Budget Enhancement - Allow users to view, analyze, and interact with a yearly budget forecast
QW 2017 R6 Premier (USA) here...
Now that we are 1/3 through 2017, a question I asked myself, “am I on-track or off-track” in my Quicken budget, given my past spending and future spend plan? I kind of could eye-ball that I was doing okay at end March, but April came along and unplanned expenses blew that month out of the water.
Now, with respect to where I may land at year-end, I'm not so sure....
Budget forecasting in particular is something I don’t really
see in Quicken. While I can see my
actuals, budget and “what’s left” (image
1), I cannot see a yearly forecast.
That is, a forecast based upon my
actual spending to date and my budget plan for the rest of the year- “where will I end up at end of year and what
areas am I over/under spending”.
It kind of sounds like what is reported in “what’s left,
right? But, “what’s left” is not the
kind of forecast I am looking for in Quicken.
What’s left is just the difference between budget and actuals,
regardless of timeframe. Forecasts take in historical results (actuals),
timeframe, along with future predictions (budget).
What I do see in Quicken Budgets is an amalgamation of confusing
views (at least to me) around “to-date balances”, balance rollups and
roll-forwards, and the effects of these given whether rollover reserves were
used or not. I’ve dug into these (as
have you!) in an attempt to understand
them and use them, but it seems like
every time I attempt to use this information (or think I understand how they
fit together), I have to educate myself all over again. Understandable concepts on their own perhaps
but not so intuitive, clear, consistent, whatever you want to call it, when combined
and built into the budget tool. As far
as the To Date balance thing goes, I just shut that off.
A note about my perspective...I am really only focused on the expense budget side of things here but I am sure it would apply to income budgeting as well. I don’t use income budgeting yet as the expense side gives me my numbers for my investment pulls each month (early retiree).
Getting back to basics,
here are some thoughts and visuals around implementing budget forecasting
features into Quicken Budgets. The
following images (1,2,4) try to illustrate where one might see a “big picture” forecast
of where they may end up at End of Year.
Along with that, some ideas on how to progressively discover or drill
down into the areas forecasted as over budget and those forecasted as under
budget. Basically the “what” and the
“where”. Lastly, there should be a
clever way (back to a big picture of the budget) to help you make budget
adjustments - take from one category and give to another sort of functionality
for example. Unfortunately, I don’t have
a good visual to support this yet!
Additionally, I exported an Excel snippet of my actual budget from
Quicken. I reorganized the export to
look like “annual view” and rebuilt all of the formulas in Excel and tested
this forecasting approach to see where things fell and if was actually useful
and how it might look and feel given my workflow. See image
3. The formula for forecast is basically:
Forecast = Sum of actual costs to date + (Current Month Budget -Current Month Actuals) + Sum of remaining monthly budgets
Is there is another place in quicken where I can see this
kind of presentation of forecast? Is there value in this basic presentation of
forecasting, for a non-business user? Would
this confuse folks when thinking about “what’s left” v. forecast? Is “what’s left” good enough as far as a
forecast? Is it useful to be able to
visualize where you will end-up v. what you thought? Would it help assess and move money around when
you do monthly or quarterly “latest estimates”?
Just some questions that come to mind...
Have a look at the
visuals. If you like, vote it up. If you don’t like, please do suggest
improvements or changes of direction!
PS. Other than the spreadsheet in image 3, the numbers I added on the screengrabs are mocked up
Image 1 –Graph View -
Yearly. Add End of Year Forecast Figure and
Category Group, Parent Category and perhaps subcategory forecasts
Image 2 – Annual View – Budget v Forecast - Add new pull down view
called Budget v. Forecast. Add End of
Year forecast figure. Modify table view to combine actuals and forecasts for
each month and for column (yearly) totals.
Image 3 – Spreadsheet export and example with real data.
views - where there is the Spending v. Budget (and
whats left) view, add forecast view to ensure consistency.