Still confused by how to record credit transactions

Sorry, I know there are numerous threads on this but maybe there was a software update or something because it seems different now that I’m trying to do it. I used GB several years ago and they must have changed things around, it’s not as easy as it used to be.

I have a balance on my CC. I only use my CC for gas currently because I get Cash Back Rewards for fuel purchases.

I created a Gas envelope. Here’s what I’m trying to do (this used to work when I used GB more regularly a few years ago, I’ve only recently started using it again last month):

Add transaction > Expense/Credit >

Payee: Shell
Amount: $35
Envelope: Gas
Account: Bank Credit Card

That used to work. Then at the end of the month I’d just make an Account Transfer from Debit to Credit, easy.

Now when I try and do this, I get an automated prompt saying “Recording a debt transaction? Use the debt tab”.

Ok. So I go to the debt tab.

Add transaction > Debt transaction

Name: Shell
Amount: $35
Type: Add interest, fee, or new charge
Debt: Bank CC

Ok, that’s fine but now I can’t take the money out of my Gas envelope.

In real life, I’ll make an account transfer from my Debit Account over to my CC Account once a month.

However, in GB, I have to create some sort of Debt Payment envelope and have a budgeted amount each month and then…? I don’t know what. Use the Debt Payment envelope to…?

This isn’t how I used to do it and this new way is confusing to me.

On a separate but related note, how does one record Cash Back Rewards? I got $18 in cash back rewards deposited into my CC account, but you can’t record income on a Credit Card. You also can’t record a Credit on a CC account. Anytime you try and do anything with your Credit Card, it makes you go to the Debt Transaction tab. The only way to record any sort of credit on your CC is via payment, which you have to take from another account or envelope.

Some guidance would be helpful, thank you!

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In order to help people eliminate debt, Goodbudget has made the credit card function more robust—but that can lead to the kind of issues you’re seeing, where it’s difficult to record transactions you intend to pay off. The idea is that you’d stop using cards with a balance and focus only on the payoff, but there are cases like yours where it may make sense to use them judiciously in the interim.
I don’t know if it’s the best way, but when I was carrying a balance while using my card for budgeted purchases, I set up two accounts. One was Citibank-Monthly (new charges paid off every month) and one was Citibank-Extended (the ongoing balance from a promotional offer). You’ll be able to record a credit on the “paid off every month” account. That required a little extra math when it was time to reconcile but it allowed me to keep my budget up to date and use my monthly envelopes as intended.
(I’m happy to walk through my process if anyone is interested.)
Hope that helps!

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Thanks for posting, Heathman-Spencer!

It sounds like you’re generally paying off the credit card every month. And, in that case, you’d track that card as a Credit Card Account in Goodbudget, or what Tiffany was calling a ‘pay off in full’ account. We generally recommend reserving the Debt Account feature for cards or loans that you’re no longer using and just working to pay off, which it doesn’t sound like is the case for you.

By using a regular Credit Card Account, you’ll be able to record your Shell transaction and assign it to your Gas Envelope and Credit Card Account, as you normally do. Then, when it comes time to make the card’s monthly payment, you’ll do that by recording an Account Transfer from your Checking Account to your CC Account. It sounds like that’s the flow you were used to doing previously.

Lastly, in regards to your cashback, assuming that you’re tracking that credit card as a Credit Card Account in GB (and not a Debt Account), you will be able to record your rewards as an Income to that Account.

If your credit card is still listed as a Debt Account, here’s how to convert it to a Credit Card Account:

  • Click on Add/Edit on the Accounts tab
  • Click on Edit next to your Debt Account
  • Use the ‘working to pay off’ dropdown to select the ‘pay off in full’ option and then save your changes.

I hope that helps!

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Yes, thank you! This is exactly what I needed to know. Now I can enter these transactions the way I used to. Thanks again!

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I just posted the exact same question. I could not find a “search” box.

OK, GB is not for me then. Thx

Thanks! I’m new to GB, and messed it up a bit. I mis-posted one card as a Debt account and didn’t know how to fix it.

I have one credit card in Australia and one in the USA.
My income is in the USA. The cards help me with the different currencies. I have a checking account in each country.

I charge nearly all my expenses every month and pay them all off once a month. I need GB to help make sure I don’t run negative. I never carry debt! The banks make their money on the merchant fees of 3-5% of each transaction, plus any interest if someone hasn’t saved the cash like grandma did!

