The following is a post from the guys over at PocketSmith, who developed a web-based calendar that forecasts your future cash position and who also invest 5% of subscriptions in micro-lending to entrepreneurs from poverty-stricken countries.
Create a simple and delicious financial plan for the coming 6 months, filled with good decisions and a satisfying payoff at the end.
Cook time: 10 minutes
– 1 free PocketSmith account”¨
– Today’s bank balance”¨
– 1 estimated recurring income”¨
– 3 estimated recurring expenses
Few would admit to enjoy budgeting. It tends to takes ages, is dry and dreary, and upkeep is a bother. But what if we told you that you budgeting could actually be compelling – if not fun – and that you could get your own budget up and running within minutes?
This personal finance recipe is the first in a series that shows you how to use PocketSmith to budget with the features available on the Free plan. PocketSmith is a free tool that lets you generate a financial forecast – meaning, it helps you see how much you’re predicted to have in your bank account in the future. Furthermore, it uses a calendar, which helps makes those numbers meaningful and easy to work with.
In 10 minutes, you will find out:
- How much you’ll have in your bank account by Christmas and beyond
- How small changes in your budget affects future outcomes
Let’s get started. First, you’ll need to create a free account at PocketSmith.com. When you’re done, we can begin. Feel free to either substitute the numbers and events below with your own, or just go follow the steps to get an idea as to how the recipe works. You can always start over with your own forecast later.
1. Take a look at today’s balance from your bank account and put it into the textbox that says “˜Enter amount here’, e.g. 5000. This starts you off with a running balance of $5000 from today onwards.
The running balance is indicated at the bottom of each day. In the graph above, you’ll also see a jump from $0 to $5000. This means that if you didn’t do anything with your money, you would continue to have $5000 remaining in your account for the next six months. But we know that’s not likely to happen, as you have recurring financial events that will change this.
2. PocketSmith has a few events prepared earlier to help you get started populating your Forecast Calendar. This recipe assumes you get paid $1200 as a salary every fortnight on a Tuesday.
Move your mouse over the Salary event until it turns orange, then click on the arrow icon and drag it onto a Tuesday. You’ll see that the event repeats automatically, changing the running balance as it occurs. You can move the event around the calendar by the same dragging motion. You can also edit events simply by clicking on the event title, which will bring up a window with a range of editable options such as title, value and repeat types.
Now you would have noticed that the graph has changed as well. If you hover your mouse over the graph, you’ll see the numbers increase as you move towards the future. It’s August at time of writing, and PocketSmith estimates that you’ll have $18,200 in your bank by February next year! Of course, we have yet to include your expenses.
3. Do the same with the recommended expense events. Drag “˜Groceries’ and “˜Entertainment’ onto a Monday, and “˜Utilities’ onto the 21st. These examples have also been pre-loaded with different repeat types (weekly and monthly), but these can be changed. Note again how each new event changes the running balance.
Now you’ve effectively cooked up a forecast with PocketSmith. You’re budgeting in broad strokes to get a good idea as to where you’re headed financially. From the end of August, your forecast tells you that you’ll have $8400 at the start of November and $9700 by Christmas! Now, you just need to stick to the plan.
You can still reset your running balance at any point if you experience a change in fortunes – just click on a balance on any day and put in a new value. You can also clear all my events and start again from the Preferences area.
Look around other areas such as the Forecast Graphs and Cashflow Statement to see what your financials look like in graph and statement form. Next time, we’ll show you how to use PocketSmith as the key ingredient to finding easily out where your money is going. It’ll take 5 minutes!
Did you like this personal finance recipe, and what would you like to see in others? Let us know in the comments!
Photos from Shutterstock