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Envelope Budgets

Our Envelope Budgeting tool allows you to easily budget your money using the Envelopes System. The Envelope tool is similar to our existing Budgets tool except the Envelopes system has no reset date and the budget amount is set by how much money you deposit into the category.

You can find the Envelope Budgets by clicking on Tools at the top of the page, then click on the Envelope Budgets link.

What is Envelope Budgeting?

The envelope budgeting system has been around for decades and was simply a way of having physical envelopes for each of your budget categories. You would fill each envelope with the amount of cash you wanted to limit yourself to spending. Then, when you went to the store you would take your envelopes and spend from them. This would make sure you couldn't overspend on your budgets since you had a physical set amount of cash you could use.

With the advent of online shopping and online bill-pay, that physical system doesn't work as well which is why an online version can be very useful.

Envelope budgeting is broken into four parts which are as follows:

  1. Determine your budget categories
  2. Figure out how much to fund each budget
  3. Create envelope budgets and fund them
  4. Don't spend more than you've allotted for each category.

Start by creating your Categories

The Envelope Budgets tool lets you select from the categories you've created in ClearCheckbook. The first thing you'll want to do is set up all of the categories you need.

To do this, click on Settings at the top right side of the page and then click on the Categories link. You can learn more about managing your categories through the Settings Manage Your... Categories Settings Knowledge Base section.

Add a Budget

To add a new envelope budget, click on the Add New Envelope button at the top of the Envelope Budgets page. This will bring up an Add New Envelope form.

Envelope Budget - Add New Envelope
Add New Envelope form

Select the category you would like to create the budget for from the Category drop down list. The other two options are explained in the table below.

Option Description
Set start date? When checked, you can select a start date where ClearCheckbook will only look at transactions with a date after the chosen date.
Include Sub Categories? When checked, and if the selected category is a parent, spending from any sub categories will be counted against the budget.
Initial Fund Optional: You can enter the initial funding amount for this envelope if you don't want to categorize a deposit in your transaction register.
Envelope Group Optional for Premium members: Envelope Groups help you to better organize your envelope budgets by assigning them to groups. The budgets will be displayed under their assigned group along with totals for the entire group. See the Envelope Groups section for more information.
Once you click the Add Envelope button, the envelope list will refresh and the new envelope will show up with a blue background.

How do I fund a budget?

Funding your budgets is very easy. Whenever you make a deposit into ClearCheckbook, simply split the transaction and divvy the amount up into your various budgets as needed. If you receive money, add that as a deposit and want all of that money applied to a budget, simply categorize that entire deposit to the budget you want it applied to.

For more information please see the following knowledge base items:

We also have the ability to set an initial fund amount when adding or editing a budget. This can be helpful if you don't want to split or categorize a deposit from your transaction register to match the funding amount.

How are the amounts calculated?

Once a budget has been created, any time you add a transaction and categorize it with any of your budgeted categories, that amount will be calculated into the budget.

For example, lets assume you have an envelope budget for your Groceries category and it has been funded with $50. If you add a $30 withdrawl and categorize it as Groceries, the budget will be updated and show $20 remaining.

If you set a start date on the budget, only transactions added after that date will be used when calculating the budgets.

Envelope List

The envelope list displays all of your budgets and how much is remaining in each budget. There are several other pieces of information which are explained in the screenshot and table below.

Envelope Budget - Envelope List
Sample envelope list
Number Description
1 This is the category the budget is applied to. Clicking on this name will take you to a list of all transactions that are being calculated for this budget.
2 If you select a start date for the budget, that date will appear here.
3 If the budget has the Include Sub Categories? option selected, this icon will appear here.
4 These icons let you edit or delete the budget.
5 The amount remaining for the budget. If you spend more than the budgeted amount, the amount will turn red with a negative symbol in front of it.
6 If you manually set the initial funding for the budget, this icon is shown. You can hover over the icon to see the initial funding amount.

Managing Envelopes

To edit a budget, click on the icon. This will bring up a new form where you can change the budget as needed.

Envelope Budget - Edit a Budget
Sample edit a budget form
To delete a budget, click on the icon and the budget will be removed. This will not delete any of the transactions that are being calculated in this budget.

Envelope Groups

This feature is only available for ClearCheckbook Premium members.

You can manage your envelope groups by clicking on the Manage Envelope Groups link at the top of the Envelope Budgets page. This will bring up a form where you can add new groups as well as manage your existing groups.

Envelope Budget - Manage Envelope Groups
Manage your envelope groups

Once you've assigned budgets to groups, they will appear under that group in the budget list. The sum of all the budgets contained within that group will also appear next to the group name.

Envelope Budget - Envelope Groups in the budget list
Manage your envelope groups