Monthly set budgets have suddenly disappeared
Hi— When we set up YNAB we entered our set monthly budgets for things like the mortgage or mobile phone charges, which do not change month to month. This month, most of those categories are shown appear as "budgeted $0.00".
What's more perplexing is that our mobile phone charges, which was paid in full last week is showing 'available' funds, although it should be $0.00.
Does YNAB not use set budgets? Why would some show available funds if we've used up that set budget?
You have to budget every month. There are no set budgets. You can set goals and enter recurring transactions and then use the quick budget feature which will account for this. I recommend you attend one of the free YNAB classes as this is a fundamental part of using YNAB which you do not understand correctly.
Orchid Mill said:
For instance, we'd like to track how much we've spent for 'video games' in a given month against the maximum we want to spend for 'video games'
In order to do this you must first budget aka allocate some of the money you have in your accounts to buying video games. If you want to set the same amount every month, you can set a funding goal and then select all categories and then quick budget.
I suggested a class because I find that a lot of the written material on here can be overwhelming. Because you don't know what you don't know so its hard to find an answer. The classes are the quickest (laziest) way to figure this out. And they are FREE.
YNAB uses a very different philosophy to budgeting than you are familiar with. And to quote a radio commercial I hear every day "If you could do it yourself, you would have done it already".
Orchid Mill said:
I believe that well-designed software should be learnable without formal training.
Spoken like a software designer (kidding you!). I am an accountant and YNAB does not function in any way that I would expect money software to work. There are no debits and credits. So I would recommend you first read the 4 rules. Because as others have said, YNAB is a philosophy first. The software is a tool. Let's say you design software for air traffic controllers. The software can be easy and intuitive but if I don't understand that the point is to keep the planes away from each other while simultaneously keeping all the planes moving, the usability of the software is irrelevant.
I will lay it out here.
You start with a pile of money. This is all the money you have in all the accounts anywhere (at the beginning most people leave out the investment accounts for simplicity). (In YNAB we don't care if the money is in a saving account or a chequing account. The money and the budget are 2 separate entities.)
Question - what are you going to use this money for? This is the budget. And although every month can be very similar, every month is not exactly the same.
If you are
lazyefficient like me, you will have entered all the recurring transactions in their respective accounts. For things that don't have a specific recurring amount but are probably) the same every single month (like groceries), I use a funding goal. Lets stop there with the goals for now.
Once you have that done, you can quick budget everything. This is where I like to work on the web app because you just click the selection box and all categories are selected. Then on the right is a quick budget option. Select that. Ta Da. Budget done (sort of). You can do it on the mobile app by clicking the lightning bolt but I don't like doing it that way. Less control.
At this point the amount in To Be Budgeted (TBB) will be either red or green.
I'll start with red (because that is where mine usually is.. That means I have to reduce the amount budgeted to one of the categories. And keep doing this until TBB is $0. You are done.
If the TBB is green, well here you have some choices. Are there categories you haven't set up with goals/recurring transactions? Maybe you realize this month is my birthday and you want to send me a gift (you shouldn't have). maybe you have a monthly budget amount of $30 for gifts and there is $20 left over from last month. You have $50 available. But you want to get me a $100 Starbucks card. You can change the budget to $80 and then you have $100 to spend. Maybe everything is already covered. Great, now we can get a month ahead. There are a couple of ways to do this but what I do is I have a month ahead category and I drop the amount left in TBB there. Then next month I zero out that category back to TBB to have my money to budget.
I will just say (as someone who tried YNAB and gave up years ago before giving it another try), if you don't get your head around these basic concepts and stop trying to force YNAB to be what you want it be, then you will struggle and end up hating YNAB and quitting because there are a whole bunch of other unique features of YNAB not even touched on here in this post. And if you want a recurring "every month the same" budget to keep track of spending, I would say that Excel will do that better than YNAB. But if you want a tool that will help change your financial life, than YNAB is the way to go. But you have to do the work.
Orchid Mill said:
While I very much appreciate that YNAB is a distinct methodology, as a software designer myself, I believe that well-designed software should be learnable without formal training.
This is an impossible standard. The problem is that people start using the software while bringing in their own expectations, and you just can't defeat those with software alone. If you don't understand the method, you won't be able to use the software effectively. And the method requires education and a bit of mental retraining.
While one can cut down a tree with a chainsaw, it works far more efficiently if you start it first and use it properly. Without instruction, you're going to have a rough go of it.
There's just too much information to put it directly on the user interface, and once you learn it, you wouldn't want it there either cluttering up the screen. So that information goes on the web pages. They work in concert.