Custom Start Date of Month
Is there a way to set YNAB to start a new month on a custom date instead of the first of the month?
I saw an older Whiteboard Wednesday last night where Jesse talked about categories. The video made me want to change how my money is categorized. I want to start my new months on the 25th and end on the 24th. I'm paid on the 25th and 10th of each month so having this feature would make my budgets easier to manage. I'd love to have this feature in YNAB.
Hi bncwhite !
There isn't a way to change the monthly structure, but the YNAB Method will work with any pay schedule. If you have a few minutes (five, to be exact!), watch this Whiteboard Wednesday episode for more info.
Positive balances will roll over to next month, so even if you get paid towards the end of the month you can budget for the things you need and the rest will carry forward. Once you get into that rhythm, you’ll notice how it’s not about the calendar or the pay period or having multiple accounts to handle different things.
Take a look at that link and let me know if you still have questions! :)
Blue Cornet said:
For us it doesn't make sense to rely on stuff carrying over to the next month as it simply makes the whole budgeting process more fuzzy without any benefit.
This is one of the reasons YNAB originally advocated for working towards "living on last month's income" as Rule 4 (this has since been reworked as "Age Your Money" which is a similar idea but less concrete).
You're right that having paychecks that don't line up exactly with calendar months is frustrating and adds a bit of annoying extra complexity to the budgeting process.
BUT - you can actually use this frustration to your advantage! :)
If you have a little extra wiggle room in your budget, even if just a few dollars, I'd encourage you to try, little by little, to stretch your 10th-of-the-month paychecks juuust a bit farther - the goal being to eventually let it stretch ALL the way to the end of the month, so that you can save the entire paycheck you receive on the 25th to budget in the following month.
This may seem impossible at first, but see if you can make a little traction towards this goal each month. Maybe the first couple months you don't have any luck and are anxiously awaiting that check on the 25th to round out your current month's budget. But then maybe a couple months later you manage to stretch the check on the 10th through to the 26th, or the 27th!
And once you achieve the goal, your budgeting life will become a lot simpler - you'll get to take that 25th-of-the-month paycheck and budget out the first half of your expenses for the next month all in one go, and with your 10th-of-the-month paycheck, you'll get to budget out the rest of the month. You might even start to find yourself not waiting for the upcoming payday as anxiously. :)
So there actually can be a huge benefit to this situation! Just let yourself see this as an opportunity, a situation with a built-in goal of working towards budgeting a few days ahead, to give yourself some breathing room and allow your budget to conform to the "rigidity" of traditional calendar months, regardless of your actual pay cycle.
Good luck, and welcome! :)
I absolutely agree with the other commenters here. If you step out ahead of the paycheck cycle and get at least a month ahead in budgeting then you effectively are not reliant on when you paycheck hits the bank. This is the beauty of adopting the YNAB method, it promotes getting out of the paycheck to paycheck cycle.
Blue Cornet said:
I 've been following my own spreadsheet for years and it did really fine (and still does). I'm just looking around to see what other tools are available since managing spreadsheets can be pretty fussy. I'm not really looking to change my philosophy on budgeting because I've been doing fine for quite a while now.
🙂 I could have written these exact words four years ago this very month. In a way, I think that those of us who already have our act together before we trial YNAB have a harder time with the YNAB budget method than those who have never successfully budgeted before. We have to unlearn or let go of some of our methodologies. That's very hard to do since our systems are the foundation of our current success. However, like you, I was not quite 100% satisfied with what I was doing. I thought there had to be something that would make it easier or better somehow, and that's why I was still open to the thought of something different. I read a testimonial about YNAB on an unrelated forum, and I followed the link to YNAB. The free month (without requirement to load a credit card) seemed a strings-free way to investigate YNAB4 at the time.
I quickly realized that I could not make YNAB do things my way. That was initially frustrating, but it actually turned out to be a good thing (at least for me) because my way was more than a little crazy. I did a complete fresh start about one week into the trial and used the rest of my trial period simply test driving the software the way it was intended to be used, while maintaining my own convoluted system separately (of course). The benefits soon became apparent, and as soon as I realized I could trust the software and myself, I abandonned my old way. I had to unwind my labyrinth of bank accounts, and that took me quite a while. There were also some advance theories (like my accounts being unrelated to purpose) that took me quite a while to thoroughly embrace.
While I understand that most of the comments here are really well-intentioned, they are kind of missing the entire point. Blue Cornet and Shachar Harshuv are on the right track here.
Maybe it shouldn't matter and maybe I should be trying to stretch my budget into the future.....cool story.
What matters and isn't addressed is, I don't want to do it that way. I want to do it the way I want to do it. I don't want to be constrained by the hard calendar months. And while I could learn or I could improve....I can also just find a different app/spreadsheet/method.
I'm in the middle of a 34 day trial, at the end of the trial YNAB would like me to give them some money. To be exact they would like $83.99 for the next 12 months. I don't have any interest in giving them said money if I can't get the app to work how I want it to.
