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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.