I'm having trouble deciding how much to save in each of my categories. I also reckon it will take a long long time to save a decent amount in most of my categories. Mine are:
Please forgive my rusty english.... 😊
Mawkitas - a lot depends on various scenarios. For example, how old is your car? If it's older, you will probably have to put more towards maintenance. Same thing with your house and even your health. If you are relatively healthy, you're probably going to budget much less than someone with bad health or someone who is older.
Also,, when I budget, I go back as far as possible and look to see what I've spent over the past year. It maybe take a bit of time, but it will give you the most accurate figures for budgeting.
If you still can't figure it out, then just plug a number in there with the expectation that you will probably have to change it down the road.
Home Maintenance - $2000 total - fully funded so only top it off if I spend from it
Car maintenance - same as above
Out of Pocket Max on Medical - I always start the plan year with 100% of my OOPM in the category and half of the next year's in it's own category. All FSA reimbursements go into next year's OOPM and then at the end of the plan year, whatever is left is transferred into next year's category
Christmas - $100/month (I have separate categories for holiday decor and holiday food)
Birthdays & Other Gifts - $100/month
Non Specific Giving - $110/month
Church Pledge - $67/month
Annual Trip - $50/month
General Vacations - $75/month
Home Stuff - $100/month
Clothing & Accessories - $100/month
Personal Care - $100/month
Stuff like Entertainment, tech, holiday food, holiday decor, and Admin (e.g. stamps) are in categories that have caps so I only add money when I spend money.
I'm starting to settle down with the funds I have. For the longest time, I went back and forth over how I would attack rainy day funds, but I think I like what I have. When I can, I fund every category. They all have monthly goals. I based the monthly amount around either actual goals (i.e. submit a manuscript) or past observation (see my tutoring fund as an example). If I can't fund all of them, they are funded in the order that you see.
My categories and explanations:
Cash fund. I get cash a lot, but I dislike having to go to the bank to deposit it, so I keep it in a piggy bank now. I throw all cash/coins in here. It acts as a savings fund and counts toward any unexpected expense. I don't have a set amount each month to give it... just whatever I get. I may end up taking all of the money in the jar to the bank, but I don't care to at the moment.
Emergency fund. I went back and forth over deciding whether to keep this. But I'm in a position where I might need those extra months of income so I throw as much money as possible without overwhelming myself or getting savings fatigue. Right now I throw $525 here at a minimum.
Cat/car expense fund. I lumped these two together because my kitty isn't very expensive, and my car's been good to me so far. But something's going to happen. My focus is on my emergency fund, but I felt better not splitting these. If it grows to a large amount, I will though. I can also pull from other funds if I need to. Cap is $1500.
Tutoring fund. I am a private tutor, and I sometimes need supplies. I fund $50 a month. I don't spend that much sometimes not the entire $50. every couple of months, I buy $35 worth of books for a reading club I do. But that's my biggest expense. I cap this one at $100, could probably bring this one down but I like a bit of a buffer. It's also a good way to keep track of these expenses.
Editor's fund. I work with an editor on writing projects (both with the goal of getting published but also to improve as a writer). Technically, this is for any writing professional development. It gets funded based on goals I have set. Cap depends on the goal, but I'd probably say $500 if no goal is set. There currently is one, so the amount is more than $500 at the moment.
Clothing. I buy clothes, not every month, but frequently enough so I set a monthly amount of $50. I plan to buy some new skirts for spring/summer, so I'm setting aside the money now. Sometimes I like to buy beauty products occasionally, so I was thinking about adding it under this category and adding some extra monthly payment money. But I don't know yet.
Stuff I forgot to budget for (the only original category I kept :D). This happens. Not always but usually in small amounts. So I want this here. $20 per month. I'd probably cap it at $80-$100.
