Trick to "skip" funding a Goal in the Current Month (remove the orange warning while keeping the future goal!)

I recently accidentally stumbled upon this handy trick and posted about it in my journal, and it seems it's likely of use to others, so I figured I'd make a separate post to share!

 

SCENARIO: You have one or more Goals set up in YNAB (perhaps a whole Budget Template!), and for one reason or another, your priorities change for the current month, so you decide that one or more of those goals won't be fully funded this month.

 

ANNOYANCE: However, YNAB's handy orange-underfunded warnings continually glare at you, reminding you that you'd intended to give those categories more money!

Sometimes this is annoying but easy enough to ignore. But I've found that at other times, this persistent warning can actually (a) make me feel unnecessarily bad/guilty about making potentially tough but responsible choices about how to roll with the punches, and also (b) can lead to me paying less attention to the orange warnings in general, if they're showing up everywhere but mostly just crying wolf.

 

SOLUTION: Click forward to NEXT month's budget, then EDIT & RE-SAVE the Goal(s) you'd like to "skip" this month. Now, when you click back to the current month, the Goals and their associated orange warnings are GONE! :)

Hope others find this helpful, as well!

 

(NOTE: this is definitely a rather kludgey workaround "solution", but it works because YNAB's goals currently have no "history" and only one goal can exist per category - e.g. if you change a category's goal this month, any goals you previously had set in that category (in past months) will disappear. If YNAB changes how their goal functionality works, this trick may no longer work - but maybe they'll add a built-in way to "skip" a goal for a month if they do??) :)

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  • Nice! This is one of those things that I knew happens (i.e, editing a goal wipes a previous month's goal), but didn't think to make it a "solution". 😀

    Reply Like 1
  • Likewise, I had noticed this "bug"/annoyance, but had never thought of using it purposefully! Thanks to you I've been able to have my first proper WAM/punch rolling session :) So far the orange everywhere would make me way too uncomfortable to be really flexible with the budget, but tonight using this trick I was able to figure out how to magic a couple hundred euros out of thin air for a possible investment in the future - it may or may not pan out, so I'm reluctant. But I can squeeze out the money without touching the immediate obligations or true expenses pots, nor making big sacrifices on the other quality of life goals that are important to me. So, maybe I will do it! Thanks for sharing!! 🙂

    Reply Like 1
    • Coral Hammerhead Congrats!! This is helping me be more flexible than I'd otherwise want to as well, which my budget definitely needs right now :)

      Reply Like 1
  • I saw you post this over on your journal, and while I was intrigued, I was also worried that I would use it to just push problems to the next month, and not get a needed 'alarm.' But, your point about orange crying wolf -- a wall of orange turns into so much noise, y'know?  Once you get a couple of these, you end up with the exact situation YNAB warns against -- you start to disbelieve the budget (or at least the software).

    Where I think this would come in especially handy (and not run the risk of being unrealistic about my money) is when I have a very clear reason to budget less than my monthly goal.  For instance, I started YNAB mid-February and budgeted to a bill that had been paid earlier in the month; I am now on track to pay next month's bill with next month's second half of the amortized payment, but I have to suffer the orange circle of underpayment.  It has been driving me crazy every time I visit my budget (which is 1-10 times/day...I may be a bit obsessed right now, lol).

    One thing that helps me somewhat is using the Chrome toolkit extension, which creates an extra column that shows the budgeted amount; it doesn't get rid of the warning orange, but it lets me take a moment to compare the target to the actual amount, and remind myself of the decisionmaking process I went through. But I'mma try your trick when the paycheck hits tomorrow.

