How to set up and use Google Cloud budget alerts

Allie Hajian
  • Updated

Want to keep tabs on your Google Cloud spend for storage, compute, and egress in Terra? This article outlines what budget alerts can (and cannot) do, what permissions are needed for these actions, and step-by-step instructions for setting up workspace-level budget alerts. 

What Google Cloud budget alerts can (and cannot) do

If you're the Google Cloud Billing account owner or administrator, you can create a Google Cloud budget to monitor your storage, compute, and egress charges on Terra. 

Use budget alerts to

  • Set budgets for specific workspaces
  • Set budget alerts to match grant timing
    Cloud Billing Budgets alerts support configurable budget time periods, beyond monthly budgets. Is your budget tied to an external funding source, such as a grant? Now you can set the budget for the time range of the grant.
  • Automate cost control responses
  • Cap billing by disabling Google Cloud Billing accounts
  • Set up email alerts for notification when thresholds are reached 
    • Send to Google Cloud Billing account owner
    • Send to up to five additional custom email addresses

What budget alerts cannot do

  • Identify individual user spend in a shared workspace
    This is because budget alerts are at the Google project level (i.e., per workspace) and cannot be set more granularly. 
  • Give immediate spend reporting
    There is a delay between when you use a resource and when it's reported by Google. The delay is at least 24 hours but can be up to a few days between when you incur costs and when you receive budget notifications. Due to this lag, you might incur additional charges for usage that hadn't yet been reported when you stopped all services.

What permissions do you need to set up Google Cloud alerts?

To set budget alerts on a Google Cloud Billing account

You must be an Owner or Admin on the Google Cloud account.

To set budget alerts on a Terra workspace

  1. You must have owner or admin privileges on the workspace.
  2. You must have viewer permissions on the Google Cloud Billing account.

To change/add Google Cloud Billing account permissions

The Owner or Administrator of the Billing account should go to to manage the account. 

  1. Choose the Billing account to add a member.
  2. Select "Account Management" at the bottom of the left-hand panel.

Here is where Cloud Billing account owners/admins can set additional fine-grained permissions to allow specific programmatic actions. To learn more about permissions requirements for programmatic budget alert actions (e.g., disabling billing), see Google's documentation.

Troubleshooting tips: Can't execute these steps?If any of the actions in the step-by-step instructions are not allowed (grayed out), you probably do not have sufficient permissions. You need to ask the Cloud Billing account owner to update your role.

You cannot set budget alerts if you're using free credits
Note: Google Cloud is the Owner of Google Cloud free credits projects. You can't set budget alerts for these until you upgrade to a paid Google Cloud Billing account.

Set up a budget alert for a Terra workspace in three steps

Following this example is not a guarantee that you will not spend more than your budget. This is due to the lag in spend reporting. 

Recommendation: If you have a hard funds limit, set your maximum budget below your available funds to account for spend reporting delays.

Step 1. Set budget scope

Screenshot showing the form used to specify a new budget's scope. Orange numbers point out the steps laid out below: (1 & 2) navigate to the Billing menu through the main Google Console menu; (3) select Budgets and alerts; (4) (not pictured) click Create Budget; (5) provide the budget's name and time range; (6) select the budget's Terra project; (7) select the services you want to include in the budget; (8) click Next.

1.1. Go to the main navigation menu at the top left on the Google Cloud console (

1.2. Select Billing and then the Google Cloud Billing account link (name).  

1.3. Choose Budgets and alerts in the left column. 

1.4. Click Create budget at the top of the page.

1.5. In the form that appears, give your budget a sensible name and select the time range for your budget (e.g., monthly or quarterly).

1.6. Select the project for the budget from the dropdown.

Finding the right Google project

Workspace projects (created by Terra) will be named following the format <Terra-billing-project>--<first-15-letters-of-workspace-name>.

The Google project ID is in gray below the name. To find a specific workspace Google project ID, open your workspace dashboard page in a separate tab, and look under "Workspace Information" on the right column. 
Screenshot of workspace dashboard with workspace google project ID highlighted under CLOUD INFORMATION in the right column.

1.7. Select the service(s) you want alerts for (i.e., storage, compute). You can filter the list by typing in the name of the service you want to track.

Services used in Terra

  • Compute Engine (i.e., virtual machine (VM)
  • Cloud Storage (i.e., Workspace buckets)

1.8. Click Next to continue.

Step 2. Set the amount

Screenshot of GCP console with steps 2.1 to 2.3 highlighted

2.1. Choose the budget type from the dropdown.
       (can be last month's spend, or a specified amount)

2.2. Set the target amount (if you're using a specified amount).

2.3. Click Next to continue.

Step 3. Set alert actions

Sscreenshot of GCP console with arrows pointing to checkboxes for options 3.1 to 3.4 described below

3.1. Set the threshold rules (you can set alerts as a fraction of the total budget or a specific amount, and trigger by actual or forecasted spend).

3.2. Send an alert to billing admins and users (selected by default).

3.3. Send an alert to up to five additional emails.

3.4. Set up additional actions (e.g., disabling billing) by connecting a Pub/Sub topic to the budget. (for more detailed information about this functionality, see Manage programmatic budget alert notifications)

3.5. Click Finish to complete the budget alert setup.

More Google Cloud documentation about budget alerts

For more details on Google Cloud budget alerts, see Google documentation on Create, edit, or delete budgets and budget alerts or Permissions required to manage budgets.

To learn about additional actions you can program alerts to execute (such as disabling billing), see Manage programmatic budget alert notifications.

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