How often you need to have budget meetings with a partner

Okay, so husband and I get paid ~twice a month.  I'm on the every two weeks cycle and he's set for the 15th and 30th so sometimes we are in sync and we have 2 meetings that month to give every dollar a job and sometimes we have 4.  I figured we were doing it right because it's very important to only budget the money you have and no more, right?  So how come Jesse's posts all seem to say you should only have a meeting once a month? 
 

We currently are working on getting out of debt so we go through and put money in our immediate expenses, arbitrarily pick a paycheck to stash some money toward true expenses, then after all the things that need to be taken care of before next paycheck are filled, we're dumping everything else into debt -basically we aren't working on rule 4 to be a month ahead yet because of the debt payoff we are doing.  Is rule 4 the reason Jesse keeps assuming we're only budgeting once a month or is there something else I'm missing?

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  • If you follow the "Classic" rule 4 (Live on last month's income) from YNAB4, you are only budgeting once a month once you achieve this state in your budget... but in new YNAB you need a way to "hide" the money to get it out of the way until all of the money has come in that you will use next month, lest you cause some confusion. YNAB4 had a built-in solution for this.

    The "new" Rule 4 has no way to make that assumption, and yet YNAB continues to give that guidance anyway. The official YNAB guidance does some hand-waving about it being perfectly ok to leave money in To Be Budgeted until you are ready to sit down and budget it, possibly for weeks at a time, but I find that statement to have all sorts of flaws given current functionality. You do need to do something with your "To Be Budgeted" that it gets to zero in order to keep things more clear as you use your budget day to day, lest you accidentally take from it. That means budgeting out the money as it comes in, or using a work-around to store it out of the way in a designated category to keep it out of TBB until you are ready to budget it.

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    • nolesrule So you're thinking it's primarily a leftover idea from the older versions of YNAB? I've only ever used the current version so I have no idea about the changes.  That makes sense - I'm happy with the way we're handling it now, the communication between my husband and I is great and the debt payoff is so much faster since we switched from a classic monthly budget to the YNAB style of only assigning the money as it came in.  (It keeps us from getting overdraft fees from bills coming in before the actual payday!) I just got worried I'm misunderstanding something when the support literature kept assuming we were only meeting once a month. 

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      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 2 yrs ago
      • Reported - view

      Gold Panther Yes, I think so. Personally I think the old way is better than the new way, and it's what set YNAB apart from other systems using the envelope budgeting method. It's easier to make decisions once a month because you get to see the bigger picture instead of always racing with the income, but you have to have all the money needed for the whole month at the time you sit down to budget out the whole month. You can't plan out a month if you don't have a month's worth of money ready to go.

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    • eloquentz
    • Numbers Wizard (Accountant), Acoustic Artist (Musician) and Jill of all Trades (Wife & Mother)
    • eloquentz
    • 2 yrs ago
    • 3
    • Reported - view

    We don't have "meetings" often because financial information causes my husband to just check out and not pay attention.  I give him little tidbits at a time to manage this part of his personality.  We aren't yet 30 days ahead on our money though.

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    • eloquentz  I had a similar experience with my Ex.  Turns out she never intended on changing any habits or attitudes about money but played along to keep the peace.  I hope you have better luck.
      I do think that there needs to be some common ground on the attitudes towards money and budgeting - like having a plan is a worthwhile endeavor and making some attempt to follow the plan or update the plan as you go.
      A budget is never set in stone - I change mine mid-month if I need to.  It's just a list of where I think I want my money to go.
      But a budget can't be ignored because then you find yourself in a perpetual state of Whack-A-Mole and never making headway because you're trying to accommodate bad behaviors, be it yours or your partners.

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  • Another option is the "budget template."  This is where you figure up how much you plan to have this month then find a job for the money.  Then, as your money comes in, you put it toward your jobs.  You can do this monthly, or every payday, with a planning session.  I have variable income  and as my income dribbles in during the month I fill in my budget.  I love this option.  

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  • Hi Gold Panther !

    The idea of monthly budgeting meetings isn't a collateral concept from YNAB 4. The idea has been around since before the YNAB 4 days, and we don't want those monthly budgeting meetings to be seen as limiting.

    Those monthly budgeting meetings are meant to be for big-time discussions. While you may have a sit-down each payday, those monthly meetings should be - we set out to do this, are we on track? Do we need to adjust? Is this still a priority? We accomplished this, so should we do that? What are our next steps? While those payday conversations may go more like - hey, I added an extra $50 to the Pet Supplies category so we can try that new brand of dog food. 

