Avid Longtime YNAB user but still NEED forecasting....

Would love to get some opinions on this topic -- I'm an avid and longtime YNAB user (from the beginning).  However, I STILL use a forecasting spreadsheet to plan out months in advance and breaking down pay periods, etc.  I've read so many blogs and it just doesn't make sense to me.  I "have" to forecast in order to know what to budget.  Without forecasting, you don't know what's coming to allocate into a budget.  What are you all doing or using?  #AmIAlone?

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  • I hear you.  I really needed the running balance on my accounts to get a better handle on the individual accounts.  Very grateful YNAB finally accepted that this is important to running a successful budget.  

    Today I'm using goals and many years of data for past expenses.  Having some buffering funds, goals, and a budget template have helped me a lot.  I have just recently been able to let go of my forecasting spreadsheet, but still keep a net worth spread sheet.  

    You will find something that works for you.  Just keep at it until you do.  Hope you find it soon.

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  • What you are calling "forecasting" is actually just simple planning and crucial to successful YNAB usage (the current Rule 2, as a matter of fact). If you have a $600 outflow due in 6 months for which you have $0 saved at present, a reasonable plan is to allocate $100 each month until then. You can do the math yourself, or the newest version has a Goal which will do the math for you.

    The thing to avoid is *allocating* money in the budget before you receive it. You hardly need to put those six $100 entries into the budget in advance. This is the "forecasting" that is a bad practice, because it fills your categories with Monopoly money. You cannot trust your categories for spending guidance when they are filled with fake dollars.

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  • If you can get ahead enough to where you don't need your income in the month it is received, you no longer have to break down pay periods. Just accumulate all your checks throughout the month, then budget the lump sum at the end of the month in next month's area.

    Like 4
  • For the past few years I've kept a forecast spreadsheet too.  I update it once or twice a month with the spending data from YNAB, whereas I update YNAB at least daily.  I think the key is to not have the spreadsheet guide your spending decisions in any way.  I input nominal amounts for each category (hopefully) overestimating actual expenditures.  It's more for me to get a rough idea of how far ahead or behind we'll be at the end of the year, or how viable a savings goal might be.  Since we have regular as well as irregular income it helps to get a big picture glance.

    But I really don't think anyone should use it to check how big a TV they can afford for next year's superbowl, or Christmas gifts 2020.  That's certain disaster.

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  • I am classically buffered. All of my December income was used to fully fund January. I allocate the same amount to the vast majority of my categories every single month so no need to forecast that. After those allocations are made, I have several hundred left over that I can then allocate to priority categories. There are very few things that I need to spend money on where I can't decide the time line. For example, I am saving up to remodel my kitchen. This category has enough so far to replace very single appliance so if one of them goes (giving a side eye to my fridge right now), I'm covered. My health insurance plan year runs Oct 1 - Sept 30. On Oct 1, I had the annual out of pocket max set aside in a category and about 1/3 of the next year's. My FSA reimbursements through out the year will be used to fund next year's max and whatever is left over at the end of this plan year should top it off on Sept 30. My Loss of Income category will get me through 6-8 months. I have a Home Repair category topped off at an amount that would cover a very major repair, though HVAC was replaced in 2018 and hot water heater in 2013. It's a condo so don't have to worry about the roof replacement, though I do believe we may be in for a special condo fee assessment as they upgrade the security of the building. Car repair category is also kept funded at a rate that would cover a very major repair.

    At the end of the month groceries, eating out, fuel, entertainment, admin, and utilities are swept. Groceries, eating out, and fuel are swept to 0. The others are swept so that the remaining amount plus what is budgeted in the next month lead to specific caps on the categories. The swept money is then allocated across charitable giving, Loss of Income, taxable investing, kitchen remodel, and the high priority savings category (currently my sister's wedding in August 2020) based on a formula that makes sense to me.

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      • MXMOM
      • MXMOM
      • 9 mths ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      jenmas great post. 
      I used to sweep the categories like you described but stopped since I like the ability to see budgeted last month vs spent last month. So I let them roll over and then adjust them in the new month. 

      Like 2
      • jenmas
      • jenmas
      • 9 mths ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      MXMOM Since I budget the exact same each month, I can tell that at a glance, even after the sweep.

      Like 2
      • jestarr
      • jestarr
      • 8 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      jenmas can you describe your sweep process/math in more detail?  I find that I'm always having a tough time coming up with a process for the variable expenses in my budget.  I've tried budgeting the average, but that hasn't always worked. 

