Comparing Savings Budget Available to Account Balances

I would like to be sure my ‘budget represents reality’, meaning the Available amounts in my Savings Budget are actually funded by money in my bank accounts. (At this point I don’t care where the money is located in my checking account or savings account. I just want to be sure the total Available amount (i.e. the amount I’m telling myself I have available) is equal to the total amount of funds I actually have in the bank.) I think this thread and the related thread Savings Budget - checking that it tracks real-world savings address my concern. Even though this thread has not been active in a while, I think this is the best place to ask my questions.

First question:
Is there a calculation in the Budget Health columns (referenced above), which indicates how much the total Available amount in my budget is different than the total amount of funds I have in the bank?

Second question:
I created a sheet in my budget which

  • A: Calculates the sum of all the accounts in my budget (i.e. adds all checking/savings accounts and subtracts all credit card accounts)
  • B: Calculates the total of all the Available amounts in the current month
  • C: Calculates the total of all uncategorized transactions
  • D: Calculates A - B - C

If D is positive, then I have more money in the bank than I’m telling myself I have in the total of my Available columns. This is good.
If D is negative, then I have less money in the bank that I’m telling myself I have in the total of my Available columns. This is bad. I need to reduce the Available amount in one or more categories, until D is zero or positive.

My question is: Is this an accurate and reliable way to determine if my budget represents reality (i.e. if the Available amounts in my Savings Budget are actually funded by money in my bank accounts)?

Thanks for any feedback and guidance.

Have you seen the Savings & Debt template, @DannyD? It should address at least your first question.

Have a look and let us know what remains with your desired workflow.

@DannyD This is a good question, and something I’m working on as well. I’m not sure about using the Available amounts for this though. The Available column is the Savings + Budget - Actual, and I don’t really see why you’d want the budget information in your calculation. If you see something I don’t, though, let me know. I’d just say use the Savings - Actual numbers for your point B and leave out the budget entirely.

Working from there, my replacement for points B and C would be to add together:

  • All transactions in the transactions sheet (assuming there isn’t a backlog of old uncategorized transactions)
  • All of the “Savings” Type rows of the Budget Journal

Theoretically, then, that sum should equal the sum of all of the accounts. Of course there will be some small error for when the balances and transactions are updated, I’m ok with that. I feel like this is a pretty simple solution, there are just two things that could mess it up (that I can think of right now):

  1. Unbalanced transfers
  2. Hidden categories

@randy I’d be curious what you think of this approach, and whether I missed anything.

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Thanks, @matt, for your response. I think you and I may have slightly different goals in our calculations. By including “all transactions in the transactions heet” it sounds like you want to see if your current Tiller account balances match your current bank account balances, similar to the process of ‘reconciling’ accounts to be sure recorded transactions match the bank’s transactions. Reconciling my Tiller accounts with my bank accounts is also important to me, but this is not what I am trying to do in the calculations I shared above.

I see my Savings Budget as containing a set of ‘mini savings accounts’. These mini savings accounts are my way of telling myself how much is Available for me to spend in each category. By implication, the Budgeted amount is included in my calculation, because the Budgeted amount is how much additional money I assume is Available to spend each month. But the gist of my approach is the Available amount for a category is the amount I have available to spend for that category. Thus, my Total Available amount can’t exceed the Net Sum of all my bank accounts (i.e. the money available to spend can’t exceed the money I actually have in the bank). Does that make sense?

Please let me know if I have misunderstood your post, or if I am missing something in the way I am trying to use my total Available amounts in Tiller to equal my total available money in the bank. Thanks, again, for discussing this topic. I want to be sure I understand the principles involved in these processes, so that I can be confident in how I use my Tiller budget to make spending decisions.

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Hi, @randy. Thanks for your response. The Savings & Debt template seems like a tool for comparing the Savings Goals of a particular set of categories against the existing funds in a particular bank account (or set of accounts). I can imagine scenarios where that would be helpful. However, I am trying to do something similar, but different. I want to compare the total of my Available amounts against the net total existing funds in all my bank accounts, in order to be sure my overall budget does not exceed the actual money I have in the bank. Does that make sense? More importantly, are the principles behind my calculations accurate? Please see my response to @matt for additional explanation. Thanks, again, for your help here.


Regarding your first question:

Is there a calculation in the Budget Health columns (referenced above), which indicates how much the total Available amount in my budget is different than the total amount of funds I have in the bank?

The Budget Health calculations are more designed around a balanced (expense vs income) budget because, even if you’re “on budget”, if your expense budget is larger than your income budget, you shouldn’t accrue any rollover savings. These calculations also do nothing to compare to balances. That is part of the secret sauce of the Savings & Debt template since it allows you to connect budgeting “savings” to actual account balances.

Regarding your second question, your approach makes sense but I agree with @matt, that it may make more sense without the current-month budget included. These values are available to you in the hidden area of the Savings Budget in columns AP (including Budget Journal adjustments which @matt also makes a good point about).

And if you want the current-month budget included, you can just leverage column AQ.

It is unfortunate that the values in AP will depend on the period selection in the Savings Budget sheet. In other words, if you left an old period selected in your Savings Budget sheet, your dashboard— wherever it lives— would not render the correct numbers. I believe I rebuilt a simpler version of these calcs (for this reason) into the (hidden area of the) Savings & Debt template. You could consider copying them out to create a standalone dashboard.

Also, to @matt’s point about hidden categories, you can see that hidden categories are fully processed in column AG but then filtered out of the dashboard. So these numbers are available to you if you reference the hidden area of the Savings Budget.

Hope this helps.

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@DannyD you’re right, I misunderstood what you were trying to do. I was looking backward to reconcile my budget while you’re looking forward.

I think your calculation works if your B value is just the sum of the Available amounts for the Expense categories. If you include the Income Available also, you get some weird numbers since budgeted income shows up as negative in the Available column until you’ve earned it. Does that work for you in your calculation, or is there a reason that I’m missing to include income amounts somehow?

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