Budgeting with Social Security

I am running into an issue that I hope someone can help My husband and I are both on SS. I get paid the 2nd Wed of each month and he gets his check deposited  the last Wed of the month. I am trying to assign money to groceries of $200 each pay but our income doesn't happen on a specific date of the month. Do I have to simply assign $400 monthly or is there a way to assign every two weeks and have it fully funded? Very new here and find very confusing. Thank you in advance~Mary

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  • Assigning money doesn't happen automatically; you have to assign the money yourself (either by the auto-assign method or manually). You can assign money as frequently as you'd like and/or have income.

    I know one thing some people on SS do, if they have the cushion to do so, is set up a scheduled transaction for the last date possible for their check to come in. So for instance, your check would come in no later than the 14th of the month (I think?), so set up a repeating scheduled transaction for your check on that date, then assign the money on the 14th. Similarly, his check would be no later than the 28th (unless it really is the last Wednesday, even in months with 5th Wednesdays?), so set up a scheduled transaction for his on the 28th. If you don't have the cushion to go a few days with the money sitting in your account but not assigned, this doesn't work as well.

    One thing you might consider trying to do is to build up a "buffer." There's a really great thread about how to do that and what the pros/cons are, but basically, you save up enough money so that you can budget the full month on the 1st using money already in your account, and then save the money that comes in during the month to be budgeted the following month, etc. That way, you can just assign the full $400 at the beginning of the month for groceries, and are not tied to assigning $200 per deposit day and having to wait for the money to come in.

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    • Fuzzball Meows That is a fantastic idea! Yes, I do have savings that i would be able to do that with. If I understand correctly I then would always be a month ahead and then with the actuals pays could put back in my savings?

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    • Cornflower Blue Sidewinder Yes! Search "Trying Out The YNAB Buffer" on here for complete steps, techniques, and exhaustive details. 🤣

      The instructions are in the first or second comment, btw.

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    • Move Light Sound Life Thank you! I will certainly look that up!

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  • Cornflower Blue Sidewinder said:
    is there a way to assign every two weeks and have it fully funded?

     It sounds like you have a Target of $400 set up on your grocery category, and all of the Targets are monthly. So no, it will not show "fully funded" (green) until you've assigned the full $400 to the category. As Fuzzball Meows points out, it streamlines things a lot if you can get to a place where you can fund all your categories at the beginning of the month, but I also like to remind new people that it's OKAY for the category to be yellow for a while until you get your next round of income - it's just a reminder that you haven't fulfilled that target yet.

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  • Vibrant said:
    remind new people that it's OKAY for the category to be yellow

     Useful reminder to everyone - it's OKAY for the category to be yellow. It can mean you didn't fully fund it yet, or you funded it and then moved the money elsewhere when something was more important, or you just don't have the funds based on your priorities right now - all of which are okay.

    The only problem color is RED, which means you've spent more money in a category than you had, and your budget is not correct until you've fixed that overspending. Until you do, you have dollars who are doing double-duty (two jobs - the one you spent them on, and the category they're living in currently).

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    • Fuzzball Meows The Toolkit option to make all negative categories - even overspent on credit - red is quite helpful here. 

      Then the only yellow categories are underfunded for goals/upcoming transactions.

      Of course, you can also use the Toolkit option to make those categories blue instead, so the only yellow category is if my credit card is not displaying PIF status. 

      And if that's just too much green/blue to get lost in, you can make the green numbers show green font on no bubble.

      I much prefer looking at a budget of blues, greens, and greys. Then the occasional red/yellow actually means something useful. 

      There's also an option to customize the bubble colors now, but it unfortunately uses the stock color logic. Meh.

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    • Move Light Sound Life Thank you for your suggestion. Although I am not sure how to get the Toolkit option. I use MacBook Air running Safari. Is it possible to use this with the browser I am using?

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    • Cornflower Blue Sidewinder It's for the web app only, as a 3rd party extension on Chrome or Firefox. 

      I don't know much about recent iPads, sorry.

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    • Move Light Sound Life Bah. You're right. It's been a while since I overspent on credit using the computer where I don't have the toolkit, apparently.

      So I guess it's.... yellow bubbles without the credit card overspent icon are okay to be yellow.

       

      YNAB question.... why is not all overspending red? Red with credit card icon would indicate taking on debt same as yellow, but red makes me pay attention more as something that needs fixing.

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      • DexterCat
      • DexterCat
      • 4 wk ago
      • Reported - view

      Cornflower Blue Sidewinder YNAB Toolkit is available for Chrome on Mac and I think Firefox, but not Safari.

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    • DexterCat Thank you, I just switched to Firefox and downloaded the tool kit. Now to figure the options out :)

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  • Cornflower Blue Sidewinder Here's another vote for becoming Buffered. If you have savings/can save over time such that all money received in August will be budgeted in September, it really helps. 

    Until then, another trick is to put the per-paycheck amount in each category's name for reference. On the first pay of the month, type +200 (even if you had to move money already in the month, that will add $200 new to the category), continuing down the list. On the second pay, use the underfunded button in the auto-assign-->manual menu to complete the monthly goal* with minimal clicks.

    *I just realized you'll need to double check any targets act as you expect, because if you move money around before the last pay, it won't give you the number you want. 

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  • Hi Cornflower Blue Sidewinder   Sounds like lots of good ideas here re: buffers and targets - I defiinitely recommend some of the resources recommended. 

    Another thing I find helps here - and I spent the two years or so on a low and unreliable income - is to use Rule One: Give every dollar a job.      That means when money comes in, ask the primary question "What does this money need to do until I'm paid again/the next SS cheque?"   This makes it quite simple - oh I'll need some extra in groceries and I might want to need to get some more dog food or similar.

    For various reasons, I didn't prioritise getting a month ahead, but having some extra in some key regular expenses and bills lines definitely helped me sleep better at night!

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    • Yes I can Thank you! That makes sense to me also. I am still learning this new way of budgeting and feel like I am simply treading water. Every now and then I think...I got it! Then something else comes along and has me wondering if I am doing it correctly.  Love all the suggestions I have been given here. Hopefully, soon I will swim instead of tread ;)

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      • Yes I can
      • yesican2020
      • 4 wk ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      Cornflower Blue Sidewinder yes.  Some months or days you will feel like you're making progress and then life happens....  I sometimes think the universe is messing with me to check if I'm serious. But it gets easier (and harder and then easier again)

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  • Fuzzball Meows said:
    YNAB question.... why is not all overspending red? Red with credit card icon would indicate taking on debt same as yellow, but red makes me pay attention more as something that needs fixing.

    This is a really good question - I believe the reasoning here is that red only represents cash that is gone from the budget completely. Since credit overspend doesn't represent cash that's left the budget (yet), it's represented differently than cash overspending.

    Said another way, yellow represents underfunded-ness in its various forms and is considered less urgent than cash that's actually gone. That said, the urgency of credit overspending could certainly be argued either way! There's a bit more on this here, too.

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  • Cornflower Blue Sidewinder Welcome to YNAB! All of the advice you've been given here is absolutely excellent. I find this budget template HelpDoc comes in handy for understanding targets vs. assignments, and how to get into a good workflow. 

    Let us know how it's going! 

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