Fixing financial planning and analysis

With that creative talent well you should be their app developer! :grin:

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No one should really want me to design apps, let alone code them! :joy:


Oooh lots to reply to here :slight_smile:

Sorry - not being clear here - I mean the “current app approach”. I broadly agree with the approaches in this thread, though maybe some slight tweaks/builds!

And I think that makes sense, but like you say in the second quote - it’s not always the case that every budgeted amount is stuck in a Pot. I have previously used pots like that, but mostly as a workaround to a proper Envelope method.

This is where things get a bit hazy - because a true envelope system only needs the money to be, let’s say “virtually marked” as in an envelope, not “physically moved to” it. As long as I’m keeping a record of how much money is “in” each envelope, I don’t need to physically stash it. In the past I’ve chosen to do so because of the limited ability to budget [in the way I want to].

By extension - that also means a Left/Safe to spend value isn’t required - because all the money should be in it’s envelope (or, is waiting to go into one). So… I appreciate that aspect doesn’t fully stack but I’m getting off my track here…

So I guess my thinking here, is that money that has been ring fenced - shouldn’t appear in that Safe/Left to Spend figure. Lets say I keep my Emergency Fund in my main balance (on account of an emergency may happen and I need to get the money quickly, or I’m without internet), I don’t want this to show up in that LTS summary. (Admittedly, I don’t know how this would work in the current in app execution? I believe it would show but I’m not certain).

Obviously some of that is counter intuitive to the Pots system, so I suppose there’s some level of Pot existence that makes sense - but my feeling is Budgeting and Pots would need to be agnostic of each other. [Although again I’m going on a different track but may expand on that later].

I certainly didn’t put much explanation to it - and I agree known knowns (like a confirmed BACS payment) should be captured.

My thoughts I guess stem from a long time use of YNAB - and the philosophy of only assigning money you have on hand to your budget. Ultimately, my budget takes the approach of "what does this money need to do, until I get paid again’.

Knowing that I get paid £1000 in 10 days, doesn’t help my £900 rent that is due in 5 days. Now that becomes less of an issue when sat on savings, etc, but that approach prevents me from budgeting (and spending!) money that doesn’t exist in my account yet. A more common example might be people who work freelance, or have multiple/variable pay checks to balance.

Now I’m not saying forecasting shouldn’t exist - just that I don’t think the budget should include Money I don’t yet have. I think the ability to forecast is something that complements the Budget - but I do think the two should be discrete things.

May be thinking semantics here - but I think it’s a useful distinction… Though I’m not sure all that explained it well!

And I think they all make sense - maybe an additional “Left to Budget”. But I think the “Budget Balance” articulates why future income can be convoluted - it couldn’t include anything future focused or it becomes an innacurate measure. But basically “Budget Balance” being money left after you’ve earmarked all the things you want to earmark?

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Oh wow, excellent reply - I see where you’re coming from! And I think I agree with most/all of it.

This is interesting. I suppose in my head I was designing for a hybrid system where you could envelope budget (pots) or line-item budget (Left to Spend) - but I hadn’t considered this scenario.

For this use-case I’d be tempted to introduce an overdraft or offset pot. One that physically separates money, but which would offset to work as an overdraft (in the same way that Starling’s does) if needed. (With hindsight, I think that Monzo probably made the wrong decision on treatment of cash in pots for overdraft purposes, but I digress). The alternative would be to create something like pots but not like pots (‘envelopes?’) But I suspect Monzo would resist that as it makes the app busier and it might be more confusing to use.

I see where you’re going here, but I remain a bit sceptical. After all, in YNAB aren’t you planning for recurring monthly expenditure that may be dependent on a salary that isn’t in your account yet?

The way I see this working would be that for the future spend you would select a period to view. Either to your budgeting period (usually until payday like in the app currently) or on a calendar basis (e.g. weekly or monthly) or like Simple with a rolling forward look (I think they use 30 days). For the former ones, I think it would meet your needs as the period would reset when your salary came in; for the latter, that would only really make sense if it predicted income in. And I reflect a bit on some of the feedback from those who had multiple income sources - Summary is completely broken for them, and they’d need a way to plan on a multi-income basis.

I think this is where we might be on slightly different pages. I’m trying to think of this (I think) as an extensible forecasting tool that can be used to budget if you want to. Maybe this is semantics again, but I’m just not sure that you can possibly avoid budgeting using money you don’t have yet. You know that next month you’ll need to spend £xxx on mortgage or rent - whether or not you have the money. And you also know that you are due to receive £yyy in income. Why not see it all in one place?


