Summarizing categories and getting to zero


So, I'm a long time Mvelopes user (lifetime membership) but their disastrous roll out of the Beta version before it was ready among other things have sent me scurrying off to find something I can trust a little better.

Only been using YNAB for a week now, and  am testing it side by side with my old Mvelopes account, making sure I know what I'm doing before making the switch official.  I'm thinking I like this well enough that I will make it permanent, but since I haven't rolled over to a new month yet, I'm curious to see how it will all work. 

Fortunately, February is bonus month, and March is when I get 3 paychecks (I'm paid bi-weekly) so if there are any snags, that should help me keep going.  I really like this app so far.  It's a little different but if I think of budget categories as envelopes, it kinda makes sense.  My wife and I were looking at some of the intro blog posts and videos and she's excited about giving it a try also.

I guess My main question is how planning for the new month works.  With Mvelopes, I could see on the Budgeting page all the expected income, then a list of all the categories, and how much I planned to budget for that month, and at the bottom, a summation of the income and outgo, and it was supposed to add up to zero.

But with YNAB, I don't see how to see what the "expected" amount to budget is, until you actually budget it, and you can't actually budget it until you have the money for that month.  So I'm wondering if I'm missing something, or if there IS a way to see what you'll be budgeting before the money is there.

I don't know if this makes sense.  I can see each category, and what the goal is, but I can't see a summary of what the total would be, if I used the goal for every category, or how making adjustments to the goals would affect the budget summing up to zero by the end of the month.

Thanks for any help you might be able to offer.
Sorry this was so long.

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  • Welcome to YNAB! 

    One simple way to plan ahead without budgeting non-existent money is to set a goal for each category. When the whole budget is selected you can look at the window on the right and see how much it will take to fund all those categories. 

    If you know your monthly income, you’ll know whether you can cover it. 

    Reply Like 1
      • Bruce
      • Software Engineer
      • Bruce
      • 2 wk ago
      • Reported - view

      Relieved thanks. I'll see how that works tomorrow, when the new month rolls around. Does it just take the average amount needed, if you have some goals based on time? Like I want $x by May? Divides the amount by 4 and makes that the expected payment for the month  on those categories?  

      Reply Like
  • You can set three kinds of goals: a set amount to add each month, a set amount by a date (yes, it will do the math), and a set amount to bring the category to each month. 

    As you get more data, the window on the right can also tell you the average amount spent or the amount you budgeted last month for the selected category, etc. I like being able to average my utilities and gas. 

    Just in case you make a mistake, control z is your undo friend if you don’t close the window or update the page. (I once clicked lightning budget for grins and it was a big oops. )

    Reply Like
  • It's true you only allocate (budget) funds after you receive them, since this yields balances you can trust for spending guidance. However, you certainly should have a plan before that to guide those allocations. This is commonly known as a Budget Template.

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      • Bruce
      • Software Engineer
      • Bruce
      • 2 wk ago
      • Reported - view

      dakinemaui thanks. I have set up goals and several recurring transactions. The one thing I noticed is that goals that are date driven don't seem to be included in the total when you  select all the categories. So I'm still not seeming  to get a completely accurate total. 

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      • WordTenor
      • Your lieutenant, when there's reckoning to be reckoned.
      • WordTenor
      • 2 wk ago
      • Reported - view

      Bruce The date goal would show you what you need this month. Is that not what you see?

      for example, if you need $3000 by April in category A, and $500 by June in category B, when you select categories A and B, you should see an underfunded of $1100. 

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      • Bruce
      • Software Engineer
      • Bruce
      • 12 days ago
      • Reported - view

      WordTenor Yes, I believe you're right. I think I may have misread the goal. It appears that the non date goals don't suggest any amount to budget. You just have to come up with something, or leave it until next month. Which I guess makes sense. There's no calculation that can be done if the computer doesn't know when you want the money by.   

      Reply Like
      • Ben K.
      • links to ynab book topics covered online: https://support.youneedabudget.com/r/q5w48j
      • Khaki_Storm.1
      • 12 days ago
      • Reported - view

      Bruce yep,  have to have a date for the goal or a monthly target,  just a goal does do much. 

