Budgeting - Let's decide what we want!

Scott Minster scott at mland.dhs.org
Tue Sep 2 07:43:03 CDT 2003

This is a long thread, but since it's pretty important, I'll throw in my 
thoughts anyway and hope they're useful...

Stephen Cuppett wrote:
> In terms of definition, a budget is a separate entity from financial
> records used for comparison purposes and tracking at different intervals
> through a particular time period.  It's representation in GNUCash should
> be no different.  
> I envision the program keeping track of a budget or multiple budgets (by
> name) separate of the defined Asset, Liability, Equity, Revenue and
> Expense accounts comprising the actual financial data of the user.

I agree that this seems to be the right way to go.  For me at least, 
it's much more intuitive that the budget should be outside the actual 
account tree and reference back to it instead of using sub/virtual 
accounts right in the tree.  I know some people are using that method 
now, and I don't mean to insult them, but using sub accounts seems more 
like a hack than a real solution.  One of the things I've always liked 
about Gnucash was that it accurately described my financial situation. 
Virtual subaccounts aren't what I really have at the bank, so that would 
break the description.

However, I think it would be nice if we could add a column to some of 
the account ledgers that relates to the budget (having multiple budgets 
might be tricky -- can more than one apply at the same time?).  This 
column would tell how much money is left in the budget for that account 
for a given period (month, week, year).  So for example, if you have 
$100 a month budgeted for food, your Expenses:Food account may look like 

Date    Num  Description    Transfer R Expense Rebate Balance  Budget
1/1/03       Walmart        A:Cash   n  $15.00         $15.00  $85.00
1/2/03       Bakery         A:Cash   n   $9.00         $24.00  $76.00
2/1/03       Walmart        A:Cash   n  $23.00         $47.00 $153.00

and so on.  This way people could more immediately see what's left in 
the budget for each account without having to run a report.

> Each individual budget would consist of all account types such as Asset,
> Liability, Equity, Revenue and Expense.
 > ...

Wouldn't the budget be composed of only money coming in and going out? 
Even if it the money going out was going to an asset like savings, I 
don't think it should necessairly be called an asset.  It seems that's 
more like an outflow of money that happens to go to an Asset account.

Scott Minster

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