At this point it feels embarrassing to put such a non-post into this incredible thread but just wanted to throw an emphatic agreement in re this.

I have never been convinced by the ‘simplicity’ arguments and think it’s, excuse the language, a JOKE that I can be charged overdraft fees when I have a positive overall balance.


Currently working on that wireframe (it is just a rough wireframe though, so nothing fancy like your excellent production quality mockups!) now, but just wanted to touch upon this briefly as I really like what you’ve done here.

That interface, where you get to choose your preferred balance so to speak is a brilliant idea. something I feel should be part of the onboarding flow, as a customisation option, a bit like what you get when you set up a new phone for the first time.

Pots complicates things here a bit though, especially between your available balance and absolute balance. I’d perhaps adjust the names slightly for those two to Current Balance and Total balance respectively. Available and Absolute to me sound a bit too legacy for my liking.

I think this sort of feature is an absolute essential tool worth giving users the choice over, as it’s without doubt the most impactful glanceable information you’re going to see when checking the app. Most of the time, I would guess the balance is the piece of information we’re after when opening the app, and I think it’s important the balance you see is the one that’s most meaningful for how you want to bank.


I’m glad this resonates - this was exactly my thinking!

And this is excellent! I think an onboarding flow is an excellent idea - and a budgeting/money management one that could be started any time from the app would similarly be super helpful. Maybe something that walks through the different balances, different ways of budgeting, setting up things like salary sorter, future transactions etc…

Interesting. I was working on the assumption that Pots would not be included in any of these balances. What were you thinking?


Yeah I think the Starling way is a nice approach, and I agree with the sentiment around the pot approach. I fear it may have locked Monzo in to an inflexible system, at least when it comes to future expansion.

Maybe it’s expanding on the use of locked pots / savings pots in a clever way to benefit all approaches? I’m sure there’s a “covers all needs” mechanism in this, just not sure of it. Paired with things like “pay from pot” or the Starling Overdraft mechanism it might be more seamless that I am currently imagining.

I’m trying to type this out on mobile which isn’t very effective so will come back in a bit for the rest…


I’m of the opinion that pots should be included in an absolute balance, though not an available balance. But it’s a tricky one because by their nature, they’re separate segregated accounts.

I personally see it as available balance = total balance - pot balances - pending transactions, and left to spend would then be available balance - upcoming committed spend including scheduled transfers to pots


I’ve made a ninja edit to the opening post. I think this can be squared by basically having two sorts of pots: “offset pots” that work like Starling’s goals spaces and normal pots that work like they do at the moment.

I think there is probably utility for proper segregation (like we have in the app at the moment) but also to have the ‘offset’ set-up.


So thoughts expanded now I have a full keyboard:

So I guess the budget in YNAB is set up for monthly recurring expenses, yes, but the idea is you don’t plan (and then do) the expenditure until the money is in hand.

For people on the start of their budgeting journey, it should work to align priorities to spending. “This is all the money I have for the next 18 days” - and it must do Jobs A, B and C. I know Job D is coming in 22 days, but I will be paid again by then. When (Pay) Day 18 comes, Job D gets budgeted for. At that point in someones financial life, it’s a very functional prioritisation mechanism (IMO).

As ones finances mature though - the same applies but you, by nature of building healthy savings, look further out. e.g. lets say I have 3 months salary sat in the bank, I keep 1 month as “Emergency Fund”, and the other 2 are planning the next 2 months of budget. So when I get paid in February, I will use that money to budget May spending.

So effectively, this part of budget is a forecast of future spend based on money on hand, and not theoretical future money. But I think that is still “Budget” so that’s OK.

That said it’s not bullet proof - contractual obligations and what not mean you can likely forecast expenses forever… But I think it’s a system that keeps you honest / accountable to priorities

Yeah and I don’t at all disagree with what you’re getting at conceptually - I just think this forecast should be a separate entity to the budgeting aspects. Sure one can inform the other - but I’d see a real risk in a combined ‘thing’, if nothing else just because of the types of “well, I will have £x in a week, so why not spend £X now” transactions that littered my youth :wink:

But I think a lot of those points are semantics - and certainly the underlying tools and approaches should have improvement to do some form of combined budgeting and forecasting!


And yes couldn’t agree with this more! I’ve never trusted that “available to spend” figure, it would be so useful if there were options and abilities to set it up so that the data can inform meaningful actions


Okay, so here is a very rough wireframe of what I mean when I refer to a mission control / time machine page. It’s just meant to document the features and provide a rough guide of how they could be included, and is not intended to be a UI suggestion.

