Why is a 'surplus' appearing in cash flow? (Contributions versus transfers)

When looking at a cash flow chart, like the one shown below - with a large splash of yellow above the black total expenditure (or 'need') line - users are often unsure about what exactly they are seeing, and wonder whether it, perhaps, represents a series of mystery inflows, i.e. a 'surplus' of some sort.

In fact, the bit in yellow, above the black 'need line', is a recurring transfer - in this instance, from an 'unwrapped' investment account to an ISA.

Anytime that one is wishing to move funds sideways, from one specific account to another specific account, there are two ways by which to approach this, as follows:

1. By scheduling a 'transfer', directly from the 'source' account to the 'destination' account.

2. By scheduling a contribution to the 'destination' account, while simultaneously scheduling a withdrawal from the desired 'source' account.

Direct transfer

When one uses the 'direct 'transfer' method, the funds from the 'source' account are pulled-through into the cash flow, as illustrated (again) below - this time from Let's See > Detailed Info - while the 'contribution' to the receiving account, on the other hand, is not explicitly recognised by the software as a corresponding 'expense' item.

Contribution plus withdrawal

By contrast with the 'direct transfer' method, one could simply schedule a contribution, either a one-off or recurring contribution, to the desired 'destination' account! In doing so, the software will explicitly recognise the 'contribution' as an 'expense' item and one will, thereby, see a greater 'matching' of cash flows with expenditure.

The downside of this method - in the first instance - is the possibility that one cannot be certain about where the funding for the contribution, or series of contributions, will come from - will there be sufficient income, or will the software need to pull from available cash balances, or perhaps the software will need to liquidate holdings within a separate investment, or drawdown account, etc.?

So, where one wishes to ensure that funds for the scheduled contribution(s) will be met from a specific source (whatever the reason), one will need to schedule a corresponding withdrawal, or series of withdrawals, from the intended 'source' account.

When one combines a scheduled, recurring contribution to the desired 'destination' account with a series of corresponding withdrawals from the preferred 'source' account one, instead, gets a view like the one shown below:

Depending upon the specifics of the case, the planned withdrawals may, or may not, be above the black 'need line', as in this instance but - as emphasised - the purpose of the 'planned withdrawals', in this case, is to ensure that there is a correspondence between the funds that are contributed to a particular account and the funds that are drawn from a separate, but particular, account - i.e. there is a movement of funds from one specific account, to another specific account.