Future Budgeting and Danger Days

I've been a YNAB user for years and just recently took the plunge and switched to the New YNAB. I think it's a great tool when you're financially comfortable, especially when you're at least a month ahead. I was able to enjoy that state for awhile, but since having a baby, buying a home, and having some medical issues come up, our finances have taken a hit and we're no longer ahead. This means I have to be extra cautious about when things come out of my account so we don't overdraft. I've had to develop an additional spreadsheet that allows me to predict a balance on any particular day of the month, and also that has given me a clear picture of months ahead. 

Are there solutions to do this in YNAB? 

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  • Hi there! I'm so glad you asked about this :) It sounds like our Budgeting When Money’s Tight workshop would be really helpful for you. 

    Have you set up scheduled transactions or goals in your budget? Those can help you plan for weeks and even months ahead, and help you make sure you've set aside enough for what's coming!

    If you have questions after the workshop, make sure to come back here and let us know! :)   

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  • We bought a house and had a baby this year, and oh man I feel you!!  What I've done that helps is use category naming as a reminder for when bills come out and how much I need to have in the category to cover them. This works best when you know exactly how much a bill is going to be, but it can work for the ones that vary a bit too by estimating and doing an average of how much the bill usually is. Here's a little screenshot of a few of my budget categories so you can see what it looks like.

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    • Turquoise Transistor (340f721e091a) This is helpful! I actually decided instead of putting dates that bills are due, splitting all expenses into weeks 1-4. So my categories look like "Utilities $150 (1)" and I'm also budgeting our spending money (groceries, home maintenance,  etc.) weekly now, too. It's helped us tremendously!

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    • Slate Blue Boa (f8c4f28fb553)  Great! I’m so glad this was helpful for you! 

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  • If it's helpful, something that helped me was putting my categories in priority order. I budget top-to-bottom, and don't spend out of a category unless there's money in it. My bills are in order of when they come due in the month.

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  • I understand exactly what you are talking about – it feels much like going from a comfortable and predictive budget back to “paycheck-to-paycheck” living (been there done that, many times) and it adds to the stress you already feeling, surprisingly more than you may realize.  A long comment to follow - Compelled to post because I've felt the pain and worry you are experiencing.  It's nice to know folks care and you're not alone. :)

    We use the same approach as Turquoise Transistor (340f721e091a).  It really helps by allowing you to see at a glance exactly when you must have funds in the bank and how much which helps you stay more in control of your expenses and keeps you feeling overwhelmed by the tendency to budget all your expenses for the entire month up-front (which is probably used to doing when you were ahead). 

    Janelle at YNAB (YNAB Support)’s suggestions are also crucial.  Another workshop refresher “How to Break the Paycheck-to-Paycheck Cycle” https://www.youneedabudget.com/break-paycheck-paycheck-cycle/, and “How We Escaped The Paycheck to Paycheck Cycle” https://www.youneedabudget.com/how-we-escaped-the-paycheck-to-paycheck-cycle/, are also two good reminders to help make the mental shift from where you were to where you are temporarily now.

    A few other things you may consider that really helped us and provided comfort during those times were 1) And the hardest one by far... Bite the bullet and budget only with the funds you have on hand, right now.  I know it seems counterintuitive, but not projecting (like you are currently doing in your separate spreadsheet) and following that golden YNAB rule actually helps you manage your money with greater acuity (and believe it or not, save money) because you are truly counting every penny and, as a true bonus, it also happens to greatly reduces the energy and stress you experience while trying to follow your budget and gives you peace of mind.  2) Take a hard look at when your bills are due vs. when you receive income – Almost all creditors, including utility providers will allow you to change your payment due date.  Consider creating a schedule of your due dates and aligning them to your pay-periods, lumping them together in a way that benefits you – This will help stop the worry of over-drafting and keeps your immediate obligations covered.  3) No matter what, not even for % cash-back or the intent to “float funds until the end of the month”, use your credit cards during this time for anything that isn’t an absolute necessity – and I mean like a “if you don’t you won’t be able to put food on the table” or “buy gasoline to get to work” necessity.  And finally, 4) Simplify and prioritize your category groups – We eliminated several of ours that we thought were needed only to discover that after deleting them and moving the categories that lived within them to a few, select category groups it actually made budgeting (knowing what and when we needed to budget) that much easier - and our YNAB did the rest!  We went from worrying that we “might miss” something to knowing at a glance exactly what was critical to budget for.  We used YNAB’s “Immediate Obligations” category group to place everything that we had to pay "no matter what" in that category group, then placed it right at the top of the budget (now just under the Credit Card category ;)). That category group did not include things like clothing expenses, cable bills, lunch money, etc. – only absolute expenses like our house payment, insurance, gasoline, daycare, utility bills, etc., and a very modest grocery category - Nothing that wasn’t absolutely critical, no matter the type of expense.

    I hope some of these ideas will help – they truly helped us and in retrospect, made the “good fight” possible. ~ Our thoughts with you and your young family. 

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    • Empty Nesters 50 This is an incredibly kind message, thank you. Great advice also. I did recently take the "Breaking the Paycheck to Paycheck Cycle" webinar - it had been so long since I had been fully buffered so I needed the refresher. I know we'll get there again. Great to hear from someone who has also experienced this kind of temporary setback. Thank you!

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  • Install the YNAB toolkit and use the Running balance feature. You must use scheduled transactions for it to work just like your excel sheet. 

    AFAIK YNAB4 had this feature by default but the new version doesn't. Jesse had something against it but I'm note sure why. I think it is really helpful if you have multiple accounts or need/want to micro your accounts.

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