Newbie - with empty categories
So, I just got paid and gave every dollar a job! Yay. In doing this, I realize that it is going to take FOREVER to age my money 30 days. I have been budgeting every paycheck for years so the money that came in all has been accounted for. Most of my categories are empty. A tad discouraging. My new pay is coming and it too has long been alloted. I think YNAB will be awesome when I finally get ahead but boy, that looks like it is going to be a while! My income is about $4500/month and I am alone. Most of it is budgeted for in YNAB this pay except about $400 - which I would normally use on hair/dog, etc but I am holding off till it gets bigger. How long did you all take to transition from the dinosaur way, to the YNAB way? Maybe I need another job!!!!! :-P
You should budget all your money. Rule #1 is give every dollar a job.
You can always change the jobs later.
But to your concern, the answer is to live below your means. There are two ways to do that. Reduce expenses or increase income.
Your AOM will increase as you set aside money for non-monthly expenses and your emergency fund, though to be honest, AOM isn't as good a measurement of your progress as just looking at the budget itself.
Magenta , when you say "my new pay... has long been alloted", you mean hypothetically, right? you're only budgeting money you currently have, right?
you'll get there. in my first few months my age of money has gone up each month. don't let this metric discourage you, there are lots of other ways to measure your progress. at a certain point, too, AoM doesn't mean jack.
We had operated YNAB for years with a nice buffer but then a change of jobs and a bit of a mess caused us to start over from scratch: no buffer, living completely paycheque to paycheque. I thought there was no way we would ever age our money or have that buffer again because in my mind that meant I needed $4000+ just sitting around in a buffer category or savings account. That certainly never happened and yet my money began to age (I can't remember exactly how long it took but definitely within the first year) I might be wrong on the logistics but I assume it was because I was building up my categories for rainy days (medical, home and auto maintenance, gifts etc) and annual expenses (Christmas, subscriptions, snow removal, firewood, etc.) and that this was essentially creating that buffer since this money sat around most of the time. I was under the assumption that being a buffer was my money's only job- but that apparently didn't have to be true.
Maybe there are some things you can do for a short time to help you get ahead. For example, having a month where your spending on groceries is very low, just fresh stuff, and you use up what you have in your cupboards. All those canned, frozen and non-perishable items, in whatever combination you can come up with. Pasta with olive oil, tinned artichokes and frozen broad beans? Go for it!
No spend days, or even a no spend month, can be very helpful. If you run out of something, instead of going to the shop (and at the same time perhaps picking up additional items, but even if you only pick up the item you ran out of before your next planned spend) - instead of that, make do. If you normally have milk in coffee and you run out of milk, drink your coffee black, or don't have coffee, or ask a neighbour to spare a little bit of milk, or drink the green tea at the back of the cupboard that you never drink. Do things with friends that cost nothing extra - picnic lunch, walk, free events etc.
Not sure exactly what "hair/dog" items the $400 tends to be spent on. Hopefully essential dog items like vet expenses are covered in your True Expenses categories. And dog food would be in Immediate Obligations. Apart from that, your dog will surely not mind a no-dog-spend month or three. Maybe your hair wouldn't either. Or if you normally get a treatment every three weeks, could you make it every four or five weeks? Could you do hair care yourself at home, or ask a friend?
Is there a membership you could suspend for a month or two? If you have gym membership could you freeze this for a couple of months and work out to YouTube videos at home? Suspend Netflix/other entertainment channels for a while? If you have Audible or you buy books for Kindle, suspend that and check what online services your library offers?
Have you taken the YNAB workshop on ideas for cutting spending? If not, it might be worth signing up and seeing if you find some inspiration there to help you get ahead a bit.
These are terrific ideas. I could definitely do a few of these. It'll be tough be so worth it in the end. Thank goodness it isn't forever. It would be pretty tough but I could do it to for bit to build my 30 day buffer. I'd rather get it over and done with - even if it's harder- than drag on for what seems like firecer. for sure. Thanks again. 😁