So this is a pretty old thread, other than the recent message 2 weeks ago, but it is the top Google hit, so I'm asking here. Is there a way now in 2019 to set a custom date to start the budget period? Faness ?
Thanks for your time
Cyan Gazelle said:
And while I could learn or I could improve....I can also just find a different app/spreadsheet/method.
I suggest you do that. No, there is no way to set a custom budget start date and period and frankly, there is no need for it if you use the method correctly. But that’s exactly what it is: A particular method that the YNAB software enables. If you want to do your own thing, and that has worked well for you in the past, then you’ll need to look elsewhere.
TBH, I agree with the original poster. We talk about budgeting and spending money, but to pay for something that doesn't provide the functionality that many seek, makes it seem like unnecessary spending. I'm also on the trial and I like the budgeting and app, but will most likely find something else that lines up with the way I get paid mid-month once a month as well. Also, they were asking for functionality and the ability to do this, not for criticism with their method of budgeting. 🙄
Navy Blue Orca said:
to pay for something that doesn't provide the functionality that many seek,
Ask any software developer and they'll tell you the hardest part of their job is to understand the underlying need irrespective of what the user thinks they want.
Shachar Har-Shuv said:
For me it's annoying overpent categories get covered automatically before my next income. It doesn't mean I really NEED THIS MONEY now. I don't - cause I do budget according to the app's philosophy. But the decision to do it 1st of the month is seemingly completely random and it's clear who wrote it thought about a once a month paying cycle.
If you budget according to the app's philosophy you should never have overspent categories because you budget for everything that needs to get paid before your next paycheck arrives and if for some reason you didn't budget enough you apply Rule 3 and reallocate from a lower priority category in order to get rid of the overspend.
This thread is very active. I don't want to come across wrong - I totally understand why someone might want to start a month on any arbitrary day, and I don't see any problem with that. We worked our budget in a spreadsheet in that fashion for the first few years we were married.
However, when it comes to a fully-featured web app, I think it is important to consider the negative case.(What is the result of switching from a self-selected month start back to the default, or to another date?) Suppose this whole year you get paid on the 10th of the month. You set the month to begin on the 10th. All of a sudden, in month 13, you have switched jobs. Your new payday is the 30th of the month. (We won't even mention that there are months without a 30th.) So you will have a span of 50 days between your last paycheck and this paycheck. If at some point you decide to set a "new" first day of the month, in most cases you will wind up with a month in that year that is quite less than 30 days, or quite more. Let's say that month where you switched jobs was March, and you decide to set your new "first day of the month" in April. Between March and April there is now a weird month with 50 days. In this case, we have inaccuracy in your rolling averages because 50 days is almost double the size of a typical month bucket. If instead you decide to add a 20 day month to the calendar by having a month that begins March 10th and one on March 30th, then what happens to all of the averages and reports that are based on a 12 month calendar now that you have a 13 month year?
Gregorian months and years have been pretty predictable for over 400 years. In contrast, the average person is going to change jobs every three to five years -plus a household may have more than one person, further increasing the instability of a manufactured month start. Plus, you don't even have to change jobs to have a change in your pay schedule - that happened at my work just this month without notice. Eventually, all of us retire and don't necessarily have a paycheck schedule of any kind.
I believe that in the long term, most people will find it more appropriate to have a system based on calendar year than paycheck when it comes to generating reports and averages. I understand for budgeting it is a pain when you get paid in the middle of the month. I understand it can feel like the budget is "wrong" when it tells you that you are overspent in a month when you logically know based on many successful years of budgeting experience your next paycheck would cover it. But if your budget is in good shape, switching to a true calendar orientation would only be a pain for one month at most, and then after that you would still have the ability to trust the reliability of your reports and averages. I think the desire to have reliable reporting and averages outweighs the benefit of being able to set when a month starts and ends.
I stand by my original point. It doesn't matter to me if you think the philosophy is key or if you are against it.
IMO, my point is still the most valid. Use YNAB or don't, believe in the philosophy or not, if you are providing a service to a customer and charging a fee then you will make more money for your businesses budget if you aren't inflexible on your options you provide.
Maybe that isn't a priority, in which case...cool
Also, I don't know how to unsubscribe from this thread (to be fair I haven't looked :P )
So +1 for this feature request, my budget gets skewed if in any case I need to pay out my cc before the 1st, making the whole budgeting pointless. And POs or support agents pushing back on a clear customer request is just awful and drives customers away to other apps that actually have this feature.
Not having the ability to start the budget in the middle of the month is ridiculous, especially when it comes to goals. I have a goal set to have a certain amount of savings by December 1st this year. The goal is trying to calculate based on me adding more savings in the december budget because it is the 1st. I cant change the goal to November 30th. I get paid on the 15th of each month so I wont be adding to the savings on the first.... Do I have to change the goal to November then? Then why does it say the first and not just the month name if you cant pick the day of the goal....