    Reply Like 3
    • Beige Hail You make an excellent point about wanting to be careful to not just "push problems to next month" - I'm juggling a couple particularly large expenses in the next couple months and am feeling a little uneasy trying to make sure everything shakes out okay in the end, and am trying to make sure I change as few things as possible so it doesn't become too much to remember what & why I changed them, so I don't lose track of my overall goals! :)

      Reply Like
      • Beige Hail
      • Beige_Hail.1
      • 1 yr ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      Resistant Punch Roller Yeah, exactly.  I feel so aware of all my goals and my decisions right now, and I have to remind myself that even if I stay solid with YNAB,  in 2-3 months I will *not* be spending hours a day reworking my budget and thinking all this through, and the chances of me forgetting what I chose and why I chose it are astronomically high.  The me of tomorrow often wonders what the me of today was thinking, actually.  :-)

      Reply Like 2
    • Beige Hail 

      "One thing that helps me somewhat is using the Chrome toolkit extension, which creates an extra column that shows the budgeted amount" 

      I use the Chrome toolkit extension but I can't find this particular feature. I know I've seen it but can't find it now. Any thoughts?

      Thanks

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      • Beige Hail
      • Beige_Hail.1
      • 1 yr ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Powder Blue Mainframe (c2889e00798a) 

      Open up the Settings, then choose Budget Screen from the menu on the left. 

      1) To get the he U, M, etc., turn on the second option,  "Add Goals Indication." 

      2) To display the Goal Amount as a separate column, go down to the option called "Warn When Target Balance is Not Reached."  I do not turn this goal on, but I do use one of the sub-items (you might think that those are unavailable if you don't turn on the main goal, but they are actually separate).  There is a drop-down menu that says "Display Target Goal Amount And Overbudget Warning."  I choose to display target goal and have the overbudget warning be green (the other option is red, but that seems silly to me because red implies a lack of money, not a surplus).  From my experience, the goal amount turns green once you've hit your goal, not when you're over budget).

      Reply Like 1
  • This actually came up in a workshop I attended and the YNAB instructor told us to email support with our feedback - we all agreed in the workshop that the orange flag is too heavily used. Because it's used when you overspend with credit *and* when you haven't budgeted to your goal, it can get hard to know which is which. We were told we should write in and just let our thoughts known that having a separate color for these two events would be much more helpful.

    I often budget to my goals every month, but then as those unexpected "punches" come along, I find myself needing/wanting a little bit of extra in one category or another, and as I generally round up with my monthly budgeting goals, I will often have a few dollars here and there left over after using up a categories budgeted amounts, so I will move those extra dollars around to other categories. Which then makes those categories orange because according to the frank numbers, I haven't budgeted to my goal. Which is more than obnoxious lol. So when I look at my budget at a glance, even though I have paid all my bills and allotted enough for all pending transactions and such, it will still look like I've got overspending concerns all over my budget.

    I don't know if I'd go so far as employ your trick, but it's a handy one to have figured out. Thanks for sharing! I would definitely suggest writing in to support to throw in your two cents as well about the orange alert concerns. If enough people comment, they'll update the design. :)

    Reply Like 2
  • Is it easier just to have a "Stuff I forgot category" and put your flex money in one pot rather than upping lots of individual budgets to create a buffer?

    When the mid-month punch comes, you won't have any amber balances. Also easier to see how much flex you have left immediately when you get the punch rather than sifting through lots of categories to cream bits off.

    This way the budget is minimally changed throughout the month which encourages good spending habits rather than always thinking "oh there will be some spare in another category if I go over"

    Reply Like 2
    • Aquamarine Storm (67697f3db38d) said:
      Is it easier just to have a "Stuff I forgot category" and put your flex money in one pot rather than upping lots of individual budgets to create a buffer?

      Well, sure, it *would* be easier if I had a magical pool of extra money to pull from as needed... ;)

      In seriousness though, I do have a "Stuff I forgot" category, but I've only been funding it with a modest sum ($25/m), which will cover some minor "punches" but not anything significant. My budget is stretched pretty tight right now while I'm trying to pay down debt, while also trying to keep an eye on funding True Expense / Rainy Day Funds, and until those RDFs have built up enough cushion to absorb the punches, I'm still in juggling mode.

      Looking forward to having my True Expenses more funded, so I can smooth out my budget more consistently! :)

      Reply Like 1
    • Resistant Punch Roller Fair enough and understandable.

