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Envelope Budgeting (Q Mac)

szwakydszwakyd Member ✭✭
While I enjoy using Quicken, it seems to be lacking one very functional feature, envelope budgeting. For example if I budget $50 a month for clothing but don't use it, I would apply that amount to a category I have over spent on. I have seen this feature in other software for while you may over spend in one area, you may still underspend overall for that month. I have seen links here where people try to work around it. They are usually more complicated than they are worth. This should really be an integral feature to Quicken's budget section. I do realize it gives you your Net over/under and I find envelope budgeting much more helpful. Hopefully you can add this to a future update.
6 votes

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  • mshigginsmshiggins SuperUser ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited March 2017
    For starters, are you using QMac or QWin?
    Quicken user since Q1999. Currently using QW2017.
    Questions? Check out the  Quicken Windows FAQ list
  • szwakydszwakyd Member ✭✭
    edited February 2017
  • Tom YoungTom Young SuperUser ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited January 2018
    I've suggested a process that may amount to the same thing, really, as moving budgeted amounts between Categories, over here:


    It seems like "envelope" budgeting consists of:

    1) Setting a budget for a period, by Category, which Quicken can certainly do.

    2) Determining that come hell or high water you're only going to spend the total budgeted amount, irrespective of how the "actuals" distribute themselves across Categories. 

    You can do that in Quicken by simply depositing that amount in a checking account and when the money runs out, you stop spending.

    3) Moving cash between envelopes when you run out of cash in one Category but need more.

    And that's where envelope budgeting fails, in my opinion.  Unless you're going to do the extra work of writing notes to yourself every time you move cash between envelopes and updating totals, at the end of the month you're left with a bunch of empty envelopes with no idea where your money went.  But by using Quicken and NOT constantly changing "budget" amounts, at the end of the period you know
    1. How much you actually spent for the period on each Category and
    2. How close you came to spending the budgeted amount for each Category
    It's the misses between "actual" and "budget" that inform you where you need to sharpen your estimates and/or take a closer look at your spending.

    I've never done envelope budgeting so maybe my knowledge of what it entails is too superficial, but it does seem to me that constantly changing "budget" amounts is a lot of extra work that, essentially, ends up destroying valuable information.
  • QPWQPW Member ✭✭✭✭
    edited October 2018
    I think what some of you are missing is psychology not "numbers".

    Personally have never used a budget in my life.
    I'm a saver by nature, and I'm always very aware of every thing I spend and making a decision on it at the time I spend it (not later when I'm getting close to a "limit"), and I have always lived below my means.

    In other words I'm self limiting, instead of needing an external limiting system.
    Now I have created budgets, I just don't live by them, and to me the budgets that I create are mostly to see what that I understand what my yearly income/expense flow is.  Mainly just to make sure I'm on track for the future (won't running out of money before I die).

    Anyways if you look at a subject that is close to budgeting find "debit".  And you find a strange concept of "snowball".  Any "numbers" person will tell you that you should pay off the debit with the highest interest rate first.  "Snowball" says pay off the smallest debt first, why?
    Well it seems that if you attack a big debt with a high interest rate, it doesn't seem to go down very much at all.  If you pay off the small one you get the satisfaction that it seems to go down faster, because it is being compared to itself not the overall debt.

    Then there is the subject of Savings Goals.  Another thing I have never used.
    This a "hide my money, sort of" system.

    For people that see money, spend money, this trick seems to work for them.
    For my brain it doesn't make any sense at all.  I don't spend money just because I have it.

    The point is that the way I see it this has nothing to do with "numbers" it has to do with figuring out the psychology that a person needs to trick themselves into limiting their spending.

