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Q: What is the “sweep” Envelope? How can I use it?
The “sweep” Envelope is like your own personal penny jar. When you record an income with the “Specify” option, EEBA will ask how much money was received and how you’d like to fund your Envelopes. Often, the amount of money you receive will be different from how much it will take to fund your Envelopes. This means that EEBA will have a little extra –or be left a little short– when funding your Envelopes. This leftover bit is sent –or taken if you’re short– to the “sweep” Envelope.
(Note, if you’re wondering how to fund your Envelopes with “Specify” without using a sweep, click here.)
For example, here we see a user recording their income of 1600.
However, funding this user’s Envelopes will only take 1400. This leaves them with a remainder of 200 (1600 – 1400 = 200) What does EEBA do with that 200? It sends it to the “sweep” Envelope.
Which Envelope should I pick as my “sweep” Envelope?
When selecting your sweep Envelope, you can choose any of your Envelopes in EEBA or your Unallocated Money. Which Envelope you choose depends on what you want to do.
- Savings: If you have a long-term Savings Envelope, that would likely be the best option for your sweep, letting you grow your savings over time.
- Unallocated Money: If you’re living paycheck to paycheck, sweeping a surplus to Unallocated Money will help you build a cushion for your budget.
- Debt Reduction / Payoff: If you’re paying down existing debt you could sweep the remainder to a “Debt Reduction” or “Debt Payoff” Envelope.
- Giving: Alternatively, if your regular expenses are covered you could always budget the surplus towards giving.
The choice is up to you. Be generous, and be creative!
What if my sweep is negative?
Life happens, and sometimes our budgets take a hit. If you happened to overspend last month or received less income this month, you may be asked to sweep a negative amount. This will remove funds from the sweep Envelope. When this happens, you have a few options:
- Distribute Less to Your Envelopes: Look over how you’re adding money to your Envelopes and see where you can cut back. Bringing your negative sweep back to “0” will mean you’re only distributing money you actually have, and that’s good!
- Pull Money From Unallocated or Another Envelope: If you have spare money elsewhere, say from your Unallocated Money or a rainy-day Envelope, you may want to pull the money you need from there.
If this is a one-time occurrence you’re probably safe, but if this happens repeatedly you’ll need to make a change. It may be time to take another look at your budget and find ways to either earn more or spend less.
I just want to reset my Envelopes in different ways each month!
How can I do that without using sweep?
If you just want to keep track of your spending –and don’t need to keep track of your income– you can do the following:
- Choose “Specify” and fund your Envelopes as you normally would.
- When you’re done, look at the “Total Income / Adjustment” number near the bottom of the page.
- Enter that as your income under “How much money did you receive?”
That’s it. That will let you fund your Envelopes the way you want each month without having a remainder to put away somewhere.
Thanks to S.D. and T.R. for the question!