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? 

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  • 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.

    Reply Like 5
  • 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 ...?

    Reply Like 1
      • monkeyhanger
      • No animals were harmed
      • monkeyhanger.1
      • 12 days ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view

      Maroon Panther  If it's only the TBB (To Be Budgeted) number that's red, then you are overbudgeted rather than overspent.

      Overbudgeted means you have planned to spend more money than you currently have available. You can't do this without incurring more debt so you need to reassess using dakinemaui 's method and reduce the amount budgeted to each category until you get this number down to zero. You would start by removing budgeted funds from long-term savings or true expense categories that are not due before you get paid again.

      Did you budget to pay the full starting balance on the credit card? If you can't budget for this and your normal budget expenses without TBB going red then you may have been riding the credit card float. If you think this is the case, we can provide better links and information explaining this.

      Reply Like 3
      • Khaki Storm
      • YNAB book topics online: https://support.youneedabudget.com/r/q5w48j
      • Khaki_Storm.1
      • 12 days ago
      • Reported - view

      Maroon Panther Knowing your historic expenses and bills is a huge jump start. Good way to start. 

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      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 12 days ago
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      monkeyhanger OP, I strongly suspect you are riding the CC float as monkeyhanger has postulated. Now that tracking has been added, you're finding that there just isn't enough cash in hand right now to go around. Riding the float uses credit to bridge the gap until money arrives.

      You seem to be living within your means (expenses less than income), no doubt due to your previous planning efforts. However, you are relying on future money to do so. The goal is to back this up, gradually over time, so eventually you are relying solely on cash earned LAST month for this months expenses.

      If this is true, understand this is VERY common. Lots of people ride the float for years without ever realizing it. No interest, but riding the float is one step from paying interest. Paid-in-full status is two steps away, since they can fall back to riding the float.

      Reply Like 6
      • TechieM2
      • IT Professional and General Geek
      • techiem2
      • 12 days ago
      • 1
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      dakinemaui It took me quite a few months of using YNAB before I even realized I was still on the float!

      Reply Like 1
  • 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. 

    Reply Like 6
      • monkeyhanger
      • No animals were harmed
      • monkeyhanger.1
      • 12 days ago
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      Maroon Panther Great.

      Best thing now is to budget that $15.88 to a category so that your TBB is now $nil*. The central concept is to give every dollar you have a job but only the dollars you have.

      Just so we can help you in future when the might want to understand concepts such as the float, does your credit card payment category equal the balance on your credit card account? The first will be positive, the second negative.

      *If you budget into the future then there is an argument for keeping it at $1 but that's way more complicated than we need to get into right now.

      Reply Like 1
  • 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.

    Reply Like 2
    • dakinemaui 

       

      Re: that article:

      WHOA. Game. Changer. 

      (Also, I've been kinda wondering that LOL)

      Reply Like 3
      • Momofboysx3
      • I'm going to master budgeting, even if it kills me!
      • Steel_Blue_Mainframe.11
      • 12 days ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view

      dakinemaui Great article, makes sense, and yet this is what I struggle with the most. Yes, I have all my accounts listed, but I really only want to budget from my checking account. The savings account money has some jobs, but only when we need it. It's job is to be there. I know, I've got to change my way of thinking.  My money currently has no jobs today. I feel like it's such a mess right now, I can't figure it out. But I ended last month "overspending" (CC float) in some categories. I even developed a joke saying about how I'm feeling right now to post on my FB page. "I've solved why budgets don't work for me. They don't have the 'I want to live beyond my means and have no debt' budget!" LOL I'll get it figured out. 

      Reply Like 3
      • Vibrant
      • No more counting dollars, we'll be counting stars
      • vibrant
      • 12 days ago
      • 4
      • Reported - view

      Momofboysx3 

      Momofboysx3 said:
      I really only want to budget from my checking account. The savings account money has some jobs, but only when we need it. It's job is to be there.

