Budgeting fortnightly

Each second Thursday (fortnightly) I receive $2750 net pay. Once a month I should receive about $140 of child support but it is irregular.

I have created envelopes based on estimating my monthly expenses. Regular bills I pay fortnightly.

I’ve set my first “fill” to be next time I get paid, next Thursday. I set it to “monthly budgeted amount”.

Does this mean the fill will automatically work out the fortnightly amount and do that, or do I need to manually halve all the envelope fill amounts to take into account that it’s fortnightly. What is the best option for a person new to budgeting doing this fortnightly?

I have some larger bills, like strata fees and car insurances which are annual and quarterly so I also need to make sure I have money for those when due. Currently my goal is to pay down consumer debt (around $10000 following divorce) and I have an envelope of $1200 a month for that. I haven’t set any “goals” in the app, should I do this? Thank you for your help!

As a quick side note, just in case you weren’t aware, it is actually possible to budget fortnightly in Goodbudget (how to change your budget period). There are definitely people who are paid fortnightly who prefer to budget monthly, but just in case you (or anyone else who comes across this later) didn’t know this was an option, I wanted to make sure to say it.

As for your direct question – if you’re on a Monthly budget period and you set your Envelopes to Fill to the “monthly budgeted amount”, they will do just that, and Fill the full monthly budgeted amount of the Envelope. This is true even if the recurrence of the Fill itself is set to be fortnightly.

This is “one of those things” in Goodbudget where there’s not necessarily one way of doing things, because the “best” way to do something is the way that makes most sense to you. But I will say that a lot of the people who are paid fortnightly or semi-monthly who also budget to the full month don’t Fill their Envelopes every paycheck, and instead let their income accrue in Unallocated to be used to Fill their Envelopes once per month (usually on the first). (I’m also a little biased, because this is how I personally budget lol)

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Thank you, yes I did figure that out in the end!

Most of my planned fills will be fortnightly and I’ve budgeted that way but I have some expenses, like a phone bill of $45 each month or internet bill of $80 that come each month and I don’t really need to put aside from an earlier pay if that’s not possible. I can pay it in the fortnight it falls due as I am prioritising my expenses for each pay period.

So for those, I could just fill the monthly amount once if I am setting up the fill for the next pay (rather than automatically scheduling the envelope amount every fortnight, which is where I want to get to but maybe can’t do right now).

Or is that a bad idea, as I’m then using different methods lol?

So you are saying do the income fortnightly, but budget for and allow the envelopes to fill once per month on the firsr?

That makes a lot of sense actually, but I think I need a little more regular checking in for now where my
Fills will exactly match my income coming in or go to unallocated on pay day. I suppose though when you look at what you have spent, the software takes care of that for you.

I am Australian and we don’t use that phrase, semi monthly. But I see it seems to mean two fixed dates each month, instead of every two weeks.

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You can certainly have multiple Fills, so in your case (if I understand correctly), you might schedule a Fill every four weeks that covers some envelopes with your first payday and a different Fill, also every four weeks but staggered, that covers the others. OR as Alex suggested, let all of your income go into Unallocated but fill on the 1st and the 15th to prevent the “date creep” that happens with biweekly Fills and a Monthly budget.

Thank you!

So, I don’t get paid on the first and the 15th but rather every second week which is common in Australia, it is the most common pay cycle.

I’m doing ok for the first time but found my account on Good Budget isn’t quite matching up yet, I wasn’t sure how to handle what was in my account (minimal - The whole idea is to pay down debt and stop living week to week) before I got started so I added it as a one off income.

Here is what I did

  • Scheduled the income bi-weekly for my normal pay
  • Add in other smaller less frequent units of income for the date they are due to come in
  • For example I was paid on 7 January but I have another amount come in every second Monday so I set that for 10 January.
  • Set a regular fill for my envelopes for everything that must be paid every pay like mortgage and some direct debits which are fortnightly on pay day.
  • Other envelopes are just monthly
  • Then as I had some changes and extra bills I manually adjusted those envelopes for the next fill. I’ll need to do this for awhile until I’m on top of things.
    Right now I’m just using an envelope called “debt” and throwing what I can at my debt starting with a minimum fill each fortnight , I know how much I owe and so I haven’t set it as a debt account.
  • Still somewhere my balance isn’t adding up with my account - is it just about being super diligent with my transactions?
  • I’m over complicating this maybe?!

