Overview of Safe balance

Beta feature

Safe balance is only currently available to those that have opted-into the beta program. If you aren't currently in the beta program, this guide shows how you can join: Becoming a beta tester in PocketSmith

If you have any feedback about the beta version of Safe balance, please send us a message.

The Safe balance feature adjusts selected balances to account for budgeted income and planned expenses that haven't happened yet, giving you a current balance that is safe-to-spend.

In this user guide

What Safe balance does

The Safe balance feature takes your current balance for an account and applies any unspent and unearned budget portions from current budgets to it, giving you the balance that is safe-to-spend, once all outstanding spending and earning is taken into account. 

This helps you to not spend money that is earmarked for something else. 

Example A:
Assume you have $250 in your checking account. There is $80 remaining of a $120 Grocery budget. This will mean that your Safe balance would be: $250 current balance, less the $80 remaining in your budget = $170 Safe Balance.   
Example B:
Extending from Example A, if you also had a $40 income budget planned that has not yet arrived, then your safe balance would be: $250 current balance, less the $80 Grocery budget, but plus $40 credit = $210 Safe balance.

How rollover budgets affect Safe balance

For any rollover enabled budgets included in Safe balance, the unearned/unspent portion of a previous budget still applies to your Safe balance when the budget event repeats.  

For example, if you had $80 remaining in your previous $120  Grocery budget, this amount would rollover and be applied to the current Grocery budget event, and in turn, be included in your Safe balance calculations giving you an overall budget amount of $200.

For regular budgets, the unearned/unspent portion is not carried over, and the Safe balance calculation will only take into account the current budget amount. 


How to configure Safe balance

The Safe balance feature is activated on a per-account basis. We'd recommend that you turn it on for transactional accounts only (e.g. bank and credit card accounts), particularly those containing your variable budgets. 

You'll also need to select the budget categories you want to be included in the Safe balance calculations. For example, you may want to exclude all income from your Safe balance or remove your annual Mechanical budget because it is less relevant for your day-to-day expenditure.

Steps to activate Safe balance

1
Head to User Preferences ( Profile menu > User preferences)
2
In the side-menu select Safe balance
3
Select the accounts that you want to activate Safe balance for     
4

Then, select the categories that you want to include in the Safe balance calculation

5
Click  Save

Once saved, your forecast will recalculate, and you'll see the Safe balance information pop-up next to your balances throughout the app - more on this below.


What Safe balance looks like in PocketSmith

For all Safe balance-activated accounts, the safe balance will display in place of the original current balance for the account throughout the app. 

To view a pop-up containing the original balance for the account, click on the balance. 

Viewing a breakdown of the Safe balance calculation

For a breakdown of how the Safe balance figure has been calculated, click on the informational tool tip beside the Safe balance in the pop-up

  1. The heavy black line represents your account balance as it's adjusted to become the Safe balance.
  2. This is your original balance, which is the balance of your account as of today.
  3. This column is your pending expenses, which is the total of your unspent current expense budgets within this account.
  4. This column is your pending income, which is the total unearned income within the account.
  5. This is the final Safe balance for the account. This is the amount of money you'll have today if all included budgeted expenditure and earning happened immediately.
  6. Each section can be clicked on to see what budget the section relates to. All budgets that contribute less than 5% are clustered together.
  7. Also featured is the amount remaining in the budget, and a 'hide' link, which removes the entire category from all Safe Balance calculations. This can be reactivated by editing the category.

Things to be aware of

The Original balance

The Original balance shown will generally be your current account balance for up-to-date bank feed accounts. For out-of-date or manually updated accounts, the balance taken will be today's Forecast balance.
It is important that the Safe balance adjustments be made as of today because the outstanding amounts are calculated based on spending up to and including today.

Be selective in the accounts you include

It pays to carefully curate the accounts you want to be included in Safe balance calculations. All accounts are de-activated by default and need to be turned on manually to activate the feature. We recommend that only transactional accounts (such as checking accounts) have Safe balance activated.

It pays to exclude categories

In testing, we found that it's best to exclude some categories from your Safe balance categories, especially if you have long-running budgets set up (for example, large annual budgets for Car Maintenance). Large-amount, long-running budgets can significantly skew your Safe balance numbers. 

Generally, we'd recommend that the categories included in Safe balance calculations are regularly occurring budgets and bills only.


Quirks and known issues

Safe balance is a beta feature, meaning you can expect there to be bugs and quirks. We'll be continuing to work on the feature and fixing up issues as we go. 

This is a complicated feature, and we'd love your feedback on what works and what doesn't. If you do have any feedback or come across any issues not described here, get in touch with us!

Both actual and original balance will appear in tooltips

In the tooltips for your balances (an example is shown below), both ' Actual' and 'Original' appear in the calendar if your balances are up-to-date as of today. This occurs for debugging purposes, and you should find that these two numbers are always the same.

Assigning transactions to Safe balance categories requires additional processing

Assigning transactions to Safe balance categories requires that the Safe balance information of the forecast is recalculated. Though this should be a quick action, further improvements will enhance how this functions. If you notice that categorizing has become significantly slower for you due to the Safe balance feature, please get in touch with us.

Only repeating budgets are included

For a budget to be included in Safe balance, it must have a regular repeat interval. A series of one-off budgets will not work. 

While this may be something we look to include in the future, at the moment, only repeating budgets will be included. Do let us know if you spot anything odd!

No smart defaults for category Safe balance settings

Nothing clever yet happens to determine whether a category should be included as a Safe balance category. By default, all categories are excluded, and you'll need to select the categories you would like to include in Safe balance as shown here: How to configure Safe balance

We'd love to improve upon this in some way, so any feedback is welcome.

Categories are hidden from Safe balance globally

When you hide a category, it's done for all accounts, not on a per-account level. This greatly simplifies how category inclusion in safe balance is processed in the back-end. Do let us know if this is causing you issues; internally, it hasn't been troublesome.

Minimum balance alerts and Safe balance

Minimum balance alerts on the Dashboard are based upon Safe balance rather than on the account's current actual balance. Read more about setting up these alerts check out: Setting minimum balance alerts for my accounts

However, if you are using the new Dashboard preview, it's important to note that, currently, the balance alert widget is based upon an account's current actual balance rather than Safe balance.

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