Bishop

Jan 2015

Photo by Brandon Alms

Jordan Morgan and his wife, Jansyn, were trying to get their finances in order before the arrival of their first child. To save money, they began keeping a watchful eye on their spending, paying only in cash and tallying up prices at the grocery store to be right on target at checkout. But one thing kept making them go over budget: sales tax.

“We would keep track of our items one by one in our cart, but then sales tax would come in, and we’d go over every time,” says Jordan Morgan, founder of Dreaming in Binary LLC. “That gave me an idea.”

A full-time iOS developer, Jordan would spend his spare time over the course of a year programming different prototypes of a shopping calculator app, which he would hand over to Jansyn to test. She would critique its functionality, and he would tweak it for the best user experience. After a year of development and a few requests from their friends to share the app, Jordan and Jansyn founded Dreaming in Binary and released Spend Stack.

In simplest terms, Spend Stack is a money management app that can add up costs that users inputs manually while they shop to determine how much the user is spending. But what makes Spend Stack different than a calculator is that the app factors in sales tax in real time to determine the true amount spent.

“I wrote some code to determine the local sales tax by using your phone’s GPS,” Jordan says. “It’s supposed to add that up and your expenses and get that total for you.”

Once they’re done shopping, Spend Stack users can build “stacks” or shopping lists to provide completely custom, prioritized lists and budgets for future purchases.

“Spend Stack has become my overall wish list,” says Ryan Poloos, iOS engineer and app reviewer at RayWenderlich.com. “I can order the lists and track prices in case something goes on sale later. Anytime I have a bit of extra money, I check my Spend Stack for my next Target purchase. And when I’m out and see something I like, it gets added to the list.”

In addition to its multifaceted functionality, Spend Stack is visually stunning and user-friendly, featuring colorful themes and gestures intuitive to iPhone users. Simply tap and hold to reorder items, swipe left to remove an item from your stack, or tap to edit an item’s price. Spend Stack is nearly effortless to learn—a trait that helped it reach No. 18 in the App Store finance category, Jordan says.

“As opposed to a lot of other finance apps, Spend Stack has kind of a niche objective to it,” he says. “When you see a lot of apps in the App Store, they try to be an all-in-one. Spend Stack is not trying to be that. It’s developed for me, my family and how we make purchases. I already have my money, I’m just trying to keep track of how I spend it.”

Now, Jordan and Jansyn add up their expenses using Spend Stack at the grocery store, keeping track of how much they spend on their Ozark home and their 1-year-old son, Bennett. But Jordan keeps track of one other thing: how many ideas he has for future apps.

“No joke, I have a list on my computer and last time I counted, there are almost 1,000 ideas on it,” Jordan says. “So I’m trying to determine what the next step is. I’m a programmer who loves video games, which is so cliche, but I think I’m going to create a video game that harkens back to the Super Nintendo days. And with Bennett, I’ll keep programming while he tries to fall asleep. We had a lot of long nights with Spend Stack.”

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