Feature Ideas Discussion #1

 

After reading, if you are so moved, please put in a feature request at this link (or go to the right sidebar on the forum and click “Feature Requests”: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfNVCZCXFaokj9PjsnKXDau5-F2-cu-rdK9AgrBkdAa_xgjww/viewform

Introduction... to the Introduction

I’ve found the discussions, tips, solutions, advice, and ideas on this forum invaluable as I’ve progressed in my YNAB journey.  Thanks to the community!

Many of us (perhaps most of us) have had ideas about how the software can be improved.  This reflection and evaluation is normal, and how any program grows in quality.

Before I found the forum (and the feature request button), I would (thinking I was offering some unique insight) send off an idea to the support people, saying, “Hey, it would be nice if…” 

Some of those ideas will resurface here, and frankly, some of them either needed heavy revising or just plain didn’t fit with the YNAB method that I was learning.  Support was quite polite and encouraging each time.  Sometimes it is better to figure out that I’m wrong by myself instead of being dismissed. J Thanks!

I know that feature requests historically take an undetermined amount of time to be officially recognized.  This company policy is explained in the YNAB Origin Story, here https://www.youneedabudget.com/the-ynab-origin-story/ . Look in the last paragraph of part 3.  As someone who struggles with work/life balance, I have to respect this mode of operation.

I also know that many of the long-time users feel discouraged about giving feedback because the responses they get dismiss the idea or simply go nowhere.  If you want to talk about that phenomenon, there are other posts to comment on, so please add your voice there.

This Post (which is an introduction)

This post is an effort to move past the mess of feelings and history, looking forward to offering Feature Requests in a way that will value quality over quantity when they are prioritized in development, as well as offering some jump-start ideas to make the implementation easier.  

YNAB, this is intended to work with you, not as anything negative to the work you’re already doing.  You have made a really great program with many strengths, as even the most disgruntled are quick to point out.  The journey towards perfection is simultaneously futile, but absolutely worthwhile.  Please, give these ideas a chance for digestion?

Why is this post different from anything I’ve seen in the past?  The format I use (Name, Explanation, User Workflow, Developer Needs, Use Case, Why YNAB, and Importance) will hopefully encourage consistency, clarity, detail, and consideration of both the method and technical implications as users refine ideas through discussion on the forum. 

What Should You Do?

The idea is that it will be easy for individual users to copy/paste good ideas into a (hopefully more) fruitful Feature Request.  Further, as new users come along with these same or similar thoughts, they can be educated about these use-cases and workflow solutions, share anything that’s missing, then subsequently put in their own feature requests. 

I only have my personal experience, my rational mind, and the many threads I’ve read on this forum to inform my requests.  So, please chime in if you think of a better way for a feature to work, or if there is a different use-case that needs to be considered.

Also, if anyone wasn’t sure, brevity is not my forte, so please feel free to write more consice versions.  Other people may like a shorter version better. J Whatever feature request you decide to put in is from you, after all.

What Will I Do? (Topics to Cover)

The topics I plan to include as replies to this post include the following:

·      Fix for Stealing from the Future

·      Adjusted Move Money Tool (needed in the SFTF fix)

·      Committed Future Transactions

·      Growing/Consolidating Categories

·      Banners in Web App

·      Maintain Target Balance Goal

·      Utilizing an Advanced Mode

·      Something that Automizes Saving Money for Next Month’s Budget

·      Running Balance*

Call to Action (with structure)!

Please reply to those specific topics so we can maintain a semblance of organization here, thanks!

If you would like to add or rework an idea, feel free to use the following format, and put new topics on their own reply-thread:

What is the feature?

How would this feature function?

What steps would the budgeter take to use the feature?

What component parts or considerations do the developers need to create this feature?

Why would anyone want to use it?  Why should the developers focus on it?

How does this support the method?

On the feature request, they ask whether this is critical, important, or nice to have.

 

Note for Requesters – As you formulate your request, consider if the same feature could be designed in such a way as to benefit many situations, not just your own?  Would it be easy to retain its logic throughout the program?  What other features will have to change to interact with it?  You know the developers are thinking about it.  Why not make their job easier so there’s a higher likelihood of actually getting the feature?

Just In Case…

And, to head this off, there are probably about a dozen long-time, active users who may feel compelled to point out that this isn’t going to work, no one’s going to listen, etc.   It might not.  You never know until you try.  I will try.  And hopefully, this will make it easy for other people to try.

What do you want newer users to do when they are trying to use the exact feature that’s not there yet (you know this happens all the time – you help them out!)?  Should they read about how putting in a feature request won’t work?  Or actually put one in, so maybe the number of people who would benefit from it is seen by the developers?

My guess is to why some features (that, in my opinion, are less central to the method and core functionality of the app) are getting pushed through faster than many of the issues that are seen on the forums is just that many, many new users jumped on the feature request for it without being disuaded.  Don’t shoot yourself in the foot, y’all.

And we’re off!  Thanks for reading, thanks for the ideas, and thanks for… oh, just read about the feature requests already. J

And then submit your idea to the official link (at the top of this post)!

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  • A note from Support: The OP's intention for this thread is to foster discussions regarding desired and requested features in YNAB. There’s a wealth of ideas and perspectives that have been thought through logically in this forum, and this may be the best place to discuss them with other YNABers.

    The forum is a great place for hashing out ideas, but it isn’t a full representation of all the feature requests we receive. This is not a voting system and will not be treated as one. We value your comments and they will all be reviewed, but those that are off topic or do not benefit discussion will be removed. If, after discussion of a feature, you’d like to submit an idea for consideration to our product team, please submit a Feature Request.

    This thread is specifically for the discussion of feature requests (how you’d use a feature, how you’d find it helpful, how you’re currently implementing the desired effect, etc.), not for the discussion of YNAB's implementation, including - but not limited to - the current feature request process, along with time frames for current or new features and support’s role in that process.

    We hope this will be a productive and helpful thread for YNABers. Comments that do not aid in that effort will be removed.

    Reply Like 2
    • Veronica at YNAB 

      Thanks for your support!  I hope people don't cause you extra work by putting up replies that would just be taken down. 

