Check out our Getting Started in Float video for an overview of the top things to do to get your forecast up and running:

1. Reconcile open transactions

On your cash flow tab, the black line is your historic cash balance. To create this, Float pulls in all of the reconciled or matched transactions from your bank accounts that you have included.

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 payments have been made in your business, which will then update Float.

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.

2. Double check the bank accounts being included

Next you want to look at which bank accounts Float has included in your forecast, as they will affect your starting balance and your forecast. Float will bring in transactions from all accounts that are set up specifically as bank accounts in your accounting software. This could include credit cards, and holding accounts such as Stripe, PayPal, or bill.com.

You can view those here. Select only the bank accounts you want included in your forecast.

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 here. They do need to already exist in your accounting software.

You can see here that your accounts are grouped into cash in and cash out. I’m going to pull in “Corporation Tax” to my cash out area. When I go back to the cash flow table, you can see it’s now visible.

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. I’ll group my office costs together.

4. Create your first budgets

Moving on to your future cash projection, the blue line is called your ‘base’ forecast, and we recommend using this as your most likely scenario.

When you first start using Float, you might notice that your forecast line is a little bit flat. That’s because you haven’t yet created any cash budgets.

The next and most important thing to do in Float is to set some budgets for cash you expect to come into and out of your business.

What we call ‘budgets’ in Float are cash budgets, which include taxes and the date you set on them should be the date you expect to actually pay or receive money. Float budgets are not Profit and Loss budgets. Profit and loss budgets don’t include any tax, and they’re connected to the date that you either owe, or invoice for money, rather than the date it’s expected to be paid in real life. Cash budgets will show you a truer picture of how much money you’ll have on any given date in the future.

Once you do this, you’ll be able to see your future cash, which will be updated every day with any new payments, invoices or bills from your accounting software.

To update any existing budgets, or create new ones, just go to the ‘Cash Flow’ tab, scroll down to this table and either click the “+” icon, or click into the cell for the account and month you want to edit. Click on existing budgets to update them individually or in bulk, or click ‘Create Budget’. When creating a new budget, you need to fill in:

  • Budget name

  • How frequently the budget occurs (so how often this money is expected to come in or out)

  • When the budget starts (which is the date you expect money to come in or out)

  • When it ends (which could be even ‘end of cashflow’, which will repeat the budget for 3 years into the future)

  • Whether it is a fixed amount, increasing or decreasing, and whether it increases or decreases by a set value or by a percentage

To enter a new Sales budget, you should enter the total cash figure you expect to receive (including tax) and then add the date for when you actually expect to receive it, rather than just invoice for it. Having an invoice out doesn’t mean you have the cash paid!

Budgets are very flexible. You could create a one off budget or a budget that repeats every week, month or quarter. 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.

If you’re not sure where to start with budgeting, you can also use our budget suggestions to get you going. You can see the options down the right side here.

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.

5. Update invoices & bills

The final 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). If you don’t create invoices and bills in your accounting software, you can skip this step.

To understand when bills and invoices will be paid, Float uses expected payment dates, which are different from the ‘due’ date of an invoice or bill. An expected payment date is the day when you actually think cash will be paid based on experience. Setting these will make your forecast much more accurate.

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 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.

And you’re all set!

If you’re ready to progress to the next level, we recommend checking out our scenario planning tool to answer your what-if questions, and our cash flow insights.

If you’d like a more in-depth full demo of all the ways Float can help you get a better handle on your cash, join one of our training webinars. You can find these at floatapp.com/webinars.

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