Understanding where I'm at

new user I am using the android app for “pin money” not the whole household budget. I teach language classes and I hope to be selling bread again soon. My income is paid per session, so it’s irregular and dribbles in during the week. My expenditures are also happening during the week but some items are once a month but not necessarily a fixed date.

I tried setting the budget to weekly but I can’t see where I’m at beyond knowing there is or isn’t money available in an envelope. Today I changed it to monthly and adjusted the budget amounts accordingly.

As soon as I receive a payment, I disperse it into whatever envelopes I expect to spend from soonest. If I have to spend on a different category, I do an envelope transfer and then record the expense.

But I can’t figure out if I’m overall “on track” on each envelope. I see an overall report of income vs “outgo” but not on a given envelope. With my limited income, I don’t see how to ever get a cushion (I’m in Mexico using pesos) to start the month filling everything and entering each new income into unallocated for the following month.

It seems that this should be simple, but I feel like I am just blindly guessing how much to add to an envelope. Does this make sense? Do I have to do all the adding and subtracting myself to see where I am on any given day? Surely not! I hope I am clear enough to get some useful feedback, and I’m sorry if not. Thanks

It sounds like you’re using it correctly, but if you’re not inputting your whole budget it will be a bit difficult to see where you are in terms of a cushion for the following month. Setting your budget to “monthly” sounds like a good first step, but it will still be a bit incomplete without the additional household categories where you’re spending. Still, if your goal is to use this discretionary income to help reach a goal, you should be able to use the app effectively.
Without setting due dates, your envelopes should show a tic mark to indicate where you are in spending vs. budget, so if an envelope is on track the green bar and tic mark will align, while over- or under-filled categories will be offset to indicate this.
In the beginning, there is definitely some guessing involved as your budget develops. If you have historical data you can use that to estimate the amounts needed, but it is necessarily a fluid process that you’ll likely always be adjusting.
You might try adding a goal envelope for “Cushion” and adding money there specifically to build up that one-month safety net. That way you can use the separate Unallocated funds as exactly that, and distribute that money among envelopes while still building up the money you’ll eventually use to fill the next month’s categories.
I hope this was helpful :slightly_smiling_face:

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A couple of things to highlight: you state “pin money” and “not the whole household budget” Using Goodbudget in this way will let you know where you’re at with regards to how that money is spent and how much you have, but will not tell you anything about your overall financial position.

Since you’re managing only this “pin money” make sure you’re envelopes only relate to expenses related to this “pin money.”

The only way to build this month cushion is ensuring your expenses are less than your income each month. Goodbudget helps you in this way by tracking every expense and income you have, just remember, in your case you’re only tracking a portion of your financial situation. This cushion building can take months to build depending on how well you do with income vs. expenses.

I personally only like to have in each envelope what I need to spend that month and then I have a savings envelope. The extra I save each month by not spending more than I put in that envelope gets transferred to savings envelope. When I have more than a month’s budget in that savings envelope, than I know I’m where I want to be.

There are many different ways and philosophies to manage one’s finances using Goodbudget, so it’s just a matter of finding the right one for you.

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This is how I’m using it - just to accomplish personal goals with personal money, so no other income or expenditures are recorded.

My big question is knowing if I’ve added enough to an envelope when during a particular week there are several deposits and expenditures on multiple days.

So I have 4 classes a week and each one is paid separately and recorded as soon as I receive it. Between classes I may give one daughter her allowance, buy myself a treat, pay for bus fares and physical therapy, all recorded in the appropriate envelope on the day they occur.

I’m finding it hard to visualize where I’m at when the envelope is never full. I hope this clarifies my dilemma. Thanks for taking time to respond!

@Tiffany Perhaps later the tic mark will be more helpful as I get used to it, but the issue of “where I’m at” isn’t in regards to the household budget, just in the envelope cash flow that is constant. I replied more specifically to the other response.
Thanks for your time and comments!

I add my budgeted amount from each paycheck. If the envelope goes negative then I need to review my expenses to see if there was an expense out of the ordinary or if I just didn’t budget the correct amount. When your budget is correct you’ll be adding enough to an envelope. You can also look at the income vs. spending report and the spending vs. budget report to see how you’re doing. I hope that answered your question.

This was my frustration with GB in the early days as well. When you don’t have enough to fill all your envelopes on the first day of the cycle, it’s frustrating to manage envelopes that are very active. Yes, the tick mark on the progress bar shows you where you “should” be, but that only really helps if you started from a full envelope on day 1. The website and apps do tell you how much you have left to fill into an envelope in the current period, but only if you are actually viewing that envelope. If you receive some money during the cycle there is no simple way to distribute it to your envelopes in a manner that respects the envelope total minus what you’ve already filled plus what you’ve already spent.

My solution was to predict my income for the next period and “deposit” that future income into a separate GB account on day 1 of the month. Then I have enough in Unallocated to fill all my envelopes at once. With full envelopes, the tick marks are actually useful and there’s no extra maths or guesses about how to allocate income as it arrives. When I receive income I record it as an account transfer from “Projected” to “Checking” (or “Cash” as appropriate). At any given time I can see how much I have available to spend, how much I am still expecting to receive, how much is left in any envelope, etc.

Note that this method is not the “normal” way of using GB and others here consider it risky. That said, I’ve been using GB this way for years and have never overspent any account based on an envelope balance being higher than what I physically had to spend.

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Yes! This is exactly what I am dealing with. I guess I could try the phantom deposit to unallocated and just reduce it by any amount not received (cancelled class). I’ll have to think about it and see if I can make something work so that I stay on track and don’t get more mixed up than ever!

Thanks a lot for sharing your workaround.

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The report is helpful for the big picture, but I haven’t seen how to use the information in a particular envelope. I’d like the same information on each envelope so as the money goes in and out, I can see where to allocate the bit received for one class so that I stay out of the red in each envelope and don’t keep juggling by making transfers.

Maybe I need to break it down to how much I budget per day - instead of per month or week by day, and deposit into each envelope the corresponding amount for the days until the next money comes in - seems overly complicated, really. Perhaps I’ll just get the feel of it. Or discover a better system! Something designed for revolving monies like petty cash boxes.

Thanks for posting and welcome to Goodbudget!

If you plan to keep your Envelopes ‘Monthly,’ then you might try using the Due Dates feature. When an Envelope has a Due Date, Goodbudget will keep track of your filled so far figure, so you don’t over fill (or under fill) an Envelope.

You can read more about this feature here: Using Due Dates on the Web | Goodbudget

@karisa Thank you, I’ll read the link you shared.

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It’s not really “phantom” deposits, it’s just accounting :slight_smile: It all boils down to the basic accounting equation:

Assets = Liabilities + Equity.

Translated to GB terms:

SUM(Accounts) = SUM(Envelopes) + Unallocated

When you put money in an envelope, you’re not spending it, you’re just committing it to be spent in the future on that category of expense. To me, it just doesn’t feel right to plan future expenses without also planning future income. They go together. The great thing about accounting is that all you need is another Account to hold future/expected/projected income. It’s easy :slight_smile: