Results in! Budgeting, financial planning and expense tracking poll

I’ve been thinking a bit about budgeting. And it’s a snowy, lockdown Sunday so I was thinking about writing more (and maybe doing some mock-ups) of what improved budgeting and financial tracking might look like in Monzo.

But first, in the spirit of doing some user research, I thought I’d ask the community! Poll incoming on what people’s needs…

…but first, the usual caveats: this is a community poll, not sponsored or endorsed by Monzo. We know that they started active work on the area before Last Year, and that any investment in significant new features is likely to be for paid accounts. And that we are a pretty self-selecting bunch, and probably not representative. So, in summary, this is for fun, not for Monzo!

All answers anonymous

Oh, and finally, this is for personal (inc joint) current accounts only. So it won’t really apply to businesses.

So, let’s poll!

Do you actively plan for future spend or have a budget?
  • Yes, always
  • I occasionally plan (e.g. for big expenditures)
  • No

0 voters

If no, would you like to?
  • Yes
  • No

0 voters

Do you track your net worth?
  • Yes, routinely
  • Yes, infrequently
  • No, but I’d like to
  • No, this isn’t something I want to do

0 voters

Do you ever model your future finances? (e.g. different savings providers, different bill amounts, changing spending habits etc)
  • Yes
  • No, but I’d like to
  • No, I don’t want or need to

0 voters

What period do you budget or plan for?
  • Short term (weekly/monthly)
  • Medium term (calendar/financial year)
  • Long term (greater than a year, including to retirement)

0 voters

If you short term budget, what approach do you use?
  • Zero-sum budgeting
  • Percentage split (e.g. 50/20/30)
  • Envelope / pot / piggy-bank budgeting
  • Category budgeting (like in the Monzo app)
  • I don’t budget
  • Something else (tell us below)

0 voters

If yes, what do you use?
  • With a spreadsheet
  • With an aggregator app (such as EMMA or Money Hub)
  • Accountancy software
  • Pen and paper
  • With Monzo
  • With another bank’s app

0 voters

What Monzo tools do you use for budgeting / planning?
  • Left to Spend
  • Budgets against categories
  • Custom categories
  • Bills Pots
  • Salary Sorter
  • Previous periods’ spend in Summary

0 voters

For you, how effective are these tools?
  • Very effective - they provide everything I need
  • Helpful, but not sufficient
  • Good ideas but don’t work for me / my circumstances, or there are missing features
  • I’d never use this sort of thing anyway

0 voters

When I budget I…
  • Look at one current account only
  • Look at a number of different current accounts
  • Look at current accounts and credit cards
  • Look at current, credit card and savings accounts

0 voters

I budget for…
  • Just me
  • Me and my partner (and family) - I have a joint account
  • Me and my partner (and family) - I don’t have a joint account
  • Some other combo (tell us below)

0 voters

I’d pay for Plus/Premium if it had better financial planning or budgeting tools
  • Yes (I’m currently a free account holder)
  • Yes (I’m not a Monzo account holder)
  • Yes (I have Plus or Premium)
  • No (including if you have Plus or Premium and this wouldn’t be of interest).

0 voters


I like to look back and see previous spend grouped by (for example) category or merchant
  • Yes
  • No

0 voters

I would like to have more insight into my past spending
  • Yes
  • No

0 voters

I use another tool to help me understand my past spending
  • Yes, a spreadsheet
  • Yes, an aggregator app
  • Yes, an accountancy package
  • Yes, pencil and paper
  • Yes, something else
  • No

0 voters

Is Year In Monzo useful?
  • Yes
  • No

0 voters

Would you find tools similar to Year In Monzo useful in the app?
  • Yes
  • No

0 voters

I look back on what I’ve spend before to help me budget
  • Yes
  • No

0 voters

I spend using…
  • My Monzo account
  • Another current account
  • A credit card

0 voters

I’d pay for Plus/Premium if it had better tracking, analysis or insight of previous spend
  • Yes (I’m currently a free account holder)
  • Yes (I’m not a Monzo account holder)
  • Yes (I have Plus or Premium)
  • No (including if you have Plus or Premium and this wouldn’t be of interest).

0 voters

Phew, that went on a bit!

Thank you all - keen to see what we learn! :smiley:

4 Likes

Great poll :slight_smile: Next logical evolution of the budgeting thread!

For the “What Monzo Tools do you use”, you could include Pots, generally, as an option - that’s the only thing I use within Monzo really, but it’s not the same as Bills Pots.

And for the “what tool do you use”, I use YNAB which I lumped under “Accountancy Tool” (feels more accurate than aggregator).

4 Likes

Argh “cannot change a poll after five minutes”. I feel I ought to have known that. And tested out the poll first!

2 Likes

As a free text challenge:

  1. If Monzo could do one thing to improve budgeting, what would that be?

  2. If Monzo could do one thing to give you better insight into your previous spend, what would it be?

Free Text Challenge:

  • Allow unlimited pots - which would allow so much more flexibility in how I can budget, using both categories and pots.
  • Show me trends in my spending in real time; Merchant and Category spends through the month, and show me how it varies month to month.
3 Likes

Huge agree with both of these suggestions. Hopeful for the second at least given that sneak-peek from god knows how long ago showing the ability to switch feed from chronological to ‘by merchant’ or ‘by category’.

2 Likes

Ooh, I’ve not seen that sneak peak. That would be interesting. Would be a huge improvement in my “find the missing transactions” time in my budgeting.

