Beyond Budgeting: Pocketsmith Helps You Forecast

By Lynn Truong on 20 August 2009 (Updated 12 September 2009) 75 comments
Photo: PocketSmith

note: PocketSmith is giving 5 Wise Bread readers a yearly Premium account. Read on for details.

There are many financial tools and services that help you track your spending and stick to your budgets. But I'm one of those fortunate ones with very few expenses and have learned over the years how to curb my appetite for spending. So I never found use for tools like Mint and Wesabe. I also never liked the idea of entering sensitive financial information for yet another company to keep safe.

In comes PocketSmith, and I can honestly say that when I looked at this product, I thought to myself This is exactly what I want.

While it does track your spending (and you can upload your exported financial accounts), it focuses on forecasting. That means it tells you how much money you should have in 6 months. It also tells you when you will reach your savings goals. For example, you want to know when you'll be able to afford that month-long trip to Europe? PocketSmith will tell you exactly when you'll have the money for it.

The goals feature is a powerful motivator. If you can see how your spending affects your saving goals -- immediately -- you can weigh whether or not it's worth pushing your goals further for whatever it is you want to spend on now. And many times you'll find that your goals are closer than you thought. For example, you might find that if you stopped eating out, you'll have enough for that DSLR after just 2 months. Whereas if you keep spending on eating out the way you currently do, you'd need to wait 4 months before being able to afford it.

It also has easy integration with Google Calendar, iCal, CalDav, and Outlook.

Having launched to the public just a few months ago, it's already getting noteworthy buzz. It was also named one of the top ten startups of 2008 in New Zealand.

I am looking forward to more features added to this service (and current financial tools will no doubt try to add some of their innovative features as well).

They have 3 pricing plans (though the first two is sufficient for most). Additionally, they're giving five Wise Bread readers a yearly Premium PocketSmith account worth USD $60 each.

To enter, leave a comment on what your saving goals are. Drawing closes on 9/10.

And go ahead and sign up for the free account first. If you win, they can upgrade your account.

 

This drawing has closed. The winners will be contacted shortly.

 

 

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Guest's picture
Stuart

I just started a Roth this year. My goal is to max it out for the next three years.

Guest's picture
Guest

Hi
Just a brief history:
Injured on the job 6/08
Lost job 11/08 (still going to physical therapy at that time)
worker's compensation - still pending.
Do not qualify for unemloyment (time at job too short)
Lost Apartment 12/08
Living with friend from 1/09 to present.
Car finally bites the dust. Donate to United Way.
Child Support(only income) ends 5/09. Child has turned 21.

1 Year Goals to get back on my feet -

Immediate: (1-3 months):
- Find a Full time job that will cover expenses
- Buy a decent (minimal repairs needed) used car

Intermediate: (3-6 months):
-Move out of friends apartment
+ eliminate need to pay for storage
- Stock the pantry and freezer
- Pay 'back rent' to friend

Intermediate: (6-9 months):
-Save 3 months worth of expenses.

'Long term': (9-12 months):
- Pay for balance of daughter's college so that she can graduate 5/2010 (should be less than 2,000 as she is a scholarship student & I have a minimal contribution that has been carried year to year)
- Reestablish credit. Apply for a secured loan from a credit union. Pay back and apply for ONE credit card for emergencies.

Most bills have been eliminated. I have no utilities in my name and no credit cards. I am using a borrowed car. I am living with a friend, my daughter goes back to college next week.

I think it is realistic to reach all of the goals within the time frame above or sooner.

Thank you for reading my post :)

~Paula

Guest's picture
Paul

We like to have multiple savings goals building simultaneously:

1. 6 month emergency fund (in case of job loss)
2. OMG emergency fund (which is for emergency purchases)
3. Vacation fund (money for next dream vacation)
4. Projects fund (current project: new floors)
5. Stuff fund (for specific things, such as a new TV)

When a fund is depleted, we reset the target and start saving again.

Guest's picture
Ryan

My goals are to pay off all Credit Card debt by the end of the year (in very good shape to do this). Then my wife and I are saving to take a trip for our five year anniversary this summer. Then our goal is to work on our six month emergency fun and pay doubt student loans.

Guest's picture
Min

1. Raise my emergency fund to 12 months from the current 6.
2. New HD camcorder.
3. LCD monitor, at least 24"

Guest's picture
Cathy R

My goals are:
1) Pay Off my Credit Card
2) Generate a 6 month Emergency Fund
3) Start a Gift Fund
4) Pay Off my Car Loan
5) Start a House Fund
6) Start a Car Fund (for car repairs or to go toward my next vehicle)

Guest's picture
Guest

Recently engaged, my fiancée and I are saving for a place we call our own :)

Guest's picture
Andrew

We're looking to save 3-6 months of our expenses! Pocketsmith looks sweet.

