This is a review of the goalGetter iPad app from ASI Advisor Software.
goalGetter is a personal financial planning app targeted at the end investor. It is a very simple tool designed to help plan for large financial events. It’s easy to use with a clean, intuitive layout that allows you to drag and drop to create goals.
The available goals include Retirement, Home & Property, Education, Big Toys (cars, boats, etc.), Life’s Milestones (weddings, babies, etc.), Vacations, Charity and Medical Bills. You can set an unlimited number of goals, but the interface gets cluttered when you have more than a ten or so.
The app’s single screen consists of a bar graph with dollars on the vertical axis and time on the horizontal. To create a goal, just select an icon from the list at the bottom and drag it onto the graph. Dragging the icon up down changes the estimate cost and left and right changes the year the goal needs to be funded by. This function is quite simple to use.
There is an icon of a piggy bank that is stuck on the first year of the graph. You can drag this icon up and down to change the amount of money you current have in savings. The bar chart instantly changes to show how much you will have saved going forward (green bars) and whether you will have a funding deficit (red bars) when it comes time to pay for your goals.
A nice feature is a calculator that figures out the additional monthly savings required to meet your goals. There is also an ADD button that will automatically increase your monthly contribution by this amount.
Unfortunately, this app has a lot of deficiencies which make it of limited value to anyone except the most casual user.
Here are just a few of the problems I see with this app:
- Savings aren’t assigned to a specific goal, so the entire amount is assumed to be spread across all goals. This makes it impossible to know which goal really is underfunded, since it always appears to be the one the occurs last. So, if I have $100K saved for retirement and $25K saved for my daughter’s college tuition, the app assumes that whatever I have gets used by the first goal that comes up. Not very helpful in a real world scenario where a consumer has specific accounts designated to fund specific goals.
- Multi-year goals aren’t supported. A basic example would be college tuition. goalGetter requires you to create a separate goal for each year your child will be in school. This wouldn’t be too bad, except I have three children, so I’m required to create 12 goals! And for some reason, the app assumes that your monthly savings continue on until the end of time, even though the goal has passed.
- No future value calculations are provided. If I know that college tuition is $25K in 2012, how much will I need when my 9 year old daughter starts school in 2020? The app doesn’t provide any help for this. You have to do these calculations somewhere else and then come back and plug in the correct values.
- Lump sum deposits into savings aren’t supported.
Hopefully, ASI plans on future versions of the app that will resolve these issues. Overall, this app can help people with minimal financial knowledge to better understand just how much they need to save for future expenses. But it needs a lot of work to be something that people will use to monitor their goals on a regular basis.
The goalGetter iPad app is free and available from the iTunes App Store.