I haven't funded all of these yet:
6 months expenses Goal $25,000
Auto maintenance Goal $1,500
Home maintenance Goal $1,500
Birthday Gifts Goal $400
Christmas Goal $800 (this includes special groceries)
Hydro - sort of my own budget billing since we have electric heat. Goal is $350/month as our bills our high this time of year and low in the spring/fall.
Car replacement Goal $30,000
Vacation Goal $1,500
These are in MONTHLY contribution amounts:
Vet Care: $200
Car Maintenance: $60
House Wares: $50
H's Clothes: $60
Hair Cuts: $75
Amazon Prime: $8.33
Contact Lenses: $30
Stuff I Forgot To Budget For: $20
I didn't include things like our new-to-us car funds or our home down payment fund since I think of those more as long-term savings goals and not really sinking funds.
There is always 1.5 to 2 month's worth of my take-home pay built up in my true expenses categories. The amount fluctuates throughout the year depending on where I am in the saving/spending schedule. This total seems to be my sweet spot. I am able to budget 15% of my monthly income to true expenses categories and keep the total between 1.5 and 2 months at all times. For emergency type categories, I budget another 5% to 10% of my monthly income to continuously build the categories there.
This question of how much to budget to each was one I spent a lot of time thinking about in the beginning. I went through a series of planning exercises, but this is the method that I still use:
Essential annual expenses, annual insurance renewals, registrations, software, subscriptions, etc. I took the amount I paid the previous year, added 10%, divided by the number of months until I needed those funds, and that was my initial monthly amount. Once I paid each of these the first year, I could then reset the next year's expense (add 10% to what I just paid, divide by 12).
Flexible yearly expenses took more planning and thought. These were discretionary expenses that I had been out of control on spending. First, I acknowledged that I would spend a certain amount on these even if it meant going into debt if the funds weren't there. I knew that I was not going to go without buying Christmas gifts for my family, for example, so not budgeting for Christmas gifts was an act of selective idiocy. I was going to go on an annual crafting retreat with friends no matter what, so not being prepared was setting me up for budget failure. I took each discretionary category -- gifts, clothing, trips to the salon, entertainment -- and listed out my best guess for what was the minimum I would need, could spend, and still feel good about it, then divided each by 12. That initially resulted in a monthly amount I could not afford. 😓 I had to go back through each category and adjust my expectations: one less trip to the salon, reduction on how much I could spend on clothing, etc.
Eventual expenses (quasi-emergency funds): medical, dental, car repair, emergency travel, veterinary expenses. I started with a minimum target, $1,200, divided by 12, then started saving (and prayed that I wouldn't have more than one thing go wrong at a time.)
We're about 2/3 of the way toward building up an emergency fund equal to three months of income in case of layoffs or income loss. We also have a category for emergency expenses, which include unexpected medical or home or auto repairs. That account is considered fully funded at $2500 for us. I've started a new category this month, equal to $50/month for Christmas gifts for 2018.
Bills that get paid bi-monthly or once or twice a year are divided into their monthly equivalents and are funded monthly. I also have added up the total cost of yearly subscriptions, such as YNAB, Amazon Prime, Netflix, and my digital newspaper subscription, divide that total by 12, and fund that amount in one "subscriptions" category each month as well.
I have 3 Categories that will play into this.
Semi- Annual True Expenses
- Auto Insurance $55.00 a month
Annual True Expenses
- AAA Membership $ 9.00
- AVG Driver Updater $12.00
- YNAB $10.00
- Dashlane $10.00
- Microsoft Office $10.00
- AVG Ultimate $ 7.00 (I actually lucked into a 2 year subscription right after Christmas last year for $15.00, but am budgeting for the normal subscription amount.)
- Truck Registration $ 5.00
- Hallmark E-Greeting Cards $ 1.00 (Again another bargain, 2 year subscription for half price.)
