How to use PocketGuard?
So, you decided to take your finances under control. Great! Take two simple steps with PocketGuard and you are good to go!
Step 1: Connect accounts and set up recurring payments 💰
What's next? First of all, you need to connect your checking, credit, and savings accounts, as this is what makes your budgeting smarter. We can tell you what you're spending, where to save, and remind you when your credit card bills are due. The more accounts you link the smarter your budgeting will be.
Afterward, double-check we detected your Recurring Bills and Income correctly. We do this automatically with the help of a sophisticated algorithm, but no one is perfect. This part of the set-up is crucial, as bills and paychecks are at the heart of every budget.
To find out what should be added as Bills and Income, please read the articles:
Step 2: Check your monthly, weekly and daily budget with "In My Pocket" (mobile apps only) 💸
Now your "In My Pocket" is ready. This feature is the jewel of PocketGuard. Its unique algorithm makes calculations based on your bills, income, savings goals' contributions, and ongoing expenses and shows how much money is left over for everyday spending.
You will find "In My Pocket" at the top of the Overview tab and can see the spendable amount for a month or a day. You'll find more information about "In My Pocket" further in this article.
PocketGuard best features:
Now the real fun begins. We're gonna tell you about PocketGuard's best features that will help you to track money, analyze your expenses and spend less.
1. In My Pocket 💎
Simply put, "In My Pocket" shows how much money is left for everyday spending after all your bills and subscriptions are paid.
"In My Pocket" is calculated like this:
Income - bills - Goals - Spending&Budgets = IN MY POCKET
We recommend checking your "In My Pocket" daily or at least before shopping - it will rescue you from all those impulse purchases that add up to overspending.
By the way, "In My Pocket" starts over on the 1st of every month. And even if you get your paycheck on 15th, we made the algorithm so smart that your numbers will still be correct.
You might want to read this article to find out more about this amazing feature - In My Pocket.
2. Transactions 💸
As you know, PocketGuard automatically pulls out transactions from your accounts when you link them to the app. You can view the full list of transactions from all connected accounts on the Transactions tab. In case you don't want to see transactions from any given account, you can find out how to hide it here - How to hide an account.
As we pull out your transactions, they are automatically divided into various categories, depending on the merchant concerned. Unfortunately, the system sometimes identifies a merchant or category incorrectly. We are working on improving the algorithm, yet, for now, what you should do first is to check if all your merchants and categories have been correctly identified.
To change the category of a transaction, just open its details, tap its category and choose the new one. PocketGuard will also learn from your preferences as it goes along.
If the current number of categories is not enough given the diversity of your financial lifestyle, you can create your own custom categories. Choose an icon and enter the name and voila. The option is available for Plus members (you see, we have bills to pay as well).
More info: Adding your own categories
Change posted dates
Feel free to choose any date for your transactions till January 1, 2014 (the day we've launched PocketGuard!)
More info: Change the date of the transaction.
If you wish to have a better overview of your transactions, create customized spending trends, convert data into graphs and charts using MS Excel or Google Sheets tools, you can now download your transaction history in a CSV format.
More info: Export transactions
Cash transactions and ATM deposits/withdrawals
You can create cash transactions manually and the system will automatically calculate your cash account balance.
If you get your income or pay bills using cash, PocketGuard can recognize this as well, just make sure the merchant you add is similar to the name of your Bill / Income.
More info: Cash transactions
If automatic categorization is not enough for you, you can add granularity to your spending with #hashtags. Just add a hashtag in the note field of a transaction and check reports for the hashtags...
For example, you love to travel. Every trip includes loads of expenses that will be falling into different categories: hotel booking, flight tickets, restaurants, gifts, etc. This way it's hard for you to track the total spendings for that trip to Paris.
But not with Mr. Hashtag to the rescue! Just put #Paris in the note on the transactions and check the report on the Insights tab.
More information about the super-tool here - #Hashtags.
3. Spending pie-chart 📈
Now you can go ahead and analyze your spendings. The perfect tool for this purpose is our spending pie-chart. It shows all the expenses you've incurred over the current month divided into categories. It's the best way to see where your money goes.
Warning: some amounts might come as a shock: "Did I really spend that much on Alcohol & Bars last month?!" Yes, you did.
Not to worry, lower down on the list you will find a feature that will help you to take charge of your crazy spending habits.
Read more about the feature here - Spending pie-chart.
4. Goals 🐖
Whether you want to save money or pay off debt, it’s easier to do with Goals!
Right now, it may be hard to believe that you could be saving a little something every month, but you should try. You could make your monthly contribution as little as $30 this month. Any amount will incentivize you to become more frugal and make smarter financial decisions.
Choose a goal account and link it to your Goal. We will track the Goal progress and deduct monthly contributions from In My Pocket.
Read more - Goals.
5. Category budgets ⛔
Here's an amazing feature that will help you stop overspending.
People always crave more, and sometimes it's hard for us to stop spending: we buy that sixteenth pair of shoes, order another pizza or grab another coffee on our way to the office.
All these extra expenses total up to an impressive amount that you could be saving.
It's time to set limits! Go to Spending & Budgets, think a little, and create a spending budget for each category you'd like to cut back on. This way you can set aside enough money for essentials, like food and transportation, or set yourself an allowance for unnecessary spending. So next time you think of ordering Chinese, check how much you have left to spend for "Eating out": Maybe it will make you change your mind.
Besides, you will get notified when you are about to cross the line so that you could stop before it's too late. 😉
More information about the feature - Category budgets.
6. Find savings 💡
To help you save even more, we have gathered together the best financial services that can lower your bills, pay off your loans, cancel unwanted subscriptions, improve your credit score, get rebates on shopping, and more.
Answer a few questions about yourself in the Profile section and you'll receive the offers that are tailor-made for you.
Check for the recommended services in the Find Savings tab.
Budgeting is great, but it takes more than that to improve your finances, so don't miss the opportunity to discover more ways to save. 😉
Despite PocketGuard is FREE, some of the features like Autosave and custom categories are available on the Plus plan. So if all our free Basic features are still not enough for you, try PocketGuard Plus.
OK! Looks like now you know it all. And remember that your desire to be financially healthy is the most important thing about budgeting and PocketGuard will always be on standby.