Nascent Freedom Budget Explorer 2012 - for Windows
Budget - Single Person


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1-Year Budget Summary

Download this Budget File

Click on the image below to view the budget summary, and scroll to see the outcome of the budget for the coming year.  Click on any account name at the top to switch accounts.

In the actual software, you can change the start date and the duration of the preview (ex. "display the budget from August 2012 for 2 years").

Click to view budget outcome


Planning your Budget

We'll start by enumerating our main expenses and revenues.  For a working adult, we could have the following transactions each year:

  • Every 2 weeks, salary of $1,557.59;
  • Monthly rent of $749.00;
  • Monthly credit card payment: $200.00;
  • Every 90 days, electricity bill: $121.00;
  • Weekly groceries: $120.00 ;
  • Monthly Internet bill: $43.97;
  • Monthly bill for the home phone: $25.00;
  • Monthly bank fees: $7.25;
  • Monthly car payments: $362.74;
  • Monthly payments for insurance: $26.16 (house), $37.86 (car);
  • Gas: $60.00/week;
  • Cell phone payment at $94.00/month;
  • Monthly credit card interests, calculated at 19% per year.

To facilitate analyzing the results, we'll decide to keep a closer eye on the following items:

  • Tracking the bank account and the credit card balances;
  • How much is earned every year;
  • How much is spent every year on transportation, on living, and expenses.

The choice of which accounts to track is completely yours - the software does not force you to track any particular account.

In order keep a separate total for each of those items in Budget Explorer, we'll create a separate account for each.  We'll name those accounts:

  • Bank Account
  • Credit Card
  • Cost of Living
  • Earned Salary
  • Expenses
  • Transportation Costs

At this point, you could enter all the information above directly into Budget Explorer.  Since this is a step-by-step tutorial, we'll rewrite the information into a single table and add as much detail as we can:

 

When

Description

Amount

Accounts

Starts Jan 6, 2012
Recurs every 2 weeks on Wednesday
Salary $1557.59 Increase "Bank Account"
Record the transaction in
"Earned Salary"
Starts Jan 6, 2012
Recurs every month on the 1st
Rent $749.00 Decrease "Bank Account"
Record the transaction in
"Cost of Living"
Starts Jan 6, 2012
Recurs every month on the 25th
Credit card payment $200.00 Decrease "Bank Account"
Deposit the money in
"Credit Card"
Starts Jan 6, 2012
Recurs every 90 days
Electricity bill $121.00 Decrease "Bank Account"
Record the transaction in
"Cost of Living"
Starts Jan 6, 2012
Recurs on every Sunday
Groceries $120.00 Decrease "Bank Account"
Record the transaction in
"Cost of Living"
Starts Jan 6, 2012
Recurs every month on the 1st
Internet $43.97 Decrease "Bank Account"
Record the transaction in
"Expenses"
Starts Jan 6, 2012
Recurs every month on the 14th
Home phone $25.00 Decrease "Bank Account"
Record the transaction in
"Cost of Living"
Starts Jan 6, 2012
Recurs every month on the 17th
Bank fees $7.25 Decrease "Bank Account"
Record the transaction in
"Cost of Living"
Starts Jan 6, 2012
Recurs every month on the 1st
Car payment $362.74 Decrease "Bank Account"
Record the transaction in
"Transportation Costs"
Starts Mar 8, 2012
Recurs every month on the 19th
House insurance $26.16 Decrease "Bank Account"
Record the transaction in
"Cost of Living"
Starts Mar 8, 2012
Recurs every month on the 28th
Car insurance $37.86 Decrease "Joint Account"
Record the transaction in
"Transportation Costs"
Starts Jan 6, 2012
Recurs every month on the 20th
Gas $60.00 Increase "Credit Card"
Record the transaction in
"Transportation Costs"
Starts Jan 6, 2012
Recurs every month on the 20th
Cell phone $94.00 Increase "Credit Card"
Record the transaction in
"Expenses"
Starts Jan 6, 2012
Recurs every month on the 1st
Credit card interests 19% interest per year Increase "Credit Card"
Record the transaction in
"Cost of Living"

 

Setting up the Accounts

Before we enter events in Budget Explorer, we need to tell the software now many accounts we want to track. Press the "New Account" button to create your accounts:

New Account button

 Enter a name of each account, pressing "New Account" for each.  The accounts here are:

  • Bank Account
  • Credit Card
  • Cost of Living
  • Earned Salary
  • Expenses
  • Transportation Costs

This creates our accounts with the default settings.  Since we want Budget Explorer to automatically compute the increases or decreases in our accounts, we'll change the type on a few account.  Press the "Account Settings" to open the Account Settings dialog:

Account Settings dialog

Then make the following changes:

Account

Type

Perspective

Account Balance

Credit Card Liability Vostro account $2000 on Jan 1, 2012
Earned Salary Capital (unchanged) (unchanged)
Bank Account (unchanged) Vostro account $3042.78 on Jan 6, 2012

 

On some accounts (especially "Transportation Costs", "Cost of Living", "Earned Salary" and "Expenses"), you can enter a balance of $0.00 on January 1st, so that your balance at the end of the year indicates the cumulative for the year.  For example, in our current example the balance of account "Earned Salary" is $40497.34 on December 31, 2012, indicating the total amount earned during the year.

