The 'Scenario balance' option
The scenario balance option is for when you don't want the balance of the account to be based on transactions but instead on budget events in the Calendar.
Each account you manage in PocketSmith comes with a Primary Scenario that contains your scheduled budgets, and consequently, the account's forecast (its future closing balances).
By default, PocketSmith begins the Primary Scenario's forecast from the account's closing balance. This ensures that the account's future cash position is a constant reflection of its current position.
All additional scenarios belonging to an account are Secondary Scenarios. Their balances aren't linked to the account, and have an additive/subtractive effect on the account's forecast. Secondary Scenarios are used to model 'what-if scenarios' to see how a proposed set of scheduled budgets or payments would impact your financial forecast.
Meaningful account balances for 'Scenario-only' accounts
The 'Scenario balance' option was designed for accounts with no transactions, and only scheduled budgets. This is because we have users who choose to manage their finances only by manipulating their forecast, without the need for uploading and categorizing actual bank transactions.
These accounts are called 'Scenario-only' accounts, and are virtual representations of their real-world counterparts. Some users choose to create broad scenarios with repeating budgets for key categories and payments; others choose to schedule all expected payments, and change them once they've passed.
In the situation above, a 'Scenario balance' prevents the account's closing balance from either:
- Permanently displaying $0.00 - or
- Permanently displaying the balance initially given to the account, which doesn't change,
because a Scenario-only account has no transactions.
Scenario-only accounts have the 'Scenario balance' option selected by default, when the account is created. If you have an existing account that requires this option, you can change it in the balance settings menu for an account.
Keeping your actual and forecast balances separate
The 'Scenario balance' option also provides typical users with the opportunity to 'unlink' a scenario balance from an account's closing balance, even when the account has transactions in it.
This means that the account in question will have two separate Current Balances: one for its transactions, and one for its scenario.
When the 'Scenario balance' option is selected, the account displays the balance of the account's Primary Scenario in the Account Summary, as well as the sidebar of the Calendar, Merchants and Bank Statements pages.
When would this be suitable to use?
If you have an account with up-to-date transactions and scheduled budgets in your scenario, you may choose to keep your scenario and account balances separate for a couple of reasons:
- You want to work to your original budget and forecast
Your forecast is a roadmap for where you want your finances to be. As such, you want to know how far ahead/below forecast you are so you can correct your course as you go.
Selecting the 'Scenario balance' option keeps you focused on your plan, and you can compare your actuals (brown line) versus forecast (green line) in the financial lifeline chart, as well as by switching calendar modes .
- Your account takes a while to reflect recent payments
Your financial institution may take a few days to display payment transactions and updated account balances, either in exported transaction files as well as the Live Feed. As a result, your forecast remains optimistic even though you've already made payments.
Select the 'Scenario balance' option allows you to work to your forecast. This means that if you pay your bills as you've scheduled them in your scenario, the scenario balance immediately reflects the change.
We're designing a feature that will address this situation. It's called 'Bills and Income', and is effectively a budget customised for discrete payments. Scheduled bills will remain in your forecast until reconciled with their actual payment, therefore marking them as 'paid'.
We have more details about this feature on our roadmap .
We discourage the use of this option unless you understand how this option can benefit you, as the displayed balances may otherwise be misleading.