Way to see how much of savings is already allocated to envelopes?

I’m using the Savings Budget sheet and I really love it. There’s only one thing I can’t quite figure out: how to figure out how much actual available cash I have that is not already allocated to something.

One of the issues that we had before I took over the finances was that we generally failed to account for recurring large expenses that are quarterly or annual, like car registration tabs or my bar dues. We’d budgeted pretty well for things that cropped up every month predictably with the same amount like the mortgage and phone bill, but then we’d be massively over budget because we’d have a big expense come in that we hadn’t saved for. Or, it would be things like utilities, where our electric and gas bill would go down a lot in the summer and then we’d just end up spending the excess, and then our budget would get out of whack in the winter and we’d end up overspending significantly than the budget. We were negative each month by a significant amount as a result.

Savings Budget doesn’t entirely account for these non-monthly but recurring expenses or fluctuating expenses. What I did was just divide those costs by 12 and add envelope categories that would accrue until the expense was incurred, or would hold the average utility expenses so it would at least sort of balance out over the year. We’d look like we’re saving a bunch in the summer and going over in the winter, but it would all basically balance out, and we’d still be cashflow positive over time rather than getting hit month after month.

My wife was all excited because for the first time in almost a year, we were actually cash flow positive on the Spending Trends sheet in May and June. I’m happy about this as well! My wife also works part time and she’s had some larger paychecks than anticipated, which has contributed to some positive direction. She now wants to allocate some of that excess money to things like some garden expansion that she’s wanted to do for a long time.

The only trouble is that at least some decent sized portion of that positive balance is already sort of “spoken for” by future months, which is the money that is supposed to be in the virtual envelopes. Because we didn’t spend it (yet), Spending Trends says “great, you were $500 in the black this month!” but I know that $450 of it is already actually spoken for by those accruing envelopes. My wife just sees “we have $500 extra to play with!” and wants to go spend it, and gets mad when I say “no, we don’t actually have $500 extra to play with, but without doing a bunch of math, I don’t know what the actual number is that we have to play with is.”

What I need is some way to determine out of our savings/net worth how much of the savings in the envelopes is already allocated and should not be treated as excess, and how much is actual excess that we can figure out what to do with (either putting it into savings or finally pulling the trigger on some wants we’ve been putting off). This needs to also take into account if we’ve overspent on a category month-to-month and would need to draw from savings to actually cover it to make the category “whole.” I’d also like to account for an emergency fund number that we need to leave alone, period.

More concretely, say I have $10,000 between savings and checking right now. I want to have a $6,000 emergency fund as a floor, leaving $4,000 left to allocate. Out of that $4,000, I have several envelopes accruing $50 a month towards things like professional licenses and vehicle registration that will be due in several months. Say $2,500 of that $4,000 left in savings is essentially already spoken for with these accruing envelope categories, leaving us with really $1,500 in cash that could be allocated without causing us to not have enough savings to cover that virtual envelope when the bill actually becomes due and we need to spend it. If I had actual physical envelopes, that cash would be in little accounts and we’d have an “overflow” envelope that we could actually decide what to do with.

I also want this to take into account if we overspent on a category for a month because we agreed to dip into savings for an overage for the short term. So, if we went over on groceries for June by $100 because we did a cookout for people, I want that reflected in savings available to make the budget category deficit “whole.” So, the “available cash” number would need to reflect the budget overages as well as the budget savings in a number of categories.

I could probably do this just by adding some savings to the envelope, but I’m afraid that if I do this, it will look like we have more left in a budget month because I zeroed it out, essentially. I don’t want my wife to just keep seeing “oh, there’s X amount available this month” because I keep just adding to the category every time we go over. That red negative number really does cause her to stop and go “we can’t spend anymore here,” and if the number is black, she tends to spend it. If there was a way to decrease available savings when I add savings to the category for the month, that would be ideal. That’s how I’ve been sort of envisioning it in my paper calculations.

I could manually calculate all this out and update it for myself all the time, and worst-case scenario, I can definitely do that, but it would be great if there was a way to automatically calculate it. I just can’t figure out what it is. I thought I essentially just needed to take the absolute value of the savings in each category and add it all up, calculate the total amount remaining in each category for each month, reference a cell labeled “emergency fund value,” and have a formula that compares to total assets or net worth to all of that, but my attempts so far to do that have not actually worked in practice. I also tried just adding up the total amounts available in each category and comparing against the total assets/net worth. It still just doesn’t give me a number that makes sense.

Does anyone have any ideas? Bonus if this could be done right on the Savings Budget sheet (that’s basically what my wife looks at).

Sincere thanks in advance to anyone who has thoughts here.