Guest's picture
Lauren A.

my savings goals are to :
1. replenish my emergency fund after digging in to it for a down payment on a condo (oops! but hello first time home buyers tax credit!).
2. max out a Roth IRA for 2009.
3. save up some spending money for a trip to argentina with my boyfriend in february. i've got airfare covered for both of us by flight miles and he's offered to pay for hotels/hostels/campgrounds. score!

thank you for the giveaway!

Guest's picture
Kate

Our goals are to pay off one car loan by the end of the year, pay off the other one by the end of the following year, and then just start saving as much as possible (for a new car and eventually a house)!

Guest's picture
Tyler

I plan on retiring at 35 with a million dollars in the bank (or somewhere). I'm 20 now, so that only gives me 15 years.

Guest's picture
M Francis

I'd love to try this out. I've been a fan of YNAB, but this looks like a great tool too. My wife and I are trying to save for a trip to France before we have kids, so a savings forecast would be awesome.

Guest's picture
aliasnemos

My goals are to:
1. Pay off my mortgage as soon as possible
2. Take a month long holiday overseas
3. Have a $10,000 emergency fund

Guest's picture
Amy

~get my emergency fund up to a solid 6 months of living expenses
~establish a travel fund that I contribute to regularly to cover the 2-3 times a year I have to pay for airfare
~save up so I can buy a car in 3 years

Guest's picture
Jo

In no particular order, my savings goals:

1. Annual travel/vacation
2. dSLR (specifically the Canon Rebel T1i)
3. Fees for SCUBA certification, basic gear and rentals

Guest's picture
Kim

1) Actually have a emergency fund. I've been laid of twice now and each time I've ended up scrimping
2) Pay off my remaining debt
3) Save up for a cruise with my girlfriends next year. I really need a vacation!

Guest's picture
Jennifer

I need to build an emergency fund and a "toy" fund, I guess, for additional photography software and equipment.

Guest's picture
jbd

we (1 income family, 2 kids) have no savings after some surprises this summer. I am hoping to save a 1000 dollars by the end of the year.

Guest's picture
Lesa

My savings goals are to:

1. Have my house paid of in less than 2 years (totally doable with less than $2000 left on the mortgage.
2. Pay off the CC that I used to purchase my used truck back in May. Hope to pay that off by next spring.
3. Start saving something for my DD for college. She's 13.

Guest's picture
Guest

My goal is to pay off my student loans.

Guest's picture
valletta

having just made it through 2 YEARS of unemployment (first in my 45 year old life) I vow to never have less than ONE year's expenses as emergency fund IN ADDITION to savings/401k etc.

Guest's picture
Jennifer

We are starting our plans now - this looks like a great tool for doing this as well.

I think our goals are to start and commit to paying off our credit card bills. We are in a better position to do that now since we have cut a significant bill out of our lives this month.

After that we are going to start micro-saving for things such as electronics we want, house improvements, and vacation planning.

Guest's picture
Andy abu

I'm trying to save 50 grand for a 3 year trip around the world :)

Guest's picture
erin

I want to save money to do renovations on my house without taking out an equity loan.

Guest's picture

I just spent a half hour playing with this software and I love it already....

Goals:

Pay off all non-mortgage debt by December 1st.

Pay off home equity loan by April 2010.

Have cash to buy new-to-us car in summer 2010.

It is scary, just writing that all down...

Guest's picture
Kaci

I graduated from college a little over a year ago and I'm trying to get all my finances in order now that I'm officially paying back all my student loans (and credit cards).

Here's what I'm lookin' to do:

1) Save up an emergency fund of 3-6 months.
2) Pay off those pesky credit cards.
3) Start saving for retirement.
4) Start chipping away at my student loans.

I'm really excited about this website! It looks great!

Guest's picture
Ben

1. Save for future of my first child (on the way)
2. Save for my wife's next vacation
3. Splurge on me with the rest.

Guest's picture
Coach J

My goals are fairly simple:
1) Be out of debt by the end of 2010.
2) Have a three month emergency fund by 2011.
3) Have $100k for a down payment on a house in 10 years.

Not too lofty, but completely doable. Thanks!

Guest's picture
ethel

We are hoping to pay down the debt on our equity loan (the second part of our mortgage) while simultaneously saving money for a downpayment for a new house. It would be great if we also saved some money for a vacation to celebrate our 5-year anniversary. But we are thinking more long-term these days.

