PocketSmith: A Calendar-Based Financial Planner

 

I used to use an Excel spreadsheet religiously to keep track of my future spending and saving goals. Why was this important to me? Because it allowed me to avoid over-drafting my accounts and helped me to stay focused on reaching my savings and debt reduction goals.

PocketSmith is a calendar-based financial planner. It allows you to look forward to your upcoming spending, set goals, track your expenses, and pull reports that show you exactly where you stand financially.

Looking towards your future spending with your goals in mind is far more valuable than simply looking back at your past spending and beating yourself up over failures.

Someone took that concept and designed a personal finance software tool that does exactly the same thing. Only theirs is far more interesting to look at and comes with a few more bells and whistles. It’s called PocketSmith.

pocketsmith review

What is PocketSmith?

PocketSmith is a calendar-based financial planner. It helps you maintain a focus on cash flow forecasts. It’s quick and easy to use. In short, PocketSmith also comes with modules for adding actual spending data from your bank account. This is done using manual upload. They also have a nice goal setting module that works hand in hand with the calendar to help you reach your savings and debt reduction goals.

PocketSmith Features

PocketSmith is chock full of features that users will love using. They cover much more financial ground than many other financial software solutions available. Let’s look at some of the most popular features:

Budget Calendar

With the budget calendar, you can plan out your budgets and spending. You can schedule bills, which allows you to keep track of due dates and also prevent cash flow issues. Note that PocketSmith doesn’t pay your bills. This only schedules a reminder to pay your bills.

PocketSmith’s budget calendar also allows you to view historical spending. This will give you insight into trends in your finances. The budget calendar also allows you to test how financial decisions will impact you through financial forecasting.

Get started with PocketSmith here

Income and Expense Tracking

One of the best features in PocketSmith is income and expense tracking. You can view your expenses in a variety of ways including a calendar, an expense report, transaction lists and summaries, and more. You can even see how your expenses break down into categories in graph and chart form. If you’re someone who likes to view their finances from all angles, PocketSmith is for you.

Live Bank Feeds

Live Bank Feeds from PocketSmith

With PocketSmith you can link all of your accounts, including checking, savings, credit cards, loan accounts, and more. You can add accounts from the same bank for your whole family, even if they have separate login credentials. Almost all transactions will be categorized when they are imported to PocketSmith.

They now make it easy for you to add a bank feed and set up your accounts with a video tutorial.

Budgeting and Planning

Budgeting and Planning with PocketSmith

PocketSmith also allows you to set a budget based on spending categories. The free plan allows you 12 total categories. Paid plans open up more categories. The categories include credit cards, car loan, food, gas, rent, utilities, and more. There’s also an auto-budgeting feature, where PocketSmith can automatically set up budgets by analyzing past transactions.

Through the budgeting features, you can start to make better plans for your finances. An interesting feature is that each category can have its own budget as well.

Get started with PocketSmith here.

Reports

Another feature that PocketSmith users love is viewing detailed reports. Every report is visually appealing and breaks down your finances in ways that are easy to understand. You can really see where your money is going and how to plan for the future. Reports include:

  • Trends
  • Net Worth
  • Income & Expenses
  • Financial Digest
  • Cashflow Statements

An additional type of report included in your account is the Timeline. Your Timeline is a history of your transactions. You can add notes, pictures, and attachments to your earning and spending history to create a journal of your activity. It’s wonderful being able to view all your finances coming and going. It allows you to see the bigger financial picture as well as all the day-to-day details you need.

Get your personalized reports here

Advisor Account

If you have a financial advisor, PocketSmith lets you invite your advisor to share access to your account. All you need to do is send an invitation from your account, giving your advisor to get access. Your advisor will require a PocketSmith account to get access to your account. They do not need to add data like bank account information to set up an account. A free account allows them to gain access to your account.

Once they accept, they will need to log into their PocketSmith account to begin managing your account. Currently, advisors will need to use the desktop version to view your account Advisor Access does not work with the app. At any time you can revoke advisor access in your account settings.

Learning Center

PocketSmith’s Learn Center is a hub of information on how to get started. It contains guides on how to use each of their features. Each guide includes a “Quick Answers” to answer all of your questions on setting up and using your account.

The Learning Center also includes video tutorials all in one place. The videos walk you through how to make the most of your PocketSmith account with guides on getting started, adding bank accounts, creating a budget, reports, and more.

