What's the best way to manage budgeting into the next month?

What's the best way to manage budgeting into the next month? 

I just received my paycheck and budgeted down to zero. I earmarked $400 toward March's mortgage and put it under March. If I go into February and add $25 to a category, it shows as green, but when I click on March, it shows as -$25 over budgeted. 

I understand that technically the money is available, but really it's not because it's going towards March's mortgage. If I put it in the mortgage category for February, it messes up my goal, because I like it to show as gray/ $0 when that category has been paid for the month.

Suggestions?

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    • briefcase
    • A rack of ties, a travel mug, telephone, briefcase filled with papers
    • briefcase
    • 6 mths ago
    • 1
    • Reported - view

    In the current version of the software, the furthest month into the future that you have budgeted money will always show the most current TBB number.  What you have effectively done is double allocate $25 of that $400, so I would just delete the $25 in February and leave the $400 in March.

    To answer your broader question, some people recommend creating a holding category and assigning all money to that, and then releasing it when the month rolls over.  I have personally always used the recommended, stock approach of simply budgeting directly into the future month.  As long as you remember than you can't increase a budgeted amount in the current month without impacting the future month, it works just fine.

    Reply Like 1
  • You've just experienced Stealing from the Future, a side-effect (I would call it a bug) of the current budget-for-the-future implementation. If you budget directly in the next month, you have to use the Move Money tool to change budget amounts in the current month (click on a green Available bubble and follow the prompts to move money out of a category).

    The alternative method that I use is to create an "Income for next month" category to hold any money that I want to budget next month, and at the end of the month, when I budget next month, I move that money to TBB before I flip to the next month & budget.  If you keep doing this, you will get further ahead & eventually (maybe after a 3-paycheck month) you will be able to budget all of next month with money you earned this month.

    Reply Like 3
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 6 mths ago
      • 7
      • Reported - view

      adriana01 As the inventor of the SFTF phrase (although it is supposed to be all upper-case first letters and bolded), I approve this message.

      Reply Like 7
      • adriana01
      • adriana01
      • 6 mths ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view

      nolesrule I couldn't remember who came up with the term, but you were on my short list of possible people :)

      Reply Like 3
    • adriana01 I see that you mention that you move the money from your holding category to TBB before you flip to the next month and budget. Any reason to do this instead of waiting for the next month, and move the money to TBB in that new month? 

      Reply Like 1
      • adriana01
      • adriana01
      • 6 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Eric Poulin That way I start that category in the new month with 0 in the budgeted & available columns instead of a big negative number in Budgeted. It also means it looks like the category was empty when I look at old months. 

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    • adriana01 So if I understand correctly, you would have a Negative number in that Category because you moved money away from it.... got it. 

       

      This make me wonders.... instead of using a temporary category, what would be the effect of leaving it in TBB all the time instead ?  I guess because it would be harder to track and it goes again the Rule #1...  ?

      Reply Like 1
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 6 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Eric Poulin Leaving money in TBB makes it harder to avoid Stealing From the Future, but not in the sense of the SFTF bug. Is it easier to make changes to your budget without error by maintaining a big fat $0.00 in the giant number in the header or some non-zero number that may be different from month to month? The obvious answer is $0.00. (Or maybe $1.00 as some people recommend because it allows you to see when the SFTF bug strikes). It's pretty easy to look at a non-zero number and misread it or compare it incorrectly to a target you are holding in your head or have written on a piece of paper.

      Reply Like 1
      • Superbone
      • YNAB convert since 2008
      • Superbone
      • 6 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Eric Poulin The reason I release it at the end of the same month I received it is because it messes up the YNAB headers otherwise.

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  • Current budget entries take priority. As implemented, there is no reliable warning that you have double-booked funds in the plan (a.k.a., budget) if you budget directly to a future month.

    It's a pretty severe design flaw, IMHO, when there's no indication when a budget entry today wrecks your future plans.

    If you will be budgeting directly to a future month, I highly recommend you leave $1 in TBB. Assuming no cash overspending, this also guarantees all future TBBs are also $1 -- and therefore no funds are double-booked.

    Reply Like 3
  • If TBB is $0 then you can’t budget any more money!!!!

    Reply Like 1
  • Due to all the confusion with future income budgeting (and stealing from the future), I always keep all budgeted amounts in the current month.  You can add a True Expense for future spending (one category, or make it as fine grained as you like).  Then just move the money over to proper categories when the month rolls over. 

    Reply Like 2
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  • 6 mths agoLast active
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