How is the value shown in the "Difference" field calculated (Q Mac)

This value is shown in large green numbers on the top right of the budget page…


  • jacobs
    jacobs SuperUser, Mac Beta Beta

    That number in the upper right is a pretty useless one, in my opinion. It is showing the difference between your income minus expenses budget for the whole year and your actual income-minus-expenses year-to-date.

    Let's look at a made-up example:

                  Full Year     Year-To-Date   

                    Budget         Actual        Difference

    Income         $180,000       $30,000        –$150,000 

    Expenses       $200,000       $25,000         $175,000 

    Difference     –$20,000        $5,000          $25,000

    These are the numbers you see at the top of your budget in the Summary section, if you have the 2023 column visible and set to show January to December (in the drop-down menu under 2023, this is “Entire Budget Year Totals”). In this example, the positive $25,000 is what would show up in the upper right of the budget window.

    In this example, my full-year budget is for a $20,000 loss (excess or expenses over income), while my year-to-date is currently a positive $5,000, the difference of which is a positive $25,000. But what does this number mean? I think it's pretty meaningless. How useful is it to compare your 12 month budget to your just-under-two-month actual?

    A much more useful value to look at, in my opinion, is visible if you switch the 2023 column to show January to March (in the drop-down menu, this is “Budget Year-to-Date Totals”). In my made-up example, that might look like this:

                  Jan to Mar     Year-To-Date   

                    Budget         Actual        Difference

    Income          $28,000       $30,000          –$2,000 

    Expenses        $30,000       $25,000           $5,000 

    Difference      –$2,000        $5,000           $3,000

    Now we're looking at my budget through March versus my actual income/expenses year-to-date through partof March, so I can see I am $2,000 below my budget in income, $5,000 below my budget in expenses, with the total difference of $3,000 ahead of budget. That tells me what I'd want to know: my bottom line is $3,000 better than I had budgeted year to date. 

    Let me know if any of this isn't clear. Every time I look at this, I feel like I need to figure it out from scratch again. 😉

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