      I appreciate you taking my post in the spirit it was intended.  Have a great day!

      Reply Like 1
  • FIX for Stealing from the Future

    Explanation

    When anything, usually overspending, causes overbudgeting, and only when a user has money allocated in the future, pop up with a warning box and make the current TBB negative and red.  Instead of randomly pulling money from somewhere in the next month, the dialogue box can ask the user “Cover overbudgeting with money budgeted in _farthestmonthbudgeted_? or Cover overbudgeting with money from _thismonth_? or Undo overbudget?”

    Choosing one of these could then prompt the Move Money Tool to kick in and ask the user to choose a category to deplete, including TBB, in the appropriate month.

    If there is no future budgeting, there’s no need to have all the pop-up questions.  Just make the current month TBB negative.  The mobile app already does a good job prompting overspending with pop-ups, though, so a solution with a banner at the top (like on mobile) could be a good idea.

    User Workflow Steps

    1.     Overbudget

    2.     Box or banner (like mobile) pops up saying “Hey, you’ve overbudgeted!”

       a.     “Cover overbudgeting with money from _thismonth_?”

       b.     “Cover overbudgeting with money budgeted in _farthestmonthbudgeted_?”

       c.      “Undo overbudgeting”

    3.     If the user chooses a or b, open the Move Money Tool that has capability to take available money from the month chosen in any category, including TBB.

    Developers Would Need to

    Make the Move Money Tool with multiple month capability.  This is a logical extension of taking away walled months.  You could have a line (scrolling horizontally or drop-down for people who are budgeted many months in the future) just above the budget categories for months.  Obviously, only current and future months that are actually budgeted would need to be visible.   If you don’t want to scroll, you could just have the current month by default highlighted, and the last future month budgeted sitting next to it, available to be selected.  Selecting one would represent the available amounts for that month in the categories below, including TBB.

    Make the box to pop up with these choices.

    Other people have suggested putting a line in the header that is always visible, like the Toolkit has.  I am not sure that this fix would have been clear to me as a new user, so if anyone has a more elegant brainwave, please share!

    Use Case

    Multiple times (but three really impactful times) as a new user, I lost money within my budget because of the way it currently works.  The second and third times, I contacted support, and they very helpfully told how to fix the resulting situation.  I was most concerned with how I had gotten there in the first place, as the first two instances had caused me to spend hours and hours setting up procedures for me to triple check, from multiple perspectives in the program, every action I made.  I did not want to lose money in the budget again!!!  Support’s response was that I hadn’t budgeted for it, but I had (and had checks in place to ensure it!), and then the budgeted money disappeared.  I was really close to not having the money available, because I saw the other available categories and spent them, not realizing I was essentially overspent in the future.  For me, it meant I was behind on my financial goals as a result.  For others closer to the edge, it could have more dire results.

    Right now,

    ·      I never budget in the future. 

    ·      I have a separate category for variable expenses for the following month that must be covered until my paycheck (once a month on the 15th) comes in. 

    ·      I release those funds and budget them appropriately once the month turns over. 

    ·      I have another separate category where I hold funds that I am building as I can to create the buffer that would allow me to live on last month’s (30-day old) money. 

    ·      I also release these when I budget for the following month. 

    ·      I cumbersomely use the move-money tool, which offers a narrow view of overspending, when I would like to split the overspend WAM among categories. 

    It was easier to make those Rule #3 decisions when the month was truly a 0-sum budget, and I could see that I had $80 left to cover a purchase in Category 1 (because TBB was negative by $80), so I could take $30 from Category 2, $35 from Category 3, and *scroll, what else can I spare???*  $15 from Category 4.  Now, I have to do that calculation outside of the app.

    Putting a fix in place would prevent the above loss of financial goals.  It would also mean I can relax on the stringent procedures of interaction I imposed so that it would never happen to me again.  It would help me meet my financial goals with ease and clarity because of a visible Rule #3 workflow.

    Why YNAB, because the philosophy is the power, the software is the tool.

    YNAB is supposed to help me develop my finances because it provides quality data to guide my spending decisions through my budget.  The lynchpins of the method are being 0-sum and envelope based.  The app should, and usually does, facilitate moving money among envelopes.

    SFTF seems to be the other side of the red arrow feature that has been nixed.  If there is red in the future, I can’t trust my available amounts in the present. 

    If I’m stable, that means I’m not reaching my savings goals because I accidentally overspent, then had to WAM from savings.

    If I’m reactionary and have no savings, that means I could likely overdraft/increase debt when a bill comes through, thinking I have the money available, just to find out it was overspent somewhere else.

    Importance, because not everything can actually be prioritized as ‘critical’

    This is actually quite critical because of the consequences.

    Reply Like 3
      • Patzer
      • Retired at age 60. Thank you, YNAB!
      • Patzer
      • 1 mth ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Move Light Sound Life 

      There is actually a current beta test of a proposed SFTF fix.  It is considerably less elegant than the solution you describe; it simply displays a global TBB for this month and future months, so if you overbudget this month by $10 TBB turns red and displays negative $10. 

      The weakness of the current beta is that there is no budget-level awareness of future overbudgeting caused by current month overspending.  I guess the rationale is that the overbudget doesn't happen till next month when the overspent category is zeroed out, it will go away if  you cover the overspending in the current month (as recommended), and the category goes red.  (I don't use the stock YNAB credit card handling, but my understanding is that credit overspending will continue to accrue debt if not covered in the current month, and the future TBB will not go negative from current month credit overspending.)

      Like you, I have decided the best solution for my budget is simply never to budget further into the future than next month, and don't do that before the last day of the month.  Rolling up a month's worth of TBB to budget the entire month at once is critical for clarity in my budget.

      Reply Like 1
      • lindsay_g
      • Beige_Banjo.3
      • 1 mth ago
      • Reported - view

      Patzer This month I have to budget into the future (or at least it's more convenient to) because I'm off work for two months, and have transferred two months' money abroad to pay for living there. I can appreciate that this isn't going to happen to many people!!