    Having conversations more than once a month is great! The monthly meetings are like your checkpoints for your big financial map, while those payday conversations are more to help stay on the road to those check points. I sneak budgeting comments and moments in with my husband whenever I can, but those Bigger topics need a set time of their own for deeper discussion. :)

     

    Also, I'm going to move this over to the Money & Relationships discussion board to pick things up there.

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    • Faness at YNAB That makes more sense.  I read the YNAB book last night to see if I could get more insight into this and reading your comment cleared up more of the confusion about the budget meeting specifically.  I'm such a numbers person I just assumed budget meetings had more to do with actual monetary amounts - which is silly since money is just our tool to live our life.  It's easy to forget about that part.

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      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 2 yrs ago
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      Faness at YNAB I disagree. Everytime you are doing a major budgeting of money should be the "big" meeting. If you aren't budgeting monthly, then you can't actually come up with a monthly plan which doesn't involve predicting future income. Coming up with a plan that relies on future income is almost as bad as building a budget that includes future income, because it makes assumptions that may be unwarranted.

      If one spouse/partner is budgeting out money received throughout the month without consulting the other spouse/partner, then how are they determining the more immediate priorities for both in the partnership for a particular income budgeting session? Especially so if priorities have changed since the last time money was budgeted either due to internal or external circumstances. Every budgeting session is a time for review and possible course correction.

      There is no month if you are budgeting every 2 weeks, and this is often why YNAB gets requests for changing the budgeting period to something other than one month.

      Yes, the idea of monthly budgeting was around before the YNAB4 days, however one of the reasons that most people's budgets failed in the past is they were doing monthly budgeting and when they overspent it was a failure and they gave up. I used to budget like that. Most people who are very successful with YNAB now used to budget like that. But they needed something different to be successful. 

      YNAB is not a monthly budgeting system. It is an envelope budgeting system. If you want your envelope budgeting to be monthly budgeting, then you need to follow a specific framework so that the two align.

       

      The YNAB support staff is very good at explaining the mechanics of using YNAB (how to use YNAB), but they tend to fall short when it comes to assisting with budgeting theory (the "why is something done a certain way"), particularly when that theory comes into conflict with the request for help with mechanics. I suggest leaving the theory to the budgeters with more extensive experience at these discussions.

      Like 2
    • nolesrule It's perfectly fine to disagree, because there's no Wrong budgeting meeting schedule, just ones that work better or worse for certain people - I'm to hope we can agree on that much. :)

      Please understand that I never meant you should only budget once a month, nor should you only talk about budgeting once a month. There's a difference in those monthly budgeting meetings and what I referred to as payday conversations. In my example I mentioned bringing up spending or budgeting amounts to a partner so that they're included in the budgeting process. These are smaller things that can be had in quick conversations. The point here is that not All budgeting conversations with your partner should be 'payday conversations'. It's important to set aside a time to look at your overall budget on more than just a covering daily expenses level.

      Analyzing your budget for overall trends or goals, are bigger topics and don't necessarily have to be addressed each time you're paid. For instance, my desire to pay off debt doesn't change bi-weekly - if there's a goal set to pay something off it's important to stick to it. A Budget Template is a great thing to have in place to reference for these instances, and changes to that template should be discussed during your monthly meeting. These are bigger things like, "We finished paying off School Loan A. Do you want to focus on the credit card before the promotional period ends or the personal loan that has the higher interest rate? Let's create a new goal to have it paid off by [insert date]". These are goals, not predictions of future income - which, I agree, is definitely not the way to go.

      Of course, if something comes up before the 'Big Meeting' there's no reason not to have a discussion about it. And, if 'Monthly' doesn't work, set a date for every three weeks, or a time frame that better works for how often you need to have those big conversations. You'll still be budgeting in the meantime, but goals, ambitions, etc - need to be represented in your budget, and a quick payday conversation doesn't do them enough justice.

      Don't count the support staff out because we live and breathe the mechanics, we're also die-hards when it comes to using YNAB in our everyday lives. We don't believe in the 'set it and forget it' approach to budgeting, so once a month budgeting or even budgeting conversations isn't our preference. We know not every single part of YNAB is exactly what every individual is looking for, and we can acknowledge that. However, when it comes to budgeting conversations, the more the merrier - just make sure you're taking the time to have those Big conversations at least once a month. :)

      Like 9
  • The first question I would ask is, "Why do we need a meeting at all?" For us (self and spouse), the answer is, "Because we make decisions inconsistent with our budget, and regular meetings keep things synchronized." Both of us would regularly make statements like "I didn't know we were over budget on groceries" and "There is no way I spent that much in personal cash." Regular meetings to reconcile (catching transactions we forgot to enter) and to review the current status (so maybe we can't order pizza tonight) help to keep things more synchronized. Unconstrained, we would _always_ overspend, even when making a lot of money.

