YNAB 4 is still better

I tried to use the new YNAB and tried to like it but YNAB 4 is still way better. I use it as a tool to plan ahead but the new YNAB only lets you budget money you already have. OK there is the new "goal" function which can be used for planning ahead. But YNAB doesn't show you the total ammount. How frustrating is that? Why doesn't an app developed for managing your finances not show you how much money you actually need to pay next month?

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  • I get what you are saying. However, the budget method that YNAB espouses is based on the envelope system.

    The fact that you could project in YNAB4 was a nice bonus, but the mechanism that allowed it to happen also allowed people to, well, budget money they didn't have. And since the entire purpose is to make decisions based on the available balance in your categories, that kinda defeated the purpose because it allowed for the introduction of fake money into their category balances, leaving them unreliable.

    Like 5
  • One you use the new YNAB for a while, you can begin to see trends which will tell you the information you're looking for so you know how to plan ahead. It's pretty easy to work with the reports and select various categories to see how much spending is so that you know what to set aside in the future, and can create goals from there. But the key is that you have to have enough history in YNAB to have something to report on in the first place.
    Just a different way of wrapping your head around the details.

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      • Habanero Salsa
      • Second generation user
      • Aquamarine_Pony.8
      • 3 mths ago
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      farfromtheusual Well, if there were a multi-month view, maybe.

      I'm not awash in cash, but I'm looking at buying a Windows PC to keep running YNAB 4, even apart from the fact that YNAB is about 8 times more expensive, and counting, than YNAB4.

      The mobile apps are far superior, but the "main" app is far inferior, IMO.

      Like 1
    • Habanero Salsa nothing wrong with that. And I agree with you that there were features of the old YNAB that were nice. It is more expensive, but it's also really convenient to be able to log in anywhere. I did get a small discount from being a previous customer, I don't know if they are still offering that.

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      • jenmas
      • jenmas
      • 3 mths ago
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      farfromtheusual the offer now is 10% off the current price.

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    • jenmas better than nothing.

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      • Habanero Salsa
      • Second generation user
      • Aquamarine_Pony.8
      • 3 mths ago
      • 1
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      farfromtheusual They are offering a discount, which is what keeps it from being about 9 times as expensive, and counting.

      I'm going to see if I can get an extension of the trial to go through one more month end after this one before deciding whether to get a computer to keep running YNAB4 or bite the bullet and "upgrade."

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      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 3 mths ago
      • 2
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      Habanero Salsa It wouldn't hurt to check out what open box computers your local Best Buy has. I just picked up a new laptop for well below retail because I got back into consulting, and it works great. I even put YNAB on it.

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      • Habanero Salsa
      • Second generation user
      • Aquamarine_Pony.8
      • 3 mths ago
      • 1
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      nolesrule That's a great idea. I've seen some fairly inexpensive ones on Amazon. I only need a small drive and wifi or ethernet. Unless I can find something amazing before Christmas, maybe there will be some returns after Christmas. Thanks for the idea.

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    • farfromtheusual I guess using it for some time to develop trends could work, however that's not what I need. I have had a year off budgeting, traveling a lot and buying some new music gear etc. Funds are starting to run low and I need to know my minimum monthly expenses, how much I can spend on Christmas presents and how much I need to save up to pay for tuition in Ferbuary. I know how much I earn monthly and I need to set up a plan. Not use YNAB for some time and see the trends...

      Like 1
  • Hi Maroon Falcon !

    If you have goals in place, the Underfunded Quick Budget option will show you how much you need to fully fund a month. If you move forward to December, the Underfunded amount will show the total amount needed to cover any set goals and Scheduled Transactions

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    • Faness But goals are different than minimum expenses. I might have a goal to travel next summer. I also have a goal to pay my rent next month so I don't end up homeless. Adding these two amounts together doesn't really have a big informational value.

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      • WordTenor
      • I'm the oldest and the wittiest.
      • WordTenor
      • 3 mths ago
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      Maroon Falcon The idea is that you use the money you have now to secure yourself for the most important things first, and then for progressively lower and lower priorities. Yes, goals can help you see that and help budget for it, but YNAB 4 didn't have goals and it worked just fine in this way. 

      If out of your money you have right now you can't afford to set aside enough to pay rent next month and also set aside the amount you'd need to set aside to have the fabulous trip you'd like to do, you have to decide if you'd rather be homeless or have a less fabulous trip. 

