Improving Budgeting (Summary) and the Payments Tab!

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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Fully agree.

It seems to me that the key here is your well made measurement point. And then providing some flexible tools that let people do something with that data so they can budget/plan in different ways.

A complex problem space, but a fascinating one nevertheless. Would love to be a lurker in the Monzo Budgeting Slack*

*I think this is the modern equivalent of being a fly on the wall

I’d love to see Monzo contacts in the payments tab integrate better with my phone contacts. For example, lots of my Monzo friends haven’t set a profile photo in Monzo, but do have a contact photo on my phone. Since Monzo is already recognising links to your contacts by phone number, I’d love to see it also pull your contact photos into the app too (and if a contact doesn’t have a photo, it could fall back on their Monzo profile photo). Currently lots of empty pictures in my feed / payments tab, so this would fix that. Going even further, you could even add a “pay” button in the Android Contacts app which would jump you straight into the Monzo app to pay that contact. :grinning:

I also really want to see better shared tabs (if you want an idea of how I think it could be, try using Splitwise). Would be amazing to be able to split things by percentage or share as well as the actual cash amount. Same goes for direct debits - currently you can only get a direct debit to automatically add in a shared tab if it’s being split equally. In my flat, we don’t split the bills equally, so would be fantastic if you could tell Monzo to always split a direct debit so Person A pays 20%, Person B pays 50%, etc, regardless of how much the bill actually ends up being.

Also, I think people should be able to add notes to items going into shared tabs. I don’t want to just see that my flatmate spent £30 at Sainsbury’s and requested £5, I want them to be able to add a note underneath saying “washing up liquid” or something to that effect. It would also be great if you could add the same transaction to multiple shared tabs - I have a shared tab with my girlfriend and also my flatmates, and if I do a shop for both girlfriend and flatmate stuff, I have to pick just one tab and add a custom amount on the other. It would be so much better if I could say “request £2.50 each from everyone on the flatmate tab, and £5 on the girlfriend tab” :blush:

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Completely agree with this. You can vote for it here:

Is there likely to be any improvements to the summary and budget features this year? It lacks flexibility and customisation that makes it pretty much useless for me. I guess the answer might to use another app for budgeting rather than waiting for Monzo to cycle back around to updating the summary and budget tools. The Left to Spend feature is great though :+1: but the rest of it not so much

This is not so much an improvement thing more a question, as I’m not sure if the budget screen is working properly for me. But this seemed the most appropriate thread for it.

When I go in to change my budgets, and clear them all, they all appear to be automatically set to what I spent last month. But from the main summary page, I can see they actually aren’t set to anything. If I change any of them, then it actually sets the budget. But from the budget page itself there is no visual indication whatsoever as to whether an amount is a budget I’ve set or just a pre-filled suggested budget. This is super confusing, I have to keep going back and forth to tell which budgets I’ve set.

Is it meant to be like this or is something not working on my app?

Edit: to add image for clarity. Can you tell which categories I have set a budget in and which I haven’t? I feel like you should be able to tell that from the budget setting screen, but you can’t. You have to go back to summary to find out.

perhaps time for another blog post , the forum is getting a few "confused " users on how you intend / designed the summary to work @Jami ?

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eating out , and entertainment are the budgets you have set ??? as the amount last month is different to the figure on the right ? if you haven’t adjusted your budget in the category they are set to last months ?

Maybe the amount spent last month is just to inform you of last months spend ???

Groceries and family ??? , you can’t set the budget , as far as Im aware to an odd figure , so that is following what you spent last month for some reason

I really would like the designer / developer to explain with examples what / how they intended summary and budget setting to work, so everybody who wants to use it knows how to, its obviously not as intuitive as intended to some people…me included :slight_smile:

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I’m guessing you are on Android as your page looks different to mine - so not sure if this is true on both platforms.

But if I look on the iOS page, the only difference between something set/not set is greyed out text for the “spent last month” fields;

In the main summary page, on this example, Eating Out doesn’t show up as a budget.

It looks like Android doesn’t differentiate between ‘default figure’ and a set figure per your screenshot, but if they are not set, per your Summary view (i.e. they’d have a “£X remaining of £Y” message), then maybe tap into the amount to edit it, and see if that afffects anything? You can also tap the Heading of the category to say “Set to Last Period”

Weirdly, this is one page where tapping the actual amount doesn’t seem to allow me to free type a figure.

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Nope, in this case the family budget is set, it’s just set to the same as what I spent last month. Probably not the most common use case admittedly but certainly not impossible.

Anything to just show if it’s a budget or suggestion would help. Greyed out; a different colour; the words “no budget” and then the suggested amount only appears when you tap to edit it.

Just seems very odd to me that from the budget setting page there’s no way to actually tell at a glance which categories have budgets set. Even if you can use the spent last week to figure it out most of the time, that seems like a piece of manual work that shouldn’t be necessary.

@BritishLibrary

Yes I am on Android - the greyed out figure if not actually set would be just the kind of solution I’m talking about!

Not sure whether they haven’t added it to Android, it’s broken in Android, or its just broken on my device.

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Don’t want to set up a new thread for something that has bound to have been discussed, so putting it here. Also confession, I haven’t read through the full thread above.

What I want on the summary wheel page where it says £xx left of (£Total Budget) - ‘14 days to go’ for example. I would then like what that works out to be amount / day. At the moment I am manually calculating this each time.

Realise this won’t be for everyone, and I’m sure everyone uses these tools differently. But that is something I personally would find v useful . Good idea?

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I don’t know if this has happened recently or has been present for while, but if you change a category or category name, it seems as though summary doesn’t update automatically anymore?

You have to back out of summary and renter to force a refresh m. This definitely wasn’t the case before? :eyes:

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