New User - Trying to set up future savings goals with pre-existing balances


New user (less than 3 weeks). I am using YNAB mainly to prioritize my savings. I have 3 main goals: Emergency Fund, Car Fund, House Down Payment.

These 3 goals are currently spread across 2 savings accounts. The Emergency Fund and Car Fund are both fully funded, but I would like to continue to add a small amount of monthly income to the Emergency Fund. 

For House Down Payment, I know how much I want to budget each month, but, I'm not sure how to use the pre-existing balances in relation to my budget as I'm getting started. I know what my average monthly expenses are and have the preliminary budget set up, however, there is still a large "To Be Budgeted" balance.

Any help is greatly appreciated.

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  • Since we're at the end of a month, you're in luck - this is the easiest time to restructure!

    Just type the amount you had already saved in each category in July. If you want to add a monthly contribution for July as well, type +X into the budgeted cell.

    Going forward, you'll just add your normalized monthly amount to the proper categories. 

    If you haven't read this, check it out. 

    Also, be aware that the budgeted cell does not indicate a normalized monthly amount. Rather, it displays the aggregate of all changes to that category that result from you organizing your money (as opposed to transactions - those appear in the Activity column). 

  • Spring Green Mare said:
    there is still a large "To Be Budgeted" balance.

     Some things to consider for putting those dollars to work:

    1. Can you fund the entirety of August right now?  Budget your normal monthly income amount to an Income for Next Month category, then read this for more information on why that's helpful and how to use the workflow.

    2. If you still have money left over, consider such contingency categories as Medical, Home Maintenance, Veterinary, Car Maintenance, Technology Replacement, etc. 

    3. Consider renaming your Emergency Fund to a "Loss of Income" or "Income Replacement" fund.  Many people work towards having 3-6-8 months of expenses saved in case of unemployment.  Your dollars cannot do the many jobs of supporting monthly expenses as well as dealing with appliances breaking, car accidents, medical emergencies, etc.  It's helpful to be specific about setting money aside in specific categories for these things.

    4. Consider creating a "Stuff I Forgot to Budget For" or "Unexpected Expenses" category.  Most new users have expenses jump out of the woodwork for the first year (annual fee, prescriptions, who knows what), and having a little cushion here allows you to create the appropriate category and fund it without impacting other categories as much.

    5. If you've got all these funded and still have money left over, I think the next step would be to look at investing or other future goals, perhaps?

  • Just budget the pre-existing amounts to categories to define what you want to do with those amounts.

    Your ongoing budget entries will always be different from your startup entries.

    Even if you later discover you want to change the job of some of those dollars, that's fine, too. That's such a common thing, there's even a Rule about it.

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