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Planwise – Google Maps for your money

What comes into and, more pressingly, goes out of our bank account every month is something most of us would like to get a handle on. But it’s also one of the hardest things to get a grasp of. A new tool from San Francisco startup Planwise aims to help us manage our finances.

Planwise is, in the words of its makers, “an easy to use online tool that helps you take control of your finances.” You start by entering your bank balance, income and regular expenses. The program then plots your projected future finances so you can see in a simple graphical display the rough amount of money you will have in your account. Once you have a basic plan of your incomings and outgoings entered into the program you can then layer different scenarios on top of that, such as yearly fluctuations in income, life stages and major spending needs.

So far, so good. But where Planwise claims to better existing financial planning tools like Mint is that it allows you to both plot out your financial reality and then test drive the financial implications of your dreams against that. The makers say that their tool is based around the idea that it’s not money that drives people, but the freedom to do what you want with that money. And Planwise helps show you, in a clear, simple way, the impact of major life events like getting married or going travelling, on your finances.

This is where Planwise really becomes interesting. Once you have your basic finances plotted on a graph, you can add various ‘plans’ (this is the program’s language for plotting the financial effects of doing something like buying a car). The graphic display then updates in real time, making the implications of spending immediately and visually obvious. And it’s not just helpful for seeing if you can afford big purchases. The long term view, which plots your finances up to thirty years in advance, means that you can also see how making a decision such as taking an exciting but low paid job in the arts would affect your long term finances.

Other plus points are the fact it’s completely anonymous. You enter no personal information whatsoever so there’s no danger of your financial details falling into the wrong hands. Even so, there’s an additional login option that allows you to password protect your account. It’s also totally free to use. Which is great, obviously. Planwise describe their product as “like Google Maps for your money”. The association seems to suggest Planwise’s embracing of Google’s free, open source approach to products. Like most of Google’s tools, Planwise is designed to be embedded easily into partner sites. In the US and Canada it has already been rolled out with more than 20 partners.

All in all, this is a clever little program whose’ major benefit over competitors is its ease and simplicity of use which helps to make managing your finances seem slightly less daunting than it did before.

About Joe D.