Forecasting Spending/ Smart Balance / Safe to Spend


#1

It would be great to have some way of seeing how much of my balance is safe to spend.

So this would be my balance - upcoming bills etc.


Smart Balance
Feature suggestion: Direct Debit “ring-fencing”
Balance prediction
Smart Balance
Weekly budget setting
Smart Balance
#2

Do you mean starling notifies you of balance taking into consideration your financial commitments? If so, i like this a lot.


#3

This would be really useful. A bonus would be to add some budgeting into this for things that aren’t direct debits etc. perhaps as an extra option. For example you know PayPal will be debiting your account in 14 days so it would be good to be able to account for that in your available to spend balance


#4

I like the sound of this. Its like an advanced/automated budgeting tool that used data from direct debits and standing orders, and perhaps other historic regular payments, to create a budget/goal each month to set that money aside.

This is the sort of feature that is perfect for Sterling.


Weekly budget setting
#5

Another really helpful feature for budgeting would be the ability to wall off direct debits at the start of the month so that these do not show in your available balance.


#6

Problem with this is Direct Debits by nature are variable provided the bill payer is given 10 days notice.


#7

Totally understand that - although most of us know if a direct debit is likely to change or not. Perhaps then a switch to include/exclude from current balance should be available for each direct debit?


#8

Normally have some idea of what a direct debit will be minimum. I know that my mobile bill will be £30 a month. Sometimes its a little more but not by much.


#9

Or, just have an option where it’ll work this out based on your average DD for the last 3 months, but also allow you to override it within the app (for example - once you’ve actually had the bill).

So, my mobile bill is generally between £19-£20 a month. So, Starling would budget £19.50 as default.

Then, for example, say one month I got carried away with mobile txt voting for something as I really liked an X-Factor act. So I ended up voting a few times for them and I get that bill through and it’s actually £25 that month. So, I go into the app and override it for that one month and give the correct amount. The app can then carry on budgeting and forecasting what you can spend.


#10

+1 for this. Great idea!


#11

+1 from me as well.

I have a printed out sheet of what my committed spend is and balance needs to be (as a minimum) as each payment comes out.

If the feature is launched, it would need to have a method of entering what the start day for a new ‘budget month’ is. In my case the 15th of the month (as that’s when I’m paid). Definitely not tied to the calendar month!


#12

I definitely like this idea too, this is something the Yorkshire Bank B account was supposed to do but it didn’t seem to work (much like most of the 'features)!

I currently have a massive spreadsheet that I maintain to sort out all of our joint Direct Debits.


#13

Although we’re using the word forecasting here, I kinda think this is really another word for budgeting. And that’s really what we need: something to help us budget. Like a few of us here probably, I’ve been using YNAB for many years and am used to the concept of allocating expenditure to categories.

While ‘spending insights’ gives us a clue where our money has gone, it doesn’t do much to tell you where it needs to go. That’s what budgeting does. So without some form of upper-limit set against each of the categories within ‘spending insights’ (which represents your budget), it’s a bit of a missed opportunity. Monzo has this feature - called ‘targets’.

I would much rather know where my money should be going (and tracking progress), rather than hitting the ‘how the fcuk did that happen’ scenario when we realise we’ve spend £200 on Starbucks this month and can no longer afford to buy petrol/get groceries/set aside £150 for that holiday.

I don’t care if my Starling app figures out those limits, or guesses them initially allowing us to fine-tune our budget. But until (if?) we reach that nirvana, I’ll need to keep using YNAB. And I would much rather do it all in my purple Starling app.


#14

I think you nailed what I was trying to get across. Three features I like that Monzo have.

  1. Targets. Basic form of budgeting
  2. Breakdown. Shows how much spending money you have left after commitments. Screenshots can be seen here: https://community.monzo.com/t/breakdown
  3. Progress marker in the Breakdown section is super useful. Shows you where you are in the month and if you are spending too quickly or not.

#15

With enough datapoints that wouldn’t effect the mean average much anyway.


#16

I’d love to see a feature like this. To me, it’s the best part of Monzo and something I’d like to see here. Being able to set a limit and see how close I was to said limit would be ideal.


