future transactions and working balance

In the older version of YNAB when I entered a transaction that would not come out of my bank account for a couple of weeks it was taken off or accounted for in my working balance.  The new version, this does not seem to be the case.  For example, if I have a balance of $100 on January 3 and enter a transaction that I know is coming out of my bank on Jan 20 of $20, why does my working balance not change?

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  • YNAB does not include future dated transactions as part of the register. They are instead one-time scheduled transactions that will get added to your register on the transaction date.

    Personally, I'm not a fan of this functionality. I assume the primary reasoning behind this is so that people cannot enter future income and budget/spend it.Of course, like with anything else there are hacks to work around that sort of limitation, and so it doesn't make much sense to enforce it.

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    • nolesrule thanks for the reply!  That is what I figured. I would rather see them not allow you to do this with income but allow it for future expenses?!

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  • Hi Tomato Router !

    YNAB focuses less on those future amounts in your register and focuses more on how they affect your budget. When you enter a future dated transaction and categorize it, YNAB takes that spending into account in your budget. The category Available amount will turn yellow if you don't have enough funds budgeted to cover that upcoming transaction. 

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      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 2 yrs ago
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      Faness at YNAB Three words: cash flow management

      Unless you have exactly one on-budget cash-based account, you still need to be able to manage future account cash flow.

      I've said it before... I did the math and having to keep more money in my checking account to avoid the cash management issues caused by this would cost me more money in lost interest than an annual YNAB subscription.

      So I choose to stick with YNAB4 while easily managing my cash flows... which also allows me to keep that interest that could have paid for nYNAB.

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      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 2 yrs ago
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      Faness at YNAB Also, the category won't turn yellow if you have enough money in the category to cover the transaction.
       

      And then you go to make another purchase in that category and enter the second transaction. bam. Yellow. Now you don't have enough in the category. If you had known that before the second transaction, maybe you would have skipped the purchase.

      The category awareness should be there before you do the spending... without having to take the second step of looking at the inspector.

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    • nolesrule I agree!  May stick with Ynab4 as well. Doesn’t seem that hard to have all of the entered expenses (regardless of date) reflected in the available balance?  Otherwise, how the hell do you know how much money you “really” have left?

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    • nolesrule 

      Our How To Create a Budget Template blog post and the Create a Budget Template Workshop go over how to use scheduled transactions and goals to outline priorities. While that covers the budget part, you can still keep track of the account balance and activities. If you select the transactions in your account (scheduled transactions included), YNAB will tell you your account balance. If your scheduled transactions tip the scale into the red, the negative amount (how far into the red you'll be after those scheduled transactions) will be listed in the top right hand corner of your account. 

      Your category wouldn't be yellow if you have enough to cover the transaction - correct. However, if you make that transaction, your Available balance will update to tell you how much you have left. That would need to be checked before making transaction number two.
       

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      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 2 yrs ago
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      Faness at YNAB Scheduled transactions only give you the first instance of a particular transaction. That's all fine and dandy if all your scheduled transactions were to occur only one time in the period you are looking at. But that may not necessarily be the case.

      It seems that most of the recurring scheduled transaction guidance that YNAB provides is geared toward a recurrence period of one month or greater (or a single occurrence). Some of my transactions recur more frequently, so it's more difficult to get a pure future projected balance using that method.
       

      For example, in a checking account weekly or biweekly transactions aren't all that unheard of. For me, it's moving money into my children's savings accounts. For others it might be a transfer to a savings account that coincides with receiving payroll. Or buying I Bonds at TreasuryDirect.

      I also use a technique in YNAB4 that I learned which involves maintaining a zero final balance in my register for credit card accounts-- it helps me be aware of transactions entered by the Mrs. and also helps project future checking account balances by keeping the future credit card payment transfer up to date--  and that's difficult to maintain at a glance without the running balance.

      The ability to maintain awareness through the use of easy to see numbers without having to deep dive is a huge factor in account and cash flow management.

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    • nolesrule I see what you're getting at with those more frequent transactions. It's really a combination of all the different features YNAB has available (scheduling transactions, goals, account balances, etc.) that best allow for keeping track of everything that's going on in an account. I can see how the Running Balance column would be missed, but that information is still available (just no longer in column form) - feedback noted, though!

