problem with the NEW monthly goal feature

Has anyones accounts been refreshed with the new goal types yet?

I thought I was finally getting what I needed with the new "Monthly" goal. But apparently I'm not understanding it correctly?

I have certain categories that I want building up over time, and I have certain categories that I don't need building up. For example, Groceries. I put $400 a month in Groceries, but don't need more than that. If I only spend $330 a month, I don't want to end up with $470. I just want to top it off and have $400. I thought I understood correctly that this was exactly what the new "Monthly" goal was supposed to be. A cap of sorts. $400 should be my cap. If I only spend $330, it should only put $330 back next month since I'm capped at $400 monthly.

To test it, I went and changed my Eating Out category to the NEW "Monthly" goal. I've already spent $45 this month, and have $30 left in there. I flip over to the next month, and it still says I'm underfunded by $75, instead of $45. Has anyone got it to actually work? What am I missing?

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  • From what I understand as a beta tester, the new Monthly goal will work the way you want. However, it only does that when the month rolls over. So when you actually reach the 1st of the following month, $70 or whatever's left from the previous month will count towards your $400 Groceries cap. If you flip over to next month before the current month rolls over, it will show you as underfunded in that month by $400 as you may still spend the $70 before you reach the end of the current month.

    If you did budget $400 in next month's Groceries before the month rolls over (and you have $70 left in Groceries from the current month), when you reach 1st, you would then have $470 in that category. So you could either budget $330 in next month's Groceries instead and it will automatically add in your $70 from the previous month at month roll over, or adjust the budgeted amount on 1st using Quick Budget: Goal Target to get back to $400. That would then send $70 back to To Be Budgeted.

    Like 2
      • Alan Dennis
      • YNAB Product Design Manager
      • alan_dennis
      • 1 yr ago
      • 15
      • Reported - view

      Hi there nolesrule ,

      I just wanted to share a bit of background behind why we decided to ship the goal working this way. We actually had this new goal in beta for a couple months and it used to work exactly as you’re describing. As soon as you spent money in your current month, the goal in future months would become underfunded. Beta participants who budgeted into the future found this to be rather difficult to keep up with—especially with categories like Transportation or Groceries, which may have transactions multiple times per week. They would have to record a transaction, jump into the future and adjust their budget in the next month, over and over... Not ideal, especially if you had already budgeted to zero—that’s a LOT of clicking or tapping around.

      Or, an example that’s less about clicking and tapping but also about future planning … imagine a person who budgets a full month ahead or even two. At the beginning of September, you’re budgeting for October. Must of your categories in September are full … so your October goals basically ask for nothing. Which isn’t realistic at all.

      With the goal only using leftovers to fund future months when the month rolls over, however, you avoid this second situation entirely. And for the first situation, there’s just a couple clicks/taps to resolve it. Say you have a Monthly goal of $500 in Groceries. Last month, you spent $400, so you end up having $100 left over. You already budgeted $500 to this new month, though, so you end up with $600. You have a surplus of $100. To resolve this, you can use the Quick Budget: Goal Target button to quickly adjust your category balance and send that $100 back to To be Budgeted. A couple clicks at the beginning of the month and you’re good to go, rather than a bunch of clicks every time you record a transaction.

      This was one of those difficult moments where we could decide to do it one way and not meet expectations for one subset of YNABers, or do it the other way and not meet expectations for another subset. But even that isn’t the end of the story—we’re continuing to work with the goals feature, and as a part expect to make this workflow even more effective. But we can only do that if the goal was setup the way it is now. So, we have more options to create an even better workflow in the future, with the goal working as it does—and we didn’t want to wait months before releasing this new goal, since the feedback we got from our months in beta testing is that it’s valuable and useful now, even without the future improvements.

      I hope this helps!

      Like 15
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      timbo1973 Are you saying the functionality is tied to the calendar date rather than doing the match on the present balance?

      Like
      • timbo1973
      • timbo1973
      • 1 yr ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      nolesrule It's tied to month rollover.

      Like 2
      • jenmas
      • jenmas
      • 1 yr ago
      • 6
      • Reported - view

      timbo1973 That is not good. I will budget for October on September 22 when I receive my final paycheck for the month (all September paychecks fund October) so having to wait an additional 9 days to actually finalize my budget is less than satisfactory.

      Like 6
      • Herman
      • herman
      • 1 yr ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      jenmas but if you don't wait those days the numbers could/would most likely change as you spend money during the final we eek of the month.  Seems either scenario would require a re-evaluation when the month rolls over. 