  1. First, and foremost, the return of the Pulse!
    I miss the pulse, and I love the year in Monzo stuff. I’ve sort of combined the two here, as year in Monzo included similar style graphs. Tapping on it would open up a more concise version of year in Monzo, but for your previous 30 days. I also think it would be cool to expand upon that and allow you to travel back in time so to speak to view previous months, previous years, of even your entire history to date in some nice bitesize analytics.

  2. Next is the left to spend balance, and the notable arrow. the idea here is tapping on it will expand to give you an overview of your respective balances and break them down to show you how the left to spend has been calculated, similar to Simple in that regard.

  3. A simple list of what’s upcoming. I’m the opinion that income shouldn’t be included in this. it’s never guaranteed and if wrongly predicted it could wrongly skew your budget. I think your upcoming expenses and the sort of budgeting you’d want to do in your bank app as one and the same, which is why my thought process hasn’t been too involved here. There’s a button to ear mark upcoming expenses manually. I didn’t include such a button in the wireframe but I think it’s important each item has a toggle on the right hand side for options, such as to adjust the date, the merchant, assign to a pot, or remove it.

On a final note though, for transactions you add manually, I think it would be awesome if you could assign them to a merchant you’ve shopped with before, as this should enable Monzo to automatically assign them correctly, or there needs to be an easy way to associate the set aside funds with the actual transaction when it’s actually taken. Monzo could use the date and amount to prompt the user for instance. Or manually added expenses could be assigned to a pot, and Monzo could simply add a button to a transaction’s details that essentially allow you to pay that transaction back from said pot (Similar to how N26’s spaces worked.)

In any case, hopefully this better explains what I meant here, and what I more or less envision as a successor to summary.


Wow, lots to get stuck into there. Tomorrow, though, I think!

One immediate question: you’re keen for the Simple approach, right? I thought that Simple does include upcoming income? Especially given it works on a rolling 30 period and salary is usually more frequent than monthly in the States. Have I misunderstood Simple, or is this a place where you disagree with their approach?

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I’m not too sure if Simple do count income before you receive it, if they do then it’s an aspect of their approach I don’t agree with. Mostly because it’s harder to correct for unexpectedly not receiving your income, than it is for an expense not being taken when expected. What happens in the instance where your left to spend value is higher than your available balance for instance, as a result of a predicted future incoming payment?

My left to spend is what’s safe to actually spend on stuff without risk of a bill bouncing. If that suddenly includes upcoming income, I could unwittingly wind up spending too much before I receive said income. It’s a much trickier balancing act if you try to account for income I think, though I wouldn’t oppose it if ends up working well.

It’s hard to find concrete information on the smaller intricacies of the way simple actually seems to work under the hood, so I’m mostly drawing from memories way back when they launched.

The way they show the the calculation in app though, I’d assume they’re not taking into account future income. It just sounds like it’s your current balance minus all upcoming expenses and goals due in the next 30 days.


I’ve been thinking a lot about the conundrum of whether financial planning features in Monzo ought to take account of upcoming credits to your account or not.

I think we probably need to break this down a bit:

  • In the future transactions / upcoming list, I think you do need to have credits. For example, If you know you’re transferring £200 from savings to cover an exceptional expense, then I think you should be able to prepare for that.

  • What I’ve been calling the “Left to Spend” balance is different. I’m persuaded by the arguments that you don’t want people to spend money they don’t have - so I think this should probably exclude upcoming funds until they hit (or until they show as greyed out future transactions).

  • I also think the Left to Spend budget should plan to the end of the current budgeting period. I was originally envisaging a rolling period, but I can’t see how that’ll work without including future credits in your Left to Spend figure (which I think we’ve agreed is a bad thing).

  • This makes sense and I agree
  • This makes sense but I don’t agree
  • This doesn’t make sense

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‘This makes sense and I agree’ - with:

First point:
For future planning, beyond the current Summary period, you absolutely need to be able to see all planned incomings in addition to planned outgoings (manual or automatic). Such future credits would probably be in the form of manual, recurring future transaction entries unless Monzo can carry through existing, recurring credits into the future - although to be fair, this entire feature is useless without a rolling balance.

Second & Third points:
I don’t have budgets set and so I view left-to-spend as what I have ‘left to spend’ in the next 4,3,2,1 weeks until the specified monthly incoming payments lands and then triggers the next Summary period. This then resets the Left-to-spend figure and the monthly/summary cycle continues.
I’m not sure how having budgets set would affect this, as the Left-to-spend figure changes?

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Holy Batman this thread is in-depth!

