Thoughts on budgeting 💸

I know, there are a couple of threads with ideas about budgets. But I thought it might be a good idea to compile a couple of them.

In brief:

  • Make budgets “independent”
  • Separate budgets from reporting
  • Make budget periods more clever
  • Allow budgets to be connected to vaults

Now I am going to explain what exactly I’ve got in mind:

Independent budgets: right now, there’s a global budget and then sub-budgets based on categories. I can see how this works for many people. But for me personally, this makes the whole budget functionality unusable. Here’s why: I would like to use budgets for relatively predictable things like groceries and restaurants. But not for occasional spendings like cloths, shoes, expensive electronics like new headphones. I don’t spend in these categories every month. So when occasionally spending in these categories, this would blow my global budget. It’s hard to set a global budget, because I just don’t really know when I am going to buy a new dishwasher. I would have to set an arbitrary value here that would have no relation to anything. So what I would like are category budgets that are independent from a global budget. I would like to be able to not set a global budget at all while still using category budgets.

Separate budgets from reporting: this complements my first point. I know that I can mark single spendings so that they won’t affect budgets. But that also affects reporting. Let’s say I have bought a dishwasher for 1000 GBP and don’t want this occasional spending to blow my monthly budget. When I switch off analytics for this transaction, it won’t affect the budget, but it also will be excluded in analytics. I don’t think that makes sense at all. In analytics, I want bare, true and complete numbers about what was actually spent per category. With budgets, I want control over a predefined budget for a certain category per month. Ignoring an occasional transaction for a budget should not “falsify” reporting. (It would be different if Revolut would allow not just monthly budgets but also yearly budgets per category. I might like the idea to set up a yearly budget for travel et cetera. But monthly budgets really make only sense for categories that have expenses in the same ballpark every month. And unfortunately, I do not go on vacation monthly.)

Budget periods: this is a feature long asked for. Users want a budget to be alined with their paycheck. To me personally this is irrelevant. But I totally get it why it’s necessary. But I would go further: the system should detect the incoming salary. So besides being able to predefine a starting date manually, there should be the option to let the system reset the budgeting period based on when the salary actually arrives.

Connection to vaults: Some budgets are category based, but others aren’t. Let’s say one puts some money aside for a vacation. Expenses for this vacation then happen in different categories: train ticket, groceries, restaurants, museum ticket. Maybe there could be an option to allow payments to be funded from a vault. And when this is the case, the analytics section shows how one is doing in regard to the vacation budget. How much is spent, how much of it is left. I know this point is a bit complicated and not completely thought through UX wise. But I believe there is a clever way to have these sort of “event budgets” displayed. It would make vaults actually more useful and I would see a reason to put money aside for a specific spending purpose. (After all, I still believe is the most clever implementation of saving/budgeting, but that‘s a different matter.)