Budget FAQs 🥕

This article is here to help you get the best out of your Cleo budget and solve any dying questions you have about budgeting ✨

Written by Gladys
Updated over a week ago

💡 Setting up your budget only take 2 minutes thanks to Cleo’s intelligent AI. You’ll need to sign up, log in and connect your bank in order for this thing to work.

Skip to:

How does the budget work? 🧠

Whether you have a monthly or paycheck budget, the budget tool gives you a spend limit that tells you what you can afford to spend in that budget cycle. It calculates this by looking at any income and subtracting upcoming bills or subscriptions. Your spend limit is also broken down by day, if you're into that sort of thing.

Want to take it a step further? Add category limits so you can really target your spending trouble areas.

You'll get notifications whenever a new budget starts. In this notification, you'll receive the Budget Rewind. This looks at your top spends and habits from the last budget cycle, helping you thrive in your new budget.

How to set up a budget 🪜

To set up your first budget, either head to the Budget tab or just type "budget" in chat and follow the directions.

It’s recommended you use the bank account you get paid into and do most of your spending from. You can also connect to more than one bank (the more the better)! Cleo will work her magic and start identifying what transactions do what in the background 🔮

If don't have a budget yet, go to the Budget tab. Under "Next steps", tap on each icon to start customizing your budget:

Three buttons under a heading that says Next Steps. The buttons say, from left to right, Income, Bills, and Spend Limit

Here's what each icon means:

Income 💸 – select your latest paycheck(s) so Cleo knows when you get paid

Bills ☠️ – check your bills and subscriptions are correct to track what’s coming out

Spend Limit 🙅‍♀️ – set a spend limit to tame the overspending beast

🔓 Customizing these steps will unlock your "left to spend" and "left per day" amounts

Setting a spend limit is the bit that makes this whole thing come together. It creates a set amount to spend per day (excluding bills). Set your spend limit yourself, or get one suggested to you based on recent spending.

There are two options when it comes to budgeting: you can choose a monthly budget or a paycheck budget (see which one works best for you)

General budget FAQs 🎓

No budget is the same ✨ We’re all unique and our budgets should be too ✨

Here’s some FAQs that can help you get the best out of Cleo:


Income is where it all starts. If you have a regular paycheck, add it to your budget upon setup so you can track how much is left to spend after all the bills and subscriptions come out.

What if I have more than one income?

No problem. If you have more than one income, it's recommended to set up a monthly budget instead of a paycheck budget. This will help you keep up with your monthly bills and subscriptions (learn more on why do I need a monthly budget).

What if I don't have an income?

That’s absolutely fine. You can still have a budget. It’s best you stick to a monthly budget rather than a paycheck budget (learn why).

Bills and subscriptions

Bills are an important part of the budget tool. Your spend limit is calculated by subtracting bills and subscriptions (basically, any committed payment) from your income, so you don't have to worry about doing the math yourself.

How do I add a bill?

Cleo is great at identifying bills and subscriptions but sometimes, some slip through the net (or... have yet to be paid) 👀

Once your bill or subscription has come out of your account, follow these steps:

  1. Go to the Budget tab

  2. Tap the arrow to the right of "Bills due"

  3. Select "Add a bill"

  4. Tap on the transaction you’d like to set up as a bill

Can I exclude payments from my budget?

Yes. Cleo has its very own category for excluded transactions which you’ll find living at the bottom of your Budget tab.

Here’s how you can add a transaction into the "Excluded" category:

Go to Spend tab

  1. Swipe left or right to find the appropriate bank account

  2. Scroll and tap the transaction you’d like to exclude

  3. Tap the category

  4. Select the "Excluded" icon

Any excluded transactions will not be considered in your budget or in any modes like Roast Mode or Hype Mode.

Spend limits

Set a spend limit to see how much you should spend per day (excluding bills) to stay on budget. You can set your spend limit yourself, or get one suggested to you based on recent spending.

How do I add a spend limit?

Add a spend limit when you first set up your budget. If you want to come back to it later, find it under the Next Steps section in the Budget tab.

How do I edit a spend limit?

Here's how to edit your spend limit from the Budget tab:

  1. Go to the Budget tab

  2. Tap on your spend limit, which will be on the left side of the page. You'll see a little pencil icon that allows you to edit. You can also add category-based spending limits from here


Categories are automatically set up in Cleo, which means one less thing for you to worry about. Here are ways you can create your own or move spends around 📦

How do I add a custom category?