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      • jenmas
      • jenmas
      • 8 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      jestarr I use a mix of caps and budgeted amounts and budget high because I would rather sweep at the end of the month than reallocate during the month. So for example the max I keep in my electric category is $60 (since 2015 I've had 2 months where that bill has been over $60). But I also budget $50 to the category every single month. So I already paid the bill on the 16th and I will move money out of the category until the remaining available balance is $10 and then I will budget $50 in February (well, actually I budgeted all of Feb last week when I got paid). Same method, different numbers for the natural gas bill, Admin (stamps/mailing supplies, office supplies, etc), and Entertainment. For Groceries, Eating Out, and Fuel (car gas as opposed to home gas), I budget the exact same amount every month and sweep down to zero at the end of the month. My mobile phone bill seems to fluctuate from about $58.75 to $60.25 so I just budget $61 every month and once I get the billing notice from Tmobile, I sweep the unnecessary amount out.

      For ease of math, all swept amounts get moved to a category called Sweep so I only have to look at one number. I then plug the total amount into a spreadsheet which tells me how much of the sweep goes to Income Replacement, Investments, Charitable Giving, Kitchen Remodel, Sister's Wedding, Thing that I Am Saving For (currently it's a canvas that I need to get stretched so I can finally finish decorating the guest room), and IRA, then I reallocate from the Sweep category to those. IRA, Investments, Charitable, Kitchen Remodel, and Income Replacement get budgeted to every month at a set amount, the sweep is just extra.

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  • I've been using YNAB for 10 years and I never forecast so obviously I don't need to. I just live by the four rules. My net worth has grown about 400% in that time. The only financial software I use outside of YNAB is a spreadsheet to balance my overall stock/bond ratio across all accounts.

    I "have" to forecast in order to know what to budget.  Without forecasting, you don't know what's coming to allocate into a budget.

    Yes you do. Using classic rule 4, I have all funds for each month ready to go to budget a month at a time in one fell swoop. Occasionally I get bonuses that bolster my categories. For further out goals, I use Rule 2 to plan how much I need to save per month to get there.

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    • Superbone I would also say that there is an element of "forecasting" in Rule 1: Give every dollar a job - What does this money need to do before I am paid again?

      If you sincerely don't know how much or when your next paycheck will be, it will be difficult to decide on the appropriate jobs.

      Along those lines, as dakinemaui said, it would be difficult to plan out long-term expenses if you couldn't count on money coming in to fund your savings installments for Rule 2.

      Classic Rule 4 still only works if you can make decisions properly using Rule 1, though it greatly simplifies the process.

      I know I'm in the minority, but we have a spreadsheet that shows what our budgeted amounts will be (for each paycheck, until we get buffered), envelope-style, for the next 9 months.  Towards the beginning of that time frame, we will get YNAB-buffered (Classic Rule 4), and I will be interested to see if there is as much of a difference as everyone claims.  As it is, we use YNAB for spending guidance and daily flexibility.  We use the spreadsheet to plan how we will use YNAB.  It allows us more conversational flexibility without screwing up something accidentally as we're weighing priorities.  It also provides a hard copy of what we had decided previously (and since forgot), as our priorities change in both macro and micro perspectives.

      dakinemaui said:
      The thing to avoid is *allocating* money in the budget before you receive it.

       If people try to use YNAB to forecast, they're going to have a bad time. :)  But, you know this already.

      Like 2
  • Slate Blue Mill said:
    Without forecasting, you don't know what's coming to allocate into a budget. 

    This is not the way YNAB works. Granted, I used to do the budget for the whole month in advance in the Dave Ramsey way of budget the whole month before the month begins. To get around this in YNAB I created a placeholder income entry dated the first of the month. But then I realized I was riding the credit card float and went to budgeting paycheque by paycheque. YNAB is based on budgeting only money you actually have while Dave Ramsey is based on budget the month before the month begins. They seems the same but they are not. DR method is more like forecasting which is fine if you make the same amount every month but becomes a problem if the timing doesn’t work. For example we get paid every other week. In January 2020 our first pay will be on January 8. Our mortgage payment comes out automatically on January 1. So if I don’t account for this then I will be overdrawn.
    The way we have dealt with this is create a budget category called month ahead which equals approximately one paycheque. The first budget of the month we “release” or move the available money to To Be Budgeted and budget the bills/expenses we have to cover before payday. On payday we budget the rest until we get to zero. The last paycheque is used to replenish the month ahead category.  We are only one cheque ahead but that is needed if you are going to only live on money you have. I believe I wrote a post about this in my journal when I figured it out. I’ll try to find it and post the link here. 
    all this to say that you shouldn’t be forecasting. 


