Using Goals - I think about it differently. Is that ok???

So I've used YNAB for years but never really got into goals. However, with the 2 new ones I thought I'd give it a try this year. I have a lot of past budget data so I know pretty much what my grocery bill, as an example, will be on average every month and the total that I'll spend for the year.  When I watched videos it appeared that most people budgeted groceries with a Month goal under Plan Your Spending.

However, I think it would work better for me as a 'By Date' goal under Plan Your Spending. This is because I know the usual annual total and the average but some months I spend less than the ave., others more than and still others almost exactly that amount.

For example, if your total is $1200 for the last few years (to make it easy) instead of using $100 monthly I'd rather put in $1200 by 12/31/2020 so that I could spend $50 one month and $150 in another.

Just wondered what everyone's thoughts were about this and if anyone else has done it this way.  I'm really trying to get a better handle on my true expenses this way.

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  • It's fun to read the forums when somebody comes up with a new way of using YNAB! I like your idea and will try it myself.

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      • casner
      • Now retired, and figuring out transitions
      • casner
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Now if the team at YNAB would just finish the feature of making that kind of goals have automatic rollover at years' end...

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    • casner Thanks for the encouragement.  I think if they don't make that change I'd just trick YNAB a little at the end of the year if I have any left over and move the extra back to the To Be Budgeted and edit the goal to match what my spending actually was for the year and then restart the goal at that lower number or change it back to the higher number that I started with in 2020 or higher overall if I spent more in 2020 than originally planned (not what you want of course but it happens) when I move to Jan 1st of the next year.

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  • I dislike the variable impact such a goal would have on the rest of my budget. I'd rather consistently put $X into Groceries each month. If I spend less than average and carryover an excess, great. When I spend more than average, that excess will naturally be consumed.

    I also think the application of the Spend By goal is often contrary to the methodology of Rule 3, which directs money should flow toward higher priority categories. In the case of overspending, I've clearly demonstrated that category is important, and yet the following month the goal unilaterally reduces funding?? My take is the least important category in the entire budget should be reduced. If that happens to be the same category as was overspent, then so be it; but the odds of that in my budget are very slim indeed.

    The only place I think Spend By has a well-defined use-case is for buying airline tickets in advance of a vacation or Christmas presents in July, etc.

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