Here's how to add a custom category from the Spend tab:

  1. Go to the Spend tab

  2. Tap on the transaction that needs a custom category

  3. Tap its Category

  4. Scroll to the bottom to create a custom category

How do I recategorize a transaction?

Here's how to recategorize a transaction from the Spend tab:

  1. Go to the Spend tab

  2. Tap on the transaction you want to recategorize

  3. Tap its category

  4. Select a new category

Can I set a category budget?

Yes, you sure can. Category budgets are great for when you want to set limits on specific areas of spending, like shopping or entertainment.

Here's how to set up category budgets:

  1. Head to the Budget tab

  2. Tap on your spend limit, on the left under the hand icon

  3. To start budgeting by category, flip the switch next to "category limits". From this view, you can adjust all your category limits at once

  4. If you want to adjust a category's limit while looking at that category's recent spending, head to the Budget tab, scroll down to the category, and tap it

  5. Don't forget, you might need to check both Essential Spending and Other Spending if you're looking for a category

How do I set a category as "Essential spending" or "Other spending"?

If you want to set a category as Essential Spending or Other Spending, here's how:

  1. Head to the Budget tab

  2. In the Spending section, and tap the "edit categories" button to sort categories between "Essential" and "Other"

Do I need a paycheck or monthly budget? 🦩

There are two options when it comes to budgeting: monthly or paycheck.

A paycheck budget means your budget resets each time you get paid. A monthly budget will reset per month (on the 1st of every month).

For most people, paycheck budgets are the better choice as they help you monitor your money closely, whether your paycycle is biweekly, monthly, or infrequently. Don't forget: if you want a paycheck budget, you'll need to add your income to the Budget tab.

Bigger bills normally come out once a month (like rent, mortgage, etc) but it’s the little expenses like transportation, groceries, etc, that can really eat into your money.

Budgeting per paycheck can help you set aside money for that big bill that comes out at the end of the month, so you’re not left financially stranded at the very last minute.

Monthly budgets are more traditional but work well for what they do as they can be easier to follow, especially if you’ve irregular income or no income at all.

So, which one is for you?

A paycheck budget is suitable for those who have:

  • More than one income

  • Get paid weekly, bi-weekly or infrequently

A monthly budget is suitable for those who have:

  • Irregular income or no income

Tips for having a budget that WORKS💡

The great thing about Cleo is she does all the work for you. Say goodbye to building boring spreadsheets and hello to sassy saving. But although she has the power to provide, it’s up to you to stick to it.

So, if you want to have a budget that makes a difference, here’s a few tips how you can do just that:

1. Set a realistic budget ✨

You can’t budget without knowing where your money goes... don’t be shooting for the stars here. No, I don’t mean living off of a buck but at the same time, you can’t save if there’s no money left.

2. Use the 50/30/20 rule 🥧

This is a GREAT rule to follow if you’re unsure of how to well, budget. Splitting your spending into percentages can easily break down the wants, the needs and the savings:

🏠 50% needs

Rent, mortgage, bills, groceries, etc

🛍️ 30% wants

Socials, entertainment, fancy coffee, etc

🐖 20% savings

Pay off debt, holidays, urgent funds

Remember, savings should be for paying off debt or if you are lucky to be debt free, focusing on larger money goals like a new car, holiday or endless burritos.

3. Pay off your damn debt 💰

Sounds obvious but you don’t realise how much your debt is spiralling into a tornado of more and more debt. A $10 overdraft can easily turn into $100 fees in the blink of an eye (curse you banks). The sooner you pay it off, the easier it’ll be to your future self to get back to a healthier financial you.

4. Focus on the WHY you’re doing this: have goals 🥅

It's so easy to forget why we budget, but it’s goals that drive us across the finish line. Close your eyes and imagine sipping on a piña colada in Thailand while Ryan Gosling fans your face and tells you yes you do have eyes like swimming pools and your ex was wrong you do look great in yellow...

5. Every month is different 🗓

Don’t be so hard on yourself. Every month is different. Some are thrifty, some are spendy. If you stumble at the first hurdle, dust yourself off and slay another day. Sometimes we want that piece of cake; have it. Just make sure you balance life’s unpredictability and keep focusing on the WHY. You totally got this 🙌

Troubleshooting 🛠

Having issues with your budget? Type "budget help" into chat to get first aid on your budget needs ⛑️, including things like inaccurate bills, how to reset your budget, why you might be overbudget or underbudget, and more.

Want more? Check out our blog for all things personal finance.

Did this answer your question?