    edited to add link to my “realization” post https://support.youneedabudget.com/t/y70azt?r=k9axj2


    edited again to add link to reply to my post that references some good resources and has a good explanation of what this looks like. https://support.youneedabudget.com/t/y70azt?r=63axbk

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  • I am a new user (since November). The YNAB ecosystem has revolutionized my thinking about money, and I wouldn't want it to change. That said, I also do need a place to plan more than 30 days ahead. So I use the monthly notes to jot ideas/plans down, and also just a word doc where I crunch some running numbers. I 100% won't spend any of the money until I get it, but in terms of anticipated windfalls, I like to have time to mull over how much is going to various debt and savings goals--I don't want to just decide the day it lands in my account.

    Like 2
      • Annieland
      • YNABbing every day since 2009!
      • Annieland
      • 9 mths ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view

      Slate Blue Lion I'm a huge fan of notes.  My head is always swimming with various ideas, and when I think I made a decision I type it in both for memory's sake, as well as making it "firm."  So if I decide an upcoming bonus is going to be "half to emergency fund, the rest release 1/5th til May" it means I can't just take a vacation with it on a whim when it shows up.

      Like 3
  • Move Light Sound Life said:
    we have a spreadsheet that shows what our budgeted amounts will be [...] for the next 9 months

    But are these numbers not duplicates of each other? After calculating you need $100 in each of the next 6 months to cover a $600 expense (from 600/6), you hardly need to copy & paste $100 six times and add it up to "discover" you're going to have $600 in the end.

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    • dakinemaui Actually, we're "snowballing" our savings, while contributing a bit more in other categories than we had during our debt paydown phase.

      The spreadsheet shows how much we're adding to our YNAB buffer until we hit it, then we'll be focusing on medical until it hits a target, then car, and so on.  The idea is that we'll be more normalized at the end of that time frame.  That is, of course, unless our situation drastically changes, but we'll have a 9-month lead time for that, too, ideally.

      The spreadsheet is psychologically useful because we simply can't fund all of our priorities to where we want them, and it shows us that there is a plan that will help it all be ok, generally.

      Like 1
    • dakinemaui And before you think I'm completely crazy, yes, we've found and normalized long-term/annual expenses.  It's just that to be funded for the max medical we could be responsible for would take nearly 1/5 of our take home pay over 12 months, and there are certain normal parts of life that are almost guaranteed (so I hear) to use that amount.  So we're just going to have to do the best we can.

      But, I will say that this buffer better be pretty amazing, because it's eating up a huge chunk of our savings potential (and my husband is not sold).

      Like
    • Move Light Sound Life Interesting idea (snowballing savings)! I'm building incrementally across categories, with the understanding that I'll just have to WAM if and when things hit along the way. It somehow makes me feel better to have even $15 or $25 in a category than nothing whatsoever. But whatever works!

      Like 2
    • Slate Blue Lion To gain the YNAB buffer, a snowball is nearly required. Then, as we look at other high-dollar requirements with timelines, it's easier to see what we can add as a normal monthly amount while focusing on prioritizing time-sensitive savings. We are trying to balance both sides of getting prepared for unknown and likely futures.

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    • Move Light Sound Life  Yes, agreed. I've got a 41 day AOM, and it's allowing me to sleep at night. Buffering those categories is also a huge relief. It feels awesome to know that I'm already saving for my next set of new tires, even though I just replaced them last month! There isn't money to buffer everything at once, at least while also paying down debt, but your snowball and my incremental are two good ways to get there!

      Like 1
      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 9 mths ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      Move Light Sound Life As I see it, your spreadsheet provides value as a "light at the end of the tunnel" for the increasingly less important savings goals. You are willing to put in the extra effort to know when those end points will occur.

      I think you would agree it's not mandatory, as you will get there when you get there for each goal in turn.

