Telling Friends About Pocketbook Is Now Easier

Personal finance topics like buying shares and saving for a house are common Sunday barbecue conversations with family or friends. Certainly, whenever there’s a cheap airline promo, emails make the rounds pretty quickly among my mates.

Talking to our customers, we’ve learnt that Pocketbook is starting to creep into these conversations too.

Users have recommended Pocketbook when friends tell them about their savings goals, or how they’re struggling to save. Others have spread the word simply because they were so impressed by how easy Pocketbook was to use.

Pocketbook Invite a Friend

So to make inviting friends easier, we’ve added a blue “Invite a Friend” button on the menu bar. All you need is your friend’s email address for a friendly invitation to be sent.

This also allows your friend to get started right away. Skipping our current beta waiting time.

Happy inviting!

Bosco

Am I “normal” in the way I spend?

As I use Pocketbook to breakdown my spending habits, I can’t help but wonder; Am I ‘normal’ in the way I spend? Do I save enough?

For peace of mind, I started to scour the Internet for answers. Here’s a few reference points I found that helped.

Spending in buckets, not bucket-loads of spending

In September, ASIC (the body that regulates companies in Australia) put together this infographic on the average spending habits of Australians, at different life stages (see below). This is a great starting point to check whether or not my buckets of spending are at the right size.

ASIC moneysmart infographic

What about savings?

The “Household Saving Rate” (total savings vs total income) is used to help economists understand consumer confidence (where less saving = more spending = more money circulating in the economy). I found this to be a simple way to compare my saving habits against the rest of Australia.

Interestingly, today’s Household Saving Rate is around 10-15% of income – which is a 30 year high, having risen quickly from all time lows of 5% during the mid 2000s. Recent uncertainty in the economy being the big contributor to consumers being cautious.

With this in mind, a target of 15% seems like the sensible place to benchmark.

Some simple maths

These numbers gave me the simple tools to compare myself against what’s considered “normal” today. So without boring you with detailed decimals, here is an example.

If you’re under 35 year old, single and taking home $1,000 a week, you should be targeting the following:
 
Save $150 a week
 
Spend:
   under $300 a week on rent / mortgage
   around $100 a week on groceries
   under $150 a week on cars and trains
   around $130 on recreation, entertainment and alcohol

 
How do you compare?

The best way to budget is to use these as future goals and slowly start to change spending behaviour based on history. As always, Pocketbook is the easiest way to track and catagorise past spending. Most of the work is done automatically. You can try it here. It took me only minutes.

And for the record, my benchmark tells me I’ve got A LOT to work on…

Bosco

Infographic via ASIC, moneysmart.gov.au

Sunday Update – Best Consumed While Having Breakfast/Coffee

Keeping up-to date on your accounts/bills/finances is difficult for the best of us. Trying to do this regularly is something most people dread.

So we built something that would do it for you.

We’re calling it ‘Your Sunday Update’ – it’s an email we send out around 9:30-10am on Sunday to our users. But not just any email – it’s a snapshot of your last week and your upcoming week – in byte sized chunks.

We know that people don’t want to spend too much of their prized ‘Sunday time’ going over their accounts but people do want to feel in control. So the challenge was to provide succinct information that people would find empowering and could be consumed in a minute or so.

We’ve kept it very minimalist and bloat free. Everything is clickable so for the people that do want more info on a particular item – it’s just a click-away.

All in couple of minutes – on Sunday morning while your enjoying your breakfast and coffee outside in the Sydney sun.

Alvin

From corporate salary to startup bootstrap

Joining Pocketbook last week forced me to make a significant lifestyle choice – no more corporate salary. This meant some serious financial belt tightening was required so I could support myself.

I have a pretty complex financial situation; accounts with a few banks, 2 credit cards and some investment mortgages. I’ve always done okay using Excel, putting in some grunt work to help me understand whether I could afford to buy the car, or get a mortgage before these important purchases.

In this case however, the thought of doing this analysis weekly myself so I can track and change my spending behaviour is something I dreaded.

Using Pocketbook

Pocketbook is great because it segments my spending into different areas – without me doing that hard-work. I can then drill down and work out what the spending is and if I can potentially cut back in that area.

Using this, I quickly zoned in on my discretionary spending and started to target some easy fixes to reduce overall weekly spending by 25%. All without significantly changing my lifestyle.

So out of this, I’ve set myself 4 simple steps:

Cutting 1 night of going out each week – I spend way too much on “Entertainment”. By cutting out 1 night, I can reduce 20% in this category.

Sending daily deals emails to a special folder – I’m pretty bad with jumping on emailed deals on a whim, buying too much online. So now, all these emails go to a special folder, out of sight, out of mind. I’m targeting a 70% reduction in “Ecommerce”.

Getting on a pushbike – I spend a lot of money on petrol these days. Now that I’m working from our home office (‘Silicon Creek’!), within biking distance away, I’ve dusted off the old pushbike. I think this can save me 30% on “Car & Travel”.

Making my own lunches – Most of my “Personal” spending is on lunch money. If I cut most of these and replace it with an extra 20% spent on groceries, that should cover lunches. Besides, a Woolies just opened up right next door!

