Summary is Useless because it only understands fixed cycles

Dear Monzo, I’m sorry to say but the spending summary is just useless. It has too much history tying it to the days of Monzo as a discretionary spending card. Now that your business provides current accounts, you need a much better model to help people manage their money. The core of the problem is that the app doesn’t have any intrinsic timescale longer than one month. This comes up time and time again when using the app, but allow me to illustrate with a simple, salient example.

Let’s say you are going on two holidays. They’re relatively close together. You pay everything within that small timeframe. Say one is in mid-July, and the other from the end of July into August. What happens in Summary? The costs are bundled into the holidays category of each month, but there’s no way to get an overview of how much you spent on each. Useless!

But the problem is much larger than this. The same issue arises with anything that doesn’t fit into a neat monthly cycle. Any time you split the cost over multiple months - whether that be through ad-hoc payments, savings, or taking on debt, it’s not modelled at all in the application.

Please, please, please sort out the spending summary so that it realistically models a person’s finances, rather than just providing a somewhat arbitrary monthly classification of spending into some inflexible categories.

This problem is compounded by the fact that if you shift money around your accounts (personal, joint), and into and out of various pots, then the monthly spending summary idiotically treats these as spending, giving even less clarity to what has been spent.

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I’m sure the people who created Summary will be gladdened by this weary critique of their work. As a developer there is nothing better than hearing that your work is “useless”, and in bold text no less.

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Thanks “tbutz”, really useful feedback. Extra kudos for engaging with the post at such a deep level. And just FYI, I’m a developer too with fifteen years under my belt, and I can guarantee you that what you need on occasion is a cold hard glass of truth. Spending has been broken for more than two years, and nothing at all is happening on that front. Monzo professes to want to be our financial hub; but to do that they have to provide a product that actually allows us to properly understand our finances, front-and-centre of that is spending, and at the moment spending is useless.

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From the New Nav topic:

Hopefully it’s something that gets started sooner rather than later :crossed_fingers:

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I am a developer too with twenty years under my belt and I “guarantee” you “catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar”

If you went back to edit out all the parts where you mentioned “useless” then your post might be easier to approach - as it is you can end up missing the salient points and just detect the snark

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Our even “Useless to me” as it seems to work ok for others :slightly_frowning_face:

(Edit) it doesn’t work very well for me however so I’ve just stopped using it

That’s a great link to a random post in that (~5k post long!) thread; it’s a shame that such things are often buried in the forums deep down - I doubt that many have the time to keep fully abreast of everything going on here. Fingers crossed that they staff that team up ASAP, because, as the post says, it’s a cross-cutting concern that’s central and critical to their app. Moreso than most things on the roadmap…

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+1 to Summary having a root and branch review. This is supposedly happening in the next few months. This is my biggest gripe:

Sorry buddy, you’re flat wrong. If you mean mean like the several rather lengthy posts that I have done before in this area, then that’s been tried. The Monzo team need to wake up to this, and a glass of ice cold water across the face seems the only path left. Monzo at its core is about managing your money, and at the moment it does a crap job. Rather than flesh out every product line under the sun - including the rather pointless Monzo Plus - they need to tackle the core issues of actually managing money and budgeting, before one of their competitors does.

I’m one of the people who thinks summary is fine, but I’m not saying there isn’t room for improvement!

My question would be, where does the line get drawn?

There are already amazing (so I’m told) budgeting tools out there such as Emma. Should Monzo be aiming to compete with those or integrating? Or a halfway house of their own?

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In various areas Monzo is providing an incomplete hodge-podge of that functionality anyway. You can’t really “make money work” for people, or be a “financial control centre” without addressing budgeting. You have to be able to deal with timescales longer than a month. You say that it works for you, but how do you, for instance, see how much you spent on a particular holiday if those payments are split over time? And how do you stop holiday spending from impacting your monthly summary? And that’s just the simple example that I gave above.

I know what you’re saying and how it doesn’t work for you - that’s totally fine and I understand :slight_smile:

The “make money work for everyone” is a phrase that I personally hate because it can never be achieved and it’s too ambiguous.

I was just simply asking what peoples thoughts are on how to resolve this. Is it:

  1. Integration with a well established platform (eg Emma) like they do with Flux which is likely quicker and easier but they have less control.
  2. Build their own fully fledged version and compete directly (downside is resource, cost and sacrifice from other areas)
  3. Just make a few amends to what they have currently as it’s not really an area Monzo as a “bank” should be getting into.

I love summary. I get paid every month, it lets me know how much I have to spend before pay day, replacing careful manual tracking of my expected outgoings. Most complaints seem to be people expecting it to do something else and… that’s fine, your requirements are a legitimate as anyone else’s. But needing a fork doesn’t make a knife broken.

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My vote is for this. Given what @redshift linked above, it would seem that the Monzo staff, too, think that budgeting should be core and done by them.

Summary is great to knowing your balance minus regular spending. It means I always know how much I have.

I’m not sure of your point with holidays… it tells you how much you have left to spend and how much you have spent so far. It’s not going to magically know what you spent in france vs. spain in the same month (two holidays in the same month is going to be an outside case anyway)… that’s not the purpose…

You can now achieve the same thing using pots too so there’s at least two ways built in to manage your money, depending on your style.

Yes both are designed around monthly pay, and that could probably be tweaked a bit for those paid weekly for example. It’s still useful for the majority.

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Nothing out there works properly for budgeting. I thought Emma had cracked it with split transactions and custom categories and was gearing up to subscribe. However, I noticed that the spending on one of the merchants I use was not being aggregated. I thought it was a bug, but no, it was because the merchant was not in their database. I assumed that it was not just this one merchant that was missing but potentially thousands so it’s not for me.

If you take elements from Starling, Monzo and Emma you might get close.

I don’t understand the problem. Can’t you just use the search functionality rather than spending months rebuilding summary for this type of edge case?

YNAB was spot on for budgeting for me when I used it. I only stopped using it because the processes for managing my money became habit so I didn’t want to pay for it anymore.

I’ve been waiting a while for monzo to become just as useful but I get the impression they don’t want to go that far.

To my mind, the whole point of Summary is to let you know how you are getting on in relation to your income, not to count holiday spend for you. If you’re paid monthly (as most are), it works a treat. It is certainly better than any other bank, and certainly not useless. The Trip Reports are there for this purpose, and they also work well (although the trips will need to be foreign with domestic spend in between for the triggers to work).

On the subject of variable bills…not sure how it could predict that with any usefulness?

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