My savings are unallocated?

Hello, I just downloaded the app and am testing it out to see how I like it. I have been using my bank’s budgeting tool for a while but it doesn’t have very many features and I want something more flexible.

I have quite a bit of money saved up and I’m not sure how to show this in GB. I added the balance of my savings account to a savings envelope, it does show up in the envelope but it also shows up as unallocated. It’s not, it’s in savings. I’m confused. I don’t want surplus money to show up as unallocated, particularly for some budgets like my gift budget, where at the end of the year I use up the surplus for Christmas presents, but really for all my budgets. Any help?

Sorry, I have no idea why it made my 2nd paragraph slidy text.

Your Envelopes and Accounts show the same money from different perspectives; Accounts show where it “lives” while Envelopes show how you plan to spend it (in aggregate—this is where most people get confused). Envelopes don’t “care” which account your money is in, they include all of it!
To account for your savings, just create a Savings envelope and make the Fill equal to the balance in your Savings account. As you transfer money to savings or deposit funds (like interest), be sure to account for the increase with an Envelope fill.
Hope that helps!

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(I don’t have anything super substantive to add, but here’s a bit more elaboration on what Tiffany wrote: How can I keep money in my savings account separate from my normal budget? | Goodbudget)

(Also I fixed the slidey text!)

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Thank you, for your help. I just have some more newbie questions. So it looks like the best way to set up is to first make accounts and put down how much is in them, then add envelopes including a savings envelope that will be filled with the total of my savings account. I add money to my savings with every paycheck, can I set this up automatically with GB or do I need to enter it manually? For envelopes that I want to build up over time is it best to make them annual? Would it be best for me to ignore all old transactions or should I be adding them to GB?

The only reason to add old transactions to GB would be if you wanted to leverage any of GB’s reports for those older periods. Personally I don’t think it’s worth the time to do that data entry. Just pick a “start date” and record everything from that point forward. Pretty soon you’ll have many periods of data to report on anyways.

Pretty much anything you can enter manually can also be scheduled (either one time in the future or on a recurring schedule). I use recurring primarily for monthly expenses that are automatically billed, do not vary month to month, and which always occur on/around the same date. When I receive an invoice from, say, the electric company, I will enter that in GB as a “one time” scheduled payment which I align with the latest payday before the due date. That way the bank sends the payment and GB records the payment on the same day. Most everything else I do manually. I do not like automating the incomes or fills as several things are different each month and I would rather enter them correctly myself than go in and tweak the automated actions.

Personally, I only use Annual envelopes for things which are actually billed annually. Something like my Amazon Prime subscription. I give it a due date of September 1 and every month a little is added so it’s full by the time Amazon takes it. Anything else I am saving up for is a Goal envelope.

GB by it’s nature seems to lend itself more to the YNAB style of budgeting where you only allocate what you actually have. Personally, I tend towards the Ramsey style of budgeting where you project the next month’s income and allocate those funds on the first day of that month. This requires a slightly different way of handling Accounts which I can explain if you’re interested.

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I am interested :slightly_smiling_face:. Previously I would predict my future income, set out a budget and adjust it as needed. I’m not sure what the best system is, I just want one that takes minimal effort on my part to maintain.

To start, I budget on a monthly cycle. Even though I’m paid biweekly, all the significant expenses (e.g. mortgage) are monthly. I have Monthly, Quarterly, Annual, and Goal envelopes set up for various purposes. I have accounts for all the places I keep money, plus an additional account named “Projected Income”. I also do zero-based budgeting so the goal is to have zero Unallocated amount at the start of each month.

About a week before the end of a month I start to set up the budget for the next month. I have an Excel spreadsheet which I have built and customized over several years to my specific way of doing it, but basically it works the way Dave Ramsey says. Start with your projected income at the top, then list the “four walls” (shelter, food, utilities, transportation), then continue down your priorities allocating funds until the balance is zero. This gives me a week or so to make adjustments as I remember things or new things pop up. Doing it in Excel tables allows me to project my next month’s envelopes while the current month’s envelopes are burning down in GoodBudget.

On the first day of the month I basically do two separate Fills. First I do a “Fill from Unallocated” named “Month End”. In this Fill I set all my monthly envelope balances to zero. If there was anything left in an envelope, that amount gets added to Unallocated. If I had overspent that envelope, it draws from Unallocated. After all the envelopes are reset any remaining surplus (or deficit) in Unallocated gets added to (or subtracted from) a goal envelope named “Slush”. The goal of this exercise is to “reset” GB to a clean slate for the next month. At this point I make any adjustments to the envelopes per the Excel spreadsheet. Add new goals, increase grocery envelope if I’m regularly overspending, decrease others I’m regularly underspending, etc.

Now is where the “magic” happens. I do a “Fill from New Income” into my Projected Income account using the total for the whole month from the Excel spreadsheet and just “Add Budgeted Amount” down the list and any amounts to the Goal envelopes per the spreadsheet. Boom, full envelopes, all money accounted for, ready to watch the envelopes burn down over the next few weeks.

