New to YNAB - question about monthly budgeting

Hello!

I am trying to figure out how to budget differently for my monthly expenses based on whether or not I want the excess to roll over and thus decrease the amount that needs to be budgeted next month. 

For example, two of my categories are: Groceries and Medical Expenses. For groceries, I want to budget $X / month. If in December, I spend $X-50, then I want to put that $50 towards a long term goal, and budget $X again for groceries for January. For Medical Expenses, I want to put in $Y / month, every month, regardless of expenditures in the category, and let the balance increase over time.

What's the best way to differentiate those two methods? Should I be using the 'goals' feature for one of these types? If so, which one?

Thanks so much.

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  • Yes, the first would be a Monthly Spending Goal, the second a Monthly Contribution goal.

    Or, you get to the point where you are following Classic Rule 4, using this month's income to fund the next month's budgeting in its entirety, and in that case, I would recommend they all be Monthly Contribution goals, and in the first example, you just empty out the category and move it somewhere else at the end of the month, and fund it in its entirety again in the next month.

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  • I just use a category note to remind me to sweep the category to $0 at the end of every month, as it sounds like you want with your groceries. Medical would be left to its own devices.

    If you want to use goals to keep track of how much to budget, I'd do what nolesrule said.

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      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 7 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Habanero Salsa I put a "+" at the end of any category I don't want to accumulate. Anything without the + is fair game to sweep toward my current high-priority at the end of the month.

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    • Habanero Salsa So for your method, do you not use goals at all, and just use the budget categories? To be honest, I'm still a bit confused about when / if to use goals...

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      • Habanero Salsa
      • Second generation user
      • Aquamarine_Pony.8
      • 7 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Eucalyptus forest I’m not a huge fan of most goals. The math and assumptions behind some of them are just really wonky to me. 
       

      One I do use is a Target Balance goal. I want some categories to accumulate, but only to a certain point. I use the Target Balance goal to set a cap for those. That’s working pretty well so far. 

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      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 7 mths ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      Eucalyptus forest Goals merely save some typing and do the math for you (assuming you don't mind their assumptions), but they're hardly mandatory. Lots of people record the nominal contribution in the category name for reference and leave the yellow warnings focused on indication that they haven't planned to pay off a credit purchase.

      Becoming desensitized to yellow is a natural thing when you have underfunded goals (as most will much of the month). Unfortunately, it's a bad thing because you are then more likely to miss the overspending warning (also yellow).

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      • Superbone
      • YNAB convert since 2008
      • Superbone
      • 7 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      dakinemaui Shouldn't it be a "-"?

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      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 7 mths ago
      • 1
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      Superbone Ha, good catch! A stray "not" got in the original response. I put a + on things that should accumulate. Other categories should sweep to $0 at month end. 

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  • Just note that regardless of what type of goal you use, if you sweep any unused balance out at the end of the month, the category is going to turn yellow because the monthly budgeting goal is now "unmet." There is no workaround for this - you just need to ignore the "yellow" if you look back at a previous month. 

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