Getting Started for Dummies
I'm at a loss here, I understand the four rules, I understand the ideas behind everything, but I have absolutely no clue where to start and how to start entering things. My accounts are all connected, but where the hell do I go from here? It's a lot of lines and columns that are not even remotely self-explanatory.
My situation is not that abnormal:
I get paid once a month at the end of the month. I only have a few hundred dollars in my account right now, and all my must-pay bills are paid right now. I live with roommates, so expenses are split and some I pay and get reimbursed for and some they pay and I reimburse them for.
It just seems wildly overcomplicated to get started and everything is geared towards understanding concepts and not "here's what you do first", especially if you're starting in the middle of the month. Am I missing something obvious?
If you have added all your accounts, flip over to the budget page. Look at your categories (which are 100% customizable; you don't have to go with the template list). Look at your To Be Budgeted balance at the top. What do those dollars have to do before you get paid again? Assign the dollars the jobs that are needed by entering $X into the left column for Category A, and $Y into Category B, etc until your TBB is 0. Then you stop. You should not budget money that you do not actually possess right this minute. When you receive more money, your TBB will increase and you assign jobs to all those dollars until it is back down to zero. Every time, ask yourself, what does my existing pot of money have to do before I get paid again. If you haven't already, put your savings account(s) on budget and assign jobs to those dollars as well (Car Replacement in 5 Years, Medical Emergencies, Income Replacement, etc). If in 4 days you realize that you shouldn't have allocated $25 to Category A because you really need it in Category B due to an upcoming bill, that's just fine - make the adjustments in the budgeted column. There is no prize for predicting the future with 100% accuracy. Before you spend, check the category available balance (right column). Is there enough to cover that expenditure? Great, go forth and spend! Not enough? Okay, what's the plan? Take $2 out of Eating Out to cover the shortfall on Clothing? That's cool, roll with the punches and make the adjustments.
YNAB starts from today. However today you may have an existing balance on a credit card. Have you budgeted for that? If not, scroll down to the credit card payment category and try to budget enough that the available balance matches your current credit card balance. If not, just be aware that as far as the budget is concerned, when it comes time to pay the credit card bill, you have only allocated enough in your budget to pay what is in the Available column under credit card payments. If you want/need to pay more, you have to take it out of another category.
Reimbursements are a bit more complicated and you should probably hunt down the support materials at You Need a Budget for more details.
Good advice above ... the one thing that was hardest for me in the beginning is that you don't actually have to do anything. If you've set up your accounts and given every dollar a job (category) in the budget screen .... that's really it for now.
Now you just try your best to spend your money for the rest of the month staying under what you have in each category.
Faness Just to offer some feedback from an even newer user than the original poster above, the video you linked strikes me like many of the other help videos I've seen so far -- that is, it just isn't nearly as helpful to a novice as it needs to be.
For instance, between :45 seconds and :54 seconds into the video, the video says to check what's available in the category before spending it, then to record the spending in the account where it took place while "categorizing appropriately" -- this is frankly gobbledeegook to a new user like me, and I suspect to many other new users like the OP.
Admittedly, i still need to check out a live help session but so far, the Quick Start guides and online help videos just seem to me to be pitched at entirely the wrong level for new users. YNAB really does need a Getting Started for Dummies.
Yeah, this is exactly what I mean, a lot of instructions are gibberish if you don't understand the details of what are being discussed. Like, from what I'm interpreting from this thread, you have to go in and update the budget after every. single. transaction. in or out of your accounts. That's a tremendous amount of work to remember to do, especially if you have to repeat creating the budget every month or every time you get paid
There's no mention anywhere that if you start between pay cycles you only budget the money you have at the moment. I quite literally stumbled into the Budget Template document and discovered you can schedule transactions that you know are coming. Stuff that feels like it should be part of a step-by-step instruction guide. The quick start materials are far too sparse.
Honestly, I'm probably not gonna stick with this because I don't have the time to dig deep into resources and attend live webinars that don't have recordings posted just to figure out the basics of how the system works.
Magenta Inspector said:
Like, from what I'm interpreting from this thread, you have to go in and update the budget after every. single. transaction. in or out of your accounts.
That's not accurate.
Your spending transactions automatically adjust the budget. Your income gives you money that needs to be budgeted (hence the name "To Be Budgeted" for the big number at the top of the budget screen. You then add it more money to your categories.
It's pretty basic.
1) Receive income
2) Budget income to categories
3) Spend money based on your category balances
4) Next time you get paid, go to 1).
YNAB is a spending and saving plan based on only the money you have. It's an allocation budget system. Just ask what this money needs to do before the next time you get paid, and add it to the categories accordingly.
Hi from someone who is also a newbie and got the programme a week ago
I've come to the conclusion there is no quick answer to learning YNAB, you just have to buck down and learn how to use it in small bite sized pieces. It's a fairly steep learning curve which is annoying because I like to have stuff ready, sorted and set up..
But already I've realised it's worth it. I'm away on vacay at the mo and I've been playing with it all week (How sad is that lol). But I've managed to get all my catagories etc set up and I've realised how much money Hubs and I 'waste' every month. We're going away to Tenerife next October and I want to pay for it monthly. I thought I'd only manage half then have to pay for the rest from our savings. Thanks to YNAB I've realised I can pay it in full by next July. And that's just one thing...
I've only scratched the surface so far and I still get frustrated with it (especially the app), but I'm plugging away. I refuse to let it beat me. In fact I like it so much despite how hard it is, I'm seriously considering buying it for my daughter though I'll probably end up having to do her accounts for her!!!
Please don't give up on it..
I HEAR YOU!! I struggled for MONTHS trying to get YNAB to work for me. I HATE HATE HATE numbers and I'm fairly sure they hate me too.
But I was determined to make it WORK. I watched youtube after youtube (go to Mapped Out Money and look at his YNAB vids, he helped a lot https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfRqvJFJ6LLQ62lKmOUXATw) live lesson after live lesson, read and read what I could find.
Then I just started doing it. I flubbed it up many times. Had to fresh start a billion times. BUT NOW I'M DOING IT!! And I freaking love it. I'd be happy to answer any questions you might have, coming from a fresh newbie perspective, and do my best to help. GOOD LUCK!
I watched a lot of recorded how to start lessons. Also, watching Nick True helped me a lot, though he does something overly complicated with tying up categories to account balances. But all the rest is good.
These https://www.youneedabudget.com/video-courses/ came out after I started. I find them very clear and I think they cover everything.
YNAB does involve learning something new. But it is so worth it.