My Latest Simplifi Workflow

ajbopp Member ✭✭✭✭
edited November 2023 in How do you Quicken Simplifi?

Using the app for a little over a year now, I've tried many diffferent ways of interacting with annd using Simplifi, and have finally settled into a workflow that works well for me, so I thought I'd share it so you can see if it works for you too.

One - I don't use Subscriptions. At the most basic level, having both Bills and Subscriptions seems like just a third level of expense category, and I found it confusing. There were a couple of times I found I had included some expense or other in each area. Ultimately, everything is a bill and I find there's no real benefit to me to try to distinguish one from the other.

Two - I use only two tags, "Discretionary" and "Non-Discretionary." I started out using a whole slew of tags and tried to twist it into a kind of third level sub-category, but I found it too difficult to remember what kinds of expenses get what kind of tags (if they weren't set up as a regular Bill). Then I realized the only thing I really to know about an expense that wasn't covered by Categories was whether or not it was optional for me to have spent the money. I also created Watchlists for these two tags so I can always see at moment's glance whether I'm being too impulsive in my spending habits.

Three - I've set up Categories to make sure that I only need two levels to properly track them. it's a trick I learned from my days as a photographer. I had photographed thousands events, and I'd originally tried to sort them all by event type, location, date, subject matter, time of day, yada yada. Then I realized that if I needed more than two levels of sorting, I was doing it wrong. "Weddings → Adams & Smith" were the only two categories I needed to keep track of things. The same approach works well for categories. I used to get frustrated that I didn't have however many levels of subcategory I thought I needed. Then, for me, I realized that I was the source of my frustration, not Simplifi. I adjusted my approach so that it wasn't important for me to break a category down to something like "Groceries →Food →Meat →Chicken."

This workflow gives me all the information I need about my expenses quickly and easily, yet provides a perfectly adequate level of drill-down capability.

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


  • Coach Natalie
    Coach Natalie Administrator, Moderator admin

    @ajbopp, thanks for sharing — great post!

    -Coach Natalie

  • SRC54
    SRC54 Member ✭✭✭✭

    @ajbopp I struggled with subscriptions and bills too, and finally ended up doing subscriptions that are automatically paid and bills that I have to pay myself. Basically streaming and my club memberships. Utilities and everything else are bills. But I almost did what you did and just did bills. Glad it works for you.

    I like the discretionary spending, and have thought of doing it as well. The tags are great but I use tags for my possessions categories, e.g., electronics, appliances, furniture, clothing, jewelry, etc. I also do my tennis league stuff that way and my particular automobiles. But I wouldn't want to have just two; of course, you can assign more than one to a transaction.

    Your tags solve the quandary I have with taxes. Almost all my spending other than taxes, insurance and tithe are discretionary. Even utility use I could cut out or way down if I wanted to do so.

    It is great that you found a way to make it work for you. I had thought of doing income categories, then discretionary and non-discretionary, but they won't work with just two levels of categories. Thanks for sharing!

    Quicken Simplifi Since 2021
    MS Money/Quicken Classic Since 1991

  • DannyB
    DannyB Superuser ✭✭✭✭✭

    Thanks for the share, @ajbopp !

    I can see where using just the bills section for all recurring monthly expenses further simplifies things. I still use both sections but you're right that it's not necessary and doesn't impact the bottom line in the least. As of now, I follow a "discretionary/non-discretionary" scheme to sort out what recurring expense I put where: Bills = non-discretionary; Subscriptions = discretionary. Then again, as @SRC54 points out, some of those "bills" are fairly discretionary.

    I've never been very good at using tags but that has more to do with just being "lazy" and not taking the time to tag my expenses as they come in. However, I have developed tags to attach to any spending related to my various Savings Goals. Using tags for these expenses helps me keep taps on SG spending and accounting for those expenses since they get "excluded" from the spending plan.

    Simplifi user since 01/22
    Budget: a mathematical confirmation of your suspicions.” ~A.A. Latimer
This discussion has been closed.