Budgeting feature coming soon

We’re hard at work here at Pocketbook building out our next big feature – budgeting. We believe the best way to start budgeting is to start with historical spending and make adjustments. Just like how I’ve set the above 4 steps for myself.

As always – our number one goal is to keep it ridiculous simple.

Bosco

Twitter love and new features announcement

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been working towards our raison d’être of making managing your finances “ridiculously simple”. It’s been great to hear feedback from some of our early users about their experience.

You’ve told us via Twitter:

“The banking integration / synchronisation on @getpocketbook is outstanding”

“This @getpocketbook this is awesome! Great way to keep track of where money is going”

“@getpocketbook awesome UI and product”

You’ve also told us via email:

“Loving your product so far! Great work!”

“Early impressions of Pocketbook have been very good, really fast and simple UX”

Thanks for all the great support and excitement about the Pocketbook.

If you’ve signed up, we’re working as fast as we can to activate you, thank you for your patience. If you haven’t signed up, sign up here to see what all the fuss is about.

Some new features

As part of our ongoing march towards simplicity with your money, we’ve added a few things to the product.

We hope you like it! More to come soon.

Bosco

An end to missing bills

It’s an awesome feeling to have an ‘aha’ moment after you push out a critical piece of a product and see it working right off the bat. I had one of those moments last Friday when we put the final lines of code into our ‘bill predictions’ feature. Below is the picture I saw. Initially I actually thought there was an error in the code/data.

Pocketbook was telling me that I was over a week late in paying a Telstra bill. Not only was Pocketbook detecting that I had missed the bill, it was telling me the total amount I was missing.

Immediately I searched and found in my email the Telstra e-bill and yes – it had actually been due and I hadn’t paid it this month. And it really was $22.95!

I had simply forgotten – they had sent it over 30 days earlier and I’d lost track of it.

Bill Prediction

So it’s exciting to launch our bill prediction feature to help keep you on top of your bills. Based on the your previous bill payments, we’ll do some heavy lifting to determine when the next bill is due and how much it is likely to be. You’ll see these colour coded in blue in the calendar (e.g. 1st picture last row). Your previously paid bills are show in green and missed bills will show in a hi-vis orange. Easy.

In the coming weeks we also plan to roll out notifications built around our bills feature so stay tuned.

When my partner sees letters coming in the mail with words such as “Overdue Payment” or “Please pay immediately”, I know I’m not going to be in her good books. It’s not that I don’t want to pay – it’s just hard to keep track of when and how much to pay. Pocketbook now takes care of that. And you.

Alvin

How much did you spend on your car last year?

This was the question I asked the 1,000 strong audience at the SydStart event last Monday. There weren’t many hands up.

Why is it that so few people know? Well, a hazardous guess would be that people just really don’t care. And in lean-startup fashion – how do you verify this? By talking to people! It quickly becomes evident that they do care. The real problem here is that it’s too hard to work out – at least with the current set of traditional tools at your disposal – receipts, bank transactions, spreadsheets etc.

And that formed the basis for our pitch to SydStart – we make it ridiculously simple to manage your money.

And it resonated with the audience. Many people came up to me after the 5 minute pitch to find out more about what we were doing. Although we didn’t win (shout out to the winners ProcessGo), it was great to get Pocketbook in-front of an audience.

What we really wanted from SydStart was early users – and we got that in spades. Building a startup for a long period without getting actual users is a terrible idea.

How do you know they will like it? How will they use it? Do they find it useful? These are the questions we are trying to answer. So if anyone is reading – go to your address bar – type getpocketbook.com – press enter. Hopefully you get delighted by what you see. If you are not delighted please let us know! Feedback tab on the right.

So if you’re wondering how much you spent on your car last year. We’ll help you answer that. And we’ll tell you much you spent on your fuel, insurance and repairs.

Here’s my spending straight out of Pocketbook for last year (took me 15 secs from sign-in to get this info!).

Parking: $59
Insurance: $1045
Fuel: $791
Other Costs: $797

Total: $2692

Alvin

Pocketbook

After putting many many man hours of work into the now named Pocketbook, we finally managed to ship this week.

What is it and what are we doing?

Trying to manage one’s own finances is hard at the best of times. It is none the more evident during tax time when your scrambling around trying to find invoices and receipts to work out your deductions. In Australia, we passed the end of financial year a few weeks ago, so it was out of this that Pocketbook was born.

We are trying to make managing your personal finances less painful. And without having to be a rocket scientist. The goal is to make it a frictionless and pleasant experience.

We are starting with connecting with your bank. Banks generally don’t do a great job at giving you insights into your spending. Some banks give you monthly statements giving you a very generic overview – but this has quite a limited use. Pocketbook is much much more powerful with features around auto-categorisation & tagging, searching and bill detection.

Currently we are supporting the major banks in Australia including Commonwealth Bank, Westpac, ANZ, NAB and St George.

If you want to give it a try, just go to our website at Pocketbook and signup.

This is just the beginning and we plan on bringing some innovation into this space.

Happy 0′th Birthday Pocketbook!