This newbie is COMPLETELY overwhelmed
I just started YNAB this week. I linked my checking and savings accounts, added in all my regular utility bills, well as fun stuff and groceries and eating out budgets, but I charge most of all of this on a credit card, then pay it off with my checking each month. I added the credit card account to the budget too, which has a bunch of stuff on it that is being paid off via refunds or by my company (but I have to wait for that $$$ to come in in order to pay off and reflect in the linked accounts) plus I also moved around money between my savings and checking accounts to pay off stuff just before I started YNAB, but YNAB imported those transactions in ... and so now YNAB has got me all deeeeeep in the red and NOT reflective at all of my current financial status (I really do have money, I swear).
I keep thinking I need to fix that, but then think I need to fix this, but wait, if I do that, then this happens... let me go do a search for help, but then I go down the blog rabbit hole...
OMG, I'm about ready to rip my everlovin' hair out.
A) this is partially a rant, thanks for listening, and
B) how did YOU start on YNAB?
Red indicate missing money, so absolutely fix that first. Then make a plan (budget) for what you actually have right now.
Maroon Panther said:
I keep thinking I need to fix that, but then think I need to fix this, but wait, if I do that, then this happens...
This is normal. You're coming to grips with what is important to you. The solution is to prioritize.
What is most important that needs money before you get paid again? Budget for that. What is the next most important thing? Budget for that. Stop when TBB is $0. Everything that didn't get funded is LESS important, so let it go, at least for now.
Money tends to get freed up as you are able to spread non-monthly expenses across not months. This let's you go further down the priority list later on.
Do note that for larger expenses such as Rent/Mortgage, you might need some of the money now to partially fund that category so your next check can finish it off.
In fact, you can do this with ALL categories if you're paid multiple times per month, regardless of size. (A consistent process reduced errors.)
Again, start at that highest priority. Budget the remaining amount needed divided by the number of checks you will budget before the outflow. Repeat with the 2nd highest priority, and on down the list.
OK, so after I calmed down a bit, I actually just unlinked all my accounts, deleted all my transactions and pretty much started from scratch. A bit drastic but we're only 7 days into the month. :)
I've been keeping track of all my expenses with pencil and paper for the past year mainly to get an idea of what I spend on groceries, eating out and misc., so I just resorted to that again for a few minutes for November, then input them in YNAB as cleared transactions. Only what I've spent since Nov. 1. Shew. That felt better and more controlling.
I also have a nice spreadsheet that lists all monthly expenses/bills and due dates, which was my "budget" before, but I could never use it to track live spending. Now graduating to YNAB to better track everything.
ANYWAY - I still had a big red number at the top of the screen and pretty much did what you said - reorganized and recategorized everything and prioritized bills and food. Cool. That red number got smaller.
Then I zero'd out all my anticipated bills for the next paycheck, ONLY keeping the ones that have cleared my bank as of now. Yay the red number got smaller. But it's not completely gone... which means I overspent possibly already ...?
To update - I got in the green! I tweaked my budget even further, mainly messing around with a transaction for clothing I bought last weekend. Basically, returning most of the clothes, adjusting my budget number to reflect the amount of what I am keeping (wore them already, took the tags off, whoops) put me in the green at $15.88 ! yay! (until the next pay check, of course).
OK, so I THINK I know what the credit card float is but one thing at a time here... and yes, I like the idea of living off of last month's money, b/c I am quickly realizing, I AM living paycheck to paycheck.
I think my main goal right now is to learn how the program works. And I KNOW I can take advantage of the more advanced YNAB tools/systems in the long run to help me reap the awards of a mile rewards credit card by using it for my regular bills and pay it off at the end of each month. Because I KNOW I have the cash for that, hands down.
I also put a lot in savings, so at some point, I think I need to assess that and budget that number. I guess with YNAB, it doesn't matter necessarily where your money sits, as long as you assign a job to every dollar?
I've realized that my main goal with going down the YNAB is to help me track my spending (via both checking acct and credit card) and down the road, help save for some big stuff. But right now, I REALLY love that I can pop up the app on my phone and see that yep/nope you have funds for eating out for lunch/breakfast, etc.
Maroon Panther said:
I guess with YNAB, it doesn't matter necessarily where your money sits, as long as you assign a job to every dollar?
Correct. In YNAB, EVERYTHING is savings. The timeline might be a few days, perhaps a few years, or maybe hopefully never, but "savings" is really just "deferred spending" when you get down to it.
Whether you also move it to a location (account) that pays more interest is a completely separate consideration. Read this for more details.
Welcome to YNAB! You're already diving in head first, which is great, and you've had a bump in the road, too, which isn't a bad thing either. Get all the crazy experiences out of the way fast!
My suggestion to you is to be gentle with yourself! It IS a learning curve, and you're going to have to move lots of things around for a while. That's just getting used to the program and how it "thinks" about things.
For the first couple of months, don't stress about how much you are putting into things like groceries and gas. They will likely not be funded quite right and have to keep moving money around. After 3 months you can really start to look at averages, and after 6 months it gets better, and after a year you can really dive in deep and know how things are funded.
Way to go for getting started, that's the first difficult step, hanging in there through the bumpy learning phase is the second, and you're already well into that. You'll be a seasoned pro in no time.