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I technically have $3000 on my bank account. However, I have -$2000 in "liquid assets", as determined by my little software system which I've made.

Basically, it takes the money I have and then removes all "reserved" expenses which I have listed, for things I know that I will sooner or later need to buy to replace existing crucial appliances and whatnot. This amount adds up to $5000 currently, which means that I'm $2000 "behind". While I technically could spend that money, I can't or I'd ruin my whole system. I have to live even more cheaply now for a number of months to "get back to the surface", that is, to have $0 in "actually liquid assets" or "spendable money".

What is this situation or sum of money called? It's kind of a "debt to myself" in a way, in that nobody else cares or is affected by this but me.

(I really wish that I had started doing this many years ago. I used to look at the amount on my bank account as "the money I can spend right now". I get angry at myself when I think back at all the stupid waste... but at least I'm finally organized now.)

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  • 1
    You have $3000 in assets and $5000 in obligations. AFAIK there's no word for the balance of assets minus obligations.
    – The Photon
    Jan 8 at 3:07
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    I applaud you for being prudent and thinking of the future! However, don't let little red and green numbers guide your life. Live frugally because you know what has to happen, not because the computer tells you to.
    – RonJohn
    Jan 8 at 5:47
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    "I really wish that I had started doing this many years ago." Lol, join the club. I didn't get organized until I was 49!! But you're organized now, and that's the important part.
    – RonJohn
    Jan 8 at 5:50
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    You can't have negative assets. Negative assets are not assets.
    – user253751
    Jan 8 at 17:21
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    @user253751, which is why I didn't use the word liabilities. My use of obligations may also be not technically accurate, since these "obligations" are more or less budgetary items rather than true obligations required by some contract or other legal agreement.
    – The Photon
    Jan 8 at 17:28
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You're projected future expenses - have you projected future income to cover those expenses? You may actually never be "in debt" at all.

If you know that you're going to have certain expenses in the future, the responsible thing to do is to account for those in your periodic budget. If you know that you're going to spend $1,200 a year from now, that means that you have to set aside $100 every month to cover those expenses. That should be a line item in your budget to make sure you have enough to cover those expenses when they occur.

If you can't easily fit that into your budget, then that's a different conversation. You have to decide what you're going do do (decrease other expenses, increase income, or forego the expense).

Your goal is to be financially responsible, which is fantastic. But, unless you have significant excess income, it requires serious discipline and hard choices.

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  • What do you call the running total of the amount budgeted but not actually saved so far? A budget deficit? Budget shortfall?
    – user253751
    Jan 8 at 17:36
  • If you've projected your income and all other expenses and are still short, then sure, budget shortfall would work. If you're just projecting out one expense then it's not really a "shortfall". I don't know that there is a name for it. (why do you need a nae anyways?)
    – D Stanley
    Jan 8 at 17:46
  • @user253751 the unaccrued portion of your sinking fund?
    – RonJohn
    Jan 8 at 20:32
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On my personal net worth statement, that pre-spent money is Sinking Fund Offsets, and in my monthly budget, the money set aside for those items is Deferred Spending.

In this case, I'm using more or less the Commonwealth definition of Sinking Fund:

in the United Kingdom1 and elsewhere[2] where the issue of bonds (other than government bonds) is unusual, and where long-term leasehold tenancies are common, the term is only normally used in the context of replacement or renewal of capital assets

Of course, there's no rule of nature saying it must only be used for future capital expenses. Any known future expense (insurance, taxes, vacation, etc) can be paid for using a Sinking Fund.

EDIT: another term is Reserve Fund, which I use for categories where I know "something" will happen, but not when or how much it will cost. Emergency Funds and HSA accounts are examples of Reserve Funds.

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Projected shortfall- you've projected your income and expenses out into the future, and if those projections become reality you will have a shortfall in your accounts (unable to meet all expenses). Even without the context of your question, if someone told me that "the business has a projected shortfall in the 2nd quarter of this year", it would be obvious to me what they meant. Their future expenses are greater than their planned income / balance, and they can either prioritize & eliminate expenses, secure a loan for the difference, or identify additional sources of income.

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