      Like 2
    • dakinemaui Our spreadsheet also provides value as a reference that we both can look at to remember what we decided when figuring out the best approach to our priorities.  This is ideally supposed to prevent  rehashing those decisions (though I spent an hour today doing just that with the buffer, as I miscalculated).  I suppose it's also a nice check to make sure the plan is viable before it goes live!  It has made budgeting meetings very short and efficient!

      Without the spreadsheet, I did have to remember all the parameters to properly recalculate the priorities over time.  At the beginning it was annual expenses, minimum contingencies, and a debt focus.  The puzzle pieces had little wiggle room.  Then those Rule 2 expenses started coming due and allowed more wiggling such that we could have a normalized budget for a while.  This is when we made the spreadsheet, so we wouldn't have to remember the same starting point every month.  Now, it is valuable in this period of transition because we can play with the possibilities. 

      It also makes very visible to my husband (and me) that that "extra" money we were throwing at debt has places to be, places that have deadlines.  With the spreadsheet, it's easier not to go overboard with super nice things now that the budget is slightly relaxed, because Medical really does need enough to cover a baby in time, and Home Maintenance really does need enough for when the hot water heater needs to be replaced, and a broken window needs to be factored in, and a car is going as long as it goes (hopefully past these others...) and we're supposed to have an Income Replacement fund, and we really don't have enough to meet all of those needs.  If we split our monthly amount for all of these priorities, it would be harder to say no to WAMing from them, since it was "extra" money, and the impact of the WAM will be just as small as the silly contribution. :)  Maybe that's your light at the tunnel - something we can hang on to for orientation.

      In summary, our spreadsheet serves three main purposes:

      1. It saves much time and mental energy  during budgeting meetings because monthly budgets have already been aligned to long-term plans.  It also allows the decisions to be made at our convenience, instead of when we get paid.  Because it is done outside of YNAB, we retain flexibility to respond to changes appropriately.

      2. We can play with future possibilities without forgetting them or messing up our current YNAB budget.  It's also way easier to play with than setting up a fake fresh start budget, just to play in YNAB.

      3. It's a "light at the end of the tunnel," which does help prevent or mitigate states of mind that would otherwise result in less goal success.

      4. Bonus! Since I've set it up to do the envelope calculations, I feel like I have somewhat of a solution to fall back to if YNAB changes so that it doesn't work for us or becomes too expensive.  I do not hope for this, as it won't be nearly as smooth (and I would have to set up registers, etc. to interact with the budget), but having a backup plan is always nice.

      To those who read: Thanks!  Apologies for being long-winded.  It has been good for me to analyze my use of the spreadsheet to ensure I'm focusing on the right things without wasting time.  Thanks for spurring my thoughts!  It helped me at any rate!

      Like 4
    • Slate Blue Lion Just to be clear, since you said you were new (Welcome!):

      The YNAB buffer is the ability to budget the entire month on the 1st of that month, using money earned in the previous month.  This workflow should help clarify the decision-making process as you budget and actually break the paycheck to budget cycle.  This is Rule 4 as it used to be - an actionable state.  I circumvented the process with my spreadsheet so I can make clear decisions about what I will budget (and save time) without affecting my YNAB budget.  Most people who knowledgeably write on the forum with long-term YNAB experience do not advocate for using a spreadsheet - they'd say the Buffer is life-changing.  FYI.

      As for Age of Money, mine hovers in the 90s, but I've only got about $1000 less than normal monthly expenses in my Income Replacement fund... I'd say that's misleading.  It's really only that high because I pay my CC on the statement balance now.  It doesn't mean very much, and your AoM will grow if you're using Rule 2 for nearly anything.

      Like 1
      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 9 mths ago
      • 5
      • Reported - view

      Move Light Sound Life I do most of your summary things completely within YNAB.

      1. The budget itself is the long term plan, leaving budget meeting to discuss any changes of priority.

      2. I would use an empty month as a scratch pad to work out what-ifs in the rare event that was needed. (YNAB is essentially a spreadsheet, right!) While this isn't easily remembered, I suspect priorities would not be identical at the time it would be implemented, anyway. I did make a PDF of one scenario where income dropped substantially for future reference.

      3. I know the end dates for all savings goals, as that is integral to their budget entry calculation. If I were snowballing, I would easily know the primary target end date. Beyond that, I guess it's not important to us. A road-trip analogy: I've realized that checking the ETA every 5 minutes doesn't get us to the destination any faster -- keeping the speedometer at the speed limit is equivalent feedback. We get there when we get there.