      That being said, I'm curious about the credit card technique you mentioned. It sounds like the workflow of the new YNAB (where the Available balance is updated by budgeted spending on the credit card). Is it something similar to that or are you simulating payments to keep your YNAB 4 balance in line?

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      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 2 yrs ago
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      Faness at YNAB It's the simulated payment. I keep the next payment in my register and it keeps the working balance of the CC account at zero. When my statement closes, it goes from simulated to real. If some of the charges haven't posted yet, i then adjust the payment amount, and pull the next instance of the CC payment into my register and use that to maintain the Zero working balance.

      I've been doing this for about 3 years now and it helps me maintain my cash flow awareness across accounts. My checking account cash flow needs the most awareness, because ultimately all spending gets pulled from there. But the question is when will that happen? And what will that do to my balance. And that ties into the issues with recurring expenses of a period less than one month.

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      • eloquentz
      • Numbers Wizard (Accountant), Acoustic Artist (Musician) and Jill of all Trades (Wife & Mother)
      • eloquentz
      • 2 yrs ago
      • Reported - view

      Faness at YNAB I personally finally clicked with how to use YNAB when I saw the post about creating a budget template.  We all come from a mindset of setting up a monthly budget and then hoping and fingers crossed that our income comes in as expected to cover all those upcoming expenses.  After using YNAB for 3 months, I found the post about the budget template and I used our average spending to create monthly funding goals. 

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    • nolesrule - I totally agree with you that it's tricky that YNAB doesn't visually distinguish between "green" categories that cover only scheduled spending and those that cover scheduled spending with some room to spare.

      However, regarding recurring transactions that are scheduled more frequently than monthly - these DO actually properly impact the "upcoming transactions" and "underfunded" elements in the right-hand panel. I didn't realize this at first, and thought like you that it only accounted for the "next" scheduled transaction, but I've been working with a few more frequent transactions lately (for example, a weekly Dr. copay) and was pleasantly surprised that YNAB does take into account that I need to budget for multiple of these in a month (and I see a list of all instances of the transaction that will occur this month when I click the "upcoming transactions" link).

      Just one helpful tidbit! :)

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      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 2 yrs ago
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      Resistant Punch Roller To be clear, I was referring to the account / cash flow impact of frequent recurring transactions, not the budget impact. Only the first occurrence appears in the scheduler, so you can't use the feature of selecting the scheduled transactions to determine a future working balance accurately.

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    • nolesrule That's an interesting process, but I see what you mean by keeping that account at zero (and why that definitely doesn't work with the checking account). In the new YNAB the Running Balance isn't available at a glance, but it does handle credit cards in a way that keeps those funds budgeted to pay the amount off in full - I think it's somewhere in the middle of what you've implemented between the two.

      eloquentz The Budget Template is a fairly new blog post and workshop, but it's definitely one of my favorites! It helps answer the question of how to think beyond just this month, with only this month in front of you and I love it! :)

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  • I agree that this "feature" needs to be re-thought for the web version.  I schedule out all of my payments for the month in the app so I know what is left to spend.  Isn't that the point of a budget?  👍

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      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 2 yrs ago
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      MarshalRogers Yeah, that's also an issue. What's the point of basing your spending decisions on category balances if your category balances don't reflect committed spending?

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      • eloquentz
      • Numbers Wizard (Accountant), Acoustic Artist (Musician) and Jill of all Trades (Wife & Mother)
      • eloquentz
      • 2 yrs ago
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      MarshalRogers The idea with YNAB is that you're trying to get a least a month ahead on your expenses (age of money 30+ days), so the spending you are doing this month is from money you received last month.  That way, it doesn't matter the income for this month because you are budgeting it for the next month.