Future Debt Prevention
- Retirement Savings $50.00
- Rainy Day Fund $30.00
- Auto Repairs $25.00
- Get Out Of Dodge $25.00
- Child Support $50.00 (This is the minimum that I am paying extra in addition to the garnishment for back child support. I should be totally done by the end of the year with out extra payments, with them about September, then the garnishment and extra payments will go into the Rainy Day Fund and Get Out Of Dodge, until they are fully funded then into Auto Repairs/Other Old Debt.)
Now in addition to these amounts I am making payments on retiring old debts. It is a work in progress for me, to find that sweet spot to avoid future debt, take care of True Expenses, and retire old debts and not feel like I am on a starvation diet that after a couple of months I go off the rails and buy a sports car or something. :-D
Hey guys, I'm new to YNAB but not to budgeting software. My question is related to this topic but has to do with accounts. We have some budget categories to fund bills we know will be yearly/quarterly like Christmas, property taxes, insurance, etc. We have a separate savings account, lets just call it "Quarterly Expenses", that we move that money into at the end of every month to earn some interest, and also so we don't accidentally spend it by mistake. (I'm acutely aware that if we did things perfectly we'd never overspend a category and wouldn't need to move the money, but mistakes get made.)
My question is should I add that "Quarterly Expenses" account as a Budget account, and track the transfers into and out of it, OR should I just leave it out and just do split transactions when we transfer the money out at the end of the month across the different categories? I hope that makes sense. I'm not sure of the "YNAB" way to do this and am looking for your opinions on how you would handle this and why.
We have some budget categories to fund bills we know will be yearly/quarterly like Christmas, property taxes, insurance, etc. We have a separate savings account, lets just call it "Quarterly Expenses", that we move that money into at the end of every month to earn some interest, and also so we don't accidentally spend it by mistake. (I'm acutely aware that if we did things perfectly we'd never overspend a category and wouldn't need to move the money, but mistakes get made.)
With YNAB you don't need to move money to a separate savings account in order to safeguard it. You set up categories in your budget which do that job, and it doesn't matter where the money is actually located in terms of bank accounts.
For example, using random amounts, let's say you're saving the following each month towards yearly/quarterly expenses.
- Christmas $100 per month
- Property taxes $50 per month
- Insurance $35 per month
In your budget you can set up a category for Christmas, a category for Property taxes and a category for insurance. I'd suggest keeping them together in a Category Group called Yearly/Quarterly Expenses. If you started from zero in May the balances would be:
May: Christmas $100, Property taxes $50, Insurance $35. Total in Yearly/Quarterly Expenses: $185
June: Christmas $200, Property taxes $100, Insurance $70. Total in Yearly/Quarterly Expenses: $370
Then in July you budget the usual $35 for insurance, making $105, and pay out $100 for an insurance bill, leaving $5
July: Christmas $300, Property taxes $150, Insurance $5. Total in Yearly/Quarterly Expenses: $455
It doesn't matter which bank accounts the dollars are actually in.
The $185 in May could be $100 in an interest-paying savings account and $85 in a checking account.
The checking account may have another $700 in it for bills and $100 for general spending, with the $85 assigned to Yearly/Quarterly expenses - $885 in total. It doesn't matter.
When you spend you don't look at the $885 in your checking account to see if you're within budget. You look at your budget categories and they tell you that you have $100 for general spending, or however much is left after the spending you've already done - $73 left to spend, $6 left to spend or whatever.
Similarly when you pay the bills or buy groceries.
Your budget categories tell you how much you've budgeted for each thing, and your budget categories will go red if you spend more than that. You can't accidentally overspend (as long as you're entering or downloading transactions into your budget). You can't accidentally dip into the Yearly/Quarterly Expenses pot because every time you enter a transaction into YNAB you have to say which pot (category) you're taking it out of.
You only need to look at the bank accounts to reconcile them, to make sure you have enough sitting there for payments due to go out and to make sure you're meeting any requirements for getting the interest, like keeping a certain balance.
It takes a while to get used to this way of doing things, but once I got used to it I found it magical.
There's a YNAB workshop on Savings which focuses on this concept and might be helpful.