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    • WordTenor That just doesn't make sense. I should be able to plan spending money later that I will have later. What if I register to YNAB two weeks from my payday and my accounts are empty? What if I know I will get a big tax return and want to plan on what I will use it on?

      In fact in some cases YNAB actually lets you budget money NOW that you don't have. Some savings accounts have a withdrawal period, sometimes even several months. But YNAB lets you budget that money for this months rent. But won't let me budget money that I will recieve tomorrow.

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    • Maroon Falcon 

      Budgeting helps you realize your vision of a better tomorrow. If you have accounts you can't access immediately, I wouldn't include them in your budget - maybe as a Tracking account so you aren't budgeting for day-to-day expenses with funds you don't have, like you mentioned. Scarcity is clarity.

      We know it's tempting to forecast different scenarios for how to get there, but that isn't based in reality (the real money you actually have). It's only thinking long. On the other hand, just getting your savings account balance high isn't strategically aligned with your day-to-day budget and priorities. It's only acting now.

      You need both! Your budget will get you there.

      If you need some more reassurance, here are some videos from Jesse (and some other folks on the team):

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      • Annieland
      • YNABbing every day since 2009!
      • Annieland
      • 3 mths ago
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      Maroon Falcon I don't remember forecasting in YNAB4.  If anything, it locked me in more to budgeting based on last month, or the next month.  Did you just put hypothetical money in?  If that's the case, you can easily do that in this YNAB, with the added benefit of being able to budget indefinitely into the future (not that I'm recommending this).

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      • WordTenor
      • I'm the oldest and the wittiest.
      • WordTenor
      • 3 mths ago
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      Maroon Falcon You plan those things elsewhere. 

      YNAB is the plan for the money you have, not the money you will have. You can see quite a bit of what you'll be able to do just by working with the money you already have in hand. If the vacation in June is $4000 and you can't afford to set aside $500 in November, you'd better plan on having a vacation that costs less than $4000, or hope you get a really nice Christmas gift.

      There are definitely some things YNAB 4's more loosey-goosey mechanics made easier, such as showing you a conservative category balance after upcoming transactions, and making reimbursements more straightforward. But a number of people have begun using the web app only to discover that what they understood as the benefit of YNAB 4 was actually them not using it at all the way the materials taught to use it. So you're not alone in how you used YNAB 4, but you were in fact not using it the way they intended you to. The web app was programmed to force people to their intention. 

      Lots of us have used YNAB to wild success for years and some even a decade or more without ever forecasting a penny. Your options are to balk at that idea and stay on YNAB 4 (which will require a VM or a Windows computer), or try using YNAB the way it was meant. 

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    • WordTenor Ah yes, I guess that is the core problem. I don't care about the materials. I don't care about what the developers intended. I need good budgeting software that I can use in a way I want and intend. Have my own system. And I was hoping YNAB is just that. I guess I have to continue using YNAB 4 with it's horrible mobile app and once it stops working go back to excel or hope that something new pops up. I really thought YNAB is primarely an app, not a method.

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      • WordTenor
      • I'm the oldest and the wittiest.
      • WordTenor
      • 3 mths ago
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      Maroon Falcon said:
      I really thought YNAB is primarely an app, not a method.

       Yep, that's the root of the problem then. They see themselves as precisely the opposite--a financial method which is supported by some software they also happen to build.

      ETA: that being said, it is hard to execute a YNAB method budget in anything but YNAB--it takes a lot of work and overhead. Fortunately for you, an income forecast to spending forecast comparison plus spending tracker is a much easier kind of budget to find a tool for. There are many options for that style of budget, ranging from templates for Excel and Google Sheets to many other dedicated budgeting apps. If that's how you want to budget, you don't have to worry that much about YNAB 4 continuing to work--you can likely find a tool which will suit if YNAB 4 breaks. 

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    • Faness I see the point. YNAB isn't  for forecasting. But it says it right there in the article. "Forecasting is planning how you will spend money you think you will have—you hope you will have—in the future."

      But what about money I KNOW I will have?