    If that is "envelops", then that is what is needed.  It doesn't have to "make sense" to someone one else that has another way to limit their spending to what they can afford.
  • Randy BrownRandy Brown Member
    edited December 2017
    In a perfect world of course it would be easier to stick with established budgets as you describe; however, as you well know (or will learn eventually) we do not live in a perfect world. Flexibility, adaptability, and collaboration is what works. I'm not talking about a single person managing his or her own budget, I'm talking about a person (me) being responsible for the budget of the entire family.  We all try but, you know, stuff happens unexpectedly and from all angles sometimes.  Envelope accounting allows me to keep the peace by not going bananas whenever something comes up to screw up the budget. If someone spends too much from time to time on any given category and I can cover it from another category that happens to be well funded at that time, then we solve the crisis.  You still get enough information to keep the overall budget intact, just sometimes the inner details don't go quite as planned.  Very workable because it allows for some wiggle room before having to put the hammer down on the budget scofflaws (wife, kids, inflation, accidents, taxes....)  that don't always share the same appreciation of a balanced budget that I do.
  • edited December 2017
    What difference does it make if you're shifting funds from one envelope to another...or you know what you have to spend for the month and what your non-discretionary expenses are?  

    Somewhere along the line you know what you'll have left for discretionary spending.

    And setting up Bill reminders and having them posted into the Quicken Windows register xxx numbers of days ahead of being paid/posted allows me to know what is left and how I'm doing for the month.

    On my Home Page that opens with Quicken, I have my bill reminders for the next 14 days, my See Where Your Money Goes graph which tells me my monthly spending so far, and the In/Out/What's Left Cash Flow which tells me EXACTLY whether I am under or over my income for the month and which INCLUDES those bills in the Bill Reminder.  
  • QPWQPW Member ✭✭✭✭
    edited October 2018
    Randy Brown

    Personally I think people make too much of a big deal "negative numbers", and really miss the point of a budget.

    For instance in Quicken 2012 it looked like it wasn't possible to change the budget numbers for the past months (not true, but it looked that way).

    People freaked out, and demanded that they be able to change them.

    That and your statement tends to tell me that we look at budgets completely differently.

    To me a budget has two main purposes.  One is it is a prediction.  Two it should allow for understanding if the whole budget is failing or just one or more categories.

    No one is perfect in a prediction.  It should be assumed that you will either have a surplus or a lack of funds in some category(s).

    You predict, you measure, you try to do better next time.

    Anyone that wants to change past months budget amounts are basically saying that they will not accept the fact that predictions are not 100%.

    They want to go back and change the budget numbers for the past so that they look like they predicted correctly when they in fact didn't.

    It is like taking a test and when you get some of the answers wrong, you go back and change your answers so that your score is better.  It makes you look good, but teaches you nothing about how to be better on predicting your budget.

    On the second part to see if the problem is just one category where you can move the money around, well that is what the totals are for.

    For instance you can have a category group that is labeled "Flexible".
    In you put all the categories that you are willing to move money around in.
    As long as the category group balance doesn't go negative you are OK.

    It is perfectly fine to have some categories that are negative and some that are positive. And for the months after it you can consider changing the budget amounts if you are finding that one (or more) categories are really different than what you predicted.
  • hatTiahatTia Member ✭✭
    > @szwakyd said:
    > While I enjoy using Quicken, it seems to be lacking one very functional feature, envelope budgeting.

    This is similar to Savings Goals, or Rollover Budgeting, which is offered in Quicken Windows.

    There is a thread that is trying to get up votes for Savings Goals Here: https://community.quicken.com/discussion/7333033/qmac-savings-goals-110-legacy-votes/p1

    Hopefully, if we can find a post with the most votes, and keep adding to it, it will get Quicken to prioritize this feature. It is a common way of budgeting, similar concept when using "zero-based budgeting" and many folks use it such as YNAB.

    In fact, if anyone is that frustrated with Quicken Mac, and their seeming lack to prioritize these types a feature, use a different product like YNAB.

    I have used it and love it, but I also like what Quicken has to offer. I have not quite decided which way to in terms of paying for a subscription. Most likely, I'll pay more for the rollover budgeting, saving goal, envelope type budget as I value it.

    Maybe one day Quicken will to for Mac users. The only way to let them know is to try and get more people to vote. Unfortunately, I find this community board not user friendly in terms of locating posts. You can't filter search to specific groups like only Mac related posts.
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