      Like 1
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 1 yr ago
      • 4
      • Reported - view

      Herman The re-evaluation should happen in real time anytime there is a change to the category, whether budget or transaction. Not just when the clock strikes midnight at the end of the month. Strikes me as lazy programming.

      Like 4
      • Herman
      • herman
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      nolesrule ok, I would never use that goal type but seems it would be a moving target whichever way you do it so I disagree that continual updating would be a better experience, lazy or not. 

      Like
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Herman Just like the toolkit with the PIF credit card setting, you give some kind of warning if it's above target. Using the goal quick budget function should be able to adjust the budgeted lower to meet the cap.

      Like
    • 😲 Wow. Just wow.

      Tying it to passage of time in the real world was why the SFTF (supposed) "fix" was a fail.

      Why can't they let the budget be the line in the sand and not play these, "you might do this or that" games. If, in fact, I decide to do something, then I will darn well change the plan at that point.

      Like 3
      • briefcase
      • A rack of ties, a travel mug, telephone, briefcase filled with papers
      • briefcase
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Alan Dennis Both scenarios in this post are exactly what jumped to mind.  I budget a month ahead, manually with each paycheck, and I don't want the goal amount to automatically update with each transaction.  I want to adjust the budget once and be on my merry way.

      Like
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 1 yr ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view

      Alan Dennis Yeah, I just don't see the issue with keeping it in the present. People need to learn to rely on the budget as it stands in the immediate present and make adjustments as the information changes.

      The real problem isn't actually the goal, it's Stealing From the Future, a 4.5 year old bug that still hasn't been fixed.

      Like 3
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Alan Dennis So what happens to the goal if after the month change-over, you have transactions added to the previous month that would result in a goal change? Does the goal adjust in real time at that point?

      Like
      • Alan Dennis
      • YNAB Product Design Manager
      • alan_dennis
      • 1 yr ago
      • 9
      • Reported - view

      nolesrule Yes, that's correct. Let's break it down, for extra clarity:

      • In August, I had $500 in Groceries and spent $300 of it, leaving $200 left in the category.
      • It's now September and the $200 from August is used to fund my goal in September. I budget $300 to my Groceries category and now have $500. My goal is met and everything is green.
      • One day later, I import a transaction that was on August 31st. It was a $100 transaction, categorized to groceries. Now my spending in August was $400, leaving $100 left at the end of August.
      • In September, I now only have $100 from August funding my goal, so the goal displays that it's short $100. So I budget another $100 to my goal and now everything is all set again.

      So yes, the goal adjusts in real-time in this scenario.

      Like 9
      • Lars A
      • Online Marketing Consultant
      • lars_a
      • 6 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      jenmas yeah, that's what I noticed as well. What I'm doing as a workaround is create a "next month's budget" category and just put all my paychecks there until the last day of the month or maybe 1st day of the month, then release that budget category for funding.

      Like
    • Alan Dennis unless you are waiting until September 1 to budget for that month (which I don't think anyone should be doing), this feature has the same outcome as savings goals - any amount I budgeted in August that went unspent will end up as surplus in September and the category balance will grow, and YNAB will not indicate that anything is wrong. The real example, for extra clarity:

      • In August, I had $500 in Groceries and spent $300 of it, leaving $200 left in the category.
      • It's now the end of August, and I got a paycheck so now I'm going to budget for September. YNAB tells me Groceries are underfunded by $500 so when I use quick-budget it will budget $500 and the balance is $700. My goal is met and everything is green.
      • A few days later, the calendar turns to September. I still have $500 budgeted, and I still have a $700 balance. This is no different than if I had used a monthly savings goal.
      Like
  • Are you sure you have been updated to the new six goal types? I was under the impression they would be coming later, and not everyone would have them at the same time. When I look at goals, I see just the original three types.

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    • JoeDid Yes, I'm sure. I was under the same impression, but then I was on the app on my iPhone and got the popup explaining the new goal types. Went on my computer and the goals settings window is definitely different. It's probably a rollout process going to a few people at a time.

      Like
    • JoeDid 

      Like 1
      • JoeDid
      • Remember: It is To Laugh
      • Purple_rain
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Maroon Memory Got it. I still see only the three original goals.

      Like
  • My reading of the article suggests the Monthly Planning goal is what you want. Disappointing if the implementation does not match the description.

    Like
  • Alan Dennis 

    Hi, really happy that ynab incorporated this new type of goal.

