I wouldn’t call myself an impulsive spender but I am frequently attracted to shiny objects at the mall more often than I should be and I was looking for a way to forecast the impact of unplanned purchases on my bank account. A search through the App Store revealed Balance Forecasting by indie developer Robert Chitoiu, an app that focuses on tracking your bills and income and forecasting your balance well into the future. I’ve been using it for several months now and have found it to be an incredibly useful app with only a few minor issues.
Getting set up to use Balance Forecasting takes a little bit of effort but is well worth it. For each account you want to track, you must manually enter your recurring bills and income in the Money tab. The frequency of recurring items can be weekly, biweekly, monthly, yearly, or a custom schedule and you can also set an end date to stop recurring items at a point in the future.
You can also enter one-time expenses and income as they occur. There are fields for all items where you can make additional notes and flag items as important (which highlights them in other views) and even switch on reminders, which are controlled in the app’s settings, to get a push notification alert or email when income or a bill is due.
Once you’ve set up these items for each account you want to track, the Forecast screen will show you a running balance for up to four years into the future based on what you’ve entered. You can also access a Chart view from this screen which shows you a line graph of your balance over time.
The Forecast screen is where the money is (see what I did there?) for me. I use this screen and the Chart view to see the impact of any unexpected expenses or impulse purchases on my primary checking account and it has proved to be a fantastic tool. It has made me more mindful of my expenditures and helps me plan ahead for major purchases I want to make.
The app offers additional settings like a passcode option to protect your information from prying eyes. Chitoiu also offers an automatic online back-up/synchronization option to keep your data in sync across multiple devices. And, Chitoiu has created a version of Balance Forecasting for the Mac, available in the Mac App Store, which also works with the online synchronization option and offers the same features (minus the handy chart view) as the iOS version.
There is one important limitation to the sync feature: it is not 2-way sync and utilizes only the most recent version of your data to overwrite what you have saved on other devices. In other words, if you make edits in the app on both the iPhone and Mac, the changes you make most recently in one instance of the app will overwrite the information in the other.
While I have Balance Forecasting for the Mac as well, I have encountered an issue where it doesn’t quite sync up exactly with the information shown in the app on my iPhone, which is where I use the app most often. Also, while completely functional, the app doesn’t have a very polished or customizable interface, though this is not an issue for me given how well the app fits my needs.
There have been a few bugs here and there and Chitoiu has been responsive in addressing them. For example, I had noticed that the Paid button didn’t work when viewing an individual item in the Forecast list view and he had responded to my email promptly and addressed it in the next app update.
If you’re looking for a full-fledged financial tracking app that will handle multiple accounts, budgets, and analyze your financial status seven ways from Sunday, Balance Forecasting is not for you (though you may want to check out Catamount Software’s PocketMoney). But if you’re looking for something to track balances for one or two accounts to keep a close eye on the impact of bills and expenses on your bottom line, Balance Forecasting is fantastic and earns a full recommendation from me.
Balance Forecasting for the iPhone costs only $.99. There is a free version as well that is ad-supported but when the full version without ads is already under $1.00, my recommendation is to just go for the paid version. Knowing what I do now about how well Balance Forecasting works, I would have paid much, much more for it and $.99 is a bargain-basement price.
You can find more information at balanceforecastingapp.me, including full descriptions of the features of the iOS and Mac versions and a link to walk-through video of the Mac version.