Air reports that work continues apace on PISA, a web application designed to ease short-term financial planning and money management for struggling, irresponsible twentysomethings like ourselves. For a couple of months we were working furiously on it but I found I had to drop the commitment due to insane amounts of schoolwork.
I still really like the idea of the project, but I was surprised by how difficult it is to make financial calculations that are both helpful and reasonably accurate. Our thesis was essentially that there should be a metric, The Number, which accurately reflects the amount of “spending money” in one’s pocket on any given day. A brief quote from our project wiki:
The amount of money you have available in your pocket, on any given day, to spend on whatever you like. Calculated after bills and budget have been factored in.
Our second thesis is that when you are building an application geared towards irresponsible twentysomethings you cannot count on conscientious and reliable data input.
It turns out that you have to resolve all sorts of very difficult things before this becomes feasible. You need an accurate budget, calibrated reliably from week to week. You need a reasonably good description of the transactions that have occured in your day-to-day bank account. You need to figure out credit card charges and debts. And so forth.
We think we have a reasonable solution and it looks like Air’s churning away on it. I look forward to seeing what he comes up with and I’ll let you know if he releases a public prototype.