    It's great that leftover amounts go into the next months, but I would hope that any automatic overbudgeting would be solved automatically (by sending it to be budgeted (for example) or at least the same way a special alert is created from overspending and one click solution (ignore or send money to...)
    On that note, it is still strange to me that ynab allows overspending in the past without a special alert - for example if I record a transaction for a previous month.

    Like 3
    • Hi Cornflower Blue Elk !

      If you select a category that has more money in it than you need for the goal, you can use the Quick Budget  "Goal Target" to change the amount to be only what the goal requires. Extra funds in a category is how you save up towards an expense, so leaving more in that category now means needing less there in the future. 

      As for overspending, the header at the top of your budget will list any amount of cash overspending for the previous month. If you enter a transaction for last month in a cash account, that figure will update, but there's no other alert since it's addressed by being subtracted from your To Be Budgeted amount.

      Like
      • Ceeses
      • Ceeses
      • 11 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Cornflower Blue Elk I definitely wouldn't want the category to automatically prevent me to budget more than a goal. Say I have a Groceries category and I have a goal on it. But I know I like to budget more for Christmas groceries. If the reallocation of budgeted money were automatic, it would force users to have 2 categories in that case. I much prefer the "Goal Targer" quick budget option, then it is left to the user to check their budget and decide if they like it or not.

      Like 1
    • Faness  The issue is that you can only "Goal Target" on one single category at a time. What if you have 80 categories and 5 of them have a "Monthly Spending" goal and you budget in advance, because most of us don't want to wait to budget until the first day in the month. Now you have 5 potentially overfunded categories but you can't select your whole budget and say "defund overfunded categories". You have to find them one by one. "Monthly Spending" goal is simply awfully incompatible with doing your monthly budget the month before. I'd love to know any feasible workarounds, but as far as I can see, none exists at the moment.

      Like
    • Hi Gandalf Saxe !

      Currently, you're right - there isn't a way to decrease multiple categories to just the goal target at once, unless the goal target happens to coincide with other Quick Budget options (such as the amount spent or budgeted last month). We're currently looking into Quick Budget options that would improve budgeting in the given scenario. If you have a moment, would you mind submitting a Feature Request to let our Product Team know exactly how you'd like to see Quick Budget behave here? Would you prefer a separate Quick Budget option, or just the "Goal Target" option when multiple categories are selected?

      Like
    • Faness I have filled out the form. For reference I'll write it here too:

       

      POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS:

      I see multiple solutions, none of which are mutually exclusive:

      1. Have a separate Quick Budget option that funds all underfunded goals, assuming that all funds currently on categories rolls over for Monthly Spending type goals.
      2.  Have "Goal Target" available when multiple categories are selected such that "overfunded" goals can be de-funded back to their exact goal.
      3. Have a notification similar to the one that comes up when scheduled transactions enters as transactions in an account. It could say "These categories with monthly spending are overfunded due to money rolling over from the previous month. Would you like to budget the exact goal target for these categories?". And then you could chose individually or just a button for "Fund goal target for all", which would bring all monthly spending goal category to their exact amount and move any overfunding into "To be budgeted".

       

      WHAT I CURRENTLY DO:

      One of two things:
      1. Either I still "Quick Budget: Underfunded" at the end of the month, then go into all my "Monthly Spending" goal categories one by one manually and click "Goal Target" on the 1st of the month. Is quicker here and now, but requires me to come back at the beginning of the next month that I Quick Budgeted.

      2. Don't use "Quick Budget: Underfunded", but manually fund all goals, making sure that my Monthly Spending goals add up to my taget amount (assuming that I don't spent more in the current month, which I can always assume at the end of the month). No adjustment needed next month but takes more time here and now.

       

      I also noted that I'm open to any other solutions than the ones I could think of, as long as we can a solution that is more elegant than we currently have to do.

      Like
      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 4 mths ago
      • Reported - view
      Gandalf Saxe said:
      "Monthly Spending" goal is simply awfully incompatible with doing your monthly budget the month before.

      I think a far better approach is to sweep the leftovers into some high-priority category and use a Monthly Funding Goal -- not a Monthly Spending goal. Obviously, categories will be slightly inflated until you sweep (arguably best done a couple days into the new month when everything has posted), but that really shouldn't be an issue. One can also group categories that you'd normally sweep to make that more efficient (select the entire group and hit Available To Zero).

