What's the best way to set up a monthly allowance for a given category?

For example, I wish to create a category for dining. I want to set it up such that each month I can spend up to $50 on dining out. Any remaining, unspent money will roll over to the next month and count towards the target goal (e.g. $13 remaining this month means I only need $37 more to reach the goal next month).

I've watched YNAB tutorials and thought "Needed For Spending" seemed most appropriate for this use case. However, after setting it up (with an arbitrarily set 1st of every month deadline) I noticed when flipping over to view the next month's budget the category is orange. It effectively ignores the $50 budgeted from the current month and expects an additional $50 to be budgeted despite no transactions logged for that category. Essentially, it seems to treat it like a "Monthly Savings Builder" category rather than a "Needed For Spending".

Am I going about this incorrectly? Do the categories recognize the rollover amounts only when the new month arrives? Any help or clarification is most appreciated!

TLDR: How can I set up a category's spending target that allows rollover money to count towards next month's goal?

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    • I would use a savings builder target instead. 

      At the end of the month, sweep the excess wherever you would have put the excess in the next month's budget. 

      Same net effect, more reliable, cleaner, and I don't have to wait on the calendar to budget. 

      Like 1
      • Debt Free Take 2
      • Divorced at 57, starting again
      • debt_free_take_2
      • 3 wk ago
      • Reported - view

      Move Light Sound Life I am planning my categories now and have several that I want to use the 'rollover' concept; for example, I want Medical to be funded for $500 to cover the month when I go to the doctor and buy supplements.  Please explain in YNAB language (for beginners) how to set that up.  If I use Savings builder target, what date do I give it?  What is "sweep the excess"?  Is this a manual process for each category?   Is there a video or document that shows me how to 'automate' if this is what I want to happen:  $500 budgeted to Medical for  Aug MINUS $50 spent = $450 to carry over to Medical in Sept PLUS $50 assigned from 'to be assigned' = $500 assigned for September.

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    • Debt Free Take 2 Sweeping is a manual prices. Basically, in the web, on day 1 of the month, you go in to the previous month, select all the categories you want to *not* have money carry over, and select the quick budgeting option of "Available to 0" (or whatever the exact term is). (For example, Wednesday is the first day of September. You'd go in and sweep August leftovers then.)

      You can actually do the sweeping once you're certain you won't need to spend from that category again during the month, but that's more chancy.

      Sweeping allows you to use the monthly savings targets before the first of the month and not have to work about adjusting amounts down.

       

      People who've been doing the sweeping thing longer may have different/additional advice on timing, or how to do it on mobile.

      Like 1
  • While the indirect variables of cash overspending (less in next month's RTA), credit overspending (increase of CC debt/loss of PIF status), overbudgeting (negative RTA in future-most budgeted month), positive category available rollover (carried over), negative category reset (category available back to $0), and Assigned's and Activity's essential functionally (to show their respective changes to the budget category within a certain month), savings targets (underfunded)... this is turning into a list.

    Anyways, while all of those things calculate immediately in YNAB, Spending Targets are the only thing to wait until the calendar turns over in real time. 

    Supposedly, YNAB thought it would be less confusing this way. Yours is at least the 16th post in the last nine months to bring this up. 

    It usually comes up in the last half of the month, as people look ahead to do the next month's budget. 

    There's a feature request form on the forum if you'd like to add your voice to consistency.

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  • Yup, this entire reply pretty much sums it all up. A little disappointing given both the Savings Builder and Needed For seem to have similar drawbacks.

    I've been on the "Savings Builder "Savings Balance" train for this use case a while, but I've found I'm funding categories that had already reached their target and only appeared underfunded due to same-month transactions.

    Ah well, I'll definitely add to the feature request form.

    Thanks for the super quick reply and detailed insight, nonetheless.

    EDIT: Wrong target type referenced

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  • Atrie said:
    I've been on the "Savings Builder" train for this use case a while, but I've found I'm funding categories that had already reached their target and only appeared underfunded due to same-month transactions.

     That's odd. Savings Builder targets only look at the Assigned column and shouldn't take into account activity, period. At least, that was my understanding. 

    I've been keeping my template in the future month and using budgeted last month to advance it for a while, though, so the goal behavior may have changed?

     

    Atrie said:
    Thanks for the super quick reply and detailed insight, nonetheless.

     Haha, you're welcome. I should probably get off my screen for the day...

    Like 1
  • Move Light Sound Life said:
    That's odd. Savings Builder targets only look at the Assigned column and shouldn't take into account activity, period. At least, that was my understanding. 

     Whoops, that's actually on me. This behavior is with "Savings Balance", not "Monthly Savings Builder" haha.  

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  • Move Light Sound Life said:
    Supposedly, YNAB thought it would be less confusing this way. Yours is at least the 16th post in the last nine months to bring this up. 

     I think it would be confusing either way. If they changed it so that it counted roll-over funds before the end of the month, you'd get a bunch of people confused that when the month rolls over their Needed for Spending categories are underfunded. Why? Because they had spending in the previous month after they funded this current month.

    I'm not sure what the solution is really. I've asked for maybe a checkbox for a category that allows you to tell YNAB that spending is done for this category for this month. But people would still be confused. The fact is that a target that accounts for the roll-over from the previous month is relatively complicated. It cannot be accurate until the previous month is completed and so people will be seeing something unexpected either looking forward or once the month rolls over.

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      • MadDog
      • Navy_Blue_Pegasus.2
      • 3 wk ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      DexterCat But in my mind, it is easier to explain that you might be short because you had additional transactions in the previous month AFTER you budgeted in the next month rather than, it doesn't yet calculate what you need until the month rollsover. My expectation is that it will continually adjust as transactions are made rather than be static which seems to create more confusion with people. 

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