My Savings Goals Simply Work!

Flopbot
Flopbot Superuser ✭✭✭✭✭
edited April 2023 in Share your Success!

Greetings,

I'm sharing this in case anyone else is struggling with Savings Goals, like I was. Maybe you'll find it helpful.

Over the last 4-ish months, I've really, really tried to focus on learning Savings Goals and to get mine to work flawelessly as they're currently designed - NOT as I wish them to be designed by Simplifi. Finally, I'm happy to report that when I assign money to a Savings Goal, I can trust that (A) the money isn't getting lost, (B) the money isn't getting unnowingly redistributed to some other Savings Goal, & (C} that I'm not having to spend all my time simply maintaining and troubleshooting an imaginary bucket of money.

In order to get there, I came to create some unofficial, unwritten rules about how Simplifi's Savings Goals really work. Then, I had to mentally accept them, after which my ineractions with Simplifi's Savings Goals became sooo much better and everything just fell into place. Yes, accepting them forced me to make some real-world changes, it's just the reality that comes with our choosing to use ANY financial software. Yes, there are features and tweaks that I hope Simplifi will make someday at which time I'll gladely update my thinking.

My Unofficial, Unwritten Rules for Savings Goals:

  1. ONLY use "Withdraw to spend for goal" for one-time Savings Goals.
  2. Use "Withdraw for other purposes" for recurring Savings Goals.
  3. Only use a Savings Goal with traditional Savings Accounts.
  4. Each Savings Goal is tied to only one (1) real-world Savings Account.
  5. Only use a Savings Goal for accounts that don't have automatic deposits going into them.
  6. Ignore the Saving Goal portion of the Spending Plan.

Changes made to my Real-world Accounts:

Every paycheck, I have money deposited into savings for Christmas and B-Days funds. Due to Rule #5, I opened up two (2) new savings accounts; one dedicated for each use. They serve as de facto, stand-alone savings goals - just not tracked by Simplifi that way - and ANY money that finds itself in those real-world Savings Accounts, is autmatically designated for that specific named use. Before doing this, I was constantly forgetting about entering Savings Goals in the Spending Plan and having frequent issues with deposits showing up on the wrong month's Spending Plan. Also, I would frequently have issues with money getting unnowingly redistributed to some other Savings Goal - which drives my wife nuts - or with the “Available Balance” number plunging into the negative which drives me nuts.

Since there is no way to schedule Savings Goal contributions/withdrawals for future dates, I opened up another new Savings Account with the same bank that holds my Checking Account so I could instantly transfer money back and forth instead of waiting for up to 5 days. This greately reduced the number of times that (A) my Savings Goals appeared to be off dispite technically being okay or (B) my having to remember to make a contribution/withdrawel from a Savings Goal on some future date. More importantly, in my mind, it also greatly reduced the time I spent frustratedly troubleshooting stuff.

Here's an overview of my real world accounts:

  • Checking Account - w/ Bank A
  • Savings Account #1* - w/ Bank A - For Christmas
  • Savings Account #2* - w/ Bank A - For B-Days
  • Short-Term Savings Account #3 - w/ Bank A (account # ending in 7000)
  • Long-Term Savings Account #4 - w/ Bank B (account # ending in 8000)

*Because of Rule #5, these two accounts have NO Savings Goals assigned to them.

Here's a snippet of how I name my Savings Goals:

  • ~ST: Zoo Membership SG>7000
  • ~ST: Home Maintenance SG>7000
  • ~ST: Auto Related SG>7000
  • ~LT: BIG Home Projects SG>8000
  • ~LT: Taxes SG>8000

The “ST” stands for Short-Term and “LT” for Long-Term.

The # at the end reminds me which Savings Goals are tied to which accounts (Rule #4).

Other Random Things:

100% of the time, I use this button when Withdrawing from a goal…

For ANY account that has Savings Goals, my personal goal is that the highlighted number will ALWAYS be zero. When this number is not $0, and I know that there are no transactions I haven't processed, then I know I'm safe to Contribute to a Savings Goal of my choice!

P.S. I love the way Simplifi clearly displays the highlighted “Available Balance” on my list of accounts! Coming from Quicken, this was the first thing I noteced about Simplifi. It is so much better than Quicken Desktop!

Remember that what I've shared above IS NOT officially sanctioned best practices according to Simplifi. It's just the the musings of a fellow Simplifi user who's trying to document what seemed to work for me.

Chris
Quicken Desktop user since 2014.
New to Simplifi in 2021.
Tagged:

Comments

  • DannyB
    DannyB Superuser ✭✭✭✭✭

    Chris, you have so much more patience then I do!

    Thanks for sharing you “musing” with the community.

    A few clarifying questions:

    1. Based on rule #5 I take it that you don't have your Christmas and B-Days set up a automatic transfers but make those tranfers manually? OK, never mind, you have a footnote that answers that. So no SGs for Xmas and B-Days? It looks like you set that money aside but don't track it in Simplifi?
    2. Also about rule #5 - I'm not clear why no automatic deposits? I think I understand what you are saying, but not sure why this is important.
    3. Am I understanding you correctly that when you came to your final set up you selected ""No, don't sed aside" on the final goal setup page? What is the impact or advantage of this choice for using SGs set up for expenditures over time?

