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Don’t Just Track The Past, Forecast With PocketSmith

Don’t Just Track The Past, Forecast With PocketSmith

I’ve been trying out another online budgeting tool that has some interesting features and most importantly to readers here, works for Canadian bank accounts!

The reason PocketSmith works with Canadian banks is because it requires you to load your transaction data that you can download from your bank’s website. This can also provide a great increase in security since the site does not store all your bank passwords.

What sets PocketSmith apart from other applications is that it focuses more on forecasting your finances up to 12 months ahead and less on reporting what has already happened. While both views are important to being in control of your finances, it’s understandable that these web sites do not try to do everything for everyone or they would become bloated and no longer have simple interfaces. That said, I personally like PocketSmith’s focus on forecasting as it gives you a better picture of where you’re going.

PocketSmith has a great calendar interface. It shows when all your bills are due and when you get paid. Even more impressive, the calendar’s events can be imported into Outlook, iCal or Google Calendar! Like any budgeting application, you can set spending and savings goals. With the 12 month view, it’s easy to see what it will take to reach your goals and then whether you remain on track.

PocketSmith has three plan levels. If you’re looking for something to track and forecast your finances, I’d suggest signing up for the free plan and give it a try. However, with the amount of bank accounts and number of events I’d need, I’ll probably settle on the Premium plan.

Another good reason to try out the free version of PocketSmith… next week I’ll be giving away premium upgrades to three lucky readers!


  1. Susuu

    I tried the free version a few days ago. The limit of 8 recurring transactions meant the need for an almost immediate switch to a paid subscription.

    I think that you’d get more bang for your buck from a financial program such as Quicken. I’m still able to use an old version, as I don’t need its online features. Additionally, your data would be more secure on your own hard drive, as opposed to being stored remotely.

    If a Web-based program doesn’t bother you, it seems to me that Wesabe might be a better way to go, as you’d incur no direct cost, and you’d still have a great deal of planning flexibility.

  2. The Rat

    Nice thread. I have never tried using PocketSmith or Wesabe software for tracking my expenses…gonna check it out!

  3. Jenn

    I do essentially the same thing with Excel. For nearly 5yrs I’ve been tracking spending and predicting 6-12 months into the future. Each December I set up the next calendar year. I lay out what gets paid in each week 1 through 4(or 5) each month. Week 1 always contains the 1st of the month. Every single week has a plug amount for groceries, gas, and $20 pocket money. Then I add the things that happen less frequently – phone in week 2 of every month, electricty in week 3, property tax week 1 etc. In each week the first row is for mortgage and the last row for payday. I assume the worst case, that all the payments will go out before the pay arrives. Once I have these weekly plans laid out I go to my spreadsheet and add a header for the first week of the new year “Week 1 December 28 – January 1, 2010”
    Then underneath I past the items from the week 1 template. Then I add the next week’s dates and the items I expect in the second week of a month. Because our mortgage payments are every other week I check the last scheduled payment from December and then delete every other week for the next year (in the templates I assume every Monday has a mortgage paymen. Then I enter the amounts for the weekly payday. We are paid on alternating weeks so I paste the appropriate amount in every week for the upcoming year. If there are any quarterly or annual expenses (based on the prior year) I go to the appropriate week and add a row for that (insurance renewal, annual vet visit, kids BD parties, etc). Once all the predicted items for the new year are entered I extend down the formula in the column to the right of the predicted spending amount, which simply calculates the new balance after that expense or payday.

    Every Friday I check the VISA online account and replace the estimated amounts with the actual amounts for the week and pay it off completely. Once the pay is received and the VISA cleared I skim off everything above $1000 and contribute to our retirement accounts or make an extra mortgage payment. I keep the $1k as the easily accessed part of our emergency fund, and also to guarantee we don’t pay any fees on our account. By having the predicted balance calculating for many months into the future, I can plug in test amounts for unplanned spending and see what the impact will be months into the future. If we want to make a large unplanned purchase (major appliance, trip, etc) we just don’t transfer the excess out for a few weeks/months and let it accumulate.

  4. Alex Hung

    With most of us being confused about the various budgeting tools, the PocketSmith as specified promises to be custom made for Canadian bank accounts. With most of the challenge being eased out, as it is being compatible with the Canadian pattern. It is so important to forecast rather than being told of the well known past, the tool can be trusted and used with least difficulty.

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