#17

I’d love to see a safe-to-spend balance be introduced to Starling, this would be:

Available Balance

  • Goals
  • Scheduled
    = Safe-to-spend

These guys do it perfectly: https://www.simple.com/features/safe-to-spend

One thing I find myself doing several times a month is checking my balance and then having to work out in my head what bills I have coming up and what that leaves me with to spend.

Another thing I like about simple.com is the way they use goals/budgets. If you watch the video at the bottom of this page: https://www.simple.com/features/goals you will see they set monthly budgets, but they are not category budgets, they can be called anything, and when you spend money, you choose which budget to ‘spend from’, see:

As you can see, the category is Restaurants, but they are spending from their ‘Road Trip’ budget. I like the idea of this, maybe something to consider for the future. I know it’s early days for Starling, but I think you could take a lot of inspiration from simple.com


#18

I keep banging on about this but if you need money locked away for things like direct debits vs money thats safe to spend then you need a second account.

That way you cant accidentally spend money you need for bills. No matter what prediction, average or forecast - it only needs to be wrong and you accidentally bounce your mortgage payment because your balance wasn’t accurate or the forecast was off along with the other 10 direct debits in there.

All for tracking spending and doing all the useful stuff within either account but not for mixing assigned money with spending money.

How’s it ever going to forecast you had a rent increase, you spent more on your credit card, you changed your phone contract etc all which make your payments different.


#19

Lee - I think this has been covered previously by Ben with regards to savings goals etc. In that if you are out of money in your main account you could set an order of preference for payments to be taken from your savings goals/money pots to ensure that you do not go overdrawn. This is far better than having a secondary account that you have to keep the correct amount of money in for DDs. The ability to predict future spending based on previous DDs for many could easily be very accurate giving a really good starting point of money left to spend this month enabling less thought intensive budgeting. Of course there will be exceptions to all these new features where they don’t fit but for the majority this will be a welcome improvement on manually adding up DDs/Scheduled payments and leaving the right amount in a second account or not over spending in your current account and realising you’ve forgotten that your council tax doesn’t come out until the 23rd of the month…


#20

My point isn’t about savings goals. Its about needing somewhere to set money aside for essential bills and payments. These aren’t savings they are current account transactions - money that is already spent but is waiting to be collected. So you dont want it borrowed from if you overspend. I do not agree a saving pot is a solution for this.

If you set aside £500 for direct debit payments and you overspend it either makes you overdrawn OR it needs to take the money from the ‘savings pot’ - What if you’re preference is that it shouldn’t take money from these in any order? Will it just push you overdrawn - and whats the cut of for this - will it allow £1, 1K, 100K etc? Or will it just select one anyway or bounce them all.

You’re chancing a bunch of late payments, late markers on credit files and the fun of sorting it all out when you might have bought a coffee. When really the simplest and less risky thing is to have them separate in the first place.

Totally disagree. Fully appreciate some people might feel like that - and thats fine.
I dont want to leave it to a bank’s prediction. Especially when its in a banks interest for you to be overdrawn - thats how they make money.
Its far worse not to have the option. Starling potentially loose out, its the only bank i’m aware of that doesn’t offer a second current account.

Could it not do the same if they offered a second account?
I think this is very individual and depends not only on the amount you have but types of bills. I cant talk for anyone else but my phone bill is always different month to month - how would it predict that. My credit card bill isn’t the same either - i would love to know how it would predict if i pay the minimum, full or part balance, the interest rate and balance etc - its not possible as there’s too many variables for it to know with any meaningful enough data to trust it to then suggest i spent appropriately.

Again this is subjective. I know what the amount of the direct debits comes to each month (this is the only thing the bank could guess at). But then I also know if anythings changing, stopping or starting and also know to leave a buffer (things it could never know). I also have mine set to the same date - but even if not you dont need to worry about the date… Because if you know council tax is due out you’ve already set it aside, it can come out whenever.

So is vastly easier to leave £x amount in a second account that covers everything because it isn’t at risk of being spent or mixed up within day to day transactions especially based on a tenuous prediction.