Currently, in beta, PocketSmith can now track your assets and liabilities from different countries in one place with their multi-currency feature. Some of their features are available to keep track of multi-currency. You’re able to view your statements and reports in your primary currency. The Learning Center includes information and best practices for using this feature.

PocketSmith’s Mobile App

PocketSmith review

PocketSmith offers a companion mobile app on iOS and Android. Although it does not have all of the features of their desktop, it does allow you to set categories on the go as you add new transactions. You can also view all your balances and transactions from all your accounts in one app. This allows you to view all your finances without logging into multiple apps.

Is PocketSmith Safe?

People often worry about online security, especially when linking their banking accounts. It’s important to be sure you are using secure services for your finances. Your connection to PocketSmith is encrypted at all times. They also do not read or store any personal information when you upload information from your accounts. They only see the transactions themselves.

PocketSmith also uses a historically secure credit card processor when working with recurring payments. None of your credit card information is stored on PocketSmith’s servers at any time. PocketSmith has two-factor authentication on your account as well as multi-factor authentication on your bank feeds as an extra layer to keep your data and personal information safe.

PocketSmith vs YNAB

Another popular financial planning software is YNAB (You Need a Budget). We wanted to compare PocketSmith to YNAB to see how it stacks up. We start with costs because it’s often the deciding factor with financial software. PocketSmith has paid plans, but also offers a free plan. The free plan is often enough for many users. YNAB has a free 34-day trial, but after it ends the cost is $6.99/month.

Beyond the cost, both software solutions have similar features that allow budgeting, linking accounts, and expense tracking. With YNAB, there is one budget with multiple categories. As mentioned before, PocketSmith allows you to create a budget for each category too.

In terms of customer service, PocketSmith only offers support through email, not phone. YNAB doesn’t have phone or email support, but has live chat support. They also offer free webinars, a support forum, learning videos and articles, and more.

In the end, it probably comes down to cost and preference as to which one is better for managing your finances. PocketSmith and YNAB are both great options for people wanting to track their finances better.

How to Set Up PocketSmith (Step-by-Step Guide)

It’s easy to create a PocketSmith account. It takes less than a minute. Simply pick your plan (Basic, Premium, or Super) and then create a username and password.

Pocketsmith review

After creating an account, you can launch into a demo mode and learn how to navigate PocketSmith. The other option is to exit the demo and enter your account. Once you are in your account, you receive a simple 4-step checklist to get started:

  1. Import your bank accounts
  2. Categorize your transactions
  3. Create your budgets and forecasts
  4. See your personal digest

As you click on each step, PocketSmith guides you on how to accomplish that action. You even have the option to import files from your bank or other financial apps if you previously used a different one. Apps you can transfer financial information from include:

The time it takes to set up your account fully depends on the specific plan you start with as well as the amount of account importing you need. Either way, it’s not a long process considering the amount of information handled by PocketSmith. It won’t take long until you are in the driver’s seat of your financial future with PocketSmith.

Create your account with PocketSmith here

PocketSmith Plans and Pricing

As mentioned before, PocketSmith offers three plans currently:

Basic (Free): This plan allows manual importing. You have access to 12 budgets total and a range of six months’ projection. The basic plan allows 2 accounts.

Premium ($9.95/month or $90 annually): PocketSmith’s mid-range plan includes automatic bank feeds, auto and manual transaction imports, unlimited budgets, auto-categorization, 10 accounts, and 10 years’ projection.

Super ($19.95/month or $169.92 annually): This is PocketSmith’s premier plan. It includes all of the features in the Premium plan. It also allows unlimited accounts and 30 years’ projection.

Drawbacks to Using PocketSmith

PocketSmith has a lot going for it, but some users may not care for some functions. With the basic plan, all of the information has to be entered manually. This is great if you love doing the work and controlling the information being inputted into the software. If you are looking for a more automated approach, though, you’ll have to upgrade to one of the paid plans or look for a more suitable solution.

PocketSmith is missing the ability to pay bills within its software, which means you have to go outside of their program once you get bill pay reminders. Many of the of PocketSmith’s competitors, like Mint and Quicken, have bill pay capabilities. It would be nice if this function were to get added at some point to make it more of a financial one-stop-shop.

Another missing feature is the ability to monitor investments. This is a common feature in other financial software solutions.

While PocketSmith’s customer service is ok, they are based in New Zealand. This means their hours of availability to answer email inquiries are different for users based in America. Because it is email support and not phone support, this may not be a huge issue. Most people don’t expect instant support via email.