      4. My backup plan is YNAB4. 😎 

      My point is not to convince you to drop your spreadsheet. It's mainly to give a counter-point to the mindset that a separate spreadsheet is mandatory.

      Like 5
    • dakinemaui I like your road trip analogy.  Except, I would say that the spreadsheet is more like a map with marks for our route. 

      Ahead of the trip, we'll sit down and look at the highways, deciding between two-lane, winding highways that cover less miles but will take longer and the 4-lane divided highways that are slightly out of the way, but will travel faster.  We'll plan out our gas refills, making sure to place stops for fuel in places that are logical for food and restrooms as well.  If it's a route that family is familiar with, they can also warn against historically higher fuel prices in certain locations.  We'll want to ensure that we don't hit a major city during rush hour, if we can help it.  Driving certain wilderness passages during the daytime is preferable to driving during the night-time.  And on some trips, there's a certain food establishment that we like to make sure we pass through when they're still open...

      The route on our map is there for reference, so we don't have to recalculate every new highway, miss a turn, or run out of gas.

      We can look at the spreadsheet to see the already planned turns and stops for our budget, too. 

      Like 3
      • MXMOM
      • MXMOM
      • 8 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Move Light Sound Life aaargghh just lost my reply so writing again. 
      indid a mini spreadsheet today to allocate hubby’s bonus cheque. Wrote the amount and category in excel and then once it was all spoken for I copied /pasted into the memo for the deposit. 
      I hear you though on the need to keep up with changing priorities. As I mentioned we used to do the DR once a month sit down in advance of the month budget. This was also when we had no money. We would do the budget and then during the month have a quick chat if WAM was needed. But then at the next budget meeting I lost track of what changes happened and hubby was confused. I now put changes in the notes but they are not always easy to follow. Not to start another hot topic but this is where printing the budget would be helpful. That’s what we used to do when we used DR gazelle budget (before Everydollar was created). Then it was easy to see that we planned on having $x for the budget but now it was $y. And if I needed more details I usually scribbled on the printout during the month. And it went into the binder. Not being able to print budget is a huge PITA. I probably would do the spreadsheet too if I could export the actual budget as it is shown in the software (sorry don’t mean to harp on this). 

      Like 1
    • MXMOM lol before our spreadsheet, we would write out the complete month picture on paper every month. It was the only way we could see all the categories without scrolling (useful for decision-making because I'm very oosoom). It also allowed us to ensure each paycheck was funding our needs appropriately. Things were so tight that every single month was different, and it was nice to see progress across the papers, whereas that progress was easily lost in YNAB. 

      Like 1
  • Move Light Sound Life said:
    this buffer better be pretty amazing, because it's eating up a huge chunk of our savings potential

    For other interested readers, the amount of savings required varies from case to case. It amounts to the sum of expenses incurred between your first check and the end of they month.

    MLSL, I will say your desire to know when multiple snowballed savings goals will be done won't be addressed by being buffered. You will probably still use your projection spreadsheet.

    Personally, I would simply compute that on the fly if I really needed to know. I mean if you're pumping in $400/month and you need $1200 more, you're obviously going to be done in 3 months. A secondary goal of $2400 will be done 6 months after that (or 9 months from now).

    Like 1
    • dakinemaui So you're saying forget about the buffer and just use my spreadsheet? 😋

      But I will push forward in an attempt to make a reasoned comparison.  My guess is that being buffered will save me approximately 5 minutes of work a month, based on not having to decide which numbers go for which paycheck in my spreadsheet.  Perhaps it will be nice to have a time buffer when our income changes? Though, that is a tad worrisome - what if we don't cut as much as we need to and instead wait until the following month? We shall see.

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      • MXMOM
      • MXMOM
      • 8 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      dakinemaui Move Light Sound Life we have a one paycheque “buffer” so we can budget the stuff that happens on the first of the month but we don’t get paid until the 6th. It was life changing especially coming from living in overdraft and having a calendar reminder set up to check that there was enough money in the bank for the mortgage payment. 

      Like 1
  • Move Light Sound Life said:
    this buffer better be pretty amazing, because it's eating up a huge chunk of our savings potential (and my husband is not sold).

    Huh? How so? Your buffer is savings and can even live in a savings account for the most part. I could understand if you said it was eating into your debt payoff. I personally waited until my debt was paid off before becoming buffered although some say it helped them justify even more funds for debt payoff.