      I had a red warning appear at the top of the budget screen when I went over in August. It was obvious and clear and did the job. I don't need a series of dialogue boxes suggesting solutions. I just need the visual warning.

      I have no idea if its a toolkit feature or a YNAB beta, but whatever it was, the red text caught my eye and I fixed it.

      Reply Like
      • iwaddo
      • iwaddo77
      • 11 days ago
      • Reported - view

      Move Light Sound Life 

      Firstly, this thread looks to be a great idea, so in the spirit of open debate and discussion I thought I would add my thoughts to SFTF.

      May I start with a question? Why do I need to budget beyond the current month?

      I have been using YNAB since 2012 and MS-Money between 2000 & 2012, prior to that I used a spreadsheet, I can recall Lotus 123 and even Multiplan - you now have a clue as to how old I am!

      Back in the good old days I would have 12 columns in a spreadsheet and try to allocate where I was going to spend my money, it sort of worked and I survived for many years. MS-Money did not really support budgeting so to be honest all I have really been doing is tracking my spending and juggling my funds.

      YNAB changed all this, it allows realistic budgeting, I can budget for the month and 'save' for future months using goals. What more do I need?

      I agree there is work that could be done to help me and I often send in requests but recognising that trying to be everything to everyone is impossible there will always have to be some compromise.

      I never scroll to the next month until the end of the current month so back to my original question. Why do I need to budget beyond the current month?

      Reply Like
      • Khaki Storm
      • YNAB book topics online: https://support.youneedabudget.com/r/q5w48j
      • Khaki_Storm.1
      • 11 days ago
      • Reported - view

      iwaddo I learned Lotus 123 and a little Quattro Pro in college! I've been using YNAB or about 8 months now. I budget into the future. As far as I can tell from the training videos and this forum, that's the YNAB method. It seems to replace having an emergency fund. When I'm paid this week, nearly all of that is going to be budgeted into August (I did have some over spending that came up this month, but not much). That's what I picked up on when I was new and asked the forum where to create my emergency fund. You'd thought I asked how to walk on my hands and drink coffee at the same time. Let's just say, for example, before YNAB I had a $10,000 emergency fund in a single category in my old software. I knew from averages and such how long that would last in a loss of income situation. Now, I have $10,000 in future months across all my categories. Yes, SFTF exists and it is irritating.

      Reply Like
      • Herman
      • herman
      • 11 days ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      iwaddo you don't need to.    BUT, the software allows it, the method promotes it so, and the previous version had built in functionality to make it easier.  The current software does not have that function and has a design that makes it more difficult.

      Reply Like 1
      • iwaddo
      • iwaddo77
      • 11 days ago
      • Reported - view

      Herman Hi, I must be missing something or do not fully understand. Can I please ask you to explain where the method promotes budgeting beyond the current month? Thank you for your help.

      Reply Like
      • iwaddo
      • iwaddo77
      • 11 days ago
      • Reported - view

      Further to my earlier post I have been playing in my test budget and as far as I can see if I budget in the future and also budget and spend the same money in the current month I do not get any warning from YNAB that I have now fully spent money in the current month that I have also budgeted in the future - effectively I can try and spend the money twice.

      Reply Like
      • iwaddo
      • iwaddo77
      • 8 days ago
      • Reported - view

      Herman  Khaki Storm  Move Light Sound Life

      I just wanted to respond to my own comments by saying that I was mistaken.

      With a little help from the excellent YNAB support team I now understand how and why I might budget in the future. This just goes to show that no matter how much you use a piece of software or think you know there is always something new to learn.

      Reply Like
    • iwaddo I budgeted into the future at the beginning. My paycheck comes on the 15th. It was absolutely necessary that any bills and daily spending from the 1st-15th be fully funded from the previous month. While bills were fine to just fund and roll over into the future, the variable expenses were more difficult to navigate because we were looking at the category balance in relation to the end of the month - forgetting that we needed another two weeks on that available number. 

      Then I thought, "Hey! This is what the tutorial meant. Let me fund half of this month and half of next month!"

      Imagine my surprise when next month came and the money was not available anymore due to overbudgeting - with no warning! I had thought my TBB was supposed to be zero, and would show negative if overbudgeted. Not so, it seemed. 

      This was a few months before I found the forum, but after a while I figured out enough to know that YNAB was allowing me to double book my money invisibly, and that it was these future bits that set it off. Now I know this phenomenon is called Stealing From The Future, and I have a Next Month Variable category that holds the necessary funds until the month turns over. I also use the toolkit's extra header for awareness. 

      I think it's highly irresponsible to recommend that new users budget in the future. It caused me to take on new debt, twice, because of false available numbers. This seems antithetical to the method. While the unwalled months implementation seems like an improvement over whatever was in YNAB 4, SFTF is a very weak link in its chain of logic. Thus, my feature request to fix it. 

      Reply Like 1
      • Patzer
      • Retired at age 60. Thank you, YNAB!
      • Patzer
      • 8 days ago
      • Reported - view

      Move Light Sound Life 

      Move Light Sound Life said:
      While the unwalled months implementation seems like an improvement over whatever was in YNAB 4, SFTF is a very weak link in its chain of logic.

       When I first heard about SFTF, I thought it was obviously a bug.  Having worked through the program, and how I want to budget, and how the money flows as available over time; and having done many little test scenarios to see what the program has done as described by other users; I now believe SFTF is not a bug.

      SFTF is an inevitable consequence of fluid months, TBB that is used across the fluid months, and a program design that says the current month is more important than future months.  If I grant that fluid months are desirable for some budgeters, I find it difficult to argue with a decision to make the current month most important.

      What is really the bug is the lack of obvious information on the current month program page.  In YNAB 4, you could display multiple months of budget on the same screen.  If you drove a future month into overbudget territory, that information was right there at the top of the future month's budget columns. 

      The multiple month display went away with the advent of the web app, which was puzzling since the web app also coincided with the new advice to budget directly into the future.  Unfortunately, no indication of the future's budget status was displayed on the current month budget page.  That made SFTF look like a bug, but the real problem is an informational void on the current month budget page.  Toolkit fixed that void rather simply a long time ago with the "Stealing from Future Alert" feature.

