Personal Accounts Budgeting

In addition to my Business Account, I created a “Business” that I use to record my personal expenditure.

I broke the Profit and Loss section up into three main sections:

Annual Expenditure
Monthly Expenditure
Non Essential Expenditure

Within each section, I have added Expenses such as Car Maintenance under Annual, Gas, food, water under Monthly and Holidays, Restaurants under Non Essential.

This was very helpful in providing a quick overview of how much I spend a month and how much I am spending on broad categories like Gas, Electricity, eating out etc. Which was useful to some extent and made me aware of how much I was spending eating out.

Initially when I started my Personal Business as well as the Company Business I was creating every payment and receipt manually effectively. In addition, I was trying to record how much I was spending on food such as meat, dairy, vegetables etc by itemising each expense from supermarket receipts. For this reason, the Personal Business was not really being used properly as it was too time consuming.

I then moved to importing bank statements for both business and personal accounts. This really helped reduce the amount of time (and errors that crept in ) by not longer manually creating receipts and payments in Manager.

However, while bank imports works very well for petrol, council tax, car insurance, restaurants etc, it doesn’t really work for me in terms of analysing grocery expenditure as all purchases from Supermarkets are recorded in the Foods account. The thing with council tax, petrol, car insurance it’s one item and thus easy to see what you are spending. Supermarket expenditure covers a range of expenditure - alcohol, meat, dairy, sweets, ready made meals, laundry powder etc to name a few.

The whole point of my personal accounts isn’t simply to record everything I spend, but rather to be able to use that data to reduce my monthly/annual spending costs. For a lot of categories such as restaurants I was able to achieve this. But this is not achievable with supermarket groceries.

As I now import bank statements and Manager does support cloning for most transactions now, would it be possible for me to import bank statements once a week and then using the receipts I have got and Manager cloning to as much as possible break down the Food Category into Dairy, Meat, Fish etc?

I am also considering a program like this - Gathering data by scanning supermarket receipts with OCR & ML - Klippa which would allow me to scan supermarket receipts and categorise them accordingly and then on subsequent scans it would allocate to whatever category. They also seem to support integrating their system with various accounting programs, so might be an option as scanning receipts and automatically adding to correct categories is so much more desireable than having to manually do everything in Manager (for this aspect).

Could I achieve what I want in Manager without too much manual effort as I largely buy the same supermarket staples every month so maybe I could create a template payment form that has everything on and just delete items that I have not bought that week/month. However, if I import the bank statements, I cannot create new payments obviously as the payment has already been recorded via bank import.

The end result that I want to achieve is to make it easy to see how much I spend on fruit, vegetables, alcohol etc every month so I can see that I can make savings by cutting down on fish, which is not cheap anymore!

Or failing that, would it make more sense to use Manager to track main expenditure such as gas, elec etc and use something like klippa to more comprehensively analase supermarket expenditure. In point of fact, thinking about it, Manager records how I much I spend each month on gas and electricity, but that is actually my direct debit, not how much I am actually using each month. I have a spreadsheet that records the actual usage monthly cost as well as the direct debit amount. So Manager isn’t really accurately recording my gas/electricity usage bcause it only records the direct debit month. Not Manager’s fault as it’s not intended to do what I am trying to achieve.

I don’t know if any one else has tried to manage their personal finances and reduce their supermarket shopping bill. But any thoughts would be appreciated to decide whether I should use Manager to do this or rather use an app such as the one that I am considering?

The practical limitations of using Manager is the data available to electronically import. As you have identified bank statements only identify the supplier not the items purchased.

To get more information you need a more detailed electronic feed.

The supermarket has this data, particularly if they have a “rewards” scheme, which enables them to collect and correlate all of your purchases. That information has a real commercial value. I suspect that value is what funds the Klippa service.

Although there is financial management value in analysing itemised spending there is no accounting value. As such you should just use a separate tool such as Klippa, similar to why we use POS systems for retail and restaurant businesses but Manager for accounting.

