Looking for Advice on budgeting future transactions

I am in my first month using YNAB and am really enjoying the process.  There is one issue that I could use some advice on.

I have encountered situations where I have a future expense scheduled as an automatic withdrawal from my bank account.  I have entered the expense as a future transaction and I have funded the budget category with enough to cover the transaction.  The budget shows that category as green even though the money is earmarked for something else.  When my spouse goes to spend something she checks the mobile app to make sure there is money available in the category.  She sees that the category is green and so she feels comfortable with the expense because she doesn't realize that another bill is going to hit that category in 2 days.  We have now overspent in the category unintentionally.

I know that she could dive deeper into the details and find out that there is a future expense coming up but that would extra effort would make it much more difficult for her to use the budget quickly and efficiently and I think would result in her being less diligent in using it. What I really wish is that the budget category didn't show as being green since that gives the false impression that the money is available when it really isn't.

Any suggestion?  Thanks.

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  • I've been using  nYNAB for four months now (while continuing to use YNAB4), and I still haven't resolved this issue for myself. I definitely want to be able to enter this month's expenses in the register on the first of the month in order to reserve those funds in their categories and to monitor the cashflow level in my transactional account.  Still.drives.me.nutzo. I've tried different methods over the last four months:

    1. I changed the date on my recurring auto-transactions (expenses, not income) to the first of the month and left them uncleared until they occurred, then changed the date to the correct date after they cleared. (warning: if you use the Chrome extension and turn on the running balance, this will annoy you like nails on a chalkboard)
    2. I retweaked my categories to separate those with both auto-payments and discretionary funds to two separate categories. This added a dozen categories to my budget, which I hated, so I changed it back immediately.
    3. I increased the base minimum cash balance I leave in my chequing account at all times for the peace of mind of not miscalculating and going over. I'm not happy about it because my chequing account pays zero interest and my savings account is enjoying a promotional interest period right now.

    I'm still not 100% satisfied or at ease with any of these methodologies, but I'm using the third option right now  and trying to ignore the annoyance I feel at the frequent mental math needed to calculate how much is 'really' in a category and available because I know it's wrong.

    Like 3
  • I've just kept the auto-payments to non-discretionary categories and that's worked for me.  Though some are spread in other True Expense type categories (insurance, etc) I have a catch-all "Subscriptions" category that holds half a dozen subscriptions that auto-pay throughout the year.  Things that are a few dollars per month but would cause confusion if left in discretionary categories like you described.  

    Like 4
  • I know it's an extra step but the information is available to your spouse in the mobile app. If you were to click on the category in question the budgeting tool pops up. If you then click the for details it will tell you the total of any upcoming transactions and the funds available after those transactions.

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      • RamMan
      • Powder_Blue_Admiral.2
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Budget OCD  I know that we can do this but then we are in situation of always having to check the details for every green category before spending in it.  And most of the time that isn't necessary.  There is nothing that would prompt us to know that we need to check the details.  I can't imagine any of us would think the program was as convenient if we always needed to check the details of every category before we felt safe spending it.

      Like 1
  • I would like to see the ability to make the "after upcoming" number be the default in the budget view.  It seems that it would be relatively straightforward to allow that option to be toggled. 

     In the meantime, perhaps put a signal in the title of the category.  So for example if you have a monthly grocery delivery, "groceries" might become "groceries-s" to remind you that there may be a scheduled transaction and the inspector should be consulted. 

    Like 5
  • I, and I got the idea from other's on here, use Emoji's might be a bit of extra work, but find one that you both agree will denote that there are future transactions scheduled in that category. She can see at a glance. 

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    • briefcase
    • A rack of ties, a travel mug, telephone, briefcase filled with papers
    • briefcase
    • 2 yrs ago
    • 1
    • Reported - view
    HappyDance said:
    I retweaked my categories to separate those with both auto-payments and discretionary funds to two separate categories. This added a dozen categories to my budget, which I hated, so I changed it back immediately.

     This is the method that I use after 2 years of nYNAB usage.  I did this in YNAB4, as well, but even doing that I only have a grand total of 42 categories so I'm not sure if that's worth it to you.  Literally every monthly transaction has its own category in my budget, though, so if the category is green I know the expense is paid.

    Like 1
  • Why not create a separate category for the Auto Withdrawal and let it be?  Personally I have an individual category for each bill/auto-payment etc.  This way I don't dip into any category that I don't need to.

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      • HappyDance
      • YNABing consistently since 2014
      • HappyDance
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Cindy Ward 

      That works, of course, and I seriously considered it too.  In the end it's about the reports for me. I want my auto draft for rent to show under rent/utilities, and my auto payment for annual software renewal to show under subscriptions, and my auto payment for AMA to show under annual car renewals in my reports.

      Like 1
    • HappyDance You could always keep the money in a holding  category and then move it to the right one before the scheduled transaction goes through so it still comes out of the right category for reports.

      Like 1
      • HappyDance
      • YNABing consistently since 2014
      • HappyDance
      • 2 yrs ago
      • Reported - view

      Target Date 

      Yes.  I could.  That might be an option worth trying. I think, though, that I would prefer the workaround of dating all my recurring scheduled transactions on the first of the month and leaving them in their own categories.  Either way, I'd still have to revise the entry later.

      All I want is for the category balance to show scheduled auto-pays for the current month as spent/reserved.  So if there is $100 in the category, and there is a scheduled auto-payment on the 15th for $25, I want the category balance to show $75 and not $100, so I don't accidentally overspend or WAM to another category and so that I don't have to remember them all in my head. But, since that option was removed in this version of YNAB, and it's not likely to be returned any time soon, I am trialing the current process of mental math and a higher than necessary chequing account balance to be safe.  But it bugs me. It's hard for me to adequately describe the anxiety this provokes in me to someone who doesn't live with this need, but it's akin to physically painful. Anyway, it's going to continue to bug me every month until the 22nd (the date after which all my auto payments are done for the month).  I'm trying to find the workaround that bugs me the least.  I may go back to dating autodrafts for the 1st of the month. 

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    • HappyDance Oh no problem I totally agree!! I just requested that one of my bills be collected on the same date as a different once just to try to simplify my own life. I hope they bring it back but until then we must stay strong lol

      Like 1
  • Hi RamMan !

    Thank you so much for this detailed explanation as to why the "Available after upcoming" just isn't cutting it for you and your family.  

    When researching feature requests/feedback,  the Design team asks questions like "Where is this person in their budgeting journey? " and "What problem are they wanting to solve?" and hearing all of these extra details (from you and other YNABers) is so very helpful! We really appreciate it. 😊

    Speaking of feature requests, did you see this recent announcement that Janelle made?  Feel free to submit a request for this feature! 

    Like 1
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