I want to see a “predicted balance” feature on my online credit card statement. This would include not only my transactions to date but also any recurring transactions expected later in the month.
Already my credit card balance is an excellent budgeting tool, since I make all my purchases with my card. Assuming I’ve budgeted $1,000 to spend this month, seeing that I’ve spent $700 so far should mean that I have $300 still available. Small children can explain this math.
The trouble is that of my hypothetical $1,000 budget, a hypothetical $100 is allocated to recurring purchases like Netflix and Boston Globe subscriptions, or Internet access and web hosting. Since these bills all get charged at different times, I can’t be sure whether my $700 balance accounts for my subscriptions or not. I might have $300 available, or I might have as little as $200 if none of my bills have come in yet. I can’t be sure without looking through the complete list of transactions.
Instead, I should be able to name my monthly purchases in advance. My “predicted balance” would then start at $100 after I pay my bill. When I charge a $23 pizza, it would go up to $123, but when Netflix charges $18 it would stay the same. By the end of the month, the predicted balance should match the actual balance, and I can delight in my excellent planning skills.