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How to project future balances? RRS feed

  • Question

  • Hello. I have used Money for basic bookkeeping for several years, namely to track balances for checking/savings/credit cards and nothing more. I'm trying to use Money to get a little more out of it.  Is there a way for me to see what my balance would be say, at the end of the month or next month or in 3 months?   Is there a way to configure my recurring expenses, planned expenses (like dining out), bills and credit cards that are due on specific dates and then let Money show me what my balance would be after a given number of days/months?

    Are there any tutorials or guides on how to do something like this?

    Thanks in advance.

    Wednesday, October 28, 2015 8:24 PM

All replies

  • Assuming that you are using a full version of Money (i.e. not Money Essentials) you can do a good bit of what you asked.

    If you select "Bills Summary" you can enter your recurring bills and deposits (credit card payments, rent, electric, etc.) with known or estimated amounts.  Then you can select Banking>Account Tools>Cash Flow Review to see the balance of your primary checking account into the future assuming the recurring bills that you entered.

    For more detail on how to set thing up, two good sources are:

    http://money.mvps.org/faq/default.aspx

    and

    http://umpmfaq.info/index.htm

    Your recurring bills will not cover all of your expenses, of course.  For example, there is no simple way to enter "dining out" expenses because you won't always eat at the same restaurant for a predictable amount each month.  But once you can see the cash flow behavior for your regularly recurring expenses, you will see what you will have available for "extras" or unanticipated expenses.

    Money does have a budget feature, but I recommend that you don't dive into that right away.  It allows you to set targets for expense categories and it can be wrestled into a useful tool.  However, I have found it to be counter-intuitive in operation and a lot of work to set up and use.  Set up your recurring expenses first and use the cash flow analysis long enough to see that it is working for you.


    Bill Becker

    Thursday, October 29, 2015 4:15 AM
  • Bill, thank you for your message.  I will try out the bills and cash flow features.  I was starting to look into the budget feature and after reading your suggestion, I will avoid it.  I will check out the links as well.

    For things like "dining out" or just "cash", I want to give myself an allowance each month (for example, let's say, $200 for dining out and $400 for cash).  I have set something up that shows a thermometer for these type of expenses and turns red when I'm over but I also want to be able to include these (the $200 and the $400) in the  cash flow projection.  If you have suggestion on how to do that, that would be appreciated.  Meanwhile, I will play around to see if I can figure this out.

    Thanks again.

    Thursday, October 29, 2015 7:39 PM
  • The most important consideration is to get a system that:

      - gives you just the information you need to make financial decisions

      - isn't so difficult to maintain that you give up on it

    A couple of suggestions.  

    For the cash, if you have a cash account, I would set up a recurring transfer from checking to that cash account.  This might be $100 recurring weekly.  Then, when you withdraw cash you would click on that recurring entry in the Bills Summary, select "Enter in Register", change the amount to what you actually took that week, and then enter the transaction.

    If you don't have a cash account set up, - i.e. you aren't tracking and categorizing cash transactions, then you can take a different approach.  Just set up a recurring bill with a category like "Personal Cash" and the $100 estimated amount.  Then, as with the transfer above, you enter the actual amount each week.  All these expenses will show up in reports under the "Personal Cash" category.

    For other expenses such as "Meals Out", "Entertainment", "Market", and similar categories I suggest that you include these as a single total in your monthly credit card payment.  Set up a monthly target for each category and then put the total of those in a recurring bill payable to your credit card company (or as a transfer to your credit card account if you have that set up in Money).   As above, when you actually pay your credit card bill you enter the correct total.  After a few months you can run a report to see how you are doing against your estimates for each category and make adjustments.


    Bill Becker

    Thursday, October 29, 2015 8:41 PM