Strategies for handling joint accounts
Situation: I am using Actual to keep track of my budget and finances, but I share a joint account with my partner.
Basic setup steps
- Create an on-budget account used to pay joint bills.
- Create a category group used to group your shared expense categories.
- Create the categories you plan to budget using your joint account.
- Optional: Create an Income Category called Partner Contribution or something similar. This will be explained further below.
Adding funds to the joint account
Each month you will add a transfer of your share to the joint account from one of your on-budget accounts. You don't need a category for your contribution since it is just a transfer from one of your accounts to another.
When your partner makes a contribution to the joint account, use the Income Category you created as the category. By having a separate category for this contribution, it will be easier to filter out when doing reports later since this isn't true income, though it is income to the budget.
If option 1 doesn't seem right to you, the same result could be achieved by treating the new income like a return to a store. In this case, you can assign your partners deposit directly to the shared categories. The deposit should be made into the Joint Account ledger. As you can see, you can fund each shared category using the split transaction option.
If you are entering the data for the joint account according to option 1, budget the whole amount for the bill. The total budgeted of the shared expenses category group should equal the total amount available in the joint account. The joint account and category group are loosely connected in this scenario. There is no safeguard to prevent over budgeting for that account so you will need to monitor the balance of the account and the balance of the category group to be sure they are the same.
If you've decided to fund the categories directly with the deposit, you only need to fund the budget categories for your portion of the shared expense. As you can see, each of the budget categories is still funded to the same level but in this case there is no income that will show in reports. The Joint account balance and budgeted amount should still be the same.