Entering first month's budget
I just want to make sure I'm not making a heinous mistake here... my budget started on 3/3. I've entered in all of March's payments and budget line items, which means I'm very much in the red right now because only one of four paychecks for the month has come in. I assume that red will go down with each inflow? I know the new user docs talk about not entering obligations that aren't covered by the current paycheck, but I was on a roll and wanted to get it all entered. I'm fine with it taking a little while to balance out as long as I haven't done something that will do lasting harm to my setup.
The harm is you have no idea what you can spend without impacting some other category. You might as well not plan your spending because you're not using it for guidance.
When you only budget money you can spend, what you see in the Available column really is available. It also helps in the prioritization that occurs when reallocating.
Put anticipated/nominal values in the category name, note, or create a Goal so you're ready when new money comes in.
In your other thread, you said you were using another budgeting program. Why did you switch? Most people switch their budgeting program because they want to see different results.
Budgeting only what you have, learning to use your credit cards as spending vehicles and not debt instruments, and moving money instead of budgeting averages are what causes the difference. Some people insist that paying $84/year to use YNAB their own way is worth it to them; you may end up being one of these people. I would find it silly to pay for YNAB to budget the way I can budget in other software for free.
Assuming you wanted something different, you owe it to yourself to actually investigate what the difference is.
Ok, I'm thinking I still don't really understand how this works.
For one thing, I thought that once I put in all these budgeted amounts for everything that they would still be there in the following month. I'm getting the impression that that's not the case, that I have to put them in every month?
I can see not putting in budgeted amounts for actual bill payments until they happen. But let's say I want to have $1000 budgeted for Household and Groceries per month. Are you telling me I have to figure out how to split that per paycheck so I only put in a certain amount each time new money comes in? And I have to do that every month, as four paychecks come in? That sounds like a heck of a lot of work and easy to get wrong. I hope I'm overcomplicating the situation?
I'm one of those people who breaks out in hives when they think about budgeting, which is why I haven't done this before now. I'd rather not being doing it now, but my husband decided we should, and I am the numbers person, so here we are. Having to do weekly maintenance of this thing is not going to make me very happy....
WordTenor Wave isn't a budgeting app, it's an accounting app. It's what I have used up to now to kinda-sorta track our spending by categorizing everything. Which is a task I typically do in bulk once per year, so having to do constant maintenance on a budget sounds a bit daunting.
once I put in all these budgeted amounts for everything that they would still be there in the following month
If you budget $100 this month, the category will still have $100 next month unless you spend it. (You can scroll to next month's area to verify this.) What is also true is that you will have to budget again if you want to put another $100 in the category.
Are you telling me I have to figure out how to split that per paycheck so I only put in a certain amount each time new money comes in?
It's up to you to arrange when to put money in. Some people split larger expenses across paychecks but budget the entirety of categories A, B, and C from one check and the entirety of categories D and E from their second check. Some people split ALL expenses across paychecks. (Personally, I find the latter to be less error prone since you do the same thing every time.)
I (and many others) have worked to sidestep the multiple-check issue by not needing any of my paychecks in the current month. I just queue them up until I have them all, then budget all of next month at once. If you don't have sufficient startup capital to do this (i.e., cover expenses occurring between your first check and the end of the month), you need to gradually work up to this by getting increasingly ahead each month.
You should probably understand that budgeting with YNAB is very different than budgeting with other programs. The budget is simply the plan for your cash made with available information. If things change ("life happens"), then you merely change the plan (aka budget) to adjust and move on. Part of why a traditional budget is "hive-worthy" is the continual sense of failure and self-denial.
That's just not how YNAB works. You put money toward the things that important to you. It's encouraged to reallocate from lower priority categories once you realize it's necessary. No one can predict the future with certainty, so don't beat yourself up when your estimates are not exactly right.
Awww, I totally hear in your voice that you are not digging this! I have so been there! So, YNAB is your friend. It's really going to help you once you fall in love with it (definitely not there yet). And yes, you are going to be in your YNAB a lot more that you ever expected, but it gets fun when you start to get traction. When your money comes in every week you are going to give it jobs. In time you might start to get ahead so much that giving jobs only has to be done once a month, but approving your expenses in ynab is an every day, or every couple day endeavor. I think the real awesomeness comes in working with it daily for a few months, clearing transactions as they come in, watching your budgeted amounts go down (ahhh) and then getting paid and filling back up your buckets (YAY). Payday is like the best day ever when you are using ynab and you get 4 paydays a month!! so fun! Anyway, I'm just hoping to bring a little light to what can feel like a heavy situation and wanted to let you know I have definitely been in your shoes. Also, I am sending the biggest vibes that your hubby will walk WITH YOU on this, because then real magic starts to happen! hugs!