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      • JoeDid
      • Remember: It is To Laugh
      • Purple_rain
      • 3 mths ago
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      Maroon Falcon I use the running balance; enter my future income as scheduled transactions and I can see where/when a balance will drop to dangerous levels. It doesn't impact the current budget, but it alerts me to my cash flow. I don't let the scheduled income transaction fire until it's actually realized. It helps, and I completely get your point about forecasting. Just don't enter income into your budget until it's in your account.

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      • WordTenor
      • I'm the oldest and the wittiest.
      • WordTenor
      • 3 mths ago
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       Maroon Falcon 

      There is no such thing as money you know you will have. It's all at some varying degree of "may get." The decisions you make when you are looking at a budget that contains money you know you have wind up being different than ones that contain money that you can safely assume you'll get, and the power of that difference is what makes the YNAB method so useful. 

      I'd encourage you to try the method regardless of whether you do so in version 4 or the web app. It's something I think everyone ought to give an honest shot before they bin it. It's pretty powerful to be sitting at a nice dinner knowing that your Dining Out category can support the whole $200 you have sitting there instead of having to do the domino thinking about whether if you spend $200 tonight, it will mean you'll have to delay getting gas until after your next paycheck. Even if eventually you'll absolutely afford both the dinner and the gas, it's  a whole different ball game when you know that right now, $200 of cold hard cash is sitting there with the express purpose of a really great filet mignon.

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    • WordTenor I'm not talking about budgeting money now, that I will have later, but budgeting money in the future. If you spend money for a steak and not being able to afford gas beacuse your paycheck hasn't arrived - you're doing it wrong. Planning to go out for a steak next friday after your paycheck arrives and seeing how much money you will have left at the end of the month? That is the type of planning I want and YNAB doesn't offer.

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      • WordTenor
      • I'm the oldest and the wittiest.
      • WordTenor
      • 3 mths ago
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      Maroon Falcon That’s not how your original post reads, so if we’re all misunderstanding, sorry about that. When you say “YNAB only lets you budget money you already have” the logical assumption is that you are talking about wanting to budget money you don’t already have, not making longer term decisions with money you do have.  So that’s the nature of the replies you’ve received. 

      In the case of deciding if you can buy a streak next week, it’s not so much “How much will I have after I buy the steak next week” but looking at the category today and going, “What do I need to do or not do right now so that I can have money for a steak next week?” I gave you the example of the vacation above. No, it’s not totally hands-off, in that you still have to decide what your ideal steak or vacation looks like, and then look at what you need to do between now and then with the money you have. 

      I do agree, as I posted above, that YNAB 4 allowed some helpful conservative practices for truly known expenses. But more people misused that capability than didn’t, or probably didn’t even understand enough to understand they were misusing it. It’s that second factor that is why I understand them to have removed it. If you’d (general you) like to use fake income and fake future expenses to forecast, there’s truly not much stopping you. They changed the default behavior to stop people who could benefit from the method but are so used to other notions of “budgeting” that they were likely to make a mistake unless forced to notice they were doing so.

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    • WordTenor OK maybe I should have been clearer. "Budgeting" is planning on spending mony in the future. I NOW want to plan how I will spend money in the future that I will get in the future. I want to plan how I will spend my next paycheck. I will spend the money AFTER I get the paycheck. But I want to plan it now. Is it clearer now?

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    • WordTenor And using goals isn't sufficient enough beacuse "goals" are more of a "nice to have" unlike paying my rent. So even though I can prioritze goals, I need a distinction between money I can spend and must spend. I did this in YNAB 4 b budgeting the money I must spend, letting the suprlus carry over to the next month and only than thinking what to do with the extra money. Do I want to invest it or save up for a vacation? Than I would budget it for the correct categor. But the main difference would be I could always click on next month where I would have the money I must spend already budgeted and see my minimum expenses. And didn't have to wait for my paycheck to be able to plan my next month expenses.

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      • jenmas
      • jenmas
      • 3 mths ago
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      Maroon Falcon if you want a forecasting tool, use a forecasting tool. I believe the Dave Ramsey budgeting software is based on a forecasting budget. Mint will also do that.

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      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 3 mths ago
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      Maroon Falcon I have already planned to pay the mortgage due on Dec. 1 with some of the money I receive in Nov. I don't need to actually allocate those funds in the budget until I actually have them.

      Hopefully you can see for other expenses like Groceries, allocating early is misleading, leading to excessive spending because there is no reliable feedback of information on which to base spending decisions.

