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Please add Zero Dollar Based budgeting to the software!!! (at least as an option)

ChiTown094 Member
Hi, I wish there was a way where you could budget dollars based off of your "Available Balance" in your accounts, and that you could only assign dollars to your budget categories based off of your currently available balance. Only when a deposit has been made to one of your accounts that are tied to your budget, is when you will have more dollars available to budget. This method of budgeting and planning has been given a couple of different names, such as “Zero Dollar Based Budgeting," and also the “Envelope System.” I will use the remaining of the post to explain and justify this request.

This would make it easier for users to control and see their financial journey for the year, BASED on REALITY. You could keep the current budgeting system for those that like it, but at the very least add the option for this feature, to where you can budget dollars based off of your available balance, and that you could only assign dollars to your budget categories, from your available balance. This would mimic real life. A software that does this well that I would recommend your developers spy on is a software called YNAB 4 and YNAB's newer online version. I'm sure you can do it, you guys have way more resources than YNAB. Please don't shrug this off as, we're just different than them etc. Please add this feature to your budgeting, at least as an option. Whoever reads this, please push this up to the decision makers for implementation. I like the software, but this is the only drawback that keeps me from using this service, as it is a very huge drawback. Here is a link to a forum of users going back and forth on this same issue, please read all of the moments on the forum and you will see it is a real drawback overall. There also YouTube videos of people coming up with workarounds for this missing feature in budgeting and planning, such as this one:

I'm not saying you have to scrap the current budgeting system, but at the very least give the "option" to add Zero Dollar based budgeting where you budget and assign dollars based on your actual checking, savings, and credit card account balances etc that you assign to be “on budget accounts. Only when deposits are made to one of your on-budget accounts, can you assign dollars to budget categories. Obviously you would make it to where the users can choose which accounts are included in the budget (on budget and off budget accounts) to assign the dollars from those accounts into the budget categories, and so the users can only assign more dollars once deposits are made into the selected on budget accounts, therefore having more available dollars to assign to budget categories. And then the next budget year, you can set a new budget for the year etc. That's Zero Dollar based budgeting, where you give every dollar a job. And so the budget should match your on-budget account balances that you selected to be apart of the budget. That way I have a clear picture on my finances, not just some arbitrary budgeting numbers I set up.

You guys have so many great features in your software but this the one feature that is needed and desired that you are missing. Just check the back and forth in the forum that I posted the link to earlier. Please push this point to the decision makers to be added in one of your updates. I'm sure you could then even happily charge more for your software with this one feature alone, as YNAB charges more, because this gives users real understanding and planning of their money. Without this feature, which gives users so much control of their money (like one user stated in the forum, link posted above) then “it’s nothing more than a souped-up checkbook register.” And as you can see in the forum (link posted above and YouTube video with 40k views), I’m sure most users that have this same issue don’t take the time to post, let alone try to bring it to your attention. Your software has so many great features, but this is a huge area I feel you dropped the ball on, as this is what most of your customers would need in a financial software. I would love to see this feature added in one of your updates (again, at least make it an option for those who would love it), and I would happily renew my subscription, but as of now, I’ve decided to cancel my renewal of my subscription because of this important missing feature in your budgeting and planning.
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  • RCC
    RCC Member ✭✭
    edited March 13
    I agree - a zero based budgeting system such as what ynab is doing is a great tool for preplanning money for each dollar in ones accounts. I too am seriously thinking of dropping my subscription. I've been a quicken user since inception and would hate to cancel but it is that important to me.
  • majorgear
    majorgear Member ✭✭
    I also agree with this. I found your post while searching for instructions on implementing a zero based budge in Quicken. That would allow me to cancel YNAB and reduce duplication of effort in maintaining 2 financial applications.
  • alewitt2
    alewitt2 Member ✭✭

    same boat. i have been a quicken user for 15 years and its getting too difficult to budget with my spouse in quicken, and i am looking for a zero based budget option. If Quicken could implement this, i would be ecstatic!

  • QWinUser
    QWinUser Member ✭✭✭✭

    I have used a "zero balance" budget with Quicken for many years. It involves having ALL transactions (Bills, Income, Transfers, CC Payments) set up in the "Bills & Income" tab so you can post future transactions (30, 60 days, or 12 months). It doesn't work to just show reminders because they are not "editable". Then you would need to choose which accounts would be your zero balance accounts and your funding accounts. For me, all my credit cards are zero balance accounts. My checking account is the funding account. I maintain a balance range in the checking account and transfer to and from savings to maintain that balance range (if needed).

    I actually post transactions out 12 months, so I always know well in advance if I need to fund or make a payment. I have also automated all my bills and expenses to make things easier.

    This is a very high level description of a method that works for me. It may not work for everyone, but it's worked well for me and maybe someone else may find it useful.

  • QWinUser
    QWinUser Member ✭✭✭✭

    I forgot to add that it would be nice if Quicken had a Zero Dollar Budget option, but I have two main concerns - programmability and demand. It takes a change in mindset for those that just have used "traditional" budgeting methods therefore the demand is lacking. The feature would require programming that I doubt Quicken would invest the time and money to invest without the demand.

    But I agree that Zero Dollar Budgeting is a great "real world" tool for those willing to make the commitment to utilize it and it removes the arbitrary guesswork from budgeting.

  • I have been using the zero based budgeting for over a decade and I'm struggling to wrap my head around how quicken's budgeting works. I would love to have a little more control over editing the current budget so that I could use it as a zero based type. I may have to go back to Quickbooks paired with Excel if I can't figure out a way to understand how the current budgeting works. It causes me great anxiety and I never trust how much money I have to work with the following month because I don't understand the current system. Very frustrating.

  • Kathryn See
    Kathryn See Member ✭✭

    Thank you to the OP for posting this. Many people (especially retirees) live basically from paycheck to paycheck. It's difficult to use the existing budget feature as you can too easily budget for more than your monthly income. Would this be considered a Cash Flow type of budgeting? If not, what is the difference between a Zero Based Budget and a Cash Flow budget? This really is a change in mindset, and makes much more sense to me. I would like to see a true Allocated Budget and Budget Status that is real and will show a difference in Red or Green based on whether you will save money or have to reduce spending on any given month.

    The above comment from QWinUser was very helpful to me because showed me that I'm not the only one out there that does their budget like I do mine currently. Still, budgeting is frustrating enough on it's own. I love Quicken for it's Calendar, primarily and find that it records a day to day idea of what your months cash flow is.

    The one thing that causes me problems is that the Budget for the month is a calendar month versus a selected date range. I get paid on the third Wednesday of every month, so I would like to ability to see my Budget based on that span of time from paycheck to paycheck. I can run reports based on the time frame, but not with my budget amounts. I still get it to work, but would make budgeting easier for people living paycheck to paycheck without dipping into savings.