For me, I think the now and past are more important than the future (to a degree) and once you sort the first two, the last one is a lot easier.

I like this. But I want to see progress. How many days was my account above £xx in the last month, how does that compare to previous months?

I like this. I’d also like to be able to do it in advance. “I think I’ll get paid £xxxx and this is what I want to do with it”

End of month summary is terrible. Truly terrible. Bin that.

I’d like a “How I’m doing” section almost.

Last month I bought some trainers when I got paid, but this month I didn’t, so I must have spent less. But forgotten in there is the coffees or triple the amount of cat-food I need.

I keep posting this because to me, this is the most important metric in my account

(Pleased to say it’s looking a bit better this month!)

What’s my budget, what have I spent and how does that compare to another period? Am I on track? Can I afford those trainers without blowing my budget? Or will I run out of money 10 days before payday if I do?

As for future things, I think I’m in the no camp for this one. My salary/bills are pretty regular, but lets say you get a big bonus or you’re heavily commission based, to see that next month Monzo thinks your salary will be £1000 and you’ve got £1200 going out, that could worry people before they realise their predicted salary is wrong.

Something else I think would be good and this probably goes back to the old hub idea. If I’m paying British Gas or Vodafone or whoever, exactly the same amount for over a year, could they give me a nudge? “Did you know that shopping around for your utilities can save you ££?”


“You’ve paid for The Athletic for 17 months in a row. Are you getting the most from this subscription?”

The latter, as they are not direct debits and Monzo can’t/doesn’t predict them, I would imagine it’s quite easy for them to get out of hand.

Could Year in Monzo give some totals for recurring payments? I paid for Netflix monthly and maybe £9 is fine a month, but if I see that in an annual total, am I more inclined to cancel it?

Left to spend/safe to spend, should work well. But simple things break it.

I put money into pots for direct debits (which works fine) and one for food, which doesn’t. IFTTT replenishes my account but it removes it from my budget and doesn’t re-add it.

So for round numbers and an example;

Spends - £500
Food - £300

I have to set my budget at £800. Which is counterintuitive because it’s more than is in my current account, because otherwise when I spend £50 in Tesco, money goes out, funds from pot come back in, but it’s still left me £50 down.

I just ignore it now really but it would be good if anything coming back into or out of my account, changed the budget.



I’ll try and knit this all together at the end (gulp) - but I think that ideally the Left to Spend figure should be different from the budget figure. That’s why up here I had them as two separate ‘balances’. Much easier to get your head around that way (especially given that we’ve seen a bunch of confused people on here wondering why they’re going to run out of money when they’ve forgotten that they’ve set a budget).

This is excellent work! I’m taking a bit of time to get through everything, but I think I have your needs covered (in my head at least).

I’m interested in you putting this all on one screen though. I’ve already set out how I see the future spending working - I see (spoilers!) the graphs and analysis sitting under what’s currently the Summary button. But then I did wake up wondering whether it’s a stretch too far for Monzo users to create their own home tab (think Android widgets and being able to pull in different elements - balance, feed, graphs etc, as a bespoke way of managing your money) The one thing we know is that everyone is different, right?

Oh yeah, we’re going there! :joy:

I agree with all of that. Hopefully we might be able to unpack some of that once I get to what I’m currently thinking of as a replacement for the Summary screen. This won’t be Summary, but should reveal data, provide visualisations and almost coach you financially (should you want that). I think that’ll be an interesting thing to throw around (but have focused on some of this stuff because you kinda need to do the foundations before you get there).

Just so I’ve properly understood: your budget is the same for both years, and you overspent and the end of the month in 2020, but ended up underspending in 2019?

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We’re (slowly) ticking these off, next up…

Introduce more pot types and allow users to pay from pots

Important thing 1: connect a virtual card to a pot

This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone, but the ability to pay from pots is one of the most requested features. It’s likely (but not guaranteed) that this might become a feature of Plus or Premium - probably by hooking a virtual card to a pot.

To try and contextualise this, this is important because if you’re using pots to budget, then being able to spend from those ring-fenced funds is super important.

Important thing 2: connect virtual cards to Google or Apple Pay

. For the full service, though, we’d need to be able to add virtual cards to Apple or Google Pay - and potentially customise those card images (would it be great if it displayed the pot name / image in Google Pay instead of having multiple Monzo cards that you can’t tell the difference between?)

Hopefully soon we’ll see something like this:

In Monzo…

In Google Pay…

We also need to talk about offset pots, but we’ll do that another time!

(h/t to @rknightuk for pot images via the Monzo Pot Image Generator)