Multiple goals (known future expenses) for a category?

I'm new to YNAB, and loving it so far. One thing I just stumbled on is planning for multiple known future expenses in a single category. I think it's great that YNAB created a Software Subscriptions category and a goal to support paying for my YNAB subscription. Now I'm looking to also use that category to handle another software subscription (1Password) that I pay for annually (this one in November). So my question is what the best way is to handle that (short of creating a category for each subscription software product). Once things reach steady state (amortizing the cost of each subscription across 12 months), it makes sense to use a monthly funding goal. But since I'm currently budgeting for all of YNAB across three months (started very late in Feb, will be due in early April), and for 1Password across 8 months, what is the best way to have YNAB automate (or at least help with) that? The obvious one right now would be to set up a monthly funding goal now and then adjust it down after each payment (or up if I buy another subscription), but since YNAB is so smart about helping with things like this, I'm hoping there's something easier (i.e., not requiring future adjustments that I know now I'll have to make) that I'm just not seeing.

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  • The simplest solution is to use multiple categories, one for each subscription. That way you know you have the right amount for each subscription. It's really not as bad as it seems, and it creates more awareness for how each individual subscription affects your budget.

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  • nolesrule said:
    The simplest solution is to use multiple categories, one for each subscription. That way you know you have the right amount for each subscription. It's really not as bad as it seems, and it creates more awareness for how each individual subscription affects your budget.

     This is true for small subscriptions.  For larger ones it requires more funds, and so is somewhat problematic.  It's also true that there's no reason that the goals functionality couldn't be made to handle this.  It would be a very useful thing. 

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

      LarryinLA Yeah, it's possible, but I've never seen the point in trying to combine. It's a combination of accuracy and awareness, with awareness of each individual source of spending being the more important aspect.

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      • FenianEMT
      • Fenianemt
      • 2 yrs ago
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      nolesrule I think my big issue with using multiple categories is that I would prefer to keep the total number of categories as low as will work. I feel like the fewer categories there are (within reason, obviously), the easier it is to glean useful information quickly from glancing at my overall budget. Put simply, I'd rather see how much impact software subscriptions in general are having on my budget and then only drill down into the details when I think it's problematic than have extra lines in my budget delineating how much I'm spending on each individual product (and ultimately do more scrolling when I look at my budget in general). Does that make sense?

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

      FenianEMT Yeah, it makes sense, but subscriptions are low maintenance categories. You set each one for the monthly amount you need to fund, regardless of frequency of payment, and then you create the recurring transaction. Quick budget those categories every month. Maybe even dump them all under a single category group, and keep it collapsed when you don't feel like looking at it.

      Me, I'd rather have the amount of each subscription in my face so every time I see it it makes me consider whether an individual subscription is worth it or not. It's a great way to determine priorities by being confronted by it.

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    • LarryinLA I do what nolesrule does, I have all my software subscriptions, YNAB, AVG Driver Updater, Microsoft Office, ect, in my Comes Around About Once A Year category, they all have a monthly funding goal, so when quick fund at the first of the month they are taken care of, but I can see that the balances are growing over time. This category also holds my truck registration, AAA membership and other such items, that are on pilot, the actually payment of the bills is set up as a template item in my register. 

      Now where I do combine in the monthly  category. Netflix, Ancestry and others are all tossed into SOFTWARE SUBSCRIPTIONS, but each have there own line item in the register. If that makes sense. 

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      • FenianEMT
      • Fenianemt
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 2
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      nolesrule It sounds like we're really in personal preference territory here. For me, the two subscriptions in question (YNAB and 1Password) are fairly non-negotiable (or at least if YNAB becomes optional, then I've probably failed at this whole budgeting thing to begin with, so lets hope it doesn't go that way), so I'm not really interested in having the details in my face when I look at my budget. I could imagine that some people who have more software subscriptions might be in a position to be evaluating them more frequently.

      In any case, it seems like the answer to my initial question is that for me, the best approach is to use monthly funding goals and just edit them as necessary.

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      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 1
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      FenianEMT I didn't realize you were limiting it to a pair of subscriptions. I thought it was just an example. The awareness problem isn't when you have 2. It's when you have 5, 6, 7... 10.

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      • LarryinLA
      • Larryinla.1
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 2
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      nolesrule 

      I have to say, for subscription functions what you say makes a lot of sense.  I'm inclined to agree that the important thing is it gives you the opportunity to (1) make sure they're funded and (2) make the decision on whether you want to continue to purchase them.  Individual categories is definitely best for that.  I have very few such subscriptions, but I think you're definitely right here about the best way to handle this particular use case.

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  • Hi FenianEMT !

    I just wanted to chime in to let you know I'm passing this along to our development team as a feature request! :)

    For now, the options are to separate those expenses into individual categories or set a monthly funding goal and then adjust it once you make the initial payments. I actually gave an example of this in another forum thread, just in case you want to take a look!

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  • This forum link helped me realize how to set a monthly funding goal that is clear to its purpose of covering multiple future transactions. https://www.reddit.com/r/ynab/comments/5dye60/nynab_our_monthly_auto_maintenance_fund/

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  • I also  submitted a feature request to support multiple goals per category a while ago.

    But there's something deeper that lurks under this, and that is that future dated transactions and goals seem to me to be surface representations of "the same thing" underneath.

    We already have future dated transactions, so why should one need to in one step load future dated transactions for your YNAB subscription and 1Password subscription, and then in a separate step go and set up goals to fund those transactions?

    If I tell YNAB that I am going to spend X money on the 17th of August, the default behaviour should be that YNAB assumes my goal in life is to be able to afford to spend X by that date. Future transactions should, by default, be goals - which argues that YNAB should support multiple goals per category.

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      • Jacob T
      • jacobt
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 1
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      Pieter Nagel  I agree that future transactions should work something like target category balance by date, but I think it needs to be optional. I don't want to save towards next months phone bill this month because I'll pay it out of my next paycheck. I also don't want to be reminded to save 50 cents a month for a once per year charge of $6. What I do now is just put a category balance by date goal in the category that my future transaction is in. The only reason this doesn't work is for situations like your car maintenance budget (see the link I posted earlier)  where you have multiple large transactions coming up and you want to budget monthly in a way that covers all of them.

      It would be great if you could click a check box electing whether or not to budget in advance for a future transaction,  and if there are multiple in a category, ynab would do the math that would give you a monthly funding goal that would cover all future expenses that you chose to budget in advance for.

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  • I just submitted a feature request form, but thought I'd add to the conversation here as well. I like what others have already said here about multiple goals and funding the goal that is due soonest, first. The one things missing is some way to visually distinguish between having your soonest-due goal on-track and having all goals in a category on-track, and a way to quick-budget either for all goals in a category or for only the soonest due.

    The other thing I put in the feature request is related to what Pieter Nagel said above, about having to first enter a scheduled transaction and then separately enter a goal. I think when entering a future transaction, there should be a checkbox to create a "Linked Goal." If you change the amount or date of the transaction, the linked goal would automatically update to reflect the changes. Also, if the transaction is recurring, the goal would automatically reset once the transaction actually occurs, to start budgeting for the next instance.

    In the meantime, I may do what others have suggested and create a separate category for each recurring subscription. I generally like to have fewer, broader categories than more and narrower categories, which is why I support both the multiple goals and linked goals ideas. 

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