A couple things to note…

  1. When you actually receive income that you had previously projected, you do an Account Transfer of the income amount from Projected Income to Checking/Savings/Cash account. Do not add it as new income or you will be double-counting.
  2. If you receive income that you had not projected (e.g. gift, bonus, rebate), treat it as a regular income in GB and allocate the funds wherever you want. Personally I leave these Unallocated until the “Month End” fill described above.
  3. After your last payday for the month, if Projected Income still has a non-zero balance you will have to resolve that. If the balance is negative then you received more income than projected, simply edit the balance to zero or enter an extra Income transaction to bring it up to zero and allocate those funds wherever you want. If the balance is positive then you received less income than projected, you will have to edit it to zero or enter an extra Expense transaction to draw it down to zero and pull those funds from some envelope (i.e. “Slush”). Personally I just edit the balance to zero and leave the difference Unallocated until I do the “Month End” fill described above.

I have been a GB user for many years now and this system didn’t coalesce into this current form until several months ago. One of the biggest problems I have with GB is trying to fill monthly envelopes a little at a time as pay comes in, especially for envelopes that are being spent down as you go. It’s frustrating to come to payday, see a $300 balance in Groceries envelope, and have to go back and figure out how much I’ve already added to it because I’ve also spent a lot of it, in order to know how much I still have left to add to it this month. Or coming to the last week of the month and seeing $50 in Groceries… is that because I’ve already spent most of my budget or is it because I still have to add $150 when I get paid in a few days??? Early on I realized that I needed to fill all the regular expense envelopes to full at the start of the month, but I did not have enough funds at the time to fill everything at once. By filling everything up front using projected income I always know how much is left and how much has been spent no matter where I am in relation to payday(s). The problem is GB does not directly support this the way Ramsey’s app does, so for the longest time I would simply treat Unallocated as my projected income source. I would fill all my envelopes from Unallocated which would become a big negative number which showed how much I needed to still earn for the month. Each payday would bring that number closer to zero. This has the same intended effect, but once I learned more about how Accounting works, it was simple to add the Projected Income account and keep everything else the same and now I don’t have to see that big red negative number anymore.

That said, if you follow the GB and YNAB methods and age your money to the point where your Unallocated balance is big enough, you can simply fill all your envelopes at the start of the month and replenish Unallocated during the month without having to jump through any of these extra hoops. I may shift towards that method someday, but until you get to the point where you have several months in reserve I think the Ramsey method is better.

I’m glad this is working for you, but I’m afraid it could get someone who’s new to budgeting into trouble and it seems to have some extra steps. If you’re filling from projected income without a safety net, there’s a big chance you could overdraw. For example, if I get paid $500 every week but project a full month’s mortgage (which typically gets paid on the first) into an envelope ahead of time, I may be spending money elsewhere that I don’t have. If you explained how you avoid this I apologize, but I didn’t see it.
At the end of the month, you say you “reset” everything to $0, which puts money or debit into Unallocated, and then gets transferred to the Slush envelope, and then you refill all the envelopes for the next month. Why not just do a single Fill from New Income, which goes into your Projected Income account, then instruct each envelope to Set (not Add) its budget to the amount to want for the next month? This eliminates steps and still sweeps the extra money/debit into your Slush envelope, if that’s what you designate.

… age your money to the point where your Unallocated balance is big enough, you can simply fill all your envelopes at the start of the month…

This is the ideal target for budgeting, and doesn’t run the risk of overspending in an envelope before the income is received. It can certainly take time to get there, but it’s a worthwhile exercise. Goodbudget has a nice FAQ about it, linked here:

I agree that adding money as you go can be a little tricky, and I’d like to see the GB team come up with an easy way to show how much has been added compared to what’s budgeted since the start of the period. Using smaller budgeting period envelopes (like weekly vs. monthly) can help, but it’s a bit clunky too.

There are lots of ways to make Goodbudget work, and it’s great to see so many creative ways to go about it!

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If you stay current on your data entry, GB always shows your account balances, so it’s not really that difficult to avoid overdraws. Also, by aligning expenses such as mortgage or utility bills with the last payday prior to the due date, I always know there will be sufficient funds arriving the same day as funds are leaving. For this reason the mortgage is one of the last monthly expenses paid rather than one of the first.

There’s a good chance I have overthought the filling process. All of my “extra steps” are basically compromises between the way GB works and the ways I wish GB worked over the years. The motivations for doing the monthly “reset” are less relevant now than they used to be, but basically doing it that way allows my “Month Start” fills to match the Excel spreadsheets. Without the reset step it’s much harder to make sure I entered things correctly.

It’s probably just a mental block, but I can’t NOT count projected income alongside projected expenses. Perhaps it’s too much listening to Dave Ramsey, but they just go together in my head.