There’s dozens of text editors and to-do list apps to choose from on the internet, but precious few financial apps that are actually good. Unlike task management and simple to-do lists, tracking financial activities using an app requires more discipline and delivers more consequential results.
As someone who never really had much success with planning how to spend money, I found Pocketsmith to be quite compelling and motivational. Pocketsmith is a money management application that tracks and schedules your finances by plotting them in a calendar. It’s a planner for your wallet, and so much more.
See your money in a calendar
Pocketsmith’s main and most attractive feature is the calendar layout where you can schedule events — either Income or Expenses — and plot it just like you would in a regular calendar. Once you’ve signed up for the service, you can start adding events by going to the Calendar tab and clicking on a date. There’s a helpful tutorial to start you off if you get overwhelmed with the interface.
As you can see, the tutorial page is well-written and easy to understand. As stated, you can start with a specific amount for today’s balance — this can be an existing balance in a certain bank account, or what you a portion of money you are willing to spend starting today. The default is set to $0.00.
To start adding events, go to the Calendar view and click on a date. This should bring up a dialog box for adding the details. This is also where you specify the event type: Income or Expense. This categorization is the basis for the computation of your running balance. Income events get added to your running balance, while Expense events gets deducted on the date it is scheduled.
You can also configure events if they happen on a regular basis — such as utility bills and monthly expenses. Under Repeating on the Repeats field, you can choose from daily, weekly, fortnightly, monthly, or yearly. Events can be given color assignments according to how you want them to appear on the calendar.
Once you have all your events scheduled, the calendar automatically reflects the necessary changes to your balance for each day. Income amounts appear in green, while Expense amounts are in red for you to tell one from the other. Event titles and colors are also shown in calendar view. The final day’s balance is shown on the bottom of the box. The current day is highlighted in green.
Pocketsmith allows exporting your calendar to Google calendar, iCal, Outlook and any other calendar that follows the Webcal format. You can do this by going to My Preferences on the top right corner of your dashboard and selecting Export Calendar.
For free accounts, you can set up three calendars. The default calendar is labelled Main, and you can assign a calendar name for the next two. Each calendar can be set into three types: Normal, Savings, and Debt. Savings can be for a different bank account or a goal amount you are saving for, and debt can be for tracking payments to credit cards and other loans.
Categorize your items
A great way to keep track of how much you’re spending on what (or how much you are receiving from whom) is by categorizing items. Beside the Calendar tab, go to Merchants. This is where you can track money you’ve paid to retailers either by manually entering the data or importing bank statements in the form of OFX, QFX, CSV, and QIF formats. These files are usually available from most online banking accounts or accounting software.
When all the data is loaded, you will see a list of the transactions including the merchant’s details and amount paid/received. You can then start assigning categories to these items.
When you click a category, the top portion of the page will show a pie graph presenting how much you spent for (or received from) each merchant for that category. For the example below, I made a category for eBooks, which fall under Expenses.
As you can see, it indicates the merchant name and the spending percentage within that category.
In addition to categorizing, you can also edit merchant details, either individually or in bulk. Transactions can also be hidden from the overall income/expense figures if it represents a transfer to other bank accounts or as payment to other services.
See the future
The purpose of saving for the rainy days is not lost in Pocketsmith. The Cashflow tab presents a bird’s eye view of all your income and expenses for each month. This allows you to plan accordingly and see how much you should have at a given time. You can filter the interface to view income only, expenses only, or both.
A free account allows you to see six months into the future and three months into the past. Paid plans provide forecasts and history for longer periods, starting at $9.95 a month, or $24.95 a quarter.
There are more handy features within Pocketsmith, but the ones mentioned are really all you need to know to get started. With this said, this app appeals both to basic and advanced users. Pocketsmith may not have the most user-friendly interface, but the ample amount of tutorials make up for that. Although some helpful features require technical know-how, it doesn’t entirely isolate those who are not so tech savvy. Overall, Pocketsmith is an excellent choice for managing small and big budgets alike.