      Like
    • dakinemaui If I do what you suggest, then why have Monthly Spending goals in the first place? What you're suggesting just sound like the problem that Monthly Spending goals were trying to solve in the first place, instead of having to fiddle with the excess money budgeted by a Monthly Funding Goal / Monthly Contribution.

       

      In any case if it was possible to "sweep" multiple "overfunded" categories at a time (by which I mean Quick Budget it to Target Goal), this could be one way to deal with it, but right now you have to do it manually for one category at a time. And then you have to keep track of which categories are have a "Monthly Spending" because you only have to look at those. But goal type on categories is not visible at a glance, only when you select a single goal.

      Like
      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 4 mths ago
      • Reported - view
      Gandalf Saxe said:
      why have Monthly Spending goals in the first place?

      Good question. I think it's worth separating the fact it doesn't work until time passes in the real world from the workflow it promotes in the budget (when it eventually works). It sounds like it's the former aspect that irks you. You're not alone. Tying it to real-world time makes it act unlike anything else in the budget -- inconsistency is confusing, especially for new users. You've obviously felt the pain as someone trying to plan ahead but can't.

      It's supposed to top off a category (or categories if you select them). In theory, it saves the user from having to sweep, as it would have you budget less to those categories, leaving more in TBB, which could then be put toward the high-priority category you would have swept into (if you were sweeping). That all sounds great.

      Unfortunately, the fact it doesn't work until next month actually arrives results in budgeting more than necessary if you don't wait until the month actually changes. When the fundamental point of YNAB is to facilitate advance planning, that's clearly a step backward, IMHO.

      If it worked immediately (as all other goals do), you could budget next month when you've received the money for next month. If you happen to use any of the money in this month's category after making allocations into next month, the goal would let you know of that, too. What it would not do is promote lifestyle creep as the current implementation is prone to do.

      I strongly urge you to make a feature request expressing how you -- as someone trying to plan ahead -- cannot use this feature as it.

      Like
      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 4 mths ago
      • Reported - view
      Gandalf Saxe said:
      if it was possible to "sweep" multiple "overfunded" categories at a time (by which I mean Quick Budget it to Target Goal)

      Again, I think the more efficient route is to sweep leftovers in the previous month. Select leftover categories, Quick-Budget Available To $0 (to put it into TBB), then budget whatever is in TBB to the target category. Let the monthly funding goal fill in the full/nominal amount as part of a larger "Underfunded" Quick-Budget action in the current month's area.

      FWIW, the Toolkit Extension (a 3rd party browser extension) can be configured to show the goal type.

      Like
    • dakinemaui 

      dakinemaui 

      I did submit the feature request yes 👍

      I understand where YNAB is coming from, they don't want people to budget too far in advance under the assumption that their budget categories will see no further expenses, and then have to re-adjust repeatedly until the month finally rolls around and the amounts rolling over is finalized.

       

      However I also don't like that you can't do your monthly budget for the next month easily in advance at the end of the month with only a few days left, where you KNOW the spending (or rather lack of spending) there will be for the rest of the month. I don't want to wait until the 1st in the month to do my budget, it makes me feel stressed; what if the 1st day in the month is a Monday and work is really intense that week? I want to be able to do it in the weekend, easily.

       

      The best solution I've found now is to put "(MS)" at the end of all categories with Monthly Spending (MS) goal, and:

      1. Go to next month, Quick Budget, Underfunded

      2. Search the page for "(MS)", go to each of one and click Quick Budget "Spent Last Month" which replenishes the category to the correct amount, which is exactly what I want, assuming that the last month started with the full budgeted amount, which I can count on being the case in general.

      3. Live with some categories for next month being yellow for the rest of the month, and turn green when the month does roll over.

       

      The problem I have with your suggestion is that I have 51 categories and around 4 our them have a Monthly Spending goal, and they're spread across different master categories. So it's annoying to have to 1. remember which they are and 2. hunt them down individually. It can be done, but I prefer the method above because I can get my budgeting done in one sitting instead of having to circle back for a 2nd pass, and in the event that there is some spending at the end of the current month, the problem will simply show up as underfunded and easily handled via the normal "select all, quick budget underfunded" method. However there is no easy way to quickly identify all the "overfunded" categories.

      Like
      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 4 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Gandalf Saxe I think your use of Spent Last Month is spot on, and you correctly point out the only caveat I would have added (reallocation in the previous month is problematic). Spent Last Month was, in fact, what people did before Spending goals were implemented if they didn't want to sweep.