Although not a subject here, but similar is to be said for sales and financial forecasting, there are several good applications mostly in realms of business plan writing. Manager is an accounting application and more concerned about fiscal results and recording what has been done. It has excellent standard accounting reports that help to understand what the business owns and owes and its cash flows as well as profit and loss accounting.

Thank you for the feedback. You have each made two very good points.

As Patch said, this is the fundamental problem with most personal finance programs and Manager in this context - the bank statements only show the supplier, not the items purchased.

It’s a whole 'nuther discussion whether Manager should implement financial management as opposed to just being an accounting tool. This also ties up with the lack of financial forecasting which again is something I find lacking in Manager.

I think it is clear that I need to use something like Klippa for analysis of my grocery bill and maybe something like liveplan for financial forecasting. But as I have to do it manually in Liveplan as there is no api between Manager and Liveplan, it may actually make more sense to use excel for financial forecasts particularly as I could export data from Manager into excel and copy and paste? Only downside is creating an excel template that could be used for financial forecasting. But I could ask Chatgpt about that.

Sorry but there are hardly any accounting systems that do financial forecasting. This is in the realm of business planning. There are some excellent applications for that as mentioned and should not be seen as a weakness of an accounting application such as Manager, is just an unfair request and statement.

Chatgpt has been very helpful in advising me of what I need to look at and consider.

We have decided to go with Manager for general accounting and creating the budget reports because it does everything that is required and very well.

With something like Klippa Spendcontrol for breaking up the food bill into line items so I can see exactly what I am spending on at the supermarket itself. I need to review other software, but Klippa is looking like the most likely contender.

And lastly to use Excel for creating Cash flow reports (to track how much money will be be going in/out of the accounts each month in the months ahead, to ensure that I am always in the black as it were) and I could potentially use Excel for Scenario Analysis, Goal Tracking and What-if Analysis. I most likely will want to focus on What-if Analysis. Also Chatgpt explained how I do this in Excel! We decided against a third party program like Liveplan for forecasting and planning, because the main thing that I really need is the cash flow analysis which Excel is more than capable of. I don’t really need enterprise level reporting systems.

So I think I have got my budgeting, expense analyses and financial forecasting and planning concepts in place.

One thing that Chatgpt could not help with is with how Manager does budgeting and the best way for me to do this.

It correctly suggested that I could use an annual budget for personal finances because many things like insurance premiums are annual, not monthly. In addition, - Long-Term Planning: Annual budgets provide a broader perspective and allow you to plan and set financial goals for the entire year. It helps you consider long-term expenses, savings targets, and major financial milestones.

It also correctly said that monthly budgets - allow you to track and manage your expenses and income on a more detailed, month-to-month basis. This level of granularity can help you identify patterns, make adjustments, and address any issues promptly.

For me it would make sense to have both monthly and annual budgets so that I could achieve Long Term Planning, but also see how I am doing with improving on how much I spend on food - which is currently a lot more than I should be spending.

The problem I am seeing is that Manager’s budget report allows me to create monthly and annual reports, but it would appear that I would also need to create monthly profit and loss reports as well if I wanted to compare my spending across say six months or at least ways I can’t see how to track trends using the Budget Reports. Should I be using both? I might not need this for food as possibly Klippa could provide this information, but it would still be useful to track trends for other expenditure to see if I spend more in some months than others.

It looks like I will need to create 12 monthly profit and loss reports, 12 monthly budget reports and 1 annual budget report and maybe annual profit and loss reports if I want to compare expenditure over a period of years? But that is a lot of reports. Is this correct?

Like I said, it’s whole another argument regarding that. Perhaps it would be more accurate to question whether accounting programs in general should include financial forecasting because to a large extent this is a major shortcoming with many businesses who don’t actually know that they need financial forecasting because virtually no accounting program offers it. It took some years of using Manager before I realised that I was missing functionality that I should be using. Then there is the secondary problem of getting the data out of the accounting program into the financial forecasting and planning program.