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      • jenmas
      • jenmas
      • 2 yrs ago
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      eloquentz I don't think that's what MarshalRogers is saying. Example: On January 10 you have $50 in your Entertainment category. Your friend let's you know that your favorite band from high school is playing at a local venue on the 13th and tickets are $35. You look at your category and see that you have $50 so you buy the ticket and have a balance of $15. But wait! On January 22 you have the automatic debit of $10.99 for Netflix and on January 27 there is the Hulu debit of $7.99. That would put you in the hole $3.98 for the month. It doesn't matter if your AOM is 30 or 258, either way you are negative in your Entertainment category. Now if on January 1st you could add the 1/22 and 1/27 categories into your register and have them impact the category balance, when your friend called, you could look at your category balance and see that there is only $31.02 and make a decision to move budget categories around or not go.

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      • eloquentz
      • Numbers Wizard (Accountant), Acoustic Artist (Musician) and Jill of all Trades (Wife & Mother)
      • eloquentz
      • 2 yrs ago
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      jenmas What is wrong with moving the money as the transaction happens.  The "Roll with the punches" doesn't require a crystal ball to know all future transactions.  With your entertainment example, obviously that is something you can choose or not choose to do.  What if it was something like a baseball through your window?  You need to get that fixed and it wasn't planned and now you are negative in home maintenance.  Then you move money around to cover it.

      If the future transactions worked like you are suggesting, it would do the same with future income as well.

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      • jenmas
      • jenmas
      • 2 yrs ago
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      eloquentz The example I used was a minor one of $3.98. Some are not so minor. Absolutely you can rearrange things as needed as in your broken window example (though of course one would hope to eventually reach the point that this type of thing comes out of a well funded home repair category - a broken window specifically is unexpected but the need for home repairs is not ). But depending on your situation, having to come up with the extra on the 29th of the month is a lot harder than if it were on the 1st.

      Because I budget in a vacuum (I'm single so I'm the only one who has input), future dated transaction impacting budget categories is not as much of an issue for me but if you have multiple people making spending decisions based on a single budget it can get messy (also, to be 100% transparent I do not use nYNAB for my personal budget, only for my business budget with literally 4 transactions/month, because it creates extra, tedious, steps compared to YNAB 4). For many of the people who would like it, no one would care if the system prevented us from inputting future income, but for the money that is happily living in my account right now, cash flow management and category reallocation would be significantly easier if future transactions would impact the budget and account balances.

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    • To further clarify, this also applies to my pay checks.  

      The individual budget categories show the active balance as of the current date (no future transactions 👎) but the top "To Be Budgeted" shows as a negative number until each of the paychecks actually reaches the deposit date.  I COULD back date both paychecks to the first of each month but that feels wrong in a budgeting system this flexible.

      Why not change the program to show future transactions within the budget categories and against the overall "To Be Budgeted" number each month so we have a more accurate picture of the BUDGET we are trying to stick too???

      Maybe I am just going about this wrong and need to become assimilated onto the YNAB-borg.  👽

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      • HappyDance
      • YNABing consistently since 2014
      • HappyDance
      • 2 yrs ago
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      YNAB methodology is to stop budgeting when we run out of money. When the TBB is at zero, stop budgeting.  Don't live with a negative TBB. You will find that you spend differently if your category tells you that only $100 is available for food today, as opposed to the $300 you anticipate being able to spend by the end of the month after two more paycheques.

      A zero-based allocation budget liberated me from a miserable life of debt and paycheque to paycheque, and crisis to crisis. I think, in simplest terms, it finally stopped me from assuming I had lots of future money to bail me out of any overspending. An allocation budget told me the truth of how much I had today -- emphasis on today -- and that was a message I really didn't like. This caused me to pay attention to getting debt-free and setting aside savings because living at zero or beneath zero was just too constraining and stressful.  I am very passionate on allocation budgeting as a result of having clawed my way out of a mess and for staying out of a mess (I went through a 2-year unemployment and come out the other side without incurring any debt). I wouldn't go back to a forecasted budget for anything.

      But subtracting expenses already committed -- bill payments, auto-payments, outstanding cheques -- is a different discussion. I want this month's scheduled expenditures to show in my account register and in the budget categories, so that I don't accidentally spend the committed funds on something else or overdraft my account.