All bank accounts accounts are changed to a Vostro Account, meaning that the bank is the one printing the account statement.  When a bank issues an account statement, the Debit and Credit columns are interchanged to indicate who owes money to whom (in this case, the bank owes you that money, and not the opposite).

 

Entering the Budget

Once our accounts are set up, we're now ready to enter the events.  To access the Events window, press the View Events button at the top of the screen:

View Events

 Use the information from the table above to create the entries in your budget.  For example, the first entry being:

When

Description

Amount

Accounts

Starts Jan 6, 2012
Recurs every 2 weeks on Wednesday
Salary $1557.59 Increase "Bank Account"
Record the transaction in
"Earned Salary"

Press the New Events button to add a new entry in the budget:

New Events

and enter a Start Date of 6 January 2012, the event Description, and the amount of the transaction in the Change column.

Select your accounts in the drop-down menus, then press the "Edit" button to specify the recurrence of the event.  Here we will specify that our event occurs every 2 weeks on Wednesdays, starting from the first Wednesday on or after the date we specified in the column "Start Date" (i.e. the first Wednesday on or after 6 January 2012) :

After entering all of the information from the first line in the table, your screen should look like this:

In the table, notice that we're sometimes Increasing the balance of our first account, and sometimes Decreasing it.  When you Increase the balance, enter a positive amount in the "Change" column. When you Decrease the balance, enter a negative amount.

Computing automatically the Credit Card interests is completely optional (you could manually adjust the credit card balance every month for example), however Budget Explorer gives you the convenience of programming it in advance if you wish.  To do so, press the "Advanced Options" to reveal an additional column, "Change Formula".  In that column, type the following:

amount=CreditCard * ( (19/100) /12)

corresponding to 19% interest per year (i.e. 12 months).

After entering all of the data (and if you wish, also the formula to automatically compute credit card interests), your screen will look like this:

 

Viewing the outcome

To view the outcome of this budget, press the View Simulation button at the top of the screen:

View Simulation

The transactions you see in this window correspond to the transactions you will see in the bank account if the budget is followed to the letter.

See the interactive budget summary at the top of this page.

 

Budget Summary

 

Balancing your budget

At this point, changing your budget becomes a simple matter of editing the numbers we've entered previously.  With a single button we immediately see the impact of the change over 1 year or any other duration.

For example:

Looking at our "Credit Card" account, we see that the credit card balance steadily increases over the year instead of decreasing.  Let's see if we can clear that balance by April 2013.

Let's follow these steps:

  • Increase the payment on the credit card every month - let's try $240.00 instead of the $200.00 we entered.
  • We can immediately see the impact of that change - press "View Simulation" and select the "Credit Card" account.  We see that our balance now stays pretty much stable around $1900.00 throughout the year until July 2013 - better but not what we wanted.  Let's try $340.00.
  • Looking again at the impact, we now see a red flag on the "Credit Card" account - which means that we've now cleared the balance and even started to put too much on the credit card.  Let's put an end date of 25 March 2013 on our credit card payments, and create a new entry starting from 25 April 2013 to reduce the credit card payments to $205.00.

 

We've now brought down the credit card balance to zero exactly within our deadline, and managed to reduce our monthly payments after that.

 

Exploring more scenarios

Other budget examples are provided with the software, accessible under File > Help Options.  Other notable features discussed in the User Manual are:

 

Updating your budget every couple of months

Synchronize your simulation with your actual bank account by adding a new balance for the account "Bank Account".

Section 5 - Account Settings

Setting up projects, including activating/deactivating projects to see which one is the best

Group together multiple events, right-click and select "Move to Project..."

Section 3 - View Events

Adjusting dates within a project (ex. move a complete project in time, without retyping all the dates)

After a project has been set up, change the date on any of the events to bring up the "Adjust dates" dialog box.

Section 3 - View Events

Exporting to CSV

In the View Simulation window, right-click the account tab and select "Export to CSV"

Section 4 - View Simulation

Complex events using the Lua programming language

Press the "Advanced Options" button to bring up the advanced features of the software.

Section 6 - Advanced Options


Download this Budget File

    Get Budget Explorer

 

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Image credit: NASA

Other credits: jQuery, Apycom