Budget Difference Figure

imkyle3 Member ✭✭✭

Using Classic Quicken for Mac.

When viewing the current year's budget, a figure appears in the upper right corner of the window. (see image). What does that figure reflect? I can see that it's for the full year and not YTD, but for such a prominent figure, it's rather meaningless if it reflects unfilled actual vs budget numbers. Better it should be the rolling actual vs budget amount as shown in the summary column.

So hoping you can explain to me where that figure comes from.




  • 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 2024 column visible and set to show January to December (in the drop-down menu under 2024, 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 of 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-over-four-month actual?

    A much more useful value to look at, in my opinion, is visible if you switch the 2024 column to show January to May (in the drop-down menu, this is “Budget Year-to-Date Totals”). In my made-up example, that might look like this:

                  Jan to May     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 May versus my actual income/expenses year-to-date through the early part of May, 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. 

    Of course, what I really want to be able to do is compare budget to actual for the period of January through April — the last complete month. Unfortunately, Quicken Mac provides no way to do that — although such a report is marked "Planned" by the developers and all hopefully arrive, at long last, sometime this year. Currently, the only real way to do this budget analysis is to export your budget, delete the columns for May through December, create formulas to sum each row of January-April for actual, for budget, and for difference, and to then sum those columns down (omitting the cells which contain sub-categories, so they aren't counted twice in the total). It's doable, but quite a pain.

    Quicken Mac Subscription • Quicken user since 1993
  • imkyle3
    imkyle3 Member ✭✭✭

    Thanks for the time and effort in your well-thought-out response, Jacob.

    I do have "Budget Year To Date Totals" selected in the drop-down and find the corresponding info in the summary section useful. I was puzzled by the prominent green "Difference" figure and your response clarifies how it is derived. Its usefulness, as you noted, is questionable.

    The proposed "Planned" report should be an improvement and I look forward to seeing that added in up-coming updates.

    Thanks, again, Jacob.

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