      Become aware that SFTF exists, put the information about future overbudget amounts on the current month budget page, and the problem ceases to be a problem.  SFTF still exists, but it doesn't happen silently and the user can take appropriate action in his/her budget.

      It does baffle me that YNAB is incredibly resistant to putting this information directly on the current month budget page; but the SFTF beta fix walked down an entirely different path of changing how TBB works across months.  That turned out to be a rather tough puzzle to solve, and as of the last time I rattled cages the SFTF beta fix was no longer in active development.

      Reply Like
    • Move Light Sound Life 

      Thank goodness I'm not alone!  I thought I was going mad, or not understanding the concepts of the new YNAB well enough (I too was a YNAB4 user).  I also stopped budgeting into the future after being caught out without a visible warning.  I have a hold-over category and on the first day of the month reallocate those funds accordingly. 

      I second Patzer with the idea of a Move Money to *Future Month* function where it then quarantined for budgeting in that month only, with no impact from prior month's transactions.  

      Reply Like
      • iwaddo
      • iwaddo77
      • 8 days ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Patzer 

      I agree, more indications really are needed, especially if the TBB in a future month is red. As things stand it is down to the user to check the status of any future month for which they have budgeted. The App could easily be doing this for me.

      I think I will continue as I have for the last 7 years and only budget in the current month.

      Reply Like 1
  • Increase in Move Money Tool’s Functionality

    Move Money Between Months

    Explanation

    Make the Move Money Tool with multiple month capability. You could have a line within the dropdown box of the move money tool, just above the “Budget Categories,” for months to live, side by side.  The current month would be the default selected.  Only current and future months that are actually budgeted would need to be visible.   You could offer horizontal scrolling or drop-down for people who are budgeted many months in the future, or if you don’t want that complication, you could just have the current month by default highlighted, and the last future month budgeted sitting next to it, available to be selected.  Selecting one would represent the available amounts for that month in the categories below, including TBB.

    Sample User Workflow Steps

    1.     After budgeting in the future, realize a forgotten but necessary category in the current month.  That’s ok.  There’s money in the next month that can be used.

    2.     Click on the forgotten category’s available pill to activate the Move Money Tool (even if it’s 0 – that’s new).

    3.     Select the next month.

    4.     Select the category that doesn’t need so much money yet (you can see the available amounts in the list in the tool).

    5.     Type how much money you want to move.

    Use Case

    This is a logical extension of taking away walled months.  It allows users to move money from a specific category of a future month to a category in the current month, or vice-versa, without going through TBB and two MoveMoneyTool uses.  It is also a stepping stone to what is the best SFTF fix I’ve come across.

    Why YNAB, because the philosophy is the power, the software is the tool.

    Because YNAB decided to unwall the the months and allow the user to budget in the future, it makes sense that users should have the ability to use the Move Money tool to make adjustments among months after the initial budgeting has occurred.  This improvement on the MMT would optimize the efficiency of that workflow.  Also, see reasoning for the SFTF solution.

    I see no need to be able to move money from a current or future month to a past month because that could get messy with trying to use income that may not have been present at that past time.  However, moving money to from a future month to a current month should be acceptable, because you obviously have the money right now, and are encouraged to place it in the future.  But, plans change and you may (but not by default) want to put it back in the current month for an emergency (not regular overspending that many people prefer to be WAMed in the current month).

    Importance, because not everything can actually be prioritized as ‘critical’

    Because this is a stepping stone to the optimal SFTF solution, I think it’s critical.

    Reply Like 2
      • Patzer
      • Retired at age 60. Thank you, YNAB!
      • Patzer
      • 1 mth ago
      • 4
      • Reported - view

      Move Light Sound Life 

      I really, really like the idea of an intertemporal Move Money function.  Properly implemented, moving money from TBB (current month) to TBB (next month) would allow people who want Income for Next Month to just have it, while not requiring people who like fluid months to change.

      This is a great example of the benefit of discussion.  I've discussed workarounds for walled months and budgeting a month in one session many times, and suggested some form of being able to shove TBB into the future and make it stay there unless I take explicit action to pull it back; and you have described a truly elegant user interface solution to do this.

      I hope the YNAB development team pays attention to these ideas.

      Reply Like 4
      • lindsay_g
      • Beige_Banjo.3
      • 1 mth ago
      • Reported - view

      Patzer This is a great idea and would have simplified the 'SFTF' incident I mentioned in my previous post. Good one.

      Reply Like
  • Committed Future Transactions

    Explanation

    When scheduling transactions, users may choose to indicate that this particular transaction should affect the appropriate category’s budget on a certain date (default now), but appear in the register as occurring on a future date.  This should not replace normal scheduled transactions that work as they do now.

    When the user makes a repeating, thus scheduled, committed transaction, the date at which the transaction effects the budget should be chosen.  Some situations will call for “at month start” or “on specific date of month (in order to wait for paychecks)” or “on the 3rd Friday (in order to wait for paychecks).”  I don’t see the use case for “3 days before” or “1 week before,” but someone else might.

    Just like there is a way to “enter now” for an impending transaction, there should be a way to “commit now” for looming committed or non-committed transactions.

    When clicking on the “activity” column, committed transactions can either have the date they were committed (for ease of keeping recent transactions on top) or the actual date.  I don’t know which is best.  They should somehow be different from the transactions that have actually occurred – italics, highlighted, icon by the date. Maybe this could be a calendar with a check mark inside? or a C inside? or an arrow?  I think the checkmark would speak to most people without explanation.

    In the account register, they should sort by the date of occurrence, not the date of commitment.

    User Workflow

    Creation

    1.     Click “new transaction” in the appropriate account.

    2.     Set a date for the future; pick repeating at proper interval if needed.

    3.     Check a box labelled something like “affect budget early” or “commit.”

    4.     Set an interval for how early (days before/date) the commitment will take place.  Default for non-repeating should be “today.”

    5.     Fill out the rest of the payee/category/amount info and save.

    6.     Transaction looks like a regular scheduled transaction, using the date of occurrence, except it’s colored instead of greyed out, and has the checked calendar icon by the date.

