Calling fellow Monzolians.. How do you manage your budget?

So for context, until last year my personal financial management was basic and poor.

After setting up a Monzo account last year, the slick app, notifications and budgeting options made me go full Monzo a month later.

So over the past 9 months I’ve finally been “properly” budgeting. And this is my set up:

Main Account: Salary paid into this and then sorted into the following pots:

  • Pot 1: Direct Debits - Fixed amounts for all my monthly DDs (Mortgage, car, utilities, endless kids clubs…etc). This pot is £0 by the end of the month.

  • Pot 2: Annual Expenses - So I put a fixed amount into this pot each month for expenses that aren’t regular “monthly” type spends. Things like car/house insurances, tv license, braces, random one-offs like new tablet or vacuum cleaner etc. This pot builds every month to pay for the expenses whenever they arise. If I spend anything to come from here, I manually move the same amount from this Pot to the main account.

  • Pot 3: Savings. Fixed amount each month + anything leftover from my payday sorting + anything left in the main account at the end of the month + roundups.

  • Pot 4: Main account (ok not really a pot but sort of treat it as one) - So in the main account I only leave a fixed amount for all my monthly/regular card spending, food, groceries, fuel, shopping etc. This is the same target I’ve set in Trends, and have set budgets for all the available categories. We try our hardest to stick within this and try to compensate in another category if we go over anywhere else. The aim is to be under the total target at the end of the month and then move the remaining balance into the savings pot.

It seems to be working thus far and has been a HUGE improvement over my pre-Monzo methods and has really helped me get a grip of my spending and bolster savings.

However since it’s been a few months now and this is the first proper budgeting process I’ve set up - I wanted to ask the question… how do you all manager your budgets? Keen to get ideas to see if there are any ways of improving my own.

Things that would 100% improve my budgeting

  1. Customer categories (the main account is a joint account) - would really help dissect the Trends targets further
  2. Allocate categories to Pots. If this existed I think I would have more Pots for my monthly spending. One example is “Entertainment” - i.e shows, tickets, kids activities…etc. At the moment this is a monthly target in Trends which starts fresh each month. I would love to create a pot that simply builds each month by a fixed amount, and everytime a spend in this category is incurred it comes directly from this Pot. I was reading up on how to set this up until I realised it was a Monzo US page :frowning:
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I honestly used to be very much in the ‘separate and pots’ camp, now I use YNAB I just have one account and everything goes out of it, and syncs to YNAB so I don’t need to worry about pots etc.

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I used to budget the same way as you, but might I suggest that you don’t have your “Direct Debits” pot zero out each month? Maybe round it up to the nearest £1/£5/£10 to create a “buffer” in case one of your monthly spends is unexpectedly higher than normal? You can always transfer some of it into savings if your buffer become over inflated. I usually keep mine between £20 and £50 higher than what i’m expecting it to be.
For example, if your monthly spends was £586, put £590 or £600 in instead. You can quickly build up that buffer then.

I have Monzo Plus and utlilise the Google Sheets export plus virtual cards to budget further, while maximizing my interest for my savings pot and Cash ISA.

This is what I do, then after they are all done, I manually transfer it to the safety net pot so that there is some interest gain.

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How I used to do it:

  • Bills Pot which I transferred slightly more than needed to build a budget

  • ‘left to spend’ pot where I’d put my budget into, leaving my main account at near zero (if I saw it, I spent it)

  • Savings which I put money into each month on pay day

  • Used trends and as it was, summary, to ensure I wasn’t overspending

How I do it now (HSBC)

On payday

  • Add Amount to pay bills, investments, pension (known and fixed)
  • Identify what I need for spending budget
  • Transfer out overflow to savings

As before, I aim to spend/transfer slightly less than I need to, so over time a buffer builds up

Here’s how I do it

Get paid
Spend all my money within 2 weeks
Spend rest of the month in my overdraft

Happy to help with more top tips like these

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I used to put everything into different pots but now I just have everything into the one account minus savings. I know roughly what the bills will be and all my spending normally goes on my credit card. I just clear the balance at the end of each month.

If the approach you’ve taken works for you and keeps you in the black, I would keep using it. Everyone’s financial situation is different.

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