PocketSmith User Review

November 27, 2009

PocketSmith is an online personal finance software tool that uses a calendar based approach to planning your finances.  One of the PocketSmith co-founders, Francois Bondiguel, asked me if I’d like to try out the software and write up a PocketSmith review. 

Since I have too much on my plate already I declined. However, since I think the concept behind PocketSmith is a pretty useful one I asked Francois if there were any current users I could interview about their experience with the software.

Francois introduced me to Sam Law, a member of the original beta test group from New Zealand that has given the PocketSmith founders an enormous amount of feedback and helped shape the direction of the personal finance software.  Here are the questions I had for him and his answers:

1) Tell us more about the beta test group and the role it’s played in adding functionality to PocketSmith.
The guys at PocketSmith have certainly made sure their users play a big part in where the tool could go, it’s great to get the warm fuzzy feeling of suggesting something then seeing it in the application a number of days/weeks later.

I’m probably simultaneously the best/worst customer for any software company, having worked in a web-based software company, but it really gave me the ability to articulate the things I didn’t like about the software, to make it really easy to get the point across.

During the beta it was a regular occurrence to see multiple updates a week, adding and improving new functionality as well as fixing the occasional bug, and now that it’s open and paid for they’ve implemented UserVoice which means the customer base can directly suggest and vote on new ideas for the tool, which personally I love.

2) What features of PocketSmith do you tell your friends & family about?
The ability to forecast into the future, it’s the key reason I love Pocketsmith; I’m yet to see any other tool do it properly. I’m the budgeting type, as an example to decide whether to make my lunch at home or buy it at work I added each option into Pocketsmith. The fact I can see a literal saving after a year (by comparing my balance with each option) makes me much more likely to action it, instead of a vague “well it will save me money to do option A…”

I’ve actually got to the point now where I don’t check my bank account to know how much money I have, I just check my Pocketsmith account.

3) What PocketSmith feature could use some improving or enhancing?
The option to upload your bank account statement to match actual transactions against budgeted. The reason I have an issue with it is less the fault of PocketSmith and more the fact that my bank doesn’t export details in any sort of easily discernible format, and to make matters worse, multiple banks display things a different way.

I’d love to be able to have it automatically pull in bank details, but in New Zealand (where I am) our banks don’t yet have that ability. (or at least I’m not aware of anyone able to use it other than Xero, and that costs a large fee).

Certainly it could be made more user friendly, but it’s less of a concern with me because I’m more into the ability to forecast instead of analyze.

4) PocketSmith has three different plans: Free, Premium, & Super. Which one do you use? Have you been in the same plan the whole time?
Something I love about the plans is instead of just deciding on them, they actually sent out a 10 minute what/if form that influenced the plans, ensuring there was something that fit most of their users. Originally I sat on Premium because I wanted a years forecasting and I have a lot of events in my calenders, but I’ve now switched up to Super after adding in all my accounts at different financial organisations.

I’m super happy with the pricing, I use PocketSmith to look after all my finances so the figure is minute in comparison to the time it saves me not having to wrange something in Excel (what I used to use)

5) Have you tried some of the other online personal finance tools, like Mint.com and Wesabe.com?   How do they compare to PocketSmith?
Mint.com I’m not actually able to use because I’m in New Zealand, which is a shame because it looks amazing, I actually use Wesabe alongside PocketSmith at the moment. I actually see them as categorically different tools to me, at least in how I use them. PocketSmith is for looking into the future, Wesabe is about looking into the past.

I certainly think with very little effort PocketSmith could improve upon Wesabe’s functionality, especially after Wesabe burned their users by removing 90% of the functionality that made the tool useful (grr!).

6) Have you used any of the mobile functionality like the mobile app, twitter updates, and text messaging?
I have used the mobile app, and I think it’s great for keeping up to date with everything on the go. As for twitter/text messaging I haven’t really used it a whole lot because I’m always close to a full computer.

I would certainly use the mobile app more, but New Zealand has a very uncompetitive market on data, and at $1 per day for only 10mb of data, it’s just too cost prohibitive (when you take into account the fact I would use it multiple times a day).

7) Any final words for people that are considering giving PocketSmith a try?
If you’re like me and you need something that can tell you where you will be financially in 6 months, then PocketSmith is hands down the best tool you’ll find, depending on your needs it could be absolutely free, but even if you have to pay, time is money and PocketSmith saves a lot of it.

Thanks to Sam Law for his review of the PocketSmith personal finance software! If you’d like to check out the free version click here.

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Ben

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Ben
Ben Edwards, the founder of Money Smart Life, saved up enough to buy a Nintendo back when he was 12 years old. When he used the money to buy shares of Wal-Mart stock instead, he knew he wasn't like the other kids... His addiction to personal finance has paid off for his family and now he's helping you to afford the life that you want. Check him out on the web at Google Plus, Twitter and Facebook.

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