    7.     Transaction appears in the category’s activity box, colored, italicized, and iconed.

    8.     Watch and see the category available decrease by the amount of the transaction on the date of commitment (most likely today).

    9.     Make good choices!

    Committing a Scheduled Transaction

    1.     Select the desired transaction.

    2.     Right click/”Edit” then choose “commit now.”

    3.     Transaction becomes highlighted (it was already italicized) with an icon (checked calendar) by the date.

    4.     Transaction appears in the activity box of the effected budget category.

    5.     Appropriate amount is decreased in category available balance (and made available for CC payment if applicable.

    Developers Would Need

    Make an indicator to initiate the committed date information-gathering-box.  The idea I can think of is a little check box between the date and the payee, which opens a box much like the date calendar box.  For space, the committed date should probably appear directly below the actual date in the transaction line.  There’s blank blue space there, and no reason to have both drop-downs open simultaneously.

    Decide how the committed transactions will appear in the account register and activity box.  I think looking like a pending transaction (greyed out, italicized) with the “checked calendar icon” {mentioned above} by the date, and the whole line changing highlight color (blue? my choice. purple? won’t blend in with the background themes.  yellow? stands out, but these really don’t need action, so that would send the wrong message.  green? well, they haven’t happened yet, so I hesitate, but it’s my second choice) would be good.  You get color and non-color indicators there… J

    If you want to make it really elegant, be able to select multiple transactions and “commit now” (maybe the paycheck came in early and the budgeting session got moved up!).  But, I think group things like that are a different feature request that would dovetail nicely, but is not required to implement Future Committed Transactions.

    Use Case, so we have context.

    Here are three scenarios.  There are many others from other people:

    1.     You have a box of clothes that you pay for every month or so.  You want to commit that transaction so the available is $100 budgeted -$30 committed = $70 available. This way, the clothes buyer doesn’t check the available balance in clothes (like they’re supposed to) and spend the full $100 at the mall.

    2.     You have Netflix or some other subscription entertainment service.  You don’t want to have a category for Netflix and a category for entertainment because you’re trying to avoid category bloat.  Commit the Netflix fee and feel free to spend the rest of your entertainment money on spontaneous entertainment.  There’s no overspending on the Netflix later, because it was accounted for (literally, in the category).

    3.    You have a meal delivery service (you know the kind where they individually package pre-measured ingredients with recipe/technique cards so you can cook without research, planning, prep, or active shopping?).  The payment will be made on the 25th for $100, but you did your budget meeting on the 5th when you got paid for the month.  The meal service is delivering groceries, so its charge should come from the Grocery category.  When you go to the grocery store for other things, you don’t want to think the full $500 is available to spend, because only $400 is really available.  This information is especially important on the 24th when you’re at the grocery store and have already spent $350.  Looking at the inspector on the phone requires several clicks, none of which will happen if you forgot entirely about the delivery and have no reason to check.  The orange pill is not a reason to check, in case you’re wondering – most of my pills are orange throughout the month because of needing the paycheck on the 31st to fill the goal, or WAMing.  Having a future transaction that impacts the budget intentionally could be the difference between overspending or not (sure, if overspending happens for various reasons, you pick yourself up and move on, no shame.  HOWEVER, if you’re actively trying to not overspend, and you look at your category balance to verify that you can get the jar of chocolate spread, it should tell you the useful number of NO, unless you don’t want to fund the oil change), and it’s the app’s job to tell you what is available.

    Why YNAB? Because the philosophy is the power, the software is the tool.

    The purpose of YNAB is to provide financial awareness through its budgeting app, which supports the 4 Rules of YNAB’s methodology, right?  Future Committed Transactions reflect the reality of giving dollars jobs as well as using dollars in their given jobs.  They allow members of the same budget to communicate more effectively about their priorities and decisions.

    Without them, to have the same budget effect, the user would have to create separate categories for all of these transactions.  That way, the initial budget plan would take care of them and provide a separate category for “the rest of the category’s available money.”  This creates noise and clutter on the budget screen and in the reports. 

    If the major resistance to implementing this feature is to prevent users from allowing income to affect the budget prematurely, then make the checkbox greyed out if the money is in the inflow or the category is TBB.  I know this is possible, because the category gets greyed out when the payee is a transfer.

    People who want to game the system have already come up with multiple ways to change the date of paychecks so that they can budget the money before they have it.  Why prevent everyone else from making good decisions just so a few have to do the same or similar thing to violate the method?

    Importance, because not everything can actually be prioritized as ‘critical’

    This is important to me because I implement a few workarounds to gain this effect, and I also know this feature will calm my dad, with whom I would like to share the method.  He will appreciate knowing that certain types of planned transactions are not lost in the budget until they occur, but instead are accurately interacting with and impacting the budget available categories, thus informing spending decisions.

    Reply Like 2
      • Patzer
      • Retired at age 60. Thank you, YNAB!
      • Patzer
      • 1 mth ago
      • Reported - view

      Move Light Sound Life 

      Does the vision include the idea of pre-approving the committed transaction?  One of the things that is a constant low-grade aggravation is having to *approve* transactions that I should be done touching, simply because I recorded them before the effective date.  In the case of transfers, I have to approve both sides.  That looks like a bug to me, but Support assures me it is a designed feature so I have an additional manual check that what I manually entered is actually what I intended to manually enter.

      Reply Like
    • Patzer The way I use scheduled transactions right now is basically a reminder that I need to go pay that bill.  I set them to pop up a day or two early, and then I only approve them once I have checked that task off of my To-Do List (and usually changed the $amount because some bills are variable). 

      With Committed Transactions in the workflow, I don't see a need to approve them unless they're recurring.  I'll have to think about that more.  It's a good idea. 

      Reply Like
      • Patzer
      • Retired at age 60. Thank you, YNAB!
      • Patzer
      • 1 mth ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Move Light Sound Life I don't use recurring transactions for variable bills.  I enter them manually at the time I take action to pay them.  This is typically entering for a future date, because the workflow is, 1) I receive a bill, 2) I go online and instruct my financial institution to pay that bill on the due date, 3) I record the payment in YNAB.  Then YNAB sees that it will happen on a future date, and calls it a scheduled transaction.  But for all intents and purposes, I have already paid that bill.