I also have accounts in two different currencies and that requires a bit of a dance in Goodbudget. Since the envelopes aggregate all the funds, there’s no differentiation between (in my case) £ and $, but of course the values are different. I created an envelope that holds the balance of my UK account and when I use it I deduct everything from that one envelope. It does make budgeting less elegant but it’s not used often so it’s not a huge deal for us.
I think if one were truly budgeting for two different households in two different currencies you’d almost have to have an entirely separate set of envelopes for each currency, if not a separate Goodbudget account entirely.

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@Tiffany
Thanks for the input. I have considered two separate GB accounts (Web and IOS) but I like the convenience of having it everywhere (the same).

My situation that I wonder about…
I have to periodically send USA income to myself in Australia. The catch is since the currency floats, the amount that I receive in Australia can change quite a bit due to the currency exchange.

I’ve not quite figured out the best way to place the ‘bump’ or if I even need to and/or if it will throw my Unallocated totally out of whack.

It’s also occurred to me to maybe just reset GB … say quarterly and repost my new account balances to see if I am remaining ‘close to budget’ that GB gives me to follow (the prorated amounts are a huge help!).

Thoughts or suggestions?

If you Edit an account you can change the balance, and Goodbudget will enter a single line item for the difference. I wonder whether using that to reflect the exchange rate would work for you? For example, Account Transfer $100 from US Checking to Australian Checking yields a $134 deposit in Australia. You could then adjust your Australian balance by $34 and rename the line item that’s generated “Exchange Rate” or something to show where it came from, and both accounts would be correct. (Don’t change the transfer value or it will change it in the other end too)

Oh, and yes, your Unallocated will be wacky if you don’t have the other currency mirrored in an envelope. It will have all the money aggregated but without regard for value.

@Tiffany
So I think as what you’re suggesting as my solution is to make an Envelope which mirrors my US account but in AUD Australian Dollars. When I send Red Rover over… it comes off the ‘Envelope’?

I think I found the answer here > [How to track multiple currencies? - #4 by Cesar_Orlando_Pallar]

Well, you can’t really designate USD vs AUD but here’s how I set mine up: (not saying this is “right”, but it works for me!)
Account 1: US Checking, balance $5,000
Account 2: UK Checking, balance £100
Unallocated: 5,100 (but these aren’t all worth the same value, nor are they spendable all in one place)
Envelopes 1-5: Normal US stuff, filled with 5,000
Envelope 6: UK Funds, filled with 100
Unallocated: 0
<Transfer 1,000 to UK>
Now:
A1: $4,000
A2:Shows 1,100 but is really only £859 (due to the exchange rate)
Edit the balance of A2 to £859 and rename the line item this creates
(Unallocated goes to -241)
Transfer from “regular US” envelopes to E6 so it has a balance of 859 AND to Unallocated so it’s 0 or better.
This sounds really convoluted as I’m typing it out but it’s not that awful. I don’t know how many of us have accounts in multiple currencies but maybe it’s more than I imagined. If it’s an issue a lot of us have, we could add a currency exchange function to the request tracker and maybe it will be incorporated someday.

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@Tiffany
:grin: :heart:
I ran out of :heart: as a Newbie… must have been reading too much on the forum. :rofl:

Your answer makes Purr-fact sense. (Excuse me…it’s after midnight and my mind’s gone loopy.) :upside_down_face:

Anyway, sounds great to me! The work-around floats my boat! Thanks a million!

I doubt there are lots of others like us. But then again, there are a lot of Ex-Pats around the world. I have the impression that GB is aimed more for those working out debt/credit card issues versus retirees trying to live within a fixed income… where-ever they may be. (I be the latter.) :wink:

Now that I’ve read so much…
I’m considering regrouping my 58 envelopes into a lot fewer. I did copy all the current data down. It’ll be useful to keep an eye on things as a ‘tick-sheet’.

GB sure did make a snap of the envelopes.
However, I am still a bit confused about all of my expenses being on one Credit Card and split among 58 envelopes.

As I understand it, I need to do an Account Transfer of funds from my checking account to pay off the Credit Card in full for the month, but do a Multi-split Transaction designating the respective envelopes to split the Transaction each month when paying off the credit card into all it’s associated envelopes to have their amounts updated.

I really don’t feel like chasing down all the expenses and categorizing them from the credit card statement into multi-split transactions.

So, if I’m correct, I should regroup the envelopes into fewer envelopes of broader categories to make it easier on myself. Do I understand this right?

If so, any suggestions on the revisions? I have filled all my envelopes and only have about 3 transactions so far. Would it be better to delete everything and start over? Or can I just rename a few and delete the rest?

Three Steps backwards and Four Steps Forwards. AKA Progress.

