Tracking Used Savings

I am using the Savings Budget and really enjoying it. For tracking emergency savings and investments I am categorizing those as expenses so they are allocated in my monthly budget. So, $100 a week transfer gets marked as an expense in my checking account and is marked as a hidden transfer in the savings account.

I have some big expenses this month and my budget exceeds my income. I transferred funds from savings to pay for them but how should
I mark this in the budget? Surely I can’t tag it as income since that will double-count.

Should I leave it as a transfer, hiding it from the budget and just be over budget for the month? My cash flow is negative this month so maybe that’s fine.

Also any feedback on my savings budget strategy would be appreciated!

I’ll share what I’m doing that I think is similar? I always keep some buffer/emergency dollars in our checking account. Think of it as an immediately accessible savings vs the 1-3 day wait in transferring money from your separate, official savings account of which we also have.

I categorize this immediate money literally as “Spending Buffer” in our Savings Budget. So, in months where expenses exceed income I do the following:

  1. At the end of month, I do the Budget Adjustment process where I reallocate money around the categories to balance everything out.

  2. If I’m still negative (over budget) overall at this point, I then subtract whatever that negative amount is from my running “Spending Buffer” category. The “Spending Buffer” category then carries forward to the next month.

  3. If my income exceeds my expenses for the month I do one of the following: (1) add it to my Spending Buffer category using the Savings Budget Adjustment process (2) move that money to my separate, official savings account or (3) invest it.

  4. Thus, the Spending Buffer category gets carried forward month to month and increases or decreases over time.

So, one thing you could do is just categorize the funds you transferred in as a “Spending Buffer” Expense category. I have mine in a “Savings” Group so that it views as Savings in my budget and it floats that way month to month.

Note: I have no idea if this is best practice and I suspect some people would argue this is dumb practice because if you aren’t disciplined you would simply ignore your actual budget and spend that buffer money every month until it’s gone. However, it works for us.

I use a similar system to yours. I have made a copy of my Tiller spreadsheet, and done a few scenarios as a test. Ultimately, I decided to just hide that transfer (like all other transfers) and let my budget be negative. For me, that is the point of the Savings Budget. It is nice to make everything ‘turn green’ at the end of the month, but if I spent more than my income, it should be red.

If you are using the ‘savings’ part of the Savings Budget sheet, and you have rolled over budget for those big expenses, then that takes care of itself. If those are recurring things, e.g. Automobile Insurance every 6 months, then you can add more budget for the next time it comes around, and give yourself a high-five when that happens and you have the appropriate amount saved.

If you really want to make it green, you can just add any money that you transferred from savings into the ‘savings’ column of your Savings Budget sheet. (Set the ‘Adjust ± Modifies’ section to ‘Savings’)

One note for organization:
I use the ‘Savings’ column of the ‘Expense’ header, which is the total of all savings for my expenses, and make sure that I have that number in a separate savings account. That way, if I need to use some of my accrued savings, I know that I have enough to cover it, and can transfer into my checking account that month.

This is how I do it. I save up for a bunch of larger expenses, which I call Sinking Funds.

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As I’m saving up for a particular Sinking Fund, I budget the expense under “Sinking Fund - Savings.” These buckets continue to grow as I save each month, as I have no “Actual” spending.

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When I begin spending from these Sinking Funds, I budget for them in “Sinking Funds - Spending.” I manually reduce the “Sinking Fund - Savings” category that I am spending from, and then I manually add an amount “From Sinking Fund” that falls under “Other Income.” If I want to have a more accurate picture of my earned income, I will just subtract this income from all of my legitimate sources of income.

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My method isn’t perfect, but it has been working for me. I like that my “Savings” is separated out from my “Spending”.