    As far as a buffer being amazing, it's a convenience more than anything else. Instead of having to budget one income event at a time, you can now budget an entire month at once. It's just a more efficient way to budget.

    Like 2
    • Superbone 

      Superbone said:
      Your buffer is savings and can even live in a savings account

       As can any other money I'm not going to use for the month's cash-flow.  Don't say the above too loud, or my husband will be back to budgeting by account!  He was already talking about having to move money back to checking to facilitate this, but I think we're on the same page again!

      If we are going to make a rule to respect categories, then the buffer does not do the job of being ready for medical needs or income replacement or new windows or new car... Those are the savings goals that are having to wait their turn on the buffer. :)  One dollar can't do two jobs simultaneously.

      Like 1
  • Superbone said:
    As far as a buffer being amazing, it's a convenience more than anything else.

    For Move Light Sound Life I think this will be the case, as her spreadsheet provides significant clarity and big-picture outlook. (Personally I suspect she might eventually drop the spreadsheet, but time will tell. 😋)

    For other users, though, such a viewpoint likely will be amazing (and convenient).

    Like 2
  • Superbone said:
    I could understand if you said it was eating into your debt payoff.

    Once I could ride the CC float (interest-free), I prioritized the buffer. Then returned to debt reduction after I was fully buffered.

    One of the initial amazing benefits was being able to stock up on groceries early in the month (having a full month's amount at my discretion).

    Like 2
    • dakinemaui 

      dakinemaui said:
      stock up on groceries early in the month

       That's what WordTenor said!  We have ended up buying in bulk (both household and groceries) every 3-4 months, which requires a different savings category than normal weekly groceries.  Other than that, there's enough room in the budget to buy fresh and catch the sales (for example, meat), to then prepare and freeze for later. It balances out without going negative.  Maybe that's just something my mom taught me about running the household - try to time things so you don't run out of everything at once.  That way, you can take advantage of buying for the value.  Our large bulk purchases are completely foreign to her!

      Like
  • I use the target savings goal for forecasting.  I keep a category grouping called "Saved Up Expenses" with future expenses that I need to save up for each month. I have a "Property Tax" category I set up a Target Balance goal for $1500 for April 2020 and YNAB tells me I need to budget $375 each month be on track for that. This is only because I started this month so only have 4 months.  For the next installment, Oct 2020, I will have 6 months so I won't have to budget as much each month.  Here is also where I save up for "Auto Repairs" and "Home Maintenance" - as simple monthly savings goals.   

    Like 1
  • I've been using YNAB since 2016 along with a spreadsheet for "forecasting".  I have the same categories in both and I reconcile the spreadsheet every month to match YNAB.  I keep an eye on the average spending and adjust accordingly to the future.  My husband and I are both salaried and so its easy go forecast a year in advance using the spreadsheet.  I use it because we are saving up to buy a home and to plan out future vacations, family visits and we can take into account summer childcare expenses and holiday expenses ahead of time.    I'd like to see potential future budget vs actual spent and have YNAB make suggestions to adjust.  For example, I always budget $200 for going out to eat, but the actual average of going out to eat is $300, so maybe it can make that suggestion?  Or if it can know that you spend more on electricity in the winter vs summer (vice versa if you live in the south)  and it can  make suggestions based on past spending to adjust for the upcoming months -- but for now, I just use my forecasting spreadsheet.

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      • Annieland
      • YNABbing every day since 2009!
      • Annieland
      • 8 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Aquamarine Mixer I do exactly what you do with YNAB and a forecast spreadsheet on the side, mostly to gauge the viability of a large expense 8-12 months out.  It's super helpful.

      Don't forget the YNAB inspector does show average budgeted and average spent for each category.  I think facing up to the fact that you're more likely to spend $300 than $200 on dining out is on you :).  I've had to do it many times.  I just do my best to overestimate in the spreadsheet, even if I'm underestimating in YNAB.

      Now, YNAB4 used to have the coolest thing where it would tell you how much you spent on a category that month the previous year.  When I couldn't afford to evenly budget for utilities that was so helpful to gauge what my upcoming expenses might be without digging through records.  I put in the feature request forever ago, and I guess no one else was interested in it either.  So I get what you're saying, that extra bit of guidance based on expenditures beyond a mere 12 month average would be nifty.

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