Thanks

Ignoring the FOREX questions for now, I think that if you operate on a credit card you pay off every month, the best way to handle this might be to treat the credit card as a regular account rather than a Credit Card account. The reason I say this is because GB doesn’t know your credit limit on a Credit Card account, so there’s no way for it to treat those as funds you can allocate.

Say you have $10k in the bank and a CC with a zero balance ($10k limit). Your monthly expenses run $5k. You want to allocate that $5k across various envelopes, spend it on your credit card, then at the end of the month pay off the card from the bank funds.

But what do you fill your envelopes with? You don’t want to use the bank money because you’re saving that to pay the card at the end of the month, and you can’t use your credit limit because GB only knows the balance, not what you have “available” to charge. As far as GB is concerned you only have $10k to allocate. On top of that, anything you add to your CC balance gets subtracted from your Unallocated balance, so using your CC account to record expense transactions will be like a double negative - reducing your envelope balance(s) AND your Unallocated balance.

So let’s try making your credit card a “regular” account with the “balance” set to the credit limit. We’re treating your credit limit as an Asset now, rather than only treating the balance as a Liability. Now GB sees you have $20k to allocate. You allocate $5k to fill your envelopes. Pay your rent for $1k on your credit card: the Rent envelope is spent down and the CC balance decreases to $9k which shows your remaining credit available. Unallocated remains unaffected. You spend the rest of your envelopes over the month so now your bank account still has $10k (plus any income you have received), your CC has $5k (available credit), and your envelopes are empty.

Now just make a simple $5k account transfer from checking to CC and you’re done. Bank is at $5k (plus whatever income you received this month). CC is back to $10k (i.e. full limit available), and you can allocate the next month’s envelopes. No splitting CC payment over all the envelopes or whatever that idea was.

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@kschedler
AWESOMENESS! :grin: :hugs:
Thank you!

Just a couple of last thoughts—paying your credit card (by Account Transfer) doesn’t necessitate a split transaction; that’s used for times when, for example, you shop at Target and buy both groceries and housewares. One transaction, two envelopes.
You’ll fill the envelopes with Unallocated money but this won’t be tied to the payment.
And as for envelopes, (and I’m speaking for myself here) I did a terrible job budgeting with a lot of envelopes and it didn’t really make things any more meaningful. In fact, they were so hard to track effectively that my whole budget fell apart pretty quickly.
I now budget with just a few: Dining Out, Entertainment, Gas, Groceries, Household, Unforeseen and Fixed Expenses (which comprises everything that gets paid on a schedule). I have some other envelopes for tracking Savings and so forth, but my monthly expected cash flow moves through just those seven. My personal belief is that most people in Goodbudget’s target audience should be able to manage a simple budget with no more than about twelve monthly envelopes. You can get more granular with tags, labels, etc., but adding too much detail detracts from the simplicity and elegance of it. At that point, it’s hard to see the forest for the trees!

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Just adding my personal +1 to what Tiffany’s said … everyone has different preferences, of course, but my budget became a lot more digestible (and therefore useful) to me when there were fewer Envelopes. I think I pared down from ~25 to ~7.

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I probably have several dozen envelopes. I just counted 24 monthly envelopes, but they are grouped into five categories/groups (e.g. Giving, Investing, Bills, Regular, and Subscriptions). Sometimes I think about combining the 8 Bills (e.g. mortgage, insurance, water, gas, electric) into a single envelope, but then I remember I like to see them all listed out separately for filling and reporting.

I have 16 annual envelopes. One for every annual subscription (e.g. Amazon Prime, Goodbudget, Costco, various magazines, etc). Most of these are very small monthly amounts, but again, I like to see them split out. If I have to consciously fill the Cook’s Illustrated subscription envelope, then it’s a trigger for me to pause and consider if it’s worth it for me to continue the subscription.

I have at least a dozen Goal envelopes just for various holidays and birthdays. For example, when 4th of July is coming up I might plan to buy fireworks or extra supplies for grilling, etc. It’s easier to see that I’m quickly overspending what I had planned for a special occasion than if it was just another expense to the Groceries envelope one day and some extra to Miscellaneous another day, etc.

I have over a dozen Goal envelopes just for my various “funds” (e.g. Emergency Fund, Car Repairs, Home Improvement) and one-time goals (e.g. New TV, Elliptical Machine, Trip to Disneyland, many which are now deleted after their purpose was no longer necessary)

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I am still using GB :slight_smile:

I thing most of us use our credit card(s) like Healthman-Spencer does. I too wish GB would make that easier to do. I do have a large balance I am gradually eliminating but it is hard to do with GB, I have actually stopped using GB to track those expenses/payment and just created a non-credit card account I call “Debt Retirement”. I have given up trying to follow my credit card expensed using GB. Please make that easier.