1. Reconcile open transactions
To make your forecast as up-to-date as possible, it’s important to keep your data reconciled.
Float’s starting balance is based on the cash balance in your accounting software, and not the actual current bank balance. Reconciliation or matching tells your accounting software what has happened in real life, which will then update Float. When you keep your reconciliation/matching up-to-date, Float will update your starting balance and your forecast, ensuring that your cash flow forecast is as accurate as possible. If you don’t keep on top of your bank reconciliation/matching, then Float will think that those bills and invoices that haven’t been matched up to paid transactions in your accounting software are still yet to be paid, which will throw off your forecast and make your starting balance incorrect.
To do this, simply go into your Xero, QuickBooks or FreeAgent account and reconcile/match any unreconciled/unmatched transactions. We recommend that you do this as frequently as possible - ideally weekly or every few days.
2. Double check the bank accounts being included
The next thing to look at is which bank accounts we’re including in your forecast, as they will affect your starting balance and your forecast. You can view those here. Select only the accounts you want included in your forecast. We recommend you include those accounts that have cash in them that you’re able to spend and that money goes into and out of.
3. Manage table layout
Before you start budgeting, we recommend you ensure your cash flow table is set up in the way you want. Go to the “Manage table layout” button to organise your table.
We’ll automatically display any account lines that have transactions in them in the past 3 months, but if you’d like to add any new ones, you can do that in this area. They do need to already exist in your accounting software.
Your accounts are grouped into cash in and cash out.
If you’d like to organise your cash flow table, you can also move and group account lines together. For instance, you might want to group all your taxes, or your office costs into one group.
4. Create your first budgets
The third thing to do in Float is to set some budgets for cash you expect to come into and out of your business. Once you do this, you’ll be able to see your future cash, which will be updated every day with what’s really happening in your business.
When you first signed in, you might have had Float predict a base-line forecast for you (taking an average of the last 3 months), or you might have wanted to create it yourself.
To update any existing forecasts, or create new ones, just go to the ‘Cash Flow’ tab, scroll down to this table and click into the cell for the account and month you want to edit. Click on existing forecasts to update them individually or in bulk, or click ‘Create Budget’. When creating a new forecast, you need to fill in:
- Budget name
- How frequently the budget occurs
- When the budget starts
- When it ends
- Whether it is a fixed amount, increasing or decreasing, and whether it increases or decreases by a set value or by a percentage
You can create budgets as lump sums each month - for instance your rent will probably be a one off-budget per month. However, for things like Sales, you’ll likely have a few different transactions every month. You might want to group these into daily or weekly budgets, by client name, by project, or just pop in one lump sum per month for sales.
The crucial thing to understand is that budgets act like empty placeholders that fill up with paid transactions, and upcoming invoices and bills. So when you budget for a future month and an invoice comes in towards that, it won’t double count. It will simply fill up a portion of the progress bar.
4. Update invoices & bills
The next thing to do is put realistic expected payment dates on upcoming invoices you’re owed, and bills you need to pay. Head over to Invoices Due and see what you’re owed (if you’re paid via invoices). As long as your accounts are reconciled/matched, then the invoices and bills in here will be unpaid, and you’ll need to update when you think they will be paid.
In Float, due dates are different from expected dates. The due date will match the due date set in your accounting software on the invoice or bill. But often, you’ll get paid later than the due date of an invoice, and Float needs to know that. The due date can’t be changed in Float, but you can change the expected payment date. So what you need to do for both your invoices due and bills to pay is change the expected payment dates to when you think invoices and bills will actually be paid. To do this, you can use the quick option to push the invoice or a bill forward by 7 days or 30 days, or to another date.
Or, you could select multiple, and go to batch actions > Set expected date. Here you can either add a number of days to the due date, or you can pick a date on the calendar. You might want to search for a specific client and update all of their outstanding invoices to a specific date, if they’ve agreed to pay it all on one day.
Another thing you can do is exclude an invoice or bill that you just don’t want to factor in right now.
You might be wondering how this affects the data in your accounting software - Don’t worry, it doesn’t! Float will never change anything in your accounting software, and just pulls data in one way. Also, if you’re a Xero user who sets expected dates in Xero, we’ll pull those through.
Go through this process for both Invoices Due and Bills that you owe.