Improving Budgeting (Summary) and the Payments Tab!

As you might have seem over in the We’re working on a new look for the Monzo app thread, the Monzo team is, well, working on a new look for the app!

There’s still all sorts of work to do on the home screen, but it sounds like the team isn’t going anywhere once they have finished there:

So, without wanting to get ahead of ourselves too much, I was wondering what folk wanted to see on Budgeting/Summary and on the Payments tab? I’ve put them together as I’m not sure that you can effectively split them out - I was changing some recurring payments for Summary this morning and was hopping between the two screens quite a bit!

I’ll almost certainly come back at some time with a mega post about my thoughts on this, but I wanted to see what people’s priorities are? If Monzo were to address budgeting/transfers from the ground up, what would you like to see?

A quick starter for 10 from me:

  • Cleaner, simpler transfers, with the ability to save a contact without having made a payment
  • A more intuitive interface for upcoming payments - it’s split across the Payments tab and Summary at the moment
  • Transfers to/from Pots being treated the same way as other payments. I find it odd that there’s a different way of doing this from the home screen!
  • The transfer/payments tab becoming modal, so it reflects whatever card is shown on the home screen (I reserve the right to change that one once I’ve thought about it more!)

What does everyone else think?

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Do you mean the ability to transfer to/from a pot from the Payments tab?

If you mean the ability to create a scheduled pot transfer from the Payments tab, I completely agree.

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Transfer direct from pot to pot would be great

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Especially under the new navigation, if I want to add money to a pot (which in my head is a transfer from the current account to a pot), I tend to go to the bottom tab. I then end up going back, lowering the card and tapping the “add money” button.

I suppose what I’m asking is that these two experiences become seamless, so I’d move money between my Monzo pots the same way that I would do between my Monzo and other accounts. That would also open up - hopefully - all the same functionality to pots that we have for transfers - scheduled, recurring payments etc that are accounted for in Summary etc.

  • At the moment Summary doesn’t show all committed spends e.g. I have weekly direct debits but it only shows the first one in the month which means my committed spend is more in reality. I’d like this improved.
  • I’d like Summary to improve visually, so things like pic charts, bar charts etc would help me see how I’m doing against e.g. categories or merchants.
  • I’d like the Request money feature to actually work with the contact. At the moment if you choose a non-Monzo contact it brings up the share sheet (iOS) to then find the contact again via messages or email. I’ve already given Monzo access to my contacts so it would be good if the persons contact options (text, email etc.) are displayed when pressing their name in the Monzo app.
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My two pennies worth:

  • Make ALL incoming payments excludable from summary.
  • Split transaction feed items between multiple categories
  • Custom categories
  • Make tagging useful
  • And for the love of Kylie, sort out Android search!!
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I think the best way to solve this would be to have an income category, which was auto excluded from Summary:

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There’s a couple of use case scenarios where that wouldn’t work - I posted about it in one of the feedback threads.

If I pay for something big like a holiday, exclude it from Summary and categorise it as “Holiday” it’s excluded fine. But if I then split that payment with someone, the incoming money cannot be excluded from summary if I categorise that as Holiday to offset my initial payment. My budget is then screwed as it says I’m in a surplus.

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Good point.

There should definitely be the option to exclude each incoming transaction from Summary. Also, it would be good if any incoming bill splits for a transaction which has been excluded from Summary were also automatically set as excluded from Summary, just like the category of the incoming Bill Split is automatically the same as the split transaction.

I do think an income category would help with dealing with income in budgeting generally though. If there was an income category, which is excluded from Summary, then Faster Payment bank transfers could be included in Summary without the issue of income affecting your budget.

With talk of a potential future Monzo credit card and also being able to see transactions from third party cards (I wonder if this will include the Apple Card?) in feeds, this made me wonder again about if we will eventually see a consolidated summary and/or budgeting at some point in the future?

Has this ever been discussed?

(Originally posted on credit card topic but might be better here)

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I’ve had a bit of a think, and here are what (I think) are the bits causing a bit of friction for me at the moment:

Budgeting

I think the biggest problem for me here is that Summary just tries to do too much so it becomes a bit unknowable but also scruffy around the edges because it doesn’t cover all use cases. A few examples:

  • there seems to be some logic that tries to predict daily spend, which is great, but never seems accurate.
  • the left to spend / dial never shows me the “you’re out by X amount” if I’m at the beginning of the month. That might be marginal as you’re expected to be in credit at that time, but why have that limitation?
  • Making transactions recurring is a great idea, and works reasonably well, but it means that they get spread across the Payments tab and Summary. If I want to stop one recurring, I can’t tap into a forthcoming payment in Summary and frequently get confused about how to do it.
  • But making transactions recurring has a draw back - I know that I’ll be spending X on Y date. I sometimes just want to be able to plan for that in the app without having a transaction. For example, I know that my credit card bill will be extra next month, but there’s nowhere that either allows me to specify the amount of the next transaction, or to add a completely new budget line.
  • As others have said, Summary isn’t particularly elegant with money coming in. I’d like to be able to predict both money in and money out.