It is not a criticism of Manager as such, more a general observation that there is a gap of information missing for many businesses who know they need an accounting program but may not necessarily be aware that they need other software for other things. Most businesses using Manager are not trained to know that kind of stuff. Anyway, I don’t want to derail the topic on a discussion that isn’t relevant. I (with the help of Chatgpt) will be using Excel to achieve what I need for forecasting and planning.

I am actually finding Chatgpt very useful because it makes me aware of things that I never even knew about! It’s not perfect by a long shot, but it does point me in the right direction and explains things very well.

Manager cash flow statement is good for this,

Manager is not a budgeting application so no wonder you can not find it “supported”. It does have report where for P&L you can set budgets, but in my view is inadequate.

Although I did not mention the application by name but it is what we have been using for most of our suppported businesses. It does allow you to import csv files to compare actuals vs planned and really is what you were looking for. Maybe it is the cost that deters you?

No Cash flow only works for Cash transactions. It does not work with invoices. In addition, unless I have misunderstood how the program works, it tracks flow in the past, not the future! I want to track bank balance, future income and future expenses over future months to ensure that I always have enough money when I need it.

It’s very basic, I will be the first to admit that, but it does largely achieve what I want for both personal and business which is to see what I am actually spending on each category each month\year and to see if I am in budget for whatever I set for myself in this case food. Yes it lacks a lot of functionality such as drill down for how the amount that I put in for the budget is actually calculated for example.

But for the basic goal of seeing what I spend every month\year on given accounts such as food or whatever and whether I am spending within the amount I have allocated, it does more or less do what I am trying to achieve - albeit with the help of Klippa.

It’s not the cost that was the main consideration. I have actually used Liveplan before although I was focusing on the business plan at that stage. The issue is more whether it would do anything more than Excel can do for my needs. What I want to forecast as it were are very simple questions, which I am sure that can be done in Excel with minimal effort as well. I am not convinced that I need the functionality of something like Liveplan. I will start off with Excel and see how it goes.

Isn’t actuals vs planned the same thing as the Manager Budget?

I noticed your recent affection with this and for lay persons it is a great resource but it is not close to expert level yet as far as the public implementation is concerned. We are privileged to use the advanced version but even there to date the advise is to generic compared to the experts but it gets closer.

it is an open door to respond that there is value in creating budgets. It is essential for anyone serious in business, but it is not an essential feature for an accounting app such as Manager.

I understand that you want a lot of details regarding how you spent your personal finances but honestly there are better mobile apps that you could use that exactly do what you want. You try to argue to change a small business accounting system to a personal one. I would advise you to ask Chatgpt for the best personal financial management apps. You will be surprised how many do what you like, scanning receipts, assigning them to "accounts"and help you forecast your personal expenses.

I am well aware that Chatgpt has limitations. I work in IT and I have asked it for assistance on IT issues and I can see it makes mistakes a lot of the time. I would not rely on it for facts, but it does point one in the right direction, so it speeds up the process. Despite it’s limitations it’s quite impressive nonetheless. My cooking skills have improved because of chef Chatgpt.

Yes Chatgpt did suggest quite a few personal financial management apps. However, virtually all of them do what I can already do in Manager. Essentially assign supermarkets to food, utility suppliers to gas, water or electricity, car insurance company to car mantenance and so on.

There aren’t really any that can take a receipt from Walmart and break that receipt up into categories such as meat, dairy, alcohol etc. All they actually do is scan the receipt and get supplier, Total, Vat, Date etc. So it’s not doing anything that I already achieve with Manager bank import to be honest. The personal finance apps are more suited to people who want broad categories like Groceries, holidays, petrol, tv Netflix subscription streaming etc.

I am not so focused on the forecasting issues at the moment, My priority is to find something that can scan supermarket receipts and break that receipt up in the way I want without having to do this manually so I can address what is my biggest annual wastage - food in finding out what all the money goes on! I have narrowed it down to two contenders Klippa and Zoho Expenses.

I have closed this topic. It has strayed too far from Manager.

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