Another common issue for users seems to be trouble uploading XLS and CSV files from bank accounts, especially if they involve foreign currency. Compatibility issues may require changing some settings in the files to get them to work properly. This is more manual work just to load your financial information into software that’s meant to simplify your life.

Is PocketSmith Worth It?

While PocketSmith has tons of features and can help you manage your money better, many of those features are found in the paid plans. The free plan only allows you to connect two financial accounts. If you only need basic functions, this plan is a great idea. If you need more accounts connected, you’ll have to go with one of their paid plans.

PocketSmith ranks up there with other top financial software solutions. Figuring out if PocketSmith is the right choice for you will largely depend on your needs and willingness to pay for premium services. The great thing about PocketSmith is that there is a demo version available when you sign up for a free plan. Why not sign up and do a test run to see if it will work for you?

Get started with PocketSmith for free.

I'd been using YNAB to budget and it's great but I never knew this other tool, Pocketsmith existed. So glad I found this post I'm definitely going to check it out, I like the idea that it helps you forecast your spending and income making financial planning easier, I especially like that there is a free plan available! #budgeting #personalfinance #moneytips #moneytools #financialplanning #budgettools

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About Philip Taylor, CPA

Philip Taylor, aka "PT", is a CPA, blogger, podcaster, husband, and father of three. PT is also the founder and CEO of the personal finance industry conference and trade show, FinCon.

He created Part-Time Money® back in 2007 to share his advice on money, hold himself accountable (while paying off over $75k in debt), and to meet others passionate about moving toward financial independence.

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  1. David Wilcoxson says

    PocketSmith looks like a great tool, thanks for the tip, I’ll check it out. 🙂

  2. @GaelicWench – Thanks for sharing your budgeting method. What makes the most sense usually ends up making the most success.

    I appreciate you reading the blog and stopping by to comment.

  3. I have to admit that after trying out numerous types of budgeting tools, the calendar type makes the most sense to me. I currently use one on paper, listing upcoming expenses, and once they’re paid, I go to the next month and relist them. This is good for credit card payments if you can’t pay off the entire balance, and use the snowball method to pay down the cards. All the amounts but the one being paid off rapidly remains the same. It’s easy to budget that way.

    I did try PocketSmith, but not long enough to decide if it will work or not. Perhaps I should give it another shot. Thanks Phil. I truly appreciate all that you do to help someone like me to stay on track. 🙂

  4. The randomly selected winners of the Premium Memberships are: Patricia and Barry. I’ll email you guys shortly.

    The winner from Twitter is @CindyMorus

    Congrats! I hope you enjoy Pocketsmith!

  5. This looks like a great addition to the excel sheet I use.

  6. I’m not really sure how much this would benefit me compared to the Quicken program I use now, which also includes a calendar. I guess it might be nice to be able to access the information online from anywhere, but then, I can’t actually think of when I would need to do that. But it could be a nice option for people who don’t already have a program like quicken.

  7. I have been looking for a system to manage my money. I have considered Quicken and Mint, but this looks like a great option. I’ll check it out and see what I think. Thanks!

    Netanya
    Money Hackers Blog Ambassador

  8. Eric Poulin says

    This looks VERY similar to CalendarBudget, only not quite as polished.

  9. Interesting, thanks for the info. I’m feeling lucky!!

  10. I’ve always used a calendar to for expenses and income. I can’t wait to try this tool. I hope it’s something I can used instead of a excel spreadsheet!

  11. I’d love a chance to look at this software – I have yet to find something beyond Excel that keeps my attention

  12. Patricia Herman says

    I think I have found my system. I have read this site several times in the last couple of days. I struggle with organized systems but this one seems to use a calendar to keep me on track and that’s what I need. Signing up and hoping I win!!!

  13. The advantage is it’s calendar-based and forward-looking. You get projections, as far as a year out, on what your cash flow, savings, etc will be. Just a different way of approaching one’s understanding of their finances.

    The disadvantage right now, is that it doesn’t auto aggregate like Mint and Quicken Online.

  14. Looks like this is very similar to mint.com and Quicken Online (which had a pretty good “goals” feature), both of which are free. It looks pretty interesting, but what’s the advantage?

  15. Cindy Morus says

    This sounds like a fantastic tool. Easy, too, and probably the most important feature of all!