      I've only been using YNAB since November so I'm no expert but I did initially set lots of goals and for the same reason I removed most of them because everything was permanently orange. In fact many of my categories are permanently orange such a rent because of an upcoming transaction on the 28th but it is funded from wages paid on the same day.

      So I've resigned myself to them being orange for a long time until I have enough money to be a month ahead with my finance - so like you said in your first post, I pay less attention to the orange categories which probably isn't ideal.

      Good luck with your journey anyway, I've come on leaps and bounds in just 4 months with YNAB. Nothing dramatic, just not getting into further debt for the first 2 months was a massive achievement for me.

      Reply Like
    • Resistant Punch Roller When I was making more money than I am now, I had a category like that, and it basically made WAMs painless; I pulled from there without thinking about it, and I think it caused me to spend irresponsibly. Now that I'm not making quite as much as I want to be, I have to actually WAM from specific categories, and it's made me rethink my spending in a much more concrete way. I don't recommend pulling from a MISC category to cover your punches. It makes it too easy to lie to yourself.

      Reply Like 3
    • crassusmoray said:
      I had a category like that, and it basically made WAMs painless; I pulled from there without thinking about it, and I think it caused me to spend irresponsibly. Now that I'm not making quite as much as I want to be, I have to actually WAM from specific categories, and it's made me rethink my spending in a much more concrete way. I don't recommend pulling from a MISC category to cover your punches. It makes it too easy to lie to yourself.

      This is an excellent point!

      I hadn't specifically thought of it that way, but that is an advantage to having my budget template stretched so tight - it forces me to be more conscientious about moving money around, and makes me follow Rule 1 (give every dollar a job) more closely, rather than having a huge amount of wiggle room.

      Trying to keep $25 in "Stuff I forgot" seems like a happy amount for my budget, right now. I'm trying to focus on sending any "extra" money to debt paydown, while also funding true expenses / rainy day funds & also realistically funding other categories. So this $25 gives me just a little free wiggle room, but beyond that I have to make choices that impact those other priorities, which gives me pause enough to reconsider.

      I'd personally only recommend using this "goal skipping" trick sparingly, when it's either a deliberate, well-thought out choice (e.g. in order to fund a car repair this month, I deliberately chose to hold off on funding a couple other rainy day funds), or for end-of-the-month "cleanup" (like HappyDance 's use case, where she "sweeps" extra funds from some categories into savings at the end of the month) where the goals are more about initial funding for the month, rather than building funds month-to-month.

      Great discussion!! :)

      Reply Like 3
      • Beige Hail
      • Beige_Hail.1
      • 1 yr ago
      • 4
      • Reported - view

      Resistant Punch Roller I try to be very honest with myself about the "Stuff I Forgot to Budget For" category. This category is not for the time I decided to stop by Taco Bell on the way home instead of cooking, for instance, or the coffee maker that was on super-amazing markdown and I've been needing a coffeemaker. Those things have budgets, Eating Out and Home Goods/Tech Replacement, respectively.  If I need to WAM to make my purchase choice fit into those categories, I do not take money from SIFtBF for these sorts of things.  To me, SIFtBF is for things I didn't realize needed a line in the budget.  For instance, my web domain just renewed, and I suddenly had an $80 charge that I totally forgot needed to be budgeted for. (And that charge showed me that I actually needed a Professional Fees category to lump various items for my on-hold business.)  As part of keeping myself honest with this category, I don't let anything stay there once I've paid for it -- the forgotten item has to get worked into an existing category, or get a category of its own.