      As far as #3, I'm not sure I understand. If it's yellow because of overspending, I would DEFINITELY budget to cover it (rather than leave it yellow) because of the interaction with the CC Payment category. Leaving yellow overspending increases the amount of credit being floated. 

      Either way, my suggestion is to simply put the nominal total in the category name for easy reference. If the Spent Last Month doesn't give that much as Available, then just override it. (Tip: Quick-Budget Available to $0 and then +123 if you're trying to get an Available of $123.)

      You might put a colorful emoji in the category name to more easily find it, although you'll probably never beat Ctrl+F and Ctrl+G if you're comfortable with the keyboard. ;-)

      Like
    • dakinemaui 

      For #3, the point is that it's the (MS) categories in the budget for next month, not the current month, are yellow until the month rolls over (because they want to be fully funded assuming that no money rolls over from current month). So it's not so much of an issue since I mostly look at, and only really care, about colors in the current month's budget :)

      Gandalf Saxe said:
      3. Live with some categories for next month being yellow for the rest of the month, and turn green when the month does roll over.

      The situation we just have to live with for now is that we can't just budget the next month by simply quick budgeting all underfunded, but have to do a second pass for those (MS) categories, but that's the way it is until the YNAB team (hopefully) finds a better solution.

      Yes Ctrl+F (or rather ⌘F) is the way to go for me ;)

      Like 1
  • It doesn't seem to work for me. I have a category for which I went back to December and set a spending goal of $250. I had about $100 leftover at the end of the month, but Quick Budget (and also the goal itself) wants me to budget an additional $250, as if there wasn't already $100 rolled over.

    Like
      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 8 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Don Denton There may be some weirdness caused by the fact this goal requires the month to change in the real world before it does anything combined with you creating this goal in January. (This  is in spite of the fact it was entered in the Dec. budget area.)

      Hopefully Support will weigh in on how your entry timing may influence things. It sounds like a bug to me.

      Like 1
    • Hi Don Denton !

      When did you enter that goal? I just tried going back to December and setting a monthly spending goal. When I moved back to January, it calculated correctly and only asked me to budget enough to reach that set goal (I had $100 Available and I needed to budget $50 more to reach $150). 

      Did you have any other goals in that category previously? If you try deleting and then re-entering the goal are you seeing the same results?

      Like
      • Don Denton
      • Alice_Blue_Drill.10
      • 8 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Faness I tried that several times last night. However, when I visited the app just now, it all is behaving as expected. Even on the initial page load, the goal which was displayed as underfunded last night is now fully funded. So perhaps a bug fix went out or I was somehow running a partially updated app last night? In any case, now I am seeing exactly what I would expect from the new goals.

      Like
      • Don Denton
      • Alice_Blue_Drill.10
      • 8 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Faness If there were no bug fixes to address such an issue, I would guess that there is possibly a bug lurking somewhere in the dreaded date math logic used for those goals. In my case, I was seeing the behavior I described above at approximately 11:30pm, Central Time, January 1. Wish I had taken screenshots as now I cannot reproduce the issue. I could always try again next year!

      Like 1
    • Don Denton That's quite a long time to wait for a repeat! We did have trouble with the web app yesterday, but I'm not seeing any reports of this in particular. If that gives you anymore trouble (maybe on the 1st of next month, instead of the 1st of next year) please don't hesitate to submit a Bug Report so our Bug Team can take a closer look! :)

      Like
  • This has been happening to me as well. I tested it moving from December to January and it didn't take into account what I had leftover from December for groceries. I will test again going into February and submit a bug report if it happens again.

    Like
    • Hi Salmon Falafel !

      The goal won't take the carried over amount into consideration until after the month rolls over. If we get to February and those amounts still aren't updating to include the amount carried over to February please don't hesitate to let us know!

      Like
  • Hi, I do not usually comment and I signed in specifically to solve this! 

     

    There is a solution for all this without breaking the system. All the YNAB need to do is to add a minor feature. This feature is the ability to have the option to cap a goal. This function automatical reduces the funds from a subcategory where the goal was set, to meet the cap number you have set everytime the goal period starts again, and put those funds back to be budgeted. This will help us YNABers to rest assure that we will never finish up with less funds and saves us time!!! 

    Please like my comment to support this. Hope I will be heard

     

    Regards

    Like
    • Gozitan Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this, and joining us in the Forum! Our team is continuing to work on improving goals. I can't promise exact implementation will be added, but we carefully consider all feedback.  If you’d like to submit this idea for consideration to our product team, please submit a Feature Request. 😄

      Like
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