       You are SO close to "getting it," I think. When you start YNAB, you really do have to take ALL the dollars you have and give them jobs. Some of those jobs ARE "waiting" type jobs - future vacation, roof repair, college fund, job loss fund. Create those categories, put those savings account dollars in them. And then you can basically forget about those dollars until you DO need them, and only focus on budgeting your new incoming dollars (which just happen to be deposited into your checking account, typically.)

      Reply Like 4
      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 12 days ago
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      • Reported - view

      Momofboysx3 I'd love to have one of those budgets, too! 😋

      Once you make a plan for the money in your savings account, it's done. (Until you decide you can improve that plan, of course.)

      Subsequent budgeting is done with new money, which probably arrives checking -- just as you desire.

      Think of budgeting as a promise to yourself to try not to spend more than $X on thing Y, whenever you actually get around to buying that thing.

      Reply Like 2
      • Momofboysx3
      • I'm going to master budgeting, even if it kills me!
      • Steel_Blue_Mainframe.11
      • 12 days ago
      • Reported - view

      Vibrant actually, I think I've got the concept. What I struggle with is the execution. I'm awful with numbers. I was so proud of myself for setting up scheduled payments. Then when I went to budget, I got so confused. I swear, I'm not a dumb person, but I struggle with this so much.

      Reply Like
    • Momofboysx3 Nice job setting up those scheduled transactions. Were you able to budget to $0.00, including the savings dollars? It's a learning process. Keep asking questions, and checking your budget. You can do this!

      Sometimes it can help to chat about things in the context of your own budget. So if you need a little one one help, to explain what's going on—you can ping Faness or I, or reach out to our support team from the app! 🙂

      Reply Like 2
      • Momofboysx3
      • I'm going to master budgeting, even if it kills me!
      • Steel_Blue_Mainframe.11
      • 12 days ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Nicole HA! Nope! Right now I've spent all day trying to set the numbers. I deleted the scheduled transactions, because they were showing up on my credit card (albeit shaded) and confusing the hell out of me. We are in a temporary (2 week) cash flow crunch . (This is why I started this program, to prevent these temporary cash flow issues). Today the last installment for 2 college tuitions was due. We had the money set aside, all set to go. Then the van blew a gasket. The transport people and the mechanic will only take cash. So I put some of the tuition on my American Express. So the trail goes like this--4500 taken from the credit union, put into my checking account. $2000 transferred to my oldest's account for tuition. I don't have his checking on my budget. I do have a tracking account for all the kids college because they have to pay us back after graduation with 1% interest. So I record it in the tracking account. I pay the $3190 of the other son's college expenses on the AE. Add it to the tracking. But, since I have to keep the cash available, I can't cover that expense right away. I'm in the red. So now all I see is red. I screwed up last month in the last weekend of the month (wine mixed with my favorite SIL equals regrettable money decisions.) So I might have some float on my CC this month. However, it is a 3 paycheck month, so I might be able to pull it off.

      Now, lest anyone get concerned, ☺️I have other resources in which I could cover this. As a matter of fact, the hubby and I are probably going to pull from one of them to fully fund our budget to do away with all float and start of right. Yes, I am very thankful that we have this ability.  

      I don't know why I can figure out the budget. I'm sure because ATM, the money isn't there. Now it will be there before month's end, nothing will be late...but that's not the YNAB way. sigh

      Thanks for reading.

      Reply Like 1
      • monkeyhanger
      • No animals were harmed
      • monkeyhanger.1
      • 11 days ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Momofboysx3 In the account screen, you can toggle the scheduled transactions so that they don't show on your screen and confuse things for you.

      Reply Like 1
    • Momofboysx3 How are things looking now? Any credit card spending that wasn't budgeted for, should appear in yellow in your budget. It sounds like you'll have that spending covered before month's end (which is great!) and should get rid of the yellow Available amount at that time.

      Reply Like
  • 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.

    Reply Like 3
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