Running a Household of Five on a Budget With PocketSmith

Mike is the software engineer responsible for the parts of PocketSmith that you can see and interact with. See how he uses PocketSmith as chief family budget planner to run a lean household budget.

We asked our team to share with us how they use PocketSmith to manage their finances and plan ahead. We hope their stories give you ideas and inspiration about how you too, could use PocketSmith to build meaningful relationships with your money. If you have any questions, feel free to ask us – we’re always happy to help!

Meet Mike! He’s the software engineer responsible for the parts of PocketSmith that you can see and interact with. Mike builds new features, fixes bugs, and adds some magic to make PocketSmith a joy to use.

What do you primarily use PocketSmith for?

Managing the family budget (good lord, that sounds dull).

How has PocketSmith changed the way you do money?

Oh wow, where do I even start? Before PocketSmith, my wife and I had shared accounts and no budget whatsoever. We didn’t really watch where our money went, though fortunately we were pretty good at not spending beyond our means. But saving was hard. I would put away whatever I could at the end of each week but it wasn’t a lot.

Nowadays though we also have 3 young kids to provide for. I set up a simple budget on PocketSmith a few years ago and over time I’ve turned it into an incredibly effective household budget. This meant that at times when things were hard, like when my wife wasn’t working and the cost of childcare really started to pinch, we could identify areas where we could cut back our spending while still having enough leftover to go out from time to time or to put away into savings.

Through PocketSmith I also discovered that we could manage our budget even more effectively by using more than one main bank account. We now have separate accounts for things like groceries and bills, along with automatic transfers into those accounts (including the savings account) each week. This means we no longer have to worry about whether there will be enough money left in the account to pay our bills, let alone having money left over for savings — our discretionary funds are in a separate account entirely so it’s nearly impossible to accidentally overspend.

What pages/features in PocketSmith do you use most?

The Budget and Trends pages are where I go to check how our budget is going. From time to time I’ll adjust it a little bit to account for changes in our income or spending habits. I also find the Income & Expense report very helpful to identify areas where we’re overspending, and I use the Digest to compare our progress month-by-month.

How often do you log in?

About once a week in order to categorize transactions, and roughly once a month to have a more thorough look at our budget.

Any tips?

Having transactions correctly categorized is a crucial first step, and so I highly recommend setting up filters and category rules to apply categories automatically wherever possible.

Second to that, I definitely recommend spending the time to get your budget set up. It took me a little while before I felt that our budget was set up effectively, but once it was budget management suddenly became incredibly easy and I no longer worry about money like I used to.

Related articles

3 Tips for Keeping to a Budget
Keeping a budget is a bit like owning a pet tiger. It can be beautiful, powerful and hungry, but it needs love and care to thrive. While a budget is a key part of personal finance, it can be difficult to maintain, so here are some tips on how to stick to your budget like a pro.
How I Use PocketSmith to Talk to My Family About Money
Couples who talk about money with each other have stronger relationships. The same applies to families! Ruth The Happy Saver shares how she uses PocketSmith’s tools to help have productive financial conversations with her family!
Rollover Budgeting in PocketSmith
Rollover budgeting is a popular exercise in personal finance that allows flexibility in your monthly budget by rolling unspent or overspent amounts from previous months into your current budget period. Check out how you can use the rollover budgeting feature in PocketSmith, when to use it, and why it might be more useful than you think.