Looking for Guidance on Improving My Monthly Spending Cap

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joynicholes
joynicholes Member
edited July 18 in Introduce yourself!

Hello Everyone 😊,

Although I've just recently started using Simplifi, I'm quite impressed with what it can do. I feel like I'm still not making the most of my monthly budget, though, so I'd appreciate any guidance from the more seasoned members of this community.

Describe my financial status in brief:

Income: In addition to my normal monthly income from my full-time employment, I also periodically earn extra money from sporadic freelance work.


Expenses: Rent, utilities, groceries, transportation, and a few subscriptions (like a gym membership or streaming services) are my main costs. In addition, I'm trying to pay off a minor credit card debt and my education loans.


Savings Objectives: I want to put money aside for a trip next year, start saving for a down payment on a house, and eventually establish an emergency fund.

Investments: I make contributions to the 401(k) plan offered by my job, but I'm curious to find out about other options that might work better for my budget.


I have the following specific queries:

Budget Categories: Which Simplifi categories do you find most useful for keeping tabs on your expenses? Are there any less evident categories that aid in improved financial management? 🤔


Unpredictable Income from Freelance Work: How do you manage it? If this revenue is less than anticipated in a given month, do you have any advice on how to budget? 🤔


Debt Repayment: What are some efficient sap sac methods you've found to pay off debt while maintaining your savings? 🤔

I would be grateful for any advice on striking a balance between these priorities.

Thank you 🙏 in advance.

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Comments

  • Flopbot
    Flopbot Superuser ✭✭✭✭✭
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    @joynicholes,

    Welcome to Simplifi! I can't speak to your Freelance Work or SAP SAC questions, but as for the Budget Categories, these are the ones I have set up in my Spending Plan > Planned Spending. You can customize Simplifi's default categories however you wish so feel free to play around and find something that works for you. One thing that worked well for me was to create a separate Google Sheet listing Simplifi's Categories. Anytime I make a change in Simplifi, I replicate it in this separate spreadsheet and each year gets a new tab, so I can see change over time and what worked/didn't.

    Also, don't forget that you can also track categories, tags, payees using Watchlists which offers another way to keep track of spending. There are different ways to approach these and lots of different use cases - as many as there are users. Just know that you're not stuck with what you initially set up. I encourage you to set something up, live with it for awhile, see how it's working for you, change what doesn't. Here's my summary of the differences:

    Spending Plan > Planned Spending

    • Intended for tracking THIS MONTH'S spending goals.
    • I focus on just a few of "bigger expenditures" here.
    • Spending amount resets to $0 each month unless you're using rollover.
    • Has it's own notifications. For me, I turned these off and just rely on notifications from the Watchlist.

    Watchlists

    • Intended for tracking spending OVER TIME.
    • Shows you a graph going back a year.
    • Has it's own notifications. Personally, I like the look of these notifications. They're a little cleaner with less unnecessary text on small phone screens.
    • These change pretty regularly for me as I try new things. Some things stick, some go away.

    Hope you find something in here useful.

    Chris
    Quicken Desktop user since 2014.
    New to Simplifi in 2021.
  • DannyB
    DannyB Superuser ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited June 18
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    Hi @joynicholes

    Welcome to Quicken Simplifi!

    As @Flopbot says, the QS categories are mostly fully customizable and the set that are in place can be deleted, changed or rearranged based on individual preferences. But "Although Quicken Simplifi allows you to edit most of the built-in categories, there are some that won't allow adjustments: Transfer, Credit Card Payment, Balance Adjustment, and Investment." (see this support article for details).

    Budget Categories:

    Although I did keep some of the "built-in categories" I had my own budget organization that works well for me and had no problem creating my setup in QS. I don't budget to the depth of granularity that @Flopbot does, and there again is one of the highlights of QS - highly customizable. But, for me, the genius of QS is the way the Spending Plan breaks out "fixed" (Income After Bills & Savings" and "flexible" (Planned Spending). This was a freeing experience for me and broke me out of the "traditional" budgeting process. The categories are helpful and necessary for reports and Watchlists, but as far as a monthly Spending Plan, knowing what I have available to spend for my flexible expenses (and in your case for debt payoff) is a huge plus.

    Unpredictable Income from Freelance Work:

    If you are not dependent on this income to meet your routine necessary living expenses, then I suppose I would do this with it:

    • Use to paydown/off debt.
    • Use to help prepare for non-monthly fixed or flexible recurring expenses (insurance premiums, auto registration, home maintenance/repairs
    • Use to increase savings for one or another of your goals - annual vacation or emergency fund or divide between the two.
    • Use for special projects
    • Use to supplement long term retirement savings

    … or something along those lines.

    Debt Repayment:

    Not sure what to say here. It's a balancing act for sure. Don't know what "sap sac" is. The usual strategies work well. If your employer(s) offer matching, then contributing at least the percentage that is matched is worth doing. If you are at least matching your employer contributions, then perhaps focus on prioritize paying off the debt then increase savings accordingly.

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

    This idea is based off of something that I’ve been working with in the last week. I don’t know how it would work in your case. That said, what if you created a second checking account just for deposited the somewhat irregular freelance payments into. Then, schedule more regular transfers from that account to your primary checking account. That might make things more uniform in a way that works well with Simplifi.


    I say that’s not knowing how freelance work works.

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