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      • jenmas
      • jenmas
      • 2 yrs ago
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      Michele Exactly, once you get to 0 stop what you are doing. Though I find it generally acceptable to have a negative TBB in a future month. My February is fully budgeted with a negative TBB but that's because I'll have funds for all of Feb by January 22.

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    • Michele I see the potential benefits to zero-based allocation budgeting.  I will have to consider that move.  

       

      I also agree with you that expenses should be subtracted from the categories when committed (entered) and not when "cleared" so I have a good view of the amount left to be utilized that month.  If I allocate $300 to my entertainment budget and then want to record that I am spending $50 on streaming services I want the balance to be $250 NOW so I don't have the option of overspending!

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      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 2 yrs ago
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      The decision to overspend should be intentional. It should not be a by-product of the software obfuscating future commited spending within a category.

      In jenmas example with the concert ticket, the decision is based on the category balance. But it's not known until the concert ticket has been purchased and the transaction entered that the category will end up being overspent based on upcoming scheduled transactions (when the category goes yellow).  If the category had properly reflected the future spending, the decision regarding the concert ticket may have had a different outcome.... i.e. maybe it would have been decided not to buy the ticket at all.

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  • I have started putting these transactions in the current day (to reflect a correct balance) with the “real” date they are to come out in the memo (which shows on the ledger). I will then change the date when it arrives and delete the memo. A little more work but I only have a few of these per month. 

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  • My issue with this future recurring transaction remaining buried in the scheduler is two-fold:

    1.  my recurring monthly bill amounts vary and change. If I change it in the scheduler, the new amount then applies to all the future bills. I prefer to use an amount that is 10% higher than the largest bill I've ever received on recurring transactions. I really don't want the recurring transaction to be revised to this month's bill.
    2. I use the flag colour to identify the status of a bill. In YNAB4, I would enter it in the register at the beginning of the month with a yellow flag. After the statement posted, I would then revise the amount (affecting only this month's entry), schedule the payment in my bank's bill-pay, and change the flag to green. I don't want to change the flag on future recurring transactions in the scheduler to green because it will then be green for next month's before I've confirmed the amount owing or scheduled the payment.

    The solution I am currently trialing is to date all my recurring scheduled payments for the first of the month. That means they all populate the register on the 1st, peeling off from the recurring transaction so I can revise the details without affecting future transactions. Yellow still means 'unconfirmed and not entered in bill-pay'. The higher than average amount is still in the future transactions. After I receive this month's statement, I can revise the entry on this month's transaction only (doesn't affect future entries), change the flag colour to green ('confirmed') and revise the date. With the actual date of payment entered, the entry does slip back into the scheduler making the category look as though the entire balance is available to spend, which still bugs me right now.  But I was far more concerned with confirming amounts owing and being able to recognize at a glance that the payment had been confirmed and scheduled in my bank's system. I  think I can live with and get used to this methodology.  I'm giving it a three-month trial.

    Like 1
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 2 yrs ago
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      Michele The fact that one has to futz with dates makes it a show stopper for me. Too much extra work. People have been recommending the "first of the month" thing for 2 years now, but that creates its own set of problem... like breaking the fake future balance solution recommended by YNAB, among others which I am blanking on since I haven't had my coffee this morning.

      I just don't understand why YNAB thinks forcing workaround after workaround is okay. There's a point where the workarounds become overly tedious, and I think it's well past that point.

      If they want to keep future transactions out of the register, then they need to introduce a solution that:

      1) solves a way to split off the next recurrence of a transaction without changing dates
      2) provide a way to monitor cash flow within accounts

      Take a look at MS Money sunset edition to see how they do the latter. Their entire transaction scheduling module is separate from the accounts, and it provides a future register with running balances, and account balance over time graphs.

      Like 4
      • HappyDance
      • YNABing consistently since 2014
      • HappyDance
      • 2 yrs ago
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      nolesrule 

      Sometimes change is like a small rock in your shoe, and despite what we try to get used to, it just doesn't get any easier to stand on a rock over time. It's still a rock, and it still hurts.  I'm hoping that this Day 1 methodology becomes my new normal and not an annoying little rock I could have tapped out of my shoe months earlier.