Guest's picture
Amber P

1. Increase emergency fund from 3 months to 8 months living expenses
2. Buy a new couch for family room
3. Pay off car loan
4. Disneyworld vacation in 2011 or 2012
5. College funds for our boys
6. continue to save for retirement

Guest's picture
Queen Vee

I was able to pay off all my debts last year. (Yay!) Now, I want to re-save an emergency fund of three months of living expenses and put aside $2000 to set up my new apartment.

Guest's picture
Guest

Hi - we're living in Europe for a few years, so our goals are different than most people.

1. We have an emergency fund, but our potential emergencies (such as having to suddenly move back to the States) are very expensive, so we'd like to build it up as high as possible.

2. We need to save money for expenses we will have when we return to the States in two years, such as buying a car.

3. While living in Europe, we do have plans to travel as much as possible, but as frugally as possible.

4 We are in our early 40s and are putting a lot of effort into building up our retirement accounts.

Guest's picture
Denise

1. being a month AHEAD on all the bills/utilities (no more scrambling on payday!!) starting Nov 2009 so that, on the 5th of the month, I can pay everything for that month and put the rest into 'savings' buckets, 'payoff' buckets, etc.
2. paying off both credit cards by March 1 2010 ($4000)
3. 3 months of living expenses
4. start a fund to buy a second home/investment property by 2015(really the fund is started - but it only has $1 and obviously I want it to grow!)

I agree w/#24 (Kate) - it is scary writing all of this down. But it's empowering too! My long-range goal is to freelance and own property - that plan is really motivating me to get serious about my financial future.

Guest's picture
Kristen

My savings goals are to open an IRA on top of my 401k and to have savings above our emergency fund to be able to go on vacation and do projects around the house.

Guest's picture
Courtney

1) establish emergency fund & do not touch unless for emergencies!
2) pay off highest interest student debt (4k) by end of 2009
3) Open RothIRA soon & make monthly contributions
4) Finish grad school in 2011 w/ no loans
5) Pay off all undergrad debt by 2013 (27k)
6) Start saving for new car
7) Start saving for house
8) Start saving to raise children
9) Start saving for fun adventure before raising children

Guest's picture
David

Our saving goals (my wife and I) are to establish an emergency fund for 6 months, pay off our student loans (when we got married last year they were $90k total!), and establish positive equity in our home (we currently have negative equity due to the downturn in the housing market).

Guest's picture
Sandra

My main savings goal is to save enough to start a family. I know it's pretty vague that way, so I divided it into several mini goals.
1) Save for the Hospital Deductible. (Appx $1800.)
2) Save for a 3 month leave from work. (My Short Term Disability plan covers the first 6 weeks at 60%, bringing my savings goal to appx. $5900 for this portion.)
3) Save for "Bringing Baby Home". This includes furniture and nursery decorations, plus clothes, equipment, etc.
^_^, Wish me luck.

Guest's picture
Misty

While I have always been more conservative with my money, my husband has been guilt of impulse spending. As a result, our goals are:
1. Pay off credit cards by end of the year (which will be done)
2. Raise savings for emergency fund to 4-6 months. We are fortunate to have pretty decent job security so this is just a precaution
3. Build savings account to redo bathroom and kitchen (and fix hole in ceiling from toilet overflow!)

Guest's picture
Juanita

Our savings goals are as follows:

1. Emergency fund -- $10,000
2. House Down-payment -- $20,000
3. 529 plan -- $2,000 per year
4. Camper -- $10, 000

We're working on getting to a stable financial place, and we're hoping that keeping to these savings goals will eliminate some of our wasteful expenses.

Guest's picture
Katrina

My goals are to stop living paycheck to paycheck, pay off credit card debts, buy a house and build up my savings account. A program like this will be very beneficial to me!

Guest's picture
Merlin

my goal is simple. to get out of debt.

nothing more to say.

Guest's picture
Erin

My goal is to save enough money to attend grad school without taking out student loans.

Guest's picture
tracy

Is to get my credit cards paid off within 2 years . Then i want to save to take my husband on a cruise to Alaska for our 20 year anniversary.

Guest's picture
bogart

DH retires soon, and we are saving to buy a small RV as we hope to use it to take extended trips to explore the US and Canada.

Guest's picture
scooze

After becoming debt free, and establishing an emergency fund(finally!), my current savings goal is 4 months of expenses. I'm only about $100 into that goal now. Once that is done, I'd like to save for a nice vacation! By that time my daughter will be out of college (which I have paid for in cash with no loans.)