    I'll go with these questions for now and maybe some more latter as I muse on using your 5 unofficial, unwritten rules.

    Danny
    Simplifi user since 01/22
    Budget: a mathematical confirmation of your suspicions.” ~A.A. Latimer
  • Flopbot
    Flopbot Superuser ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited March 2023

    @DannyB

    Aparently my lack of time causes me to spend endless time on trying to automate things…🤔.

    I came up with Rule #5 basically because the Spending Plan>Income after bills & savings>Savings Goals seems to be just too blunt an tool to be useful for me with it's present build.

    Since we can't schedule Savings Goal contributions/withdrawels, I was constantly running into issues with that $50 Christmas SG contribution that was meant for January showing up in February's Spending Plan. Also, a big part of that rule's existance might have to do with when I have time to deal with Simplifi (1-2 times a week).

    Since we can't schedule Savings Goal contributions/withdrawels, I could never quite figure out the right schedule or way to remind myself to make the necesary associated contributions so I was always forgetting and over time I'd end up with $150 in the "Available Balance" that I had no idea where it was supposed to go. Inevitably, I'd assign it to one SG only to find out later that it was meant for a different SG. For me, the regular automatic deposits are just too regular and often to keep up with at this present time.

    To answer Question #3, that is essentually what I'm doing. At this point in time, I'm pretty much ignoring all SG's on the Spending Plan. Unfortunatly, I don't yet know what the downside is. Hopefully I don't kick myself later.

    Generally, as I'm approached Simplifi, I'm following this order of importance…

    1. Figre out the best Categories that work for me. - DONE
    2. Figure out a way of handling CC's that works for me. - DONE
    3. Figure out a way of handling Savings Goals that works for me. - DONE
    4. Figure out a way of managing a Cash Envelope system. - IN PROGRESS
    5. Figure out the Spending Plan. - ??

    Addendum - Just thought of one additional benefit to Rule #5. With fewer transactions flowing through each account, it actually makes my moc account reconciliation each month go really fast! Subsequently, it is also easier to catch errors.

    Chris
    Quicken Desktop user since 2014.
    New to Simplifi in 2021.
  • DannyB
    DannyB Superuser ✭✭✭✭✭

    LOL… like I said, MUCH more patience then me 😏 … and it appears you are one of those methodical thinkers whereas I'm way over on the intuitive side of things.

    Danny
    Simplifi user since 01/22
    Budget: a mathematical confirmation of your suspicions.” ~A.A. Latimer
  • ajbopp
    ajbopp Superuser ✭✭✭✭
    edited March 2023

    I found one good use for using “Withdraw to spend for goal” over another purpose.

    I have a health savings account that I no longer contribute to, being retired. Since I can only use this account for one type of expense, I marked the entire balance as a Healthcare SG. Whenever I have an expense on that card, I subtract it from the SG and the purple/blue lines give me an excellent overview of where the account stands and I can estimate about how long it's likely to be before the account needs to be closed for lack of funds.

    The advantage is that this effectively removes the HSA from my overall spending plan and dedicates it to the single purpose it is capable of.

    I also have a couple of other “special case” savings goals designed to help me with emergencies. I have SGs set for “Minimum Savings” and “Minimum Checking.” That is I keep a balance in the accounts of $5000 and $2000 respectively, and hope to grow it further. Sometimes something will come up that forces me to withdraw from the SG in order to maintain a positive “available to spend” balance, and then I know I need to start contributing to that particular savings goal again.

    Anthony Bopp
    Simplifi User Since July 2022
    Money talks. But all my paycheck ever says is goodbye

  • RobWilk
    RobWilk Superuser ✭✭✭✭✭

    Sadly, to the best of my knowledge, I need to have automatic regular deposits to my savings account for them to be fee-free. So rule #5 is not one I can follow without losing money.

    Thanks for the info re: “Withdrawing for goal” vs. “Withdrawing for another purpose.” The way I started with recurring goals is, for example, I'd have a 2023 goal ("to cover expense x in 2023"), and when that is met, I will start a 2024 goal ("to cover expense x in 2024") for the same thing.

    Also, where you have “ST" (Short-Term) and “LT” (Long-Term) goals, for my short-term goals, I set a goal date, and additionally, where you put ST, I put the month and year of the goal date. This allows me to quickly find the following short-term goal due in sequence to decide if I want to focus any extra savings on that short-term goal - - because meeting the sooner-due goals may be more ‘critical.’ Even goals 2-3 years away can be ‘short term’ as I'm tracking them (for example, if I know my laptop has a supported shelf life to mid-2025 [5 years from release date], I can start saving now to replace it).'

    As of right now, I met all my short-term goals ("all"="about 3") due before October. I ended up canceling one of my October short-term goals and focusing on the remaining one.


    Rob Wilkens

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