Tips for managing annual budgets in the Foundation Template?

Hey, folks!

So I’m enjoying the new (and oh-so-zippy) Foundation template, but one thing I’m really missing is the ability to add budgets that span a year. For instance, I might want to budget $500 for “Kid’s birthday”, but that tends to be an expense that really only hits me during the weeks leading up to my kid’s birthday, and not something I’m contributing to every month. So all I really care about is that I spend $500 in total across the entire year.

It seems like this question was brought up back in February, and the proposed solution at the time was to switch to the envelope budget, but I’m not really keen to do that – with this one exception, I’m really enjoying the Foundation template. So I guess I’m curious if a) This is something the Tiller team is thinking of adding to the Foundation template or b) If anybody has found any clever workarounds for accomplishing this.

Thanks all!

You should be able to add $500 in the Categories sheet to the Gifts category in just the month of your child’s birthday. The Categories sheet defaults to an =<cell before> formula but you can override those values with month-to-month manual entries.

i’m with you here. foundation.

i have several rather large annual bills. this past year, i tried adding the amount to the budget only in the month i usually pay them. that turned out to be just wonky. i had a budget that was 0, 0, 0, 6,000, 0, 0 … it was just weird.

this year, i’ve decided to average it out in the budget. 500 a month. i’m not sure that’s going to work any better.

i’ve been arguing with me about this all year :slight_smile:

Thanks, Randy. That suggestion does help somewhat, although I find in practice most of my expenses like this tend to not quite fall neatly into a single month. (They tend to straddle two months, or in the case of my “Vacation” budget, three or four)

Still, I suppose I can put down my total amount as my budget at the beginning of the month, then once I know my actual spending for that month, I can adjust my budget for that month to meet the amount I spent, and stick the remainder in the next month. But that does kinda feel like something a spreadsheet should be able to do for me…

You can just spread out the expense budget over the months that you expect to need it manually.

Can you tell me more about how you’d like the spreadsheet to help?

1 Like

Sure! In an ideal world, I think I’d want something like this:

In addition to my monthly budget, where I can easily see my budget for monthly expenses, how much I’ve spent so far, and how much is available, I would have another sheet that’s almost identical to that, except that it’s for tracking expenses that I want to budget across the year. In my case, that would be things like vacations, kids’ birthdays, Christmas items, donations to our school’s PTA fund, home improvement projects, etc. Things where I’m spending a large amount in some months, and almost nothing in other months.

Transactions that belong to categories that are part of my “annual” expenses don’t get tracked in my monthly budget, but I do get to see them in the annual budget. So not only can I open up my monthly tracker and see whether I’ve been spending too much on restaurants for the month, but I can also open up my annual tracker and see whether I’m over my limit on vacation spending this year. (Of course, in 2020, that would be a no, but in other years, I would care more.) Make sense?

1 Like

I think I understand. It’s not a 1:1 match with your vision, but I just shared something similar to this, the new Budget Builder, which is how I think of similar planning problems. Have a look at it and see if it is close enough to what you envision, @toddarooski.

Oh, nice! I’ll have to take a look at your budget builder and see how that works. It looks like you put a lot of thought and effort into it.

In the meantime, it occurred to me that, since we are just doing everything inside of Google Sheets, it’d be fairly easy for me to whip up a simple version of what I was asking for. So I did. Here’s how it works:

  • For everything that’s an annual expense that I don’t want as part of my monthly budget, I created a category for it with a grouping of “Annual stuff” and marked it as “Hide” in the “Hide from reports” category.
  • Next, I created a new sheet within my Tiller Foundation spreadsheet called “Annual Expenses Summary”.
  • Then I added 4 columns.
    • The first one, “Category” is simply a copy of each of the categories I put in my “Annual stuff” group.
    • The second column, “Budget” is how much I wanted to spend per year on that item.
    • The third column, “Actual” has a formula that looks like this:
      =-1 * SUMIFS(Transactions!E:E,Transactions!D:D, (CONCAT("=", A5)), Transactions!B:B, ">=1/1/2020", Transactions!B:B, "<=12/31/2020" )
      • Basically, I’m saying “Sum up everything in column E of my transactions sheet, as long as the item in column D (the category) matches what I have in column A of this sheet, and the date of the transaction is sometime in 2020”
    • Then my fourth column, “Available” is simply the value in column 2 minute the value in column 3.

That basically gives me a summary of my “Large but somewhat sporadic expenses that I want to track across the entire year” without it affecting my monthly budgets.

That said, it’s not nearly as sophisticated as the budget planner tool you put together, so maybe I’ll give that one a closer look.

That makes sense @toddarooski. There are so many valid ways to skin this :cat2: in a spreadsheet. I’d also consider using Tags in the workflow you describe since they are helpful in identifying/grouping/aggregating transactions that span multiple categories.

Hey! I’ve been looking for a way to do this exact thing! Did you ultimately decide on what you are going to do? I do like your proposed approach above, but the only downfall of “hiding” from the monthly budget is that it hides it from the yearly budget as well. Looking for the happy medium…