      Reply Like
    • Ben K.
    • links to ynab book topics covered online: https://support.youneedabudget.com/r/q5w48j
    • Khaki_Storm.1
    • 2 wk ago
    • 4
    • Reported - view

    Hello! I never switched to Mvelopes, I was still on the desktop Crown Money Map Financial Software (aka 2007) until 2 months ago. YNAB is different. It might be better for you to experience this yourself, but I only delayed my learning on YNAB by trying to hold onto the Crown way of budgeting. You can do what you're asking.  I found a way to do it, however it caused problems on the budget side. Here's what I've ended up at: I set a monthly goal for each category based on my annual budget. Then when I'm paid, I go to the budget and use the first quick budget option called Underfunded. This seems to spread all the money around according to my goals to the point where my budget might go red. Then I have to decide which one of my goals to fund less than planned. If the budget says green, then I spread that money around until I'm at a zero green balance. I found this works with the monthly category goal and the category balance by date, but not the category balance only. 

    Reply Like 4
      • Bruce
      • Software Engineer
      • Bruce
      • 12 days ago
      • Reported - view

      Ben K.  yes, I just noticed that about the category balance too. I'm trying to decide if it makes it better or worse. I guess if there's not enough in the budget to put in then it will wait until next month. If there's extra available you can decide how much to put in the category.   

      Reply Like
    • Ben K.
    • links to ynab book topics covered online: https://support.youneedabudget.com/r/q5w48j
    • Khaki_Storm.1
    • 2 wk ago
    • 2
    • Reported - view

    Bruce, also this guide helped me understand more of YNAB. It was written for those transitioning from the desktop YNAB to the could version. https://www.youneedabudget.com/guides/transition-guide/

    Reply Like 2
  • Hi Bruce, I'm in the same exact situation.  I started a thread called Transitioning from Mvelopes last night to try to put all in one place the questions I have, in hopes that it might help others like us :)   

    Given that it was so close to the beginning of the year, I decided to pull in transactions since Jan 1st and start with my bank and credit card balances as of those dates - with my Mvelopes instance on a separate screen so I could make sure everything matched.  That actually went pretty well.  

    Like you, I'm a bit stumped by the planning aspect but am taking several suggestions I've found and seeing how they work, now that I'm at the beginning of Feb.  One of those was to put a due date in the category name.  Another was to also put my funding plan in the category name.  For example:  "Mortgage due 15th $1500" or "Eating in $150/wk ($600/mo)"  That way I could see what I need to fund/budget from each paycheck. 

    One reason I put a monthly amount on there is that I want to track what I was planning vs what I actually spent.  If I don't see where I'm consistently under or over what I meant to spend, I'm not sure how I'll more clearly see when I'm off-track looking back at the prior month.

    I'm also wrestling with the choice of setting monthly goals vs setting up recurring transactions.  I have everything but credit card payments set up as automatic payments.  In YNAB, I set up those autopays as recurring transactions for everything that came through in January (things like mortgage and monthly giving that are fixed amounts) and then goals for the rest of my budget categories (envelopes).  And now there sure are a lot of pending transactions at the beginning of the register!

    P.S. I was an Mvelopes user from Nov 2010, holding out for the promise of vast improvement in v5.  Instead, it was even worse in terms of layout.  That was my last straw, so here I am.  I'm working on getting my data out now but have only been able to pull calendar 2018 myself.  Super frustrating :(

    Reply Like
      • Bruce
      • Software Engineer
      • Bruce
      • 8 days ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Just Joan Yeah, I've done the monthly bills like that, with the date, but haven't put the dollar amount in them yet.  But that's a good point, how do you see a comparison of what you thought your budget should be vs what it actually ended up being?  

      I had the same reason for coming here.  I was really excited when I heard the Beta was coming, and I got in as a beta tester.  somewhat underwhelmed, but then when they had hardly fixed anything (and I put in a TON of bug reports) and decided to roll it out to everybody, I was like, "no thanks" and ran for the hills.

      I have a ton of transactions at the top of my register too.  You CAN hide them in the filter, if you don't want to see them.  I haven't done that yet, because I'm still tweaking things, but I think once I get things settled, I may just hide them.  It's easy enough to filter them back in, if you want to see again.

      Reply Like 1
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