Getting Started with Foresight
Here's how to get up and running with Foresight budgeting using transaction reminders
Foresight uses your configured transaction reminders to figure out your future spending and to review your past spending. Transaction reminders are a lot like budget items, only more specific in that they specify an account and have more flexible scheduling possibilities. Transaction reminders can also be entered automatically into the account register at the right time.
To really get the most out of Foresight, create transaction reminders for everything you expect to be coming in, going out or moving between accounts. Everything. Even if its a one-off transaction. Even if it varies a little in frequency or amount. The closer your transaction reminders represent the reality of your transactions the more accurate Foresight’s predictions will be.
With your transaction reminders set up, it’s time to see how much money you’ll have in the future. In Moneydance, select the
Tools -> Foresight Forecast menu.
The first time you open it you should see it generate a forecast for all your bank accounts and credit cards.
You can adjust the settings at the bottom of the window. Select from the available accounts the ones you want to see a forecast for, choose the 'Future Period' and click Calculate.
This part is really important. Your forecast is only reliable if your reminders are in line with your actual spending. If you’re new to Moneydance you won’t have much transaction history to track but keep an eye on it over time to make sure your forecast is trustworthy.
The chart view gives a visual representation of your account balances over time.
This view contains a table of all the transactions that will occur during the selected future period.
This view contains a breakdown of your projected income and spending in each category, displayed in a tree table that matches the hierarchical structure of your categories.
Both the Forecaster and the Reminder Review have corresponding widgets that you can add to the Moneydance Summary page. Great for seeing at a glance if you’re on track.
To add the Summary page widgets, select
File -> Preferences (or
Moneydance -> Preferences on a Mac. Choose the 'Summary Page' tab, where you can include widgets for 'Foresight' and 'Foresight - Reminder Review'.
You can save any number of configurations to be displayed again later. For example, you might want to view a forecast for your ‘working’ accounts to make sure you leave enough in them to pay the bills, and you might want a separate view for your savings or investment accounts, or maybe a view that shows your net worth.
File -> Save As and you'll be prompted to enter a name to identify the saved forecast.
To access a saved forecast, choose
Options -> Manage Favourites. Select the forecast name and choose 'Load'.
Some accounts have an amount that is significant in some way. A credit card has a maximum credit limit. A savings account may require a minimum balance in order to earn interest. The Forecaster allows you to create markers that will be displayed as horizontal lines on the chart so that you can easily see if you are going to go over your credit limit.
Options -> Account Options. Select your account name and choose 'Add' to add a marker. Then double click on the marker label or amount to edit the fields.
Transaction Reminders allow you to specify that a transaction of a fixed amount occurs on some configured frequency. But if you pay off your whole credit card balance each month the payments are seldom the same amount. There’s no way to create a Transaction Reminder that can figure out what that amount will be each month. But when you tell the Forecaster what your statement date is, what your payment date is and which account it gets paid from, it can then figure out what your payment will be and add a ‘transaction’ into your forecast.
Options -> Credit Card Reminders where you can enable the account and input the statement day, payment day, and specify the payment account.
Note: This is only reliable if you pay off the whole statement amount each month. It is unable to work out the correct amount if you make a partial payment.
A forecast can be exported and saved as a CSV file on your computer which you can then load into a spreadsheet program for different types of analysis.
File -> Export to CSV, where you can name the CSV file and specify the save location.
This is a table view that lists all the reminders you have configured.
View -> Reminder Summary to see all transaction reminders within your data file.