Payments

My thoughts here are more or less covered in my first post, namely:

So, putting this all together, I think the following would be game-changers:

  • Summary disappears and becomes Budgeting.
  • Some form of analytics comes into the app to show where your spending goes up/down (my previous take is here, but would need updating given the navigation changes to the app)
  • Tidying Budgeting and Payments up - so recurring transactions and things that feed the budget aren’t necessarily shown on the Payments tab - but there should be a home there for things like direct debits and continuous payment authority that you should be able to cancel in app, but may or may not feed a budget.
  • Budgeting lets you plan for incoming payments as well outgoing ones - with more sophisticated timings (people get paid in odd ways!). It’d be super cool to be able to use those timings to drive payments, too.
  • Allow money in / salary to drive actions in the app. Like moving money to pots, or money moved to external accounts. This would be a massive win!
  • The Left to Spend figure becoming less ‘clever’ - just money in minus money out for that payment period. (Or, of course, a headline budget amount instead of money in for folk that budget like that).
  • Either no separation between spending and committed spend - or a much better approach to it. I keep coming back to this post, which I think really nails the problem. I have no solution, but definitely something to think about.
  • Whatever budgeting solution Monzo comes up with is extensible - i.e. that it can work on the basis of one current account, but could form the basis for multiple account budgeting - or even budgeting on another account that’s hooked into Monzo via open banking. (I’m primarily thinking about a Monzo Credit Card, though)
  • Lots of focus on a smooth, efficient payments tab. Focus on payments of contacts, getting the basics right in a way that’s clear, crisp and elegant.
  • Also on the payments tab, maybe using the carousel on the new home page to allow for transfers between Pots and between accounts. If the open banking payments thing (PISP) that lets an app initiate a payment from your account ever gets off the ground, you could even imagine using Monzo as the only app for your connected accounts
  • I’d also be in favour of having a calendar in the app that shows upcoming payments. And options like you get in your favourite calendaring software to manage recurring appointments/payments (letting you change the value of one recurrence in a set of payments three months hence down the line, or taking out one payment, or changing every payment from December this year…)

Also, and this is extreme wish-list territory now, I’d like to see integration between Monzo and my phone’s calendar to show me upcoming payments, with a link that’d open the app to view/amend. And also for payments contacts to be stored in some form of open standard, which means I could sync them with my phone/cloud provider/other banks…

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Yeah, I kind of wish that someone from Monzo would read that post. I think a lot of the problems in the current app are down to (1) the lack of separation between discretionary and mandatory spending, and (2) the lack of a higher-level interface than the line-item to dealing with our money (i.e. it needs to look more like an accountancy package that takes account of the past (debt), future (savings), and in general things that span more than one month or one line-item).

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I’m coming back to this thread as we’ve now had confirmation that the Core Platform team is now actively working on budgeting :hot_coral_heart:

I’ve been thinking about this a bit, and I have a couple of reflections:

  • The focus on budgeting is interesting. For me, I’m more drawn to clear analysis / infographics on where my money has gone (the past) rather than planning for the future (budgeting). Maybe there are two things to pick apart here?
  • I’m interested to see how this can lay the groundwork for a more than a Monzo current account solution. If Monzo is serious about being a financial platform (and that seemed to be a big driver behind the new look), then I’d be keen to see how budgeting might work across accounts (taking in, for example, credit card payments elsewhere).
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Interesting that you split things this way. We’ve also been thinking a lot in terms of how users can make better decisions just from being aware where their money is going. This is the same mantra as calorie counting apps as the best way for healthier eating habits.

We’ve also been thinking about more customisation of the Monzo experience (controls).

This boils down to time frame and what we choose to build short and long term.

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That’s really interesting. I was wondering a while back how Monzo might look if inspired by something like FitBit, for example.

Also fascinating! The balance between control and complexity is going to be interesting - ideally I’d love to see the former without the latter. And without 100s of toggles all over the place! (I have a low-key war on toggles :wink:).

Really interested to see what you come up with! :pray:

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I think insight into how I spend is important. At the moment it’s too basic to be of any real use. Eating out is too vague a category to be particularly useful especially when I stick lunch, drinks, meals out and the odd snack I buy in there, for example. But I do feel like just having lots of fancy data is too passive and pointless.

I do like the YNAB idea of budgeting. Give every penny a job sorta idea. So maybe some functionality to the salary sorter that automatically segregates your income using percentages and/or amounts sounds pretty appealing. I think something that actively encouraged me to assign a budget and maintain it is interesting and the most useful.

