This will be a very unique system designed to allow people to keep track of their checking account(s) in a completely different way. Essentially, it'll be set up like a blog because all the info will be viewable via RSS. So, the easiest way to do that is through blog software.
So, a customer signs up with the service and they are emailed their own RSS feed URL. They can then enter this into their own RSS feed software to track this RSS feed.
The RSS feed will deliver daily transaction data directly from their checking accounts. Each transaction that goes through the checking account will be a separate entry in their "Checking Blog". The system will log into the customer's banking interface (at whatever bank they use, using a login to get into their bank accounts) and retrieve the latest banking transactions for that account. Let's say they have 10 transactions since the last time the system logged in. Those 10 transactions will show up as 10 new posts to their "blog" and they'll see there is 10 new entries to read when they look at it through their RSS reader software.
So, they read the new "posts" to their checking blog. Each post will have a list of spending categories that they can assign this purchase to. They click the appropriate one and the system then assigns that expenditure to that category. They move to the next entry, do the same...etc. There will also be a link that they can click on if they need to split the transaction up into more than one category. If they need to do that, they are taken to a webpage where they can enter an amount into one category and it'll automatically calculate that there is X amount left over to put into another category. They then put that left over amount into another category...etc, until the balance on that transaction is zero.
Then each day, at the end of the day, there is another post that is posted to their checking blog that summarizes the amount spent on each category for that day and the month to date spent in each category, income for that month...etc. Just different stats regarding all the balances.
The online interface for the customer should include things like budgets for each category that they want to set for the month and then the daily summary will compare the numbers spent for the month to the budget amounts set by the customer...etc.
The username/password info for the bank accounts has to be protected by the highest level of protection we can possibly get. So, please give that some thought. I need it to be essentially hack proof and even if it were hacked, the info would be useless because of encryption of the usernames/passwords... etc. Do I need to get a stand alone server (with no other accounts on it) so we can have access to the root of the system?
Although, it wouldn't be a very complicated accounting system, it still requires some math skills. :-)
Another aspect of the project is to log cash transactions by email.
When the system retrieves ATM withdrawls from the online account, it'll be listed as a cash expenditure. However, the user can send an email in a preset format and the system should take info from the email and log the transactions and apply the transactions against the cash transactions in the account.
For example, let's say the system retrieved an ATM withdrawl for $40. It'll list it as "Uncategorized Cash" as far as the category of expenditure.
But let's say the user sends an email with the following info:
Subj: 10/31/06 [Date of transactions]
UGA Grocery Store- Groceries: 25.76
Shoe's For Less- Clothing: 12.99
When the system receives this email, it'll log it against the cash expenditures. In this case, there was a $40 ATM withdrawl. Since they just spent $38.75, the "Uncategorized Cash" category only has $1.75 in it. The category "Groceries" has had $25.76 added to it and the "Clothing" category has had $12.99 added to it.
The format would always be the same for the cash emails. Subject would be date of transactions contained in the email. Body would be "Name of business where money was spent" separated by a semi colon, then "Category of the expenditure", "Amount of expenditure."
So, this way, when looking at the reports, they will see that they didn't account for $1.75 of cash that was taken from the account via ATM, but the rest of it was accounted for in other spending categories.
The transactions would come through on the RSS feed after they've been logged, as well. Labeled as cash transactions applied to ATM withdrawls.
If the email wasn't understood by the system, it would say this in the RSS feed so the user could see what was wrong and send another email if need be.
An example can be: [url removed, login to view]