Little known benefit of combining True expenses into one category

I mentioned on here in a couple of places that I'm trying to streamline my budget for the long haul, so that it's as easy to stick with as I can make it.  I want to know that it won't take me too long to stick with it so I'll stick with it, realistically.

In an effort to do that, I combined a bunch of true expenses categories into one category.  That means I have to do the math on my own, but one advantage that I didn't think about until today is that, since I'm taking $ out of a category with several true expenses in it, I will generally have enough money in the category to pay a bill as soon as it arrives.  Basically, my car registration arrived today, due in August.  If my registration was still a separate category I would have had to wait until August for it to be full, but because they are mixed I can pay it today and not have to think about it again.  Winning!

I do know you have to be careful about these combined categories, as I've seen some issues discussed on here where the math can work out oddly if you do it on your own.  Ideally, YNAB would just make it possible to  have it do the math for you in the background to set a few different goals under one category, as a few people have requested on here, but I'm happy with my method so far, especially now that I know it makes my life just slightly easier so I can pay my bill as soon as it arrives.

 

Have a great weekend everyone!

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  • Almost certainly a combined category will free up money. See this thread for more discussion:

    https://support.youneedabudget.com/t/y727d8

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

      dakinemaui Is there an easy way to come up with the calculation rather than by trial and error to get the baseline adjustment?

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    • nolesrule Not easily (meaning in your head or punching a couple numbers in a calculator), which is why it's perfect for a Goal.

      Assume funding at steady-state level (1/12 the yearly total). Project the category balance for 12 months, and note where the lowest balance occurs. That's the end of the transient period, and steady-state contributions can start in the following month.

      Often a Spending Goal By Date for the sum of outflows up to that point will work (target date at that point as well), but it's not guaranteed to cover all the interim expenses. One solution is to repeat the analysis for that subproblem using the increased funding suggested by the Goal as the "steady-state". One would need to switch funding levels twice.

      I've handled it in a completely different manner as a constrained optimization problem with unknowns being the N budget entries through steady-state. Equality constraint for $0 balance at the point of maximum drawdown. Inequality constraint that cumulative balances must be non-negative. Function to optimize is to minimize the variance of budget entries.

      Like
    • I might try to put together a spreadsheet, as it does keep coming up. I hesitate to give it to YNAB as a prototype, though, as that seems to be the kiss of death to get something implemented. 🤔

      Like 2
      • Superbone
      • YNAB convert since 2008
      • Superbone
      • 2 wk ago
      • 5
      • Reported - view

      dakinemaui You can't make it any more non-implemented. 😉

      Like 5
    • dakinemaui Woohoo! Spreadsheet! 

      I did recently try to use the calc it out site you shared a couple years ago. I've used it successfully before, but the site seems to not work at the moment.

      On the topic of spreadsheets: 

      https://youtu.be/UBX2QQHlQ_I

      Like 2
      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 5 days ago
      • 5
      • Reported - view

      Move Light Sound Life Your exuberance was enough to motivate me. See attached woohoo. 🙂

      The instructions detail the example from this thread for two starting points. The second starting point (July) makes for a more complicated analysis to get the optimal schedule.

      Like 5
    • dakinemaui You, sir, are a gentleman and a scholar! I look forward to playing with your spreadsheet. 🙂🙃🙂

      Like 1
      • PhysicsGal
      • Nerdy female homo sapien
      • physicsgal
      • 5 days ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      dakinemaui OMG, thanks!!!!  Until YNAB implements this ability into their actual software, I'll use your spreadsheet and I can keep combining my true expenses.

      I should submit a feature request, but I keep hearing that many of the feature requests that have been asked for by the forum for awhile are ignored, so I guess it seems hopeless.  

      Like 1
      • Melissa
      • Routinely questioning every assumption I have about my budget, my spending, and my savings habits.
      • todays_mel
      • 5 days ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      PhysicsGal  Thank you for posting about lumping certain categories together. I hadn't considered that I'd be tying up more money by the individual target/goal approach.

      dakinemaui Thank you for sharing the spreadsheet and the previous thread. If I've understood and filled out the spreadsheet correctly (will triple check), then I currently have an "extra" $375 sitting around that I could throw towards other savings goals, which is not an insignificant amount for my financial situation.

      I'm off to play around with it some more to make sure I haven't messed anything up. But again, BIG thanks!

      Like 2
      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 5 days ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Melissa "Extra" funds is always a good thing. Fingers crossed for you!

      Like 1
      • Bruce
      • Software Engineer
      • Bruce
      • 4 days ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      dakinemaui Dang, dak!  That's a pretty impressive setup you put together.  I just got back from vacation and am catching up on the forum, and saw this discussion, and your attachment.  Thank you so much!  I walked through both of the scenarios you included in the instructions, and think I understand what it's doing.  I'll play with it later today to see how things work out, but I may just implement this, and simplify my True Expenses portion of my budget.  And from comments above, it sounds like I might find a few more stray dollars to assign different jobs to.

      Anyway, I don't have a lot of time to devote to it, but am eagerly looking forward to this evening, when I can put in some numbers and play around to see if I understand what it's doing.

      Like 1
      • WordTenor
      • I have the honor to be your obedient servant
      • WordTenor
      • 4 days ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      dakinemaui Hah. I just noticed this this morning, three days after I built almost exactly this spreadsheet in order to figure out how much of the money I got back from escrow on my original mortgage needed to be put into my taxes category to preseed it for this year.  Great work but dang it.
       

      Like 2
    • PhysicsGal Just to be clear, if you fill out the feature request form on the forum, it's not ignored completely. They have decided to allocate customer service time to emailing us back, summarizing/asking for details/offering assurance that the request has been logged by the developers. At least, that's been my experience. 

      Have I seen features I've requested become reality? Just the running balance, in terms of what I consider major things. But, they only recently hired another new person (I forget the title) to do project management, and since then, the Toolkit has had something broken in it more often than not. That tells me there's been more action on that front. 

      In short, add your voice! The more rational requests for functional things, the better, IMO.

      Like 3
      • PhysicsGal
      • Nerdy female homo sapien
      • physicsgal
      • 3 days ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Move Light Sound Life Ok, I did it.  My first ever YNAB feature request is now submitted.  

      Like 1
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