      I suppose that's not the main question being discussed here, which is "should you have a buffer that you easily WAM from, or does that create a vagueness that is counterproductive (for a significant number of us)?"  It seems to me that part of the beauty of the YNAB system is that it keeps us in touch with the choices we're making and the priorities we're setting. If we assign every single dollar a job, then when we decide that we want those jobs to change, we're creating accountability to ourselves and our goals.  And we're creating feedback for future soul-searching sessions. If we decide one month that going out to eat with a good friend who's visiting town trumps saving for retirement and we take from the extra payment we'd planned to send, we are weighing specific values and goals (future security and quality of life, not being a burden on our kids, etc. vs. self-care, tending social ties, etc.) and deciding that in this single instance, it's worth it to tip the scales in a direction that takes us out of alignment with the values and goals we embodied when we set our budget.  If we find ourselves repeatedly vetoing the original set of goals with new ones, that requires us to ask some useful questions:  Was I wrong when I set those goals? Did I underfund something out of ignorance or denial? Perhaps I put too much weight in one direction and overlooked or tried to minimize something that also matters. How do I bring these into balance within my actual income (or how do I grow my income to fulfill these myriad priorities)?  If I am constantly using one category to fund my WAMs, maybe that category isn't actually something I value. If I am constantly pulling from any and all categories to fund one or two perpetually underfunded categories, perhaps those categories need to be more fully funded, even if they don't align with my vision of who I am (or who I should be/how I should behave); and if the restricted budget line actually is in line with your values, then this gives you a chance to reflect on what you might need to do differently in your life to have your values and your actions align (or, as with my Eating Out budget, you might decide that you want to give yourself a bit of a break while you work on getting your shit together, and budget more for now but with some intentions to transform that over time). 

      Given this, I have to wonder if having a pot of Miscellaneous WAM Money is maybe a deferral of some aspect or aspects of that value and goal reflection process?  Now, I want to emphasize that I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing, or that anyone with a slush fund for WAMing is Doing It YNAB Wrong.  As with my Eating Out budget example above, I think it can be really important to give yourself a break. Especially if money and budgeting causes or exacerbates anxiety (...which is probably true for most of us?), I think it's important to be kind to ourselves and figure out which workarounds and supports help us move forward.  (And, it's also useful and important to check in on those supports regularly and see if they've changed from something that boosts us up into something that drags us down.) 

      In fact, as I chew on this, I think it could make a lot of sense to make a "Peace of Mind" category that has a set amount available for miscalculations and surprise or spur-of-the-moment priority shifts. This in itself seems to me to be naming a priority -- creating a buffered mental/emotional space where not everything has to be weighed and considered.  By identifying a larger value and goal that ties to the specific job that this buffer is doing ,  you can make some internal inquiries based on how you're using it. (If it's constantly inadequate, do you need to make changes to the budget that will give you some peace of mind? If there a specific type of spending that you're finding this category covering, can you make changes to your budget or your life so that you move further away from the anxiety space? Maybe you're able to stop WAMing and only draw from this category, and it gives you peace of mind so you continue it. Maybe you have some amount left over each month, and you tinker with goals that let you put that overage into a happy budget line. Or, maybe you find the buffer works beautifully for you, and you pat yourself on the back for including a budget line that keeps you in touch with your budget and keeps you on an even keel.)

      Whoops, sorry, that got a bit long...

      Reply Like 4
      • Beige Hail
      • Beige_Hail.1
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Resistant Punch Roller I think where I ended up in that long examination is that I think it's fine and dandy to have a buffered space to draw from, but that I think it's worth identifying what value-based job that buffer is doing for you, and putting it under the same microscope as everything else, periodically.  (And that I think this should be separate from Things I Forgot to Budget For, which really should be about managing the surprises that hit us over time as we realize another True Expense that hadn't occurred to us.)

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      • Beige Hail
      • Beige_Hail.1
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Beige Hail (I see you actually addressed Things I Forgot To Budget not being a slush fund last month, so I must have misunderstood that part of your comment, sorry!)

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  • Awesome.  Gawd I hate those orange warnings.  

    Reply Like 1
  • Yes! I do this. Figured it out by accident too, because i was trying to up my goal starting next month. I wish we could do that. 

    Reply Like 1
  • Thanks for this. I just went through my budget, skipped to next month, and entered those goals. I now feel I have an accurate template for the future. (This month has been an anomaly, so goals made no sense.)

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  • Works as advertised, thanks for the tip. 

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