Guest's picture
Jodi

My goals are to have:

1) 9-month emergency fund
2) $20,000 for round-the-world trip
3) pay off student loans

Guest's picture
jecibel

i want to assemble a downpayment on a home

while getting rid of credit card debt

Guest's picture
Bakhtier

I don't have debt or any problems... But I need to save money....

I have a salary of $400/month (yeah in my country, it's a high paid job), and i am marrying a girl that i really like. But i don't have money to make a great wedding day ($5K), you know flowers and stuff like that. So, i need an assistant (Smith) who can help me. Mr. PocketSmith looks awesome. So hope to seize the opportunity and plan the wedding. By the way, if you make it to Uzbekistan (that's where I live) you are welcome to my wedding on september 2010 (06.07pm 08.09.10). It is almost a year from now on. Just the right timing for the giveaway!

Guest's picture
Michelle

My current savings goals:

- Replenish emergency fund after unexpected car repairs
- Save up the money to cover my medical insurance deductibles for 2009 AND 2010 (having a baby due at the end of January is NOT the best example of great financial planning, as doctor bills are due this year and hospital bills are due next year!)

Guest's picture
Ianne

Our family goal for this year is to pay off my car and save enough money for emergencies.

Guest's picture
Dave

I currently use Mint.com but may have to try this out as well.

Thanks for the heads up!

Dave
LifeExcursion

Guest's picture
Bonnie

1. Pay off CCs
2. Down payment for my house
3. Unemployment fund
4. A Mini Cooper

Guest's picture
Anish

Sounds cool. Signing up for free account and hoping to win a premium account.

Guest's picture
BT

So many things we're trying to save for...we don't have a ton of debt, but are hoping to close on a house in the next two months - and then we'll have *plenty* of it!

1. Wedding party in early 2010 - no ceremony, just fun time with food, friends, family half way across the country.

2. Upgrading our furniture from ratty hand-me-downs and Ikea junk to real grown up pieces that suit us

3. Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro

4. Procreating in the next 2-3 years :)

Guest's picture
amy

Would like to increase the emergency fund and pay down
the HELOC. Also increase savings in several categories,
such as vacation, medical, gifts, etc.

Guest's picture
Jess

My savings goals are:

1) Build back up emergency fund -- qualified in a new profession at the beginning of the Summer and haven't found a new job yet so my current one is dwindling.
2) Save up money for a wedding in the next 12-24 months.
3) Start to save up a nice deposit for a house.

Guest's picture
Andrew

My wife wants to buy a house with a garden for our daughter to play in. I want to save so we can make the down payment and get a good loan.

Guest's picture
Emily

My partner and I are saving up for having an IVF procedure to have a baby.

We've been scrimping and saving for the last 6 months so we can come as close as possible to having the initial $10k for the try. :)

Every time we get frustrated and want to go out to eat or go on a long weekend somewhere, we re-focus and remember our goals. We also remember the sooner we get the money together, the sooner we can start trying for a family!

Guest's picture
kurt Congdon

Here are our family savings goals for this year:
- Payoff wife's car
- Max out our IRA's
- Continue to build our emergency fund
- Start to save towards down payment on next home

Guest's picture
Kristen

We are so excited to learn about this service! Thanks so much, WiseBread, for keeping us up to date on all of the latest and greatest ways to live large on a small budget. You are a tremendous blessing!

And to Pocketsmith, we extend our most sincere appreciation for creating such an AWESOME service! My husband and I are so excited to use to it to help us reach our goals for providing for our family to come.

There are a number of specific steps that will help us start a family, and I know Pocketsmith will be an invaluable service in helping us achieve those goals. We will DEFINITELY be spreading the word as we get to know Pocketsmith more intimately.

With Gratitude,
Kristen & Dave

Guest's picture
llenadadelgozo

Our saving goal is to save as much money as possible this year (mostly by living in a tiny little apartment) so that next year we will be able to rent a small house (or at least bigger apartment). This is the budget year!

Guest's picture
kote

I'm a college student with 24K in student loans, which I need to start paying off in a year. I try to be financially savvy (started my 401k at 20!), but I find myself being a bit of a spendthrift and I have a lot of difficulty maintaining a budget. My goal is to be financially sound, save up an emergency fund, and be on good ground when I graduate.

Guest's picture
Connie

My savings goals are:

Have a three month income float because my hubby is in sales and gets paid alot in the summer and not at all in Jan/Feb.

Have a emergency fund with 5 months in it.

Use my contest winnings to pay for Christmas!

Guest's picture
Jenny

My savings goal is for a house and an emergency fund.