It sounds as though you’re doing everything correctly, but then you say your balances aren’t adding up, right? A couple of things I’d check might be: are you scheduling your incomes as a “Fill From New Income” or do you have a simple Income transaction followed by a “Fill from Unallocated”? A “fill from new” both adds the money and distributes it, so it’s one place where you might unintentionally double up your income. Either way is fine, but just make sure your instructions do match your intent.
You mentioned that you didn’t know what to do with the money initially in your account so you made a one-off income transaction; that sounds like it would work if you left your opening balance at $0, but sometimes pending transactions, fees or whatnot can creep in. If you’re confident that your current bank account balance is accurate and all your transactions are reflected then you can manually Edit the Goodbudget balance. This will add a line item for the adjustment but won’t impact your envelopes (except Unallocated).
Do you reconcile your accounts? Any changes to a reconciled transaction will throw off the balances and need to be managed delicately at the next reconciliation.
“Being super diligent” is of course a requirement for everything to match up, but like any new habit it takes practice! In the meanwhile, you can import downloaded transactions directly from your bank in bulk, and Goodbudget will help you match them with items you’ve already entered, or easily make new transactions for those you’ve overlooked. I try to be good about entering mine timely, and use alerts on my phone for each charge to help remind me. But sometimes I let them pile up—we just got back from holiday and I just imported a bunch of charges I hadn’t wanted to deal with on the trip (and we’re finally at a place where that was “safe” financially). However you do it is fine if it works for you!
Finally, the “every-other-week” pay cycle is most common here in the US too, so I do all my regular budgeting on a monthly basis and put all our salary income into Unallocated. I then distribute a full month’s worth on the 1st which may leave me with a small negative balance in Unallocated, but never more than I have available in my Savings Account and Savings Envelope just in case there’s a delay and I need to use that to tide us over. (This is a bad habit if you’re just starting out because you can overdraft if you’re not totally on top of things. Do as I say, not as I do, lol) Working up to that one-month cushion is a huge relief, and I highly recommend trying to have at least that much put aside even when tackling debt. You never know what might come along to try to derail you (within the last three weeks we got hit with $1,900 in urgent care bills at the veterinarian, the clothes dryer decided to die, we have to either replace my husband’s car unexpectedly or pay $2,900 for service, and we spent $700 on a rental so he could work! All within 10 days of leaving on holiday overseas! OUCH) I think, without doing the math, that it’s better to have that cushion than to rely on credit lines for an emergency or unexpected expense. It’s such a setback to pay down debt only to have it jump back up, with interest, when something happens.
Sorry this turned into a wall of text, but I hope it helps!
PS—when I mentioned doing Fills the 1st and 15th, it was just to get ahead of the “third payday” issue we all have with a biweekly schedule. Most bills are due on the same date each month, so if you fill biweekly but pay the mortgage on the 1st for example, those dates won’t align. Putting income into Unallocated biweekly and filling semi-monthly means you’ll be pretty close to your targets but the dates will align better to your budget. It’s just a matter of preference really.

Thanks, I need to come back and digest that a little more but I think I got it. I didn’t double up (I think I did once with a smaller income) but I did get a little confused about whether to fill from unallocated or fill from income. Filling the income just on the interface seemed to make sense to me as I could allocate as I went. Then I put the smaller bits and pieces into unallocated I do need to work up to that one month cushion, I think but it will take me some time. I suppose I can also review and rest the fills each two weeks until I’m confident I have it down, though that’s obviously time consuming it will take care of the “extra pay” issue as well as I will just allocate as I come. Many things won’t change but it will give me the opportunity to move things around as I need it until I am more on top of things .

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