    For us, we meet weekly-ish.

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    • Sea Green Transistor Amen to that! The regular meetings FINALLY broke us of the habit of looking at the bank account instead of the budget to make a purchase decision.  I don't know why that took us so long, we've been doing YNAB since July.  In October we were a full paycheck ahead (I know, just two weeks ahead isn't huge but it was a big deal to us) and so  when we looked at the bank numbers the answer to "do we have the cash to buy [thing]?" was always yes we have the *cash* to cover it now but really it was already spoken for in another category, then we were scrambling the rest of the month to catch back up. 

      We sit down with YNAB in front of us every 2 weeks, but we'll have informal conversations everyday about what we have been doing with our spending because we're still trying to build a good habit of paying attention to when/why we are spending money.  

      Like 2
  • I've been in charge of the family finances forever, and have worked to get DH more involved over the last few months.  We don't do budgets meetings on a regular schedule, but we do have them.  What seems to work for us is for me to do the day-to day management (maybe I'm unusual, but I don't mind spending 5 or 10 minutes every day importing transactions and/or budgeting income as it comes in).  Then periodically I let DH know I'd like to talk through the budget with him. 

    We review what we are spending in each category, try to identify recurring expenses that we can reduce (or that need to be moved to a different category), discuss any unusual expenses that are coming up and need to be budgeted for, and then talk about our overall financial goals and what to do with any "extra" money.  As I do my daily maintenance, any non-regular paycheck income (like a bonus or money from a side gig) goes right into savings.  When we have our meetings, we decide if some of that should go into the 529 plan, or if there is a home improvement project we need to get started etc.

    We are also in a phase where our income is reduced, so we are working very hard to avoid non-essential spending, which probably helps this method - I'd call it autopilot with periodic course corrections.

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  • That is the way we do it as well.

    • Weekly (on average) meetings where we sit down and look at the last days of transactions, adjust categories if needed, and generally get reminded of our budget. Unless something really big has happened, this is more about following the budget than setting it.
    • Monthly meetings where we take a deeper look at our budget and if it (still) follows our priorities. Maybe we'd rather have a car than a vacation after all. Should we postpone that new computer till later in the year? What could we do to increase our chances of early retirement?

    After a few months of this structure, my fiancée actually went from slightly hesitant to actively asking for a meeting, so I have to say it has worked quite well for us.

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  • I am another Person who’s spouse is hands off on the budget. We have big discussions every couple of about upcoming goals and if we are on track. I don’t think my husband remembers half of it. Lol. But we do have the conversations. I wish that we had monthly conversations about where the money goes when I am figuring out the budget but since I am the bigger WAMer I guess it is easier for me.  I ask him if there is anything coming up that I need to be aware of and that helps as he does a lot of work related trips that are reimbursed months later. And I try to pay them up front. 

    Before using YNAB we were living on the credit card float. Now we have been able to fund a lot about 90% of the time. Before YNAB we never discussed budgeting. I agree with nolesrule that having a 30 day buffer is the way to go as my AOM has been up to 48 days but I wasn’t buffered since most of that money was sitting in true expenses and not monthly bills. As Jesse Mecham has said it is a game changer to be living on last months income. 

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  • I think it really depends on your financial situation - overall, how you handle money daily, and how much each of you want to be involved in it. My partner and I don't have debt but use YNAB to save for our goals and keep us on track when we don't earn much. We meet quarterly to discuss how the budget is working and any major changes or goals. But we also engage in quick questions or small decisions on a daily or weekly basis (e.g. Do you know what this charge is for? We should go out to eat less this month; last month we spent way more than normal). Overall my partner is pretty hands-off, so once we set our goals I just keep things updated and we don't need to have big-deal budgeting convos very often.

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  • This is an old topic but I’m reviving it because I find it interesting. 

    I am a budget nerd. My husband gets stressed if he thinks to hard about the nuts and bolts. He is still involved daily by checking category balances before making purchasing decisions and coming to me with questions like “I wanted to buy x but saw that the category didn’t have enough, is this enough of a priority to pull from another category? 

    But when it comes to official budget meetings, we do it quarterly. Every three months we come together with our budget in front of us, look at how we did last quarter’s goals and then come up with a few goals for the next quarter. 

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