The thing I’m currently obsessed with, and it partially links back to budgets and Plus, is PowerBI - had it thrust upon me for work so I’m going to attempt a Dashboard with that, that will have a bit more flexibility to it than I can get with Google Sheets export.

1 Like

Here! We're working on a new look for the Monzo app - #282 by JordanFish

2 Likes

Thank you! I just spent 10 minutes unsuccessfully looking for it :man_facepalming:

While I’d love to get that in the app (it’d genuinely add so much to see more breakdown) I’m presuming it’s not gonna happen (at least not any time soon).

The core app team doesn’t seem to be around any more, but we do have the squad working on the Payments tab. And this mock-up is based on an early design of the new layout. I imagine it was a classic Monzo situation of moving off too quickly, then getting pulled into the need to launch paid accounts, followed by the P word.

(I’m also reminded that @bruno was previously doing some thinking about this - and active work had started on budgeting. But I suspect it never got very far due to 2020).

2 Likes

I don’t know what my budgeting method would be called

Just after payday I allocate some of my income to long term investing, some to short term saving (e.g. for a holiday) and some to a monthly bills account. All of these are generally fixed on a monthly basis and influenced by my long-term knowledge/experience of how much I need for more general spending. My general spending includes groceries shopping and discretionary spending. I don’t really budget this in a granular way (i.e. don’t split my general spending into budgeted categories). I just aim not to overspend overall and therefore not to have to dip into savings.

I don’t know if this falls into one of the options in poll number 6?

3 Likes

Sounds a bit like the percentage split option.

Perhaps, although I don’t think about it in terms of percentages. When my salary goes up I don’t scale everything up to preserve a constant percentage split. I usually just increase the amount that goes into investing.

1 Like

I want desperately to use Monzo more for budgets but sometimes little things just make it exhausting.

Case in point; custom categories and split transactions it does :clap: my :clap: head :clap: in as it makes no sense when you enter one category amount that it alters a random category in a way I don’t want. It takes too long, is fiddly and then when done it seems really unprofessional to have a > next to some categories but not all:


Yes I am aware this is small, but if you’re paying £5/£15 a month you want to budget and plan with Monzo as easily as possible.

8 Likes

Aaagh, I forgot about that. One of the reasons I’ve abandoned custom / split categories again. Not only is the way it’s handled in Google Sheets really poor, the splitting itself is painful.

Just tried it out as an example. Steps explained: (Can post a video that shows the frustrating thing if people want).

With the transaction selected that I want to split, I pick the 3/4 categories I want.

  • First item in the list, I type the value I want, say £4.
  • This automatically adds the remaining value to the last item in the list.
  • I move to item number 2, and add the value for this, say £2.
  • This then reduces the first category by the £2 I just added (because Item 4 in the list is populated already automatically). [repeats for every item but the last one]
  • when I get to the last box, this has auto populated to the amount remaining in the transaction after I typed in the very first category £ amount.
  • I change this to it’s new value, and it then auto adjusts category 1 again.

It’s like one of those puzzles where you have to turn all the lights out and hope you press everything in the right order

Edit to add: I’m totally spoilt by YNAB, but transaction splits are handled much more beatuifully:

Transaction from earlier today, first line is the total spent, and each line is the category split. Select each category as you need, and type the amount. You can do basic arithmetic in the value box, and it will keep a running total for you of how much is left.

3 Likes

Truly one of the worst interactions in the app :mask:

2 Likes

I tried YNAB but I just found it very complex; I really want to love it.

That’s fair, the style of budgeting, and the app, aren’t always the most straight forward.

I think to get the most out of it you need to spend most of the time on the YNAB web app, rather than phone. it just makes more sense when in a full desktop view.

It took me about 3 solid months to get used to it, but they do have some very useful starter guides to explain everything. But it sort of requires a level of granularity that you may not want (I think that’s the biggest criticism I hear of it).

2 Likes

Monzo budgeting is something they claim to help but it doesn’t really do much.

“Left to Spend” has no insights. It just divides the amount you have left by the days left. I can do that quite easily.

How am I doing compared to last month? Have I spent more on clothes/food/transport?

“You’ve already spent more on Starbucks than you did all of last month”

And then at the end of the month, my “coffee” category could say I’ve spent £300. Is that because I went 100 times and bought the smallest thing they do? Is it because I went 20 times and bought lunch and extras?

Is my “eating out” budget blown because I had a £300 valentines meal or because I didn’t cook for a month?

The data is there but they don’t show any insights. I track everything (and probably more than I need) with Google Sheets and it’s the most on top of my money I’ve ever felt. But this has taken effort and know how from me (And Google/Ben) to get it there.

The Plus/Premium tab does nothing and it could be so much better.

My one “simple” improvement would be to have a hierarchy to categories.

I have an Amazon category because I buy a lot from there and I want to track it. But when I buy things for the house or presents for people that’s different to buying yet more things I don’t really need.

Amazon > Presents
Amazon > House
Amazon > Toys

Would make things a lot clearer for me.

3 Likes

Including incoming Faster Payments transfers and BACS credits in Budgets (including some way to sort the issue of salary dominating a budget - possible solutions could be a “Salary” category or scheuled income which automatically toggles scheduled income to be excluded from Summary.

1 Like

I have a bills pot and a groceries one, that’s the limit. Any money not in those 2 pots is free to go wherever.