      Reply Like 1
    • Patzer And that is a perfect use-case for Committed Transactions (which was an idea I got from you - hope you don't mind that I wanted to synthesize it here).  I would request that we can have both Committed and Scheduled, because I like the To-Do nag.  Sometimes I need several checks in place to make sure I didn't get distracted partway through a mundane task, or forget entirely because of a busy week.

      I would use both transaction types differently.  And maybe use your idea of how to pay bills, too.  That's good for finances in general.

      Reply Like
      • Patzer
      • Retired at age 60. Thank you, YNAB!
      • Patzer
      • 1 mth ago
      • Reported - view

      Move Light Sound Life 

      Yes, both committed and scheduled are necessary.  Another example:

      I decide I have enough free funds in checking to purchase a 4 week T Bill.  The auction happens on Thursday.  I enter a committed transaction to move $998.16 from Checking to Treasury Direct, effective the next Tuesday.

      I enter scheduled transactions with a repetition of "never" in the Treasury Direct account for $1.84 of interest 4 weeks from next Tuesday, and transfer of $1000 from Treasury Direct to Checking 4 weeks from next Tuesday.  If the US Government fails to put $1000 into my checking account 4 weeks from next Tuesday, we all have bigger problems than how my budget works.  But I want these transactions to be true scheduled transactions rather than committed transactions, because I don't want to recognize income before it happens, and I don't want to count on future inflows to checking when planning what to do with that account.

      Reply Like
    • Patzer 

      YES YES YES.  I have always wanted to approve scheduled income before it appears in the TBB.  What if it's different than I thought it would be?  I don't want to accidentally budget money I don't have.  I think I've already put in a feature request for that, but maybe I'll put that up here.  It would be nice, short, and straightforward.  But it will have to happen tomorrow.  Thanks for joining in the discussion!

      Reply Like
      • Olive Branch
      • Librarian/Info Pro
      • olive_branch
      • 1 mth ago
      • 4
      • Reported - view

      I have a minor sample use case to add: I bought a few articles of clothing yesterday. I checked my Clothing sinking fund category and there was more than enough to cover the purchase. On the subway home, it occurred to me that I had a $41 dry cleaning ticket that would need to be picked up & paid for. Not a crisis, there was enough left in Clothing to cover the dry cleaning as well, but that might not have been the case for me six months ago. I like to be fairly granular in terms of categories, but I don't spend enough time or money on clothes to want separate Clothing Purchases and Clothing Care categories. Therefore, it would have been good to be able to look at the single Clothing category on my phone and have it take account of the imminent dry cleaning expense. J

      Reply Like 4
      • iwaddo
      • iwaddo77
      • 11 days ago
      • Reported - view

      Move Light Sound Life 

      I really had to read this several times to understand the use case and I am pleased to say that I get it and I think what you are suggesting is a really good idea but I am concerned it is going to be hard to keep track of so I have a much simpler approach that I have already implemented and that is to have a separate Category.

      I have a couple of examples where I use the Notes to keep track and I do think there is more that could be done with Notes but that is a separate discussion but if I feel that Notes is not doing it for me I simply create a separate Category.

      I know there is concern about category bloat but given I agree with the point of your request which is to manage a category with both flexible and committed spending then I once again I do think it would be simpler to create a new Category.

      Reply Like
      • Patzer
      • Retired at age 60. Thank you, YNAB!
      • Patzer
      • 11 days ago
      • Reported - view

      iwaddo 

      iwaddo said:
      I know there is concern about category bloat

       It seems to me that the guidance to budget by goals encourages category bloat.  I have a category called "property taxes."  I pay them twice a year, in February and September, in different amounts.  If I wanted to budget that category with goals, I'd have to turn it into 2 categories.

      Fortunately, I solved that and similar problems before goals existed.  Now, goals look like a simple tool of limited use.  If there were a goal of "Budget $X per month, Available not to exceed $Y at start of month," I could actually save a bit of time.  But I do not expect such a goal to be created in the foreseeable future.

      Reply Like
  • Banners in Web App

    Explanation

    I thought through this while I was working through the SFTF Fix.  It is not as important as I first thought, but I am posting it so that others understand why I think it has less importance.

    Please incorporate the banner for overspending in the web app like it is in the mobile.  It’s useful and easy to use there – great job!  Have a similar one for overbudgeting.  While you’re at it, put one at the top of the accounts page for transactions that need approval/categorization.  Sounds easy to me, but I’m not a developer!

    User Workflow Steps

    Overspending Banner --> Nice to have.

    1.     Overspend.  Know or not know about it.

    2.     See the banner at the top (blue in mobile app) and click on it.

    3.     See isolated, overspent categories, and click on one.

    4.     Use the activated Move Money Tool to rearrange the budget.

    5.     Banner goes away with whatever congratulatory remark you like.

    Overbudgeting Banner –> Totally redundant and unnecessary.  Not Needed.

    1.     Overbudget.

    2.     See the banner at the top (red in mobile app).

    3.     See negative TBB.*

    4.     Use the activated MoveMoneyTool to rearrange the budget.  Or manual entry, for that matter, because we’re looking at the TBB.

    5.     TBB turns into 0.

    *Well, here’s a problem.  You should never need this banner because the TBB is always at the top, and red if negative.  If you fix SFTF, the most you would have to do to get this is a massive color change when overbudgeting remains (after the warning and choice boxes have deployed, of course).

    Account Activity Banner --> Nice to have.

    1.     Have transactions that need approval/categorization.

    2.     See the banner at the top (maybe green?), and click.

    3.     See isolated transactions that need attention.

    4.     Be able to group all/some and approve/categorize.  Or you could implement the banner without

    Developers Would Need to

    Talk to the mobile people to share design ideas.  But really, just fix SFTF.  Then think about banners.

