Done with category

I had a "New TV" category to save up over a few months but I'm not sure what I do now that I've bought the TV.  Do I delete the category? How do I categorize the purchase then?

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  • 2 options I would suggest. Rename the category to something like Technology Replacement. Or, hide the category.

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    • HappyDance
    • YNABing consistently since 2014
    • HappyDance
    • 2 yrs ago
    • 3
    • Reported - view

    The trouble with hiding categories:  In your spending reports, all the hidden categories are combined into one group, so instead of your TV showing up in spending under it's original master category, it is now lumped in with every other hidden category. For that reason I try to repurpose categories to similar items.  Going from TV to replacement electronics is a good example.  Another one I did was rename car loan into savings for next car purchase.

    Like 3
      • Vibrant
      • No more counting dollars, we'll be counting stars
      • vibrant
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view

      HappyDance I swear I learn more new things about this software from you than from all the "official" resources.

      Like 3
      • HappyDance
      • YNABing consistently since 2014
      • HappyDance
      • 2 yrs ago
      • Reported - view

      Vibrant 

      Thanks. I enjoy helping others avoid the messes I got myself into, the one upside of having gone through some of this myself. 

      Like
  • Whatever you do don't delete the category, because all past transactions and budgeted months will be orphaned. Renaming to a generic category is good.

    Like 3
  • Agree with all the others - don't delete the category; if you do, you'll just lose transaction history in your reports. If you hide the category, I think that also hides it from your transaction history in your reports. (that said, it's really easy to unhide a category, so maybe you can test that out and see what happens?)

     

    What I've done with my budget is this: I create a specific savings goal (e.g. New TV) and budget some money into it over time. When I'm ready to make the purchase, I categorize the purchase as something that's very general (e.g. home furnishings or electronics or hobbies/entertainment/luxuries). Then, I move the budgeted dollars from "New TV" to "electronics/etc". Then I hide or delete the 'new tv' category. It had its purpose - as a temporary budget line item to keep me on track for a specific goal - but that purpose is no longer relevant or useful, so I can happily hide or delete the category so it doesn't clutter up my reports.

    Like 4
  • Going with the theme in the comments above, I just saw someone mention a "Next Big Gadget" category in another thread. Deleting the category could cause a bit of a mess (all transactions would need to be re-categorized and all funds budgeted somewhere else), but renaming it gives you a place to save for your next goal! :)

    Like 1
  • As I'm sure OP  agrees, the above solutions are very "meh".  YNAB does not have appropriate functionality to deal with this extremely common problem. There needs to be an option to merge "dead" categories into existing ones, including budget amounts. "Hide" and "Delete" simply aren't enough. 

    People are asking for this all over the forums. Faness always responds with "Interesting idea, make a suggestion!" as if it hasn't already been suggested 100 times. Devs are ignoring it because this is functionality only needed by long-term users (already paying customers) and not interesting to new customers (new money).

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      • Superbone
      • YNAB convert since 2008
      • Superbone
      • 8 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Rhubarb314159 Meh. 😛

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    • Rhubarb314159 I have a real “love-hate” relationship with YNAB for these kinds of reasons. I love it because it helps me budget and does things that no other software I have found does. I hate how often it frustrates me when things I need to do in order to sensibly apply the YNAB rules (like close a category I used to give my dollars a job that is now done, in this example) can only be done via a workaround or by taking lots of non-intuitive steps.

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      • Superbone
      • YNAB convert since 2008
      • Superbone
      • 8 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Chris Curtis Huh? I’m not sure what you’re talking about. Just hide it and be done with it.

      Like 1
    • Superbone as HappyDance said above “The trouble with hiding categories:  In your spending reports, all the hidden categories are combined into one group, so instead of your TV showing up in spending under it's original master category, it is now lumped in with every other hidden category.” 

      It fits with the YNAB idea of always working from what you have now to the future, but it is often helpful to be able to see how you got here. Most software allows you to close a category, but leave reporting intact, or to filter what you show and don’t show. Part of the issue is that YNAB reports are quite limited.

      Renaming categories to do new jobs is less than ideal too. Track record in in how you spend and what you spend it on is quite important information. Personally, I use quite generic categories (e.g house projects) for things with goals (I have separate categories for “House repairs” and “Household” to cover more routine spending, that have monthly contribution goals) and I can go back and look at what was saved and spent which might have been a washing machine one year and a replacement bathroom the next. Updating the goals (save x by y) makes sense.

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      • Superbone
      • YNAB convert since 2008
      • Superbone
      • 8 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Chris Curtis Thanks for the explanation. I guess I've never cared much about the YNAB reports. I'll occasionally look at them out of curiosity but other than that, I just use them at tax time. They're great for finding all I spent on alimony and charity last year for example. The one report I do view frequently is the Net Worth report but it is immune to hidden category issues.

      Like 1
      • Rhubarb314159
      • YNAB-enthusiast
      • rhubarb314159
      • 8 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Chris Curtis Same here on the "love-hate" relationship. What's so frustrating to me on this issue is that the current function is SO CLOSE to what we need.