Either way I’m really looking forward to seeing some early ideas. I think this is the sorta thing that really benefits from early sneek peeks :grin:

Interesting you say this:

I always found the distinction between ‘tracking’ and ‘planning’ really critical in my own budgeting, and it was the latter that properly unlocked the Power of Budgeting for me - so personally I’m drawn to Planning the future.

But to make a proper plan for the future you need good information about past patterns.

My own personal journey with finances has been up and down - and for maybe 10 years or so, I used to think good budgeting was ‘I want to spend £100 this month on Bills, £200 will be savings and I’ll be good and only spend £50 at the pub’ Or whatever turn of the millennium me was doing.

Problem I had with all of that was that the second I broke a target all hell broke loose. £60 spent at the pub, welp, that’s my budget broken this month. And in the end, ultimately that form of budgeting is effectively tracking spending goals rather than a conscious plan.

It’s sort of like the apps that do the detailed spend analysis - great, they can tell me I’ve spend £500 more than I should have this month. What’s missing is a plant that stops me spending an extra £500.

And the thing that really turned budgeting on it’s head for me, was the concept of Envelope Style, or Zero Sum budgeting. Shifting the focus away from “Your budget says £100 on Bills”, that I set 9 months ago. became. “You have £1000 of income, on hand right now, make a plan for how you need to utilise it”.

Every single £ in my budget has a purpose. The Plan is Live. I have the ability to adapt when things change much more easily. But more importantly, it allows me to make conscious decisions about my spending. If I want to spend an extra £100 on eating out, I need to find out where that will come from. Will I consciously take money away from my New Xbox fund, or do I put less into savings this month?

I can hold myself super accountable because I have a plan. And I can see the history of my behaviour with some decent analytics.

For me, that is perfect.

I find the Monzo way of budgeting not suited to my tastes, largely because it focuses more around tracking spending and not conscious planning.

For example, I’d like Monzo to better track/handle my income - if I have £100 in my account, I’d like my budget to reflect that I actually only have £100 to spend on things until I get paid again.

And then areas where I may go over budget - there’s no ‘so what’ behind it. Once the month is done it’s pretty much gone and forgotten.

The use of Pots has been a decent leg up in budgeting in Monzo, and I’m often using Pots for more specific areas of my budget than actual categories - (I can basically use these in the zero sum style way that I like, at least partially).

But I think a lot of aspects of the Monzo budget need to connect to each other better. They all kind of exist in the same ecosphere, but they do not necessarily work towards the same goal.

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:point_up: This. I can see you’re on the YNAB path (made easier recently by the introduction of a native rolling balance, rather than relying on the toolkit add-on)

I also don’t ‘budget’ but I do look forward to ensure I have enough to cover what’s going to happen in the future. No-one can predict the future, but I like to know that a decision I make now won’t put me in a financially compromised position later. So I constantly check forward. Monzo’s current implementation shows me only what’s going to happen to the end of the current Summary period and not beyond.

Going beyond the current Summary period and into future Summary periods is what is required and has been touched on previously;

Monzo already knows the planned Pot transfers, D/D’s, S/O’s, CPA’s and scheduled payments, so if you could add-in manual future tansactions and be able to see the future periods in monthly/3-monthly/6-monthly &12-monthly periods, you could see if you’re on the right track or not.

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Really interesting and thoughtful. Thanks for sharing.

For me, I’ve been lucky enough to never have to worry about where every penny is going. Even when I was younger and money was tight, I seemed to make things work without going down to that level.

From the experience of you and others, it feels like zero sum budgeting gives your control - and presumably some comfort. For me, it adds a level of complexity and stress. Managing future money that closely makes me anxious. Don’t ask me why, it’s just the way I’m wired.

So for me, and there’s no anxiety attached to this, the ideal is to have an understanding of where my money has been going. The one thing that’s missing from all the financial aggregation apps that I’ve seen is a simple graph showing debt and assets over time. I just want to see the difference between those two growing. And, if not, to be able to drill into why. Then I can take action (like changing electricity provider - or, in an ideal future world, Monzo would do it for me before I realised I had to).

I don’t want to get into paid accounts territory here too much, but something like YNAB would, to my mind, be a great companion app to Monzo as part of something like Monzo Plus. I wouldn’t use it (I don’t think) but it feels like it would add far too much complexity to the app, particularly given that not everyone budgets that way.

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No one way to skin a cat right?

I get the point around complexity - for sure using YNAB is a lot more effort than I neccesarily need (and truth be told I tend to fall off the good habit wagon), but I think hopefully points out to Monzo that there are a few ways they could implement something.

And I hope to be honest explores multiple styles of user selectable approaches.

To generalise where I think I’m at - a long time ago, an old Operations Manager at a plant I worked at, had the sentiment, “what gets measured gets done”.

Wether that measurement is better analytics in your case, or more levels of detail in mine, having access to that data allows actionable change - so I hope something meaningful comes of that.

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