    Use Case

    It’s very easy to find overspent categories on the mobile app because there’s a banner at the top that tells you how many categories are overspent.  When you click on it, it takes you to a page that only shows those categories.  A click on the overspent category then activates the Move Money Tool.  Incorporating the banner on the web can provide that easy workflow.  This can only help user experience, which will result in more optimized financial decisions.

    Why YNAB? Because the philosophy is the power, the software is the tool.

    The banners could help people not spend dollars they don’t have by focusing on only actionable data when trying to rectify overspending or bring accounts up to date.

    Importance, because not everything can actually be prioritized as ‘critical’

    Nice to have, but don’t spend time on the “Overbudgeted Banner.” You already have the TBB.  Use it.

    Reply Like
      • Herman
      • herman
      • 1 mth ago
      • Reported - view

      Move Light Sound Life An overspent category does not necessarily impact tbb.   Fixiing overspent categories solves so many common problems I see newer users have that I would consider this a higher priority.  I would actually find this much more useful than fixing sftf (although that should definitely be fixed.)  This in combination with the beta sftf fix(which I still have) would cover a lot of issues.

      Reply Like
    • Herman That's a good point about simplifying the interface for newer users (and older, too).  Maybe the reason I thought it wasn't terribly important is that I still prefer to fix surprise overspending with the workflow of 1) Budget to cover. 2) TBB goes negative by the focus amount. 3) Scroll through all my categories to see where I can spare. 4) Adjust until TBB goes back to 0.  That's why I think the SFTF is more important - it enables budgeting to 0 within that month.

      I think it's easier to maintain a big picture that way, if that's what I need to do for unexpected, large WAMs.  However, most times I'll be sitting at my computer and pull out my phone to fix the overspending because regular WAMs are easier on mobile.  Thanks for helping me realize that!

      Reply Like 3
      • Patzer
      • Retired at age 60. Thank you, YNAB!
      • Patzer
      • 1 mth ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view

      Move Light Sound Life 

      I'm not so sure I like the idea of in-my-face nags on the web app.  If there's an option to turn them on or off, I could get behind this.

      The last time I overspent a transaction, I knew full well I was doing so.  I had budgeted Vacation:Air Fare to the penny, including baggage fees.  I made a last minute decision to upgrade my seat on the return trip, which may have been the best $22 I spent on that vacation.  The phone app nagged me about the overspend, which let me fix it immediately; but it wouldn't have been a big deal for that to wait till I got home to fix it in the web app.  If I hadn't already know what category I was going to move the money from, the phone app might not have been so useful; the tiny screen does not facilitate looking at the full budget to make a reasoned decision.

      Reply Like 3
      • Herman
      • herman
      • 1 mth ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      Patzer I would agree, should be able to dismiss any kind of nag.  "Thanks for letting me know but I'm not going to do anything with this now so stop reminding me" kind of thing.  This would also be nice on the "goal" warnings. 

      ETA:  and similar to notifications on your smart phone, you should be able to turn them off completely or select only the notifications you are interested in.

      Reply Like 2
      • Patzer
      • Retired at age 60. Thank you, YNAB!
      • Patzer
      • 1 mth ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      Herman I really like the concept of a nag that can be either dismissed on a case by case basis, or turned off globally.  I'd prefer to turn the goal nags off globally, because I don't budget by goal.  I use goals for a quick budget, then make my own decisions how to adjust from that starting point.

      I had a thought with respect to goals and future transactions the other day; current YNAB functionality is exactly backwards to what I'd like.  The goal nags show up on the budget screen, where they are visually distraction and even if I were budgeting 4 times a month as I receive money they would be meaningless the 85%+ of the time I'm not budgeting.  The goal nags could stay in the inspector, where I could look at them when I was budgeting that category.

      OTOH, the upcoming transaction information is put in the inspector where I can look at it on a category by category basis; but I want it on the budget screen, which I look at when I make my spending decisions.  I'm flexible as to the form; for the web app, I'm living with Toolkit displaying the total of upcoming transactions in small print and doing arithmetic in my head to subtract that from the category's Available balance. 

      Reply Like 2
      • iwaddo
      • iwaddo77
      • 11 days ago
      • Reported - view

      Move Light Sound Life 

      I agree that the web app could do a lot more to provide visual warning and take some of the functionality from the iOS apps.  I often miss an overspend on the web version which I do not notice until I use the iOS app.

      From a previous exchange I do have a sense that some of this is coming........

      Reply Like
  • Move Light Sound Life  Just want to thank you for creating this thread. I'm posting partly because I would like to see it not get buried. Giving it its own Forum section/category (suggested in another thread) seems like a great idea - providing a space for new feature idea posts in the suggested format that wouldn't have to all be in a single long thread. I hope to post an idea/request of my own once I've had time to think it through. J You've come up with what seems like a really useful structure for constructive discussion of which features/improvements are most needed and why. Certainly wouldn't want to see other feature threads shut down, but I hope this one (or its descendants) remains prominent.

    Reply Like 3
  • Hmmm not sure I understand how this is supposed to work.   I'm brand new and trying to figure things out so some of my ideas may already have solutions.   Right now, I need a way to track my spending, and flag areas where I'm spending a lot of money and figure out a solution something like "hey we noticed you're spending an average of X dollars over your initial entered budget of Y dollars, if you cut your spending in this category by 2% each month, in one year you would have Z dollars to put into other categorys. Conversely it would be nice to be able to prioritize your goals.   Like when I get to a point when I am actually spending some money it would be along the lines of "Hey we noticed you managed to get thru the month with X leftover.  Great Job! Would you like to 1. Split money across all goals 2.  Distribute money based on priorities or 3. stick in a specific category" 

    Reply Like 1
    • Hi Gray Android !

      Currently, there aren't any notices for suggestions like what you mentioned, but I think they're a very interesting idea! If you haven't already, please submit a Feature Request and you can continue discussion for that feature in this thread. :)

      Reply Like
    •   Faness

       

      I have made the feature request and here's the details I posted about my idea.  Comments welcomed and encouraged from EVERYONE both good and critical

       

      It would be nice to be able assign priorities to goals once you are in a position to cover all your necessities every month and have money left to give jobs.  Once this is accomplished, the software will alert you and prompt you how you want to distribute this money.   the choices would be along the lines of 1. Split the money across all goals  2. Split the money across goals by assigned priority or 3. Assign money to categories manually.

