budgeting shortfalls

Thomas Bushnell BSG tb at becket.net
Thu Dec 27 19:52:49 EST 2007

So with the impending new year, it's time for me to deal again with
budgeting the next year.

I currently use a spreadsheet to do this.  There are some things I have
with my spreadsheet that gnucash does not seem to make simple for me.  I
would much like to use the gnucash budgeting widget!  But yet...

I start by making an income/expense budget.

I have a column for the year's total, and a column for each month.

Historically my income has been irregular, but predictable, so I enter a
separate income budget entry for each month/source combination, and then
the source's yearly amount is a summation.

Expenses I simply budget an annual amount.

Then I have a nice idea of the relationship of income to expenses.

But I also want a cash-flow budget.  This is made my tracking cash
debits (wages and interest, plus cashable liabilities like a new student
loan).  And, then, cash credits, where I take my total expenses and then
make adjustments; there are a few expenses which are not paid from cash
(like depreciation), and then there are cash credits which are not
expenses (like loan repayments).

And then the net cash flow is easily computed to be the excess of cash
debits over credits.

And, since my income is irregular, I think make a monthly chart.  Each
month I start with the cash balance, and add in the cash debits and
credits for that month; the debits are easy b/c they just come from the
month-by-month income (see above!) and the cash credits by dividing
total cash credits in twelve.

Assuming then that my expenses are really evenly spread (which they are,
but for a few special ones) the month-to-month expected cash balances
help me track my cash flow.

And, the real nice beastie: each month I enter the current account
expenses into the spreadsheet to see "how are my expenses doing".  I
compute a percentage of the amount expended against the month number
divided by the annual amount.  (So that if it's the end of May, and I've
spent $500 of an annual $1200 amount, the percentage listed is 100%.)

So to do this with gnucash, it seems to me that I want to set up an
income/expense budget.  But the rest of the nice things I do, I can't
easily do.  For example, if I were to make a separate cash budget (which
seems sensible), then I want that cash budget to get most of its entries
automatically copied from the expense budget: such that a change to the
expense budget would be automagically reflected in the cash budget.

And the budget report feature seems very sparse indeed, essentially
incapable of doing more than just listing numbers.

Am I missing some big thing, or should this be reduced to a sensibly
organized feature request?


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