      I can honestly see it working for me. I'm a single and don't have to worry about a spouse making spending decisions on the same categories without the clarity of committed upcoming transactions.  I know your situation is different.

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  • OK so I know this is very unYNAB, but there is an easy fix to this problem:

    Open a separate checking account for all your fixed expenses that you can predict in advance.  That Netflix bill and your bi-weekly kids' allowance and your every 6 months insurance payment. All of your future scheduled transactions go in there and you know exactly how much money goes into it every month. You have a master category in your budget called Fixed Expenses. Its "Available" amount will always match the bank balance in your Fixed Checking account. Once you get the hang of it, this pretty much runs itself. You only need to tweak it if your fixed expenses change.

    All of your discretionary spending goes into your Variable checking account with no future scheduled transactions ever. Put your credit card payments in there, too, because they are variable.

    Completely solves the problem. I'll never give up that peace of mind!

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      • jenmas
      • jenmas
      • 2 yrs ago
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      Granny Bogle To me, opening a new bank account because a piece of software introduced additional restrictions is like swatting a fly with a sledge hammer. And I say this as someone who already has 22 on budget accounts. I have zero interest in having to take the additional steps of making sure that an account balance is equal to some random grouping of categories. That is the tail wagging the dog. I have a 6 month loss of income fund. What account is it in? All of them. Because the account has nothing to do with the purpose.

      Like 1
  • I recently switched to YNAB from YNAB4 after several years and noticed that the future-dated transactions are behaving strangely. Maybe this will shake out after a month or so of using the web-YNAB, but these forums don't give me much hope.

    The first issue I faced was that during reconciliation, I noticed some "future" transactions were dated in the past, but still not in the register. It seemed my only option was to "enter now" so I did that to about six past transactions, only to have them all redated to the current day, which was wrong.

    Tonight I have a future-dated utility bill payment and I am trying to "enter now" but every attempt is met with:

    Uh-oh!

    Something has gone wrong likely having to do with internets and tubes. Refresh your browser to get back in business.

    This is not reassuring, and I suspect I will have difficulty switching back to YNAB4.

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      • HappyDance
      • YNABing consistently since 2014
      • HappyDance
      • 2 yrs ago
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      Sea Green Transistor 

      That sounds like a bug to me. Tagging Faness at YNAB  Dan at YNAB  Elena at YNAB  for a more official opinion on that score.  Hopefully one of them can answer quickly.

      When I transitioned, I had about 6 scheduled transactions that just would not move to the register. Their date came and went, and they stubbornly stayed in the scheduler.  I just deleted them, re-entered them, and this time they worked.  I also had a few scheduled transactions that just dropped an entire month's worth of entries, so that none of those were there for the first month.  I should have asked for help, because it sounds like this may be what you are experiencing.

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    • Michele Thank you for bringing this to our attention!

      Sea Green Transistor I believe Michele is right and you're looking at a possible glitch with those transactions. It sounds like we may need to dive a little deeper on this one! I just sent you a request via email. If you’re up for it, please take a look and reply to that email to give us permission to access your budget. Then we'll continue our conversation here in the forum! 

      Like 1
  • I but the total monthly anticipated amount in the budget item description.  i.e.,  I have a category Personal with a sub-category Clothing.100/month.   Then I budget to 0 for this period only, spending only the money I have on hand.   If I want to purchase an item of clothing that will take me over my budget for this period of time, but keeps me under the 100 for the month, I put it on my credit card, then make a payment to my credit card after my next paycheck, when everything balances again.   Another way is to set goals, but that can be a little confusing..... 

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  • Bonnie Burtraw said:
    If I want to purchase an item of clothing that will take me over my budget for this period of time, but keeps me under the 100 for the month, I put it on my credit card, then make a payment to my credit card after my next paycheck, when everything balances again.

     And this is a demonstration of how it so easy to byp[ass the functionality in a YNAB did not intend. Temporarily taking on new debt in exchange for an overspent category, rather than guaranteeing budget neutrality via Rule 3.

    What's the backup plan if for some reason you don't get enough new income in order to budget the rest of your month as expected?

    Like 2
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