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PocketSmith Calendar Budgeting Tool

Posted By Jim On 11/10/2009 @ 12:15 pm In Personal Finance | 7 Comments

This post is a continuation of a series of reviews I’m doing for popular budgeting packages after our recent Personal Finance Hour episode on budgeting. This one covers PocketSmith [4] [3], a New Zealand-based company founded by James Wigglesworth, Jason Leong, and Francois Bondiguel.

Every tool needs differentiator, a way they solve a problem that beats the competition, and it takes only a few seconds to realize what that is for PocketSmith [4]. PocketSmith’s claim to fame, embodied by their slogan “Forecasting Made Simple,” is that they help you manage your personal finances by helping you forecast your financial future. By accurately planning and forecasting your future spending, will remove some of the mystery and anxiety and replace it with a plan you can work towards.

PocketSmith Is Free

Before I get into the various features, PocketSmith has three levels of service and the lowest one is absolutely free. You can see all of the features I write about for yourself without paying a dime. The Free service lets you track two calendars and six events, which is enough to let you play with the system and see if it’s right for you. I like it when tools let you try them for free without a trial period, albeit on a limited basis, because then I won’t have to worry about canceling before the trial.

PocketSmith Forecasting Calendars

The first thing that jumps out at you about PocketSmith is that they focus very heavily on forecasting. The tool works off a series of calendars. You can structure the calendars however you want but the idea is that each one represents a different category in your finances. If you use envelope budgeting, each calendar could represent an envelope.

At the top of every screen is this chart:

The chart to the left shows your forecasted and actual budget. Each dot represents a week and in this particular chart, the actual and forecasted figures are exactly on the dot. The idea of showing you the whole year is so that you can see how your finances today will affect your finances in a few months. A major expense today will change your actuals for the next twelve months and this chart will show you that immediately.

Underneath the chart is the calendar (click to enlarge):

This is where you can schedule all of your transactions the forecasting tool will use to predict your balances.

Goal Tracking

You can set goals for yourself and PocketSmith will give you an indication of how long it will take to reach that goal, given your budgeting. For each goal, you simply set a title, the dollar value of that goal, a buffer, and which calendar is applies to. What PocketSmith does is tell you how many days until you have enough of an excess in your budget to pay for your goal, plus the buffer, on the specified calendar.

Pricing

They have three tiers of service – Free, Premium ($5/mo), and Super ($12/mo). The only difference between the three tiers is how many things you can track in your budgeting calendars and how far into the future you can see. The Free plan lets you track six events and 2 calendars, Premium lets you track unlimited events across five calendars, and the Super plan lets you track unlimited events over 12 calendars. There are other differences but those are the largest quantitative ones (Premium and Super let you export to CSV and PDF, whereas free does not).

The strength of PocketSmith is in it’s ability to predict and plan for the future through the use of calendars. In addition to the calendars, there’s a rich set of reporting tools that I only briefly played with. Finally, there aren’t any security issues to deal with because you never give PocketSmith your credentials when uploading transaction data.

If you use PocketSmith, I’ve love to hear your opinions of the tool in the comments. I only played with it briefly so I defer to seasoned veterans for their thoughts.


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[3] This post is a continuation of a series of reviews I’m doing for popular budgeting packages after our recent Personal Finance Hour episode on budgeting. This one covers PocketSmith: http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/r/pocketsmith.php?tag=budgetTools

[4] PocketSmith: http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/r/pocketsmith.php?tag=pktsmtRev

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