cashflow forecast with graph
Gnucash needs a robust cashflow forecast with graph, where one can select which accounts and show future cashflow for 30, 90, 180 and 360 days based on scheduled transactions (both credits and debits) that have not yet been entered. e.g. my pay comes every 2 weeks, I get some extra income in June and August that I can estimate, and I have some bills that are every month, others twice a year... I need to know when things will "pile up" requiring a transfer from higher yielding savings accounts into checking. Microsoft Money had a great forecast with a graph so one could identify to the day when balances would run low and plan ahead for transferring money from other accounts. The wiki wishlist for GnuCash has a very detailed explanation of how cash flow forecasting could work, also suggesting the ability to create estimated cashflow from past transactions (which Money could do), but for my part a starting place would be known scheduled transactions that haven't yet been entered. Being able to modify single occurrences of scheduled transactions would also be great without having to edit the entire series (e.g. most months my utility bills are X but I know the electricity bill is higher in the 3 months of summer so).
After using Quicken 2004 for mac for years I have come to rely on a one month forecast feature (Quicken allows 1, 3 and 12 month line graph). I have been stunned to find out the feature doesn't exist in gnucash 2.2.9 for ubuntu. I consider it a deal breaker for me as it seems like an essential component which needs to be part of the package. Please consider improving GnuCash with this feature.
The Net Worth Linechart can be modified to show a crude cashflow forecast. First de-select Assets and Liabilities to show only the Net Worth line. Then select only the relevant accounts (current account in my case). This graph shows all the transactions entered for that account, which by default doesn't include future scheduled transactions. However, if you set your scheduled transactions to be entered a few days before the actual transaction date, once they show up in the transaction register, they'll be reflected in the graph, giving a future cashflow. Set the step size to 'Day' and you get a reasonable approximation of MS Money's cashflow feature.
Ideally, of course, the Net Worth Linechart should show future values as a default. Also, it would be nice to have the date options start from 'Today' and end in after a certain duration rather than the current 'Start of month' - 'End of month' etc.
I think this also shows that this feature could possibly be implemented as a report. Anyone willing to give it a go?
AdminJohn Ralls (Admin, GnuCash) commented
Patches welcome, as the saying goes. None of the regular developers has this as a priority AFAIK.
So how about it? Is Gnucash coming up with a cash balance forecast? Exactly like MS Money would be great.
This is really an essential feature, and a very simple one. You start with the current balance of a checking account, for example, and produce a dot and line graph of the projected balance from the scheduled transactions.
If you want to know what it can look like, check Quicken and even KMyMoney, they are doing it perfectly! :)
It's really all that's missing for me in GnuCash.
How likely is it that there is a cashflow forecast coming to gnucash? I really like the program and would like to stick with it which is giving me a hard time if this feature is not yet implemented.
I would suggest to the developer to at least add a line "Starting Balance" in the budgeting window of expenses down below where "Income", "Expense", "Transfers", and "Total" is written. "Starting Balance" would be the difference of all (reconciled) income and expenses until each first day of a new month.
Say we have a regular income of 100 USD and total expenses of 30 USD in month a. In the budget window down below should be Income=100, Expense=30, Transfers=0, Total=70 for month a, and Starting Budget=70 for (the next) month b. Since we know that our regular income is equal to 100 and our expenses unknown (in this example), the Starting Budget for month c would be 170, et cetera.
I hope it is clear what I suggest.
Joe Wassenberg commented
Would like to see a bar (or line) graph of (past and) future daily balances of an account or set of accounts, based on entered transactions and scheduled transactions, with a customizable time scale. Or, almost as good, a calendar (like the 'upcoming transactions' calendar, where accounts could be selected, and their (actual past and) projected future balances would be shown for each day. Desperately looking to escape Quicken, this is about the only thing holding me back.
Pavel Smirnov commented
Hey, Is anyone up there who does NOT look at their cash flow ?
Guys, its really simple -- having a look at all recurrent payments and monthly cash flows and projecting them ahead for a couple of months and then displaying them...
Could be like a "ghost" transaction on the register in terms of coding it...
Again thank you for your prompt response. It appears the feature "Future Scheduled Transactions" was added in gnucash 2.4.2. After downloading 2.4.4 using GetDeb.net sources I have tried out the suggested feature. Unfortunately this falls short of a usable forecast. What I need to do is select assets of interest (not all of my assets) for example >select bank checking accounts only and apply scheduled transactions. A graphical output with daily balance allows me to see the account balance and plan for the future transactions visually and plan ahead. The "Future Scheduled Transactions" text report is unusable in for me in it's current form. I really need to be able to customize the included accounts at will.
Admincstim (Core Developer, GnuCash) commented
A prediction of the income/expense due to the scheduled transactions is available as the text report "Future Scheduled Transactions". So in principle your request can already be done. What else would you like to see instead of this already available text report? Please explain and adapt your feature title accordingly. Thanks.
Hi. Thank you for your interest in the suggestion.
In the previous program (Quicken) projections are made based on the scheduled transactions. Ideally one could select the asset accounts to include in the forecast and the program would calculate future charges to the selected accounts given the scheduled future transactions and output a month or multi-month line graph with the projected balances for each day. For me it seems implicit that the program would allow me to look ahead. No budget would be required, only the asset accounts and scheduled transactions would be used to project (or guess). Perhaps it would also be helpful to allow one to input in the transaction template if a scheduled transaction is variable or not (eg my cable account is typically the same each month whereas my gas bill varies depending on the seasons). For monthly financial planning and money management this feature would be of great value to me and I suspect to many other users. Please let me know if I can clarify anything further.
Admincstim (Core Developer, GnuCash) commented
Can you please add some explanation as for what exactly should be forecasted? Does that mean you have specified a budget, or the program should implicitly calculate a budget for you and compare this with a forecast? Or how should the program guess what is going on in the future?