New user! Kinda lost.

Truthfully, I'm always a lot lost.

I've just started YNAB about a week ago. I'm working through it and learning as I go. I'm running into an issue - I have all of my categories and monthly goals set up. The issue is, my husband I both get paid monthly and one of our checks has already come and gone. I was gonna start my budget this Friday when my husband gets paid. But if I do that, half of our monthly bills will have already come and gone. So I'll have all these monthly goals that won't be filled for Feb.

I thought I could just use half of Feb's budget for his check, then start in March with our full budget. But I can't find if there's a way to take half of our goals off of this month but not delete them from next month.

Or I suppose, do I just go back and do some historical transactions so I use all of Feb's money and budget that way?

In true fashion, I'm probably overthinking it. I hope this makes sense.


Thank you!!

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  • Goals are completely optional so you don’t have to use them at all (I’ve been YNABing since 2014 and don’t use goals at all). That being said you can just ignore the underfunded warnings in February. They are just warnings not “I failed” signs. Or take the goals out in Feb and start them in March. 

    Like 3
  • If your concern is the yellow warning that the goal is underfunded (because the transaction has already happened, and isn't needed to be funded until next month) then you can move to the March budget, and create the goal there (if the goal already exists, just edit it and save it, it will have the same effect as creating a new one) 

  • It can be quite confusing to begin with! I have been YNAB'ing for 2 years now and am still learning.

    As jenmas says, goals are completely optional. When first starting out, I'd actually not use them.

    Starting a budget mid-month can be confusing, especially as you've paid some bills already, and I'm sure you've already spent some money on groceries, fuel and other immediate obligations.

    The best advice I can give is to start your budget now, with your bank balances as they are today. Don't worry about the past. You could enter all your transactions since your last paycheck, but it sounds like a lot of work.

    Instead of using goals, have you seen future-dated (upcoming) transactions? For example, if your rent is next due on the 5th March, enter it now, dated for the 5th March. It won't show up as needing to be funded in February, but skip ahead to March's budget and you'll see it in orange with a calendar next to it.

    I tend to use this for my fixed monthly bills, and then use goals for my True Expenses, such as annual insurance premiums so that YNAB breaks it down to monthly contributions (and keeps track of my progress).

    Another top tip is to watch the YouTube tutorials - both the official YNAB ones and Nick True's "Mapped out Money". These really helped me, and if you get stuck - remember you can always do a fresh start or create a "dummy" budget to play around with.

    Welcome to the journey!

    Like 1
    • Turquoise Major I have not heard about the future-dated transactions. That sounds exactly like what I'm looking for. I'm going to heavily explore that option. Thank you for suggesting it!

  • Thank you, Everyone. I appreciate the help! I'm curious about not using goals. With all the videos I've watched, it seems the program is very heavy goal-oriented. I defiantly like the idea of using dummy budgets. I actually already have a couple of those. 😊


    Thank you so much for the tips! I truly appreciate it!

      • WordTenor
      • Can we agree that goals are dumb and immature? Sure.
      • WordTenor
      • 9 mths ago
      • 7
      • Reported - view

      Yeah, the company is super proud of making the goal feature and so it is put forward as the answer to all your ills. It isn’t. Budgeting is the answer to your ills. Make good decisions about where to put your money, and then make good decisions about how to change those decisions. Thats the whole ballgame. 

      Like 7
    • 911Dispatcher Many new users' first question is "where do I put my total grocery budget for the month", because with most budgeting systems that's where you start.  The literal answer to that is "goals"; I think support is trying to satisfy those semi-knowledgeable newbies who will quit if they can't do that .  The real answer is "slow down, you're asking the wrong question".  Goals can be very useful, and I personally love them, but they are not core functionality and they are not the right place to start.  First work with rule 1, giving every dollar a job, but only the dollars you have -- that's the breakthrough.  Once you really have that, you can start putting goals on your True Expenses.

      Like 1
  • I have played with the goals and I think that it is easier not to use them at first either. They can create more confusion than clarity until you understand how they actually work. A lot of people use the category name to include the goal so that is there but not impacting the visuals of funded/underfunded. For example - Groceries-$500 or Car Insurance $100 15th. 

    Highly recommend the use of scheduled transactions as pointed out by  Turquoise Major They are extremely helpful. I use them for monthly recurring like the mortgage and car insurace. I also use them for annual subscription renewals.

    Like 1
  • I started YNAB mid month too after we had already been paid for the month. At first I thought I had made a mistake by starting at that time but then I realized its a great time to start YNAB. I would suggest deleting any goals you aren't going to be able to fund this month because you already paid that bill this month. Ask yourself- what I am going to spend money on from now until I get paid again? If you have autopay transactions that will hit your credit card, budget for those, even if you're riding the credit card float right now. Because those transactions will happen and if you don't budget for them things will get confusing. After doing that consider the rest of your money and the things you know you will need to spend money on that aren't monthly bills- groceries, gas, pet food. 

    When I did this YNAB started to work its magic on me. First of all, I realized how hard I was riding the credit card float. I didn't have the cash on hand to get off so instead I focused on being really intentional with the real money I had on hand to plan wisely. While I already meal plan, I got out a notepad and pencil and took an inventory of my freezer, fridge, and pantry. I had 3 weeks until I got paid again so I needed to spend the least amount on groceries as possible and the best way to do that was to plan my meals around the things I already had on hand. 

    I looked at my credit card statement from the previous month to see how much we had spent on gas from the same time and the month forward. I budgeted the same amount because we hadn't done anything special just around town errands and work commutes, so I knew we were likely going to spend at least the same amount. No use pretending it would be otherwise. 

    I also budgeted for the daily coffee my husband gets because I knew he was going to get it, we have been down this road before and the man won't give up his $2.45 cup of coffee a day from a local shop. I counted the days left, multiplied it by $2.45 and put that in the eating out budget. 

    Anyway I could go on but basically I had just enough money to make it through the rest of that month. I wasn't able to fund any of my true expense categories other than money  we had already spent (like that $971 for new brakes on my husbands truck 😱). When the next payday rolled around the experience of that mid-month start really helped me plan wisely with that full paycheck. 

    Like 4
    • Jenna Now that I'm getting a little deeper into it, I do appreciate that I'm starting it mid month. I'm finding many of the same benefits you described - looking at my money from here to the end of the month has given me a new perspective. I thought I had a good handle on it. I already see I don't quite have as good a handle as I thought.


      Random side note - I legit read 'autopay transactions' as 'autopsy transactions'. 🤣 I was really surprised and really intrigued. I mean, I suppose that's what budgeting is....we look at all the inner workings of our money to see what exactly is happening and what happened to it. 😁

      Like 1
      • Jenna
      • JDubbs
      • 9 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      911Dispatcher I mis-read things like the frequently and it can be pretty funny sometimes. Best of luck on your budgeting journey. My husband and I also get paid monthly. We own our own business and choose to get paid that way but starting YNAB mid month when you get paid monthly is a little rough!  

      Like 1
  • Welcome! It's a learning curve for sure, but IMO once you get the hang of it it's awesome. RE: goals. We have been YNABers for many many years now and only just starting using goals this year. So just chiming in to agree that they're not critical to the process. I personally think they're really only useful once everything else has fallen into place for a bit.

    Like 1
    • Turquoise T-Rex I deleted all the goals and started with the future budgeting. I already like it much better. I think it's going to work well for me.

      Like 2
    • 911Dispatcher Just... Watch out for SFTF (Stealing From The Future). 

      ... Unless you mean future, scheduled transactions that give you implicit underfunding warnings in the budget. That's fine.

      Like 1
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