How to Make a Budget

Update

EEBA is now Goodbudget! Goodbudget has all the great features of EEBA (and more!) in a new and updated interface. Check out our updated article on this topic, and check out the Goodbudget Help Center for the most recent help content.

Take the fear out of budgeting with our step-by-step guide to crafting a budget you can really live with.

Step 1. Relax!

Before you do anything take a deep breath and relax. . . feel better? We’re not here to make the perfect budget, or change your financial world overnight. We’ll get to that later. For now we just need to put a budget together that we can work with. There will be plenty of time to reflect and make changes later. The most important thing is to just get started, keep going.

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FAQ: How to Import CSV Files Into Goodbudget

Update

EEBA is now Goodbudget! Goodbudget has all the great features of EEBA (and more!) in a new and updated interface. Check out our updated article on this topic, and check out the Goodbudget Help Center for the most recent help content.

Q: How can I import my banking activity as a “CSV” file?
Q: I’m trying to import a “CSV” file into Goodbudget, but it’s not working properly, what’s wrong and how can I fix it? see below.

CSV Import (For Advanced Users)

We recommend users import their banking activity with Quicken (QFX) or MS Money (OFX) files. You can learn more about importing via these file formats here. However, if your bank does not offer QFX or OFX downloads, Goodbudget supports “CSV” formatted files as well.

  1. From the Transactions window on the home page, click on “Import Bank Transactions.”
  2. Click on “Choose File” and select the CSV file you want to upload.
  3. Then click on “Upload Transactions.”

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FAQ: How to Import Bank Activity

Update

EEBA is now Goodbudget! Goodbudget has all the great features of EEBA (and more!) in a new and updated interface. Check out our updated article on this topic, and check out the Goodbudget Help Center for the most recent help content.

EEBA supports importing bank activity for checking, savings and credit card accounts. You can import QFX (Quicken) and OFX (MS Money) files, as well as CSV files as an alternative for advanced users.

Step 1. Get Ready to Import

Head to your bank’s website and download your “recent activity.” Note that this is often not the same as downloading your statement. When asked, choose one of the following file formats:

  • QFX, a.k.a. Quicken, Web Connect, or;
  • OFX, a.k.a. MS Money, Open Financial Exchange.

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FAQ: How Can I Handle Multiple or Variable Incomes in EEBA?

Update

EEBA is now Goodbudget! Goodbudget has all the great features of EEBA (and more!) in a new and updated interface. Check out our updated article on this topic, and check out the Goodbudget Help Center for the most recent help content.

Q: I have multiple or variable incomes with expenses that are due throughout the month. How can I keep track of everything in EEBA?

Q: I have a monthly budgeting period, but I get paid bi-weekly, how can I manage my budget in EEBA?

Keeping track of a single, stable income can be hard enough. For those with more than one income, or an income that varies month to month, things can quickly get more complicated. You aren’t certain how much money you really have to spend, or which paycheck you should use to spend on which expenses. Thankfully, EEBA can help.

Working Towards a One Month Cushion

The ideal solution is to pool your income into Unallocated Money as a one month cushion for your budget. Then, use it fund your Envelopes all at once at the beginning of the month.

If that’s not an option for you yet, don’t worry! You can still use EEBA to manage your incomes and build up that one month cushion. Here’s how you can do it in 3 simple steps.

1. Make sure your budget makes sense

For many, building up a one month cushion is simply an issue of cash flow. For others a more serious change is needed. Check out our guide on creating a budget based off your income to know you’re starting off on the right foot.

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How To Talk About Budgeting

Anyone who’s tried, knows. Sitting down to talk about money can be stressful. Whether it’s a spouse, a child, a dependent parent, or even a roommate, our lives –and our money– are interwoven with those around us, and with that comes conflict. We enter conversations about money with the best of intentions, but often leave frustrated or even resentful.

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Tailor Your Budget So It Fits Just Right

You followed Steve’s advice for how to make a budget. Then you tracked your expenses in Goodbudget for a month. Or maybe even longer. Great job! So why does it feel like something’s not quite right?

Maybe you’ve noticed an Envelope that’s often in the red. You know which one I’m talking about… Or maybe you have an Envelope that always has extra green. No worries. Budgets are a bit like clothes. Sometimes they fit well — and sometimes they don’t. Most budgets need some tailoring before they fit just right. Here’s how you can tailor yours with Goodbudget.

Step 1. Look in the Mirror

Pull up the Spending vs Budget Report on the web and assess how you’re doing. Is there an Envelope where you’ve been spending over budget (the orange bar is longer than the green bar)? Or under budget by a lot (a really short orange bar)? Pick just a couple to start. In my household, we were over in Utilities (by almost double!), and under in Household Items (only half!).

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FAQ: How to use the “Sweep” Envelope to Build Savings or Pay Down Debt

Update

EEBA is now Goodbudget! Goodbudget has all the great features of EEBA (and more!) in a new and updated interface. Check out the Goodbudget Help Center for the most recent help content.

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.

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FAQ: How do I group my Envelopes? How does that help?

Update

EEBA is now Goodbudget! Goodbudget has all the great features of EEBA (and more!) in a new and updated interface. Check out our updated article on this topic, and check out the Goodbudget Help Center for the most recent help content.

Q: How do I group my Envelopes? How does that help?

It’s quite simple to group your Envelopes.  When you name your Envelopes via Edit Budgets, use colons “:” — like Food: Eating Out and Food: Groceries. On the web, your Envelopes Overview and Reports will group these together. You’ll see whether you’re on track in each Envelope and also how you’re doing with the whole Envelope group.

Which Envelopes should I group together?

Well, that depends on what you want. If you have a lot of bills (cell phone, power, water, trash, cable, etc.), you might be getting a report that shows all your bills separately, like this:

To see how much you spent on all your bills together, while still tracking cell phone, water, and power separately, name your Envelopes like this:

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