      If you click "Delete", it gives you the option to recategorize all the transactions to a new category automatically. What it doesn't do is also recategorize the associated budgeted money. If it did, the OP question wouldn't be showing up constantly. One challenge for developers (and moderators like Faness) is that the form of the question is always different, so it's not clear they all have the same solution . . .

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  • I do as suggested above: save in one category, then move funds and spend from a more generic one.

    There is one thing I wondered and this might be the place to ask: in a video (bij Ashley) about a wishfarm, in the end it is said specifically to rename the wishfarm line to your next goal. After moving the money to a different category to be spent I, up till now, just deleted the wishfarm line and moved one up from the wishlist to the farm.

    That doens't make a difference, does it..? The category I delete is empty, after all.... (or does it?)

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    • Powder Blue Pony It only affects the option to view your budgeting history. If you keep the category, then you can go back to see how much you budgeted in each month (were you averaging $100 every month? Did you budget more in a certain month? etc.). If you delete the category, you can't see how you budgeted to get to the amount you saved, but the actual spending takes place in the other category so your reports are still accurate.

      Like 1
    • Faness ah, of course. Thanks.

      Like
      • Rhubarb314159
      • YNAB-enthusiast
      • rhubarb314159
      • 8 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Faness You're starting to get it! A long-time user either:

      1) Has a tremendous number of outdated categories clogging their budget.

      2) Uses "delete", and therefore has inaccurate budget history and possibly lost transactions.

      3) Is constantly renaming categories, and therefore has inaccurate reports.

      4) Has gone back months/years and rebudgeted every dollar from finished categories, then recategorized transactions, then deleted the category.

      I'm currently picking option 4, but it's tedious and terrible.

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      • WordTenor
      • I have the honor to be your obedient servant
      • WordTenor
      • 8 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Rhubarb314159 

      Or 5) Has categories that are broad enough to capture a wide variety of similar transactions (note that this is what @jenmas and HappyDance suggested to the OP, also)

      You made me look; I have 18 hidden categories, several of which are default categories that came with the web app that I didn't need (natural gas is rolled into my utilities, I don't pay separately for health insurance, "household" is rolled under "shopping" for me). This is in a 7-year-old budget. 

      What I've found over the years is that granularity in categories I'm not carefully watching actually isn't that important, and that broad categories let me spend and save consistently. The budget history is totally irrelevant; only the transaction history actually matters. It seems counter intuitive, but it's correct. 

      Like 1
      • Rhubarb314159
      • YNAB-enthusiast
      • rhubarb314159
      • 8 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      WordTenor I see your point, and I'm glad that works for you. I like having a couple granular categories for specific purchases. As do others, otherwise the "wish farm" idea wouldn't be so popular. I think it would be good for YNAB to improve options for closing a category.

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      • jenmas
      • jenmas
      • 8 mths ago
      • 4
      • Reported - view

      Rhubarb314159 umm, with the wish farm you don't have a lot of granular categories. I have 3 - small, medium, and large that I save to. Right now my small category is (S) Canvas Stretching. When that category is full (needs about another $75), I will move the money up to Home Stuff and rename the category to (S) Next Thing I'm Saving For. No money is ever spent out of the wish farm category line item, just like explained in the Wish Farm article: "To avoid this, when it’s time to make your wish come true, move the money into the appropriate category of your budget, and pay for it there. Then delete the wish line item in your wish farm. For example, you would record the spending for new blackout blinds in the ‘Home Improvement’ category. . ."

      Like 4
  • I am not a fan of repurposing and/or hiding due to reports. Rather i have moved to wish farm. I went back over all my unneeded categories and removed the transactions from them. Then deleted the category. I started last year and had about 5 temp before i realized that i could not remove them. So i slowly corrected those for my moving forward path.

    Rather, for temp categories, i transfer the funds to another permanent category, tag the transaction with a hashtag via notes, and delete the temp category. 

    I just hope hashtags become a permanent feature and i can add reports at somepoint. 

    Like
      • Rhubarb314159
      • YNAB-enthusiast
      • rhubarb314159
      • 8 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      RIP_MSMoney This is what I've been doing as well. The problem is that when you delete the category all of the budgeting information for it vanishes, and your budget history is no longer accurate. It's easy to recategorize transactions themselves (nice trick with the hashtags, btw), but no automated way to make budget allocations follow them retroactively.

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      • RIP_MSMoney
      • FinTech Programmer
      • rip_ms_money
      • 8 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Rhubarb314159 For me, after the item is purchased, I don't really care about the budgetting aspect. What was purchased is all that matters to me. For me, transactions and hashtags are all that matters.

      Like 1
  • RIP_MSMoney Fair point, if you don't care about the budget history.  After you delete the category, all the budgeted funds get thrown into "To Be Budgeted", which you then re-allocate to the appropriate permanent category for the current month?


    I'd end my crusade for a "Merge" option if I could give up my desire to have an accurate budget history. Don't see that happening though. Alas.

    Like 1
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