Guest's picture
Al

I am currently 3/4 of the way through building a 6 month emergency fund and will then start saving for the downpayment on a house. I am really excited to get my 1 year old into something a bit bigger.

Guest's picture
Rachel

I'm currently saving to be able to travel the world for a year or two when I'm 40. Today I turned 28 so I still have some time left!

Guest's picture
Siobhan

My husband and I are currently expecting our first child. While we can budget for the expected, we know we will have a lot of unexpected expenses in the coming months. This would help us keep track of where our money is going and help us see where we can make adjustments. We are really trying to save to buy a house before the baby gets here!

Guest's picture
Marlana

My savings goal is to have enough in savings for 3 months of expenses plus any emergencies. A little at a time is what I keep telling myself....big goal.

Guest's picture
Guest

My husband and I just had our first baby, and while we are spending less than planned on some things (day care) we are spending more in other areas (food, medication). I am a student who also works full-time, and my husband is trying to get his career off the ground. Time and money are things we are always short on, to say the least. I used to use an Excel spreadsheet and manually enter in my transactions every week (time consuming) and then plan and budget for known expenses (even more time consuming). Already just using the free version of PocketSmith my time has been cut in half. I haven't explored the Goals/Forecast too much yet, but all of those things we need (new car, funds for CD project, college books, maybe even a vacation within the next 10 years (haha), and more children) could all be taken care of in one place, with a plan on how to get there. Not to mention this is the same place as our financial history! The very idea is a stress relief.

Guest's picture
roulleau

I just posted, then scrolled up to read some other posts. Yours was right before mine. It all sounds eerily similar, right down to the new baby and the Excel spreadsheet...

Now I can't wait to try the free version of PocketSmith.

Best of luck to you, and congratulations on the baby!

Christian
Brooklyn, NY

Guest's picture
Guest (Eve)

Yes, very similar situations! The free version has helped since our credit union doesn't support Mint or anything else. So, the uploading has saved a lot of time from the manual entry. Let's face it, who has time to input their receipts when they have to change a diaper and make a bottle? :)
Good luck and congratulations, hope the move is soon and easy!
Eve in AZ

Guest's picture
roulleau

My wife and I are saving to move ourselves and our 6-month old daughter from overpriced New York City to affordable, family-friendly Minneapolis, my wife's hometown.

The recession has hit our income pretty hard, on top of all of the brand new expenses that come with the birth of a child (though, for the record, those are all absolutely worth it).

For over a year, I've been using an Excel spreadsheet to track and forecast all of our accounts. None of the software or online tools I've found to date seem to integrate all of our accounts correctly. Neither Quicken nor Bank of America's "My Portfolio" tool, for instance, will accurately update information from my checking account and credit cards, our joint checking account, our special savings account for the move, her checking account and credit cards, my student loan accounts, etc. etc. As a result, they are pretty much useless, because I'm never getting an accurate picture of our net worth or our day-to-day cashflow. And constantly manually updating my spreadsheet is far too labor-intensive.

Having an accurate and easy-to-use tracking and forecasting tool would make it immeasurably easier to keep our eyes on the prize - the big move - and keep us going through the hard slog of the remaining months in Brooklyn that will be needed to save for this goal.

Guest's picture
tapu

I have my own budgeting system which gives me a lot of clairity about my financial situation but having a forecast system would would really be great!

Guest's picture

Sounds like an awesome tool. I'm saving to bring my parents for a holiday, and a HD camcorder to record precious holiday moments.

Guest's picture
Chris

I've been extremely reckless with my finances over the past couple of years, and I only recently have seen the error of my ways. I bought a home with my then girlfriend when I was 22 - this was in 2007. Things were fine for a short while then we split. Suddenly I was trying to hold down all these bills on my own, and was actually doing OK for a while. The responsibility faded however, and I got wasteful... eating out often, partying too much, buying things that I really had no use for. I got behind in a bad way. This went on for a couple years.
I am now 25... and talk about a wake up call. I should be so much further ahead in my finances than I currently am. I do have a budget in place, and am working on getting my savings plan built up. I have a 401k I am dumping 10% into. I started a savings account I am putting at least $100/mo into - working on getting at least 8 months of salary saved up for emergency fund. I want to move out of Iowa once my house is paid down enough to sell, so that is another savings goal. I'm single for the first time in my adult life, so I'd really like to do some traveling on my own (scuba!) - I would like to get a savings plan in place for that. I am actually buying groceries instead of eating out. I'm even taking left overs from my parents house!
I believe a tool like PocketSmith would allow me to reach my goals quicker, and with more confidence. Sure would beat pen and paper!