The Basics of Recurring

Jump to:

What are recurring items?

Recurring items represent transactions that reoccur on a regular cadence. Recurring items can represent both income and expenses, with either fixed or fluctuating amounts, and would generally occur on a regular cadence with predictable dates for the payments (eg. twice a month, every 6 months, annually, etc.).

Examples of recurring expenses include a monthly streaming subscription, monthly utility bills, a quarterly insurance payment or an annual gym membership.

Examples of recurring income include your salary, annual bonus, or interest income.

Why should I track recurring items?

It’s useful to set up recurring items to foresee expected expenses and income. Setting up a recurring item allows you to track all future and past occurrences of that recurring transaction. This could be useful in a number of ways:

  • If there is a bill you haven’t paid in a while, you will be able to refer to the recurring items to detect discrepancies and prevent fines or having the provided service canceled.

  • If you want to cut down on spending, recurring expenses will typically be the first place to look since canceling a monthly subscription can save you a lot of money in the long run!

  • If you’d like to figure out your "minimum cost of living", i.e. if you didn't spend a single dime on day-to-day expenses, how much would you need just to survive (rent, utilities, subscriptions, etc.).

  • If you’d like to look at your stats and trends disregarding recurring items (eg. to see your most expensive transactions each month while excluding rent from the analysis).

Properties of recurring items

Beyond the basic data for recurring items (eg. merchant name, estimated billing date, repeating cadence), there are a few other helpful properties that are very important to keep in mind!


By default, you will be able to set categories for recurring items. This is useful if you would like to be able to budget for the recurring items and have the recurring transactions reflected in category totals. In addition, the assigned category is used as an indication for whether a recurring item is treated as income or expense.

If you use an Income category, the recurring item will be treated as income, while if you use an Expense (non-Income) category, the recurring item will be treated as an expense.

The option to “Allow categories for recurring items” is managed via the Settings page, and while enabled by default, it can be disabled by clicking on the toggle to turn it off. Disabling the categories will mean that all recurring items and the associated transactions are managed in a separate category called “Recurring Items” and cannot be budgeted for.

If the setting for allowing recurring categories is disabled (or if a recurring item is uncategorized), then the recurring item will be considered an income or expense based exclusively on the notation (+/-) of the transaction amount.


Recurring items will always show one of three possible status indicators, visible on the far-right of the row:

  • The payment hadn’t occurred

  • The payment occurred but the transaction wasn’t added within Lunch Money

  • The transaction exists within Lunch Money but wasn’t linked to the recurring item

It’s important to keep in mind that the status icon in the table only represents the item occurrence associated with that row’s billing day. This means that if the current month’s expected payment has been linked, but last month is missing, the status icon will still show the green checkmark.

To check the status of previous expected payments, you can either switch to a specific month’s view using the arrows next to the month’s name above the table, or you can click on the arrow to the far-right of the recurring item’s row to open the ‘Edit Recurring Item’ panel. In the panel, you will get a quick view of the status for the expected payment for the previous period, current period and next period:

Active period

When creating or editing recurring items, it’s possible to set the active period. The active period defines when the recurring item starts and ends. This is an optional property, and you can choose to set a start date, end date, both start and end dates, or neither. A recurring item without a defined active period will be expected for all months.

For example, if you started a new Netflix subscription in January 2023, then you can set the start date of that recurring item to be January 2023. This means that the recurring item will not be expected in December 2022 or earlier.

On the flip side, if you terminated your Netflix subscription in June 2023, then you can set the end date of that recurring item to be June 2023. This means that the recurring item will not show up in July 2023 or later.


When setting up a recurring item, you can also select a specific account to associate with the recurring item. The field “Paid from account” will be set to “Cash transaction” by default, yet can be changed by clicking on it and selecting one of the accounts in the dropdown menu.

If you leave it as “Cash transaction”, the associated rule that is created for the recurring item will match transactions by Payee, Amount and Date, regardless of the account on which the transaction occurred. If you specify an Account, then the associated rule will also match for that Account. To learn more about recurring rules, click here.

Last updated