      For example, for option 1 let's say you have 12 goals and after covering everything you need to accomplish for the month you have $100 leftover that still need jobs.  100/12 = $8.33 per category.

      for option two let's assume you have the same $100 to give jobs and your 12 goals are, in order of priority
      1. a master card with a balance
      2. a visa with a balance
      3. Savings with a set balance goal of $3,000
      4. Vacation with a balance goal of 5,000
      5. A brand new cell phone with a balance goal of $1500
      6. A surround sound receiver that costs $500
      7.  An item with a balance goal of $900
      8. An item with a balance goal of 3,000

      on so on down to
      12.  Dream house that costs $300,000

      in the initial example, the $100 would get put into paying off your mastercard.  When you're done paying that off you can reset your priorites and 2 becomes priority #1 all the way down to 12 which becomes number 11

      But here's where priorities could be even more useful.   Left's say you get a really big windfall like an inheritance or something of  20,000 after taxes and expenses

      your Mastercard has a balance of 6,000 your visa has a balance of 3,000 you wanted to build up a savings account with a total balance of 3,000 and after you use up the rest of the money for jobs your new goal list looks like this
      1. an item with a balance goal of $3,000

      items 2,3,4 and
      5 A dream house that costs $300,000

      For option 3, you just enter the categories manually like you've always done

      Reply Like
  • I love use cases! Wonderful idea! 

    Reply Like
  • I requested all but one of the features in separate feature requests. 

    Reply Like
  • Here's more detail on idea #2 that I posted a feature request for

    It would be nice if there was some kind of report that could track your spending  and make suggestions on how to adjust your variable spending to a certain percentage threshold

    Something along the lines of "Hey we noticed that you've been spending X dollars in your entertainment category, currently that amounts to over 40% of you total budgeted dollars.  If you were to decrease your spending in this category by 1% per month or Y dollars, by the end of the year you would have a total of Z to put towards some other goals"

    In my case, this would allow me to pay down my overdraft, mastercard and visa without having to do the calculations on paper, which is difficult for me because I have a brain injury

    Reply Like
  • So I submitted another feature request that I wouldn't mind people's opinion on.

     

    My basic idea was to have a way to set a due date for bills, so that if you are inbetween pay cycles for budgeting for a big expense, when the calander date comes within two weeks of the due date, that expense gets moved into the 'immediate obligations' category, meaning that it needs to be funded fully and paid within two weeks.

     

    Then when you pay that bill, it gets put back into the group that it was in originally.

     

    This would give you advance warning to deal with underfunded bills.

     

    For example 

    You have a car registration bill for $240 that is due on the 10th of January every year, meaning you're monthly budgeted amount is $20.

    You just started using YNAB in August  you don't know about the goal budgeting features of Ynab yet so you budget that $20 each month.   January rolls around..  Uh OH!  I am $160 short..   I need to use rule 3 to budget for this.. luckiy I had a category of 'things I forgot to budget for'  which I have enough leftover to cover it.  Crisis averted because the software moved the category and brought it to my attention before it was a critical issue.  Sort of like a backup safety net.   a second line of defense against people like me who forget everything

     

    YNAB saves the day yet again

     

    cheers

     

    -James

    Reply Like 1
  • Patzer said:
    "Budget $X per month, Available not to exceed $Y at start of month,"

     Sorry, I am not following this, could you please expand a little for me?

    Reply Like
      • Patzer
      • Retired at age 60. Thank you, YNAB!
      • Patzer
      • 11 days ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      iwaddo 

      iwaddo said:
      Patzer said:

      "Budget $X per month, Available not to exceed $Y at start of month,"

      Sorry, I am not following this, could you please expand a little for me?

       Many people report overspending categories.  I rarely do.  Instead, I fund categories generously, then cap the amount I accumulate in the category.

      Example 1:  Groceries:Food.  There is always money left in the category.  I want to top it up to $300 at the beginning of the month.  I one-click my entire budget with goals of "Budget $X per month," the reduce groceries so that it is exactly equal to $300.  A goal of Budget X not to exceed Y would do this in a single click with X=Y= 300.

      Example 2:  Auto:Service.  This is a lumpy category, and the lumps can be large.  I cap it at $2000, and after a major repair I want to rebuild it at $200 per month, no more.  $200 per month is greater than my average spend, but I need the money there when the next major repair rolls around.  Right now, I use Budget $200 per month, and need to adjust it down when I hit the cap.  I frequently have several months in a row of hitting cap and adjusting down.  A goal of Budget X not to exceed Y would achieve this in a single click with X=200, Y=2000.

      I have found an alternative budget program that does this, and it's slick.  Unfortunately, that alternative lacks a lot of other nice stuff that YNAB has.

      Reply Like 1
      • iwaddo
      • iwaddo77
      • 11 days ago
      • Reported - view

      Patzer 

      Thank you. I have never dared one-click my entire budget, instead preferring to review each row; I find this keeps me aware of what is in my budget. 

      I can see an advantage of being able to set a monthly budget goal unless the budget already has x. This way when I review the budget row with this goal set it would only offer me a prompt to budget the monthly amount or less if required to achieve the overall goal.

      Reply Like
      • Patzer
      • Retired at age 60. Thank you, YNAB!
      • Patzer
      • 11 days ago
      • Reported - view

      iwaddo 

      iwaddo said:
      I have never dared one-click my entire budget, instead preferring to review each row; I find this keeps me aware of what is in my budget. 

       I'm not all that different from you.  The start of my process is the one-click budget, the second part is going through to salvage money from overfunded categories, and the real prioritization decisions have to do with where I budget the salvaged funds. 

      I do need to periodically review what I'm budgeting, on different schedules for different categories.  Those mini-reviews get reflected in future months' one-click starting point, and can jiggle the total budgeted a little; if it moves the total budgeted a lot, well, the money's gotta come from somewhere.  So something else needs to be funded less on an ongoing basis.

      Reply Like
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