Expense budgets allow you to keep your spending in control, while income budgets make it possible to save for your goals (e.g. holidays). You could create one major budget and just stick with it, or you could create individual budgets for each spending type (Groceries, Transport, Kids, Entertainment, etc). You might have seen us referring to accounts as containers for transactions and account groups as containers for accounts. Continuing with this notion, budgets can be described as containers for transactions that meet a certain criteria.
Let's say that you want to start controlling your spending in various areas. To achieve this, think about how you could organize your spending in envelopes. In some envelopes, you might want to go into more detail, whereas in others, an umbrella term will suffice. For example:
- Regular bills
- -- Rent
- -- Household bills (electricity, heating, water)
- -- Internet and TV
- -- Mobile phone
Notice how we got into details when it comes to regular bills but for other categories, we were pretty generic. Of course, the final look of the envelope (budgets) layout is up to you. Feel free to make use of budget groups as well to further organize your budget structure!
When creating budgets, you'll have to select categories that the budget will monitor. Any expense that meets the budget criteria will appear in the budget, reducing the budget allowance for the current period. If needed, you can transfer available funds from one budget to another - which comes in handy if one of your household bills gets unexpectedly big this month and you need to cover for the deficit using your Entertainment funds for example.
Budgets can be repeating regularly if you wish or be one-offs (a wedding budget). Categories and accounts are the main filters that allow you to decide which transaction goes to which budget, but you can also use tags to classify them further (e.g. a taxi category expense with "Wedding" tag could get classified to your Wedding budget only, while a taxi category expense with "Personal" tag would not get assigned there). Moreover, you can either have the budgets remember the closing balance on their ending day (e.g. you had $15 left in your Entertainment budget that you didn't spend on anything) and include it in the next budget occurrence (+$15 to Entertainment allowance, on top of what you normally receive).
Income budgets (goals)
There's nothing wrong with spoiling yourself during an expensive holiday but it'd be irresponsible to do it without proper planning. That's where goals come in.
You can create goals to start saving up for some bigger expenses, like next year holiday, car upgrade or your new TV. Just like with expense budgets, you start by selecting which accounts and categories to monitor for incomes, set your goal and decide if the goal should be repeating or not.