      In other words, garbage in -- garbage out.

      Like
  • Have you tried setting up a new budget to play with options & see what works with the money you have? I've done multiple fresh starts to use as "template budgets" to see what different income levels would look like (& gone back to the original to continue budgeting in) and I've started a new budget, done all the planning & setting up of categories etc, & then done a fresh start on that to have one for use while preserving my planning.

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  • Why am I pending review? Faness

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    • WordTenor Sorry for the trouble! Trying to catch direct "import" posts caught "important" by mistake - we've fixed this issue.

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      • WordTenor
      • I'm the oldest and the wittiest.
      • WordTenor
      • 3 mths ago
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      Faness Y'all, this forum software...

      </Quixote> 

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      • bevocat
      • Sometimes, It Just Sucks to Be You
      • bevocat
      • 3 mths ago
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      WordTenor Surely you meant to say this "forum" software...

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  • BTW I am not hating on YNAB. I astarted this topic to make sure I am not using it wrong, overlooking some functionality or not understanding it. Turns out I was right and YNAB really isn't the app I was looking for. Thanks ofr the insight from all.

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    • Maroon Falcon  Have you considered entering income you are fairly certain you’ll receive in the future (for example, next week) as received today, so that you can budget it? You know this isn’t following the YNAB method, but if your goal is more of a traditional forecasting, perhaps give this a try. 

      Like 1
      • Annieland
      • YNABbing every day since 2009!
      • Annieland
      • 3 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Slate Blue Pilot I do this very sparingly, and I too am loathe to "recommend" it, but it is a totally viable way to work things out sometimes.  I just assume people will figure this stuff out on their own.  The software is flexible enough that you can game it however you want if you're so motivated.  Right now I have our "third paycheck" that will post in a week partially budgeted in Dec. and the rest in a Dec. holding category.  It temporarily messes up reports if I don't exclude my dummy account, but seems harmless other than that.

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      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
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      Annieland My thought is that if they cannot figure it out on their own, they probably cannot understand the consequences well enough to use the "off-book" workflow safely.

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      • Annieland
      • YNABbing every day since 2009!
      • Annieland
      • 3 mths ago
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      dakinemaui Yup, again why I very seldom mention it.  Self-selecting population there :).

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  • WordTenor said:
    There is no such thing as money you know you will have. It's all at some varying degree of "may get."

     Just for the sake of clarity, for those of us at EOL with guaranteed income, I know what I will get and when, every time. I know that doesn't apply to most people here.

    Still, having said, that, I agree that the decision-making process is different with regard to cash on hand and cash on the way. I deal only with cash on hand in my decision making, and I'm grateful for YNAB for having taught me to think that way.

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      • WordTenor
      • I'm the oldest and the wittiest.
      • WordTenor
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      JoeDid I would argue that it’s still not money you know you’ll have. It’s money that is highly likely to arrive, but the pension could bust, the annuity association could fold, social secuirty could get held hostage in some partisan debacle, there could just be a giant electric blackout over an entire region of the county which delays your direct deposit by a couple of days. 

      If it’s money you have in hand, it’s money you have in hand. If it’s not, it’s not. What most budgets suggest you do is consider money that is a certain degree of “likely to be received” as “received.” YNAB encourages you not to count a cent until it is fully in hand. It’s a powerful distinction, even if for many people, the odds that expected income won't arrive is vanishingly small.

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      • Habanero Salsa
      • Second generation user
      • Aquamarine_Pony.8
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      WordTenor Well, if we want to carry things that far, your account could be frozen, banks could close, or the economy could collapse such that we don’t have any money in the bank, either. 
       

      Should we only budget actual, physical cash in hand? That’s not really how YNAB works, is it? It seems more like an arbitrary, rather than powerful, distinction once implausible scenarios are introduced in an attempt to prove a point.

       

      And, in the unlikely event the electrical grid collapses, you’d roll with the punches and deal with what money you do have, anyway. You wouldn’t keep spending as if nothing had happened.

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      • WordTenor
      • I'm the oldest and the wittiest.
      • WordTenor
      • 3 mths ago
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      Habanero Salsa 

      Habanero Salsa said:
      Should we only budget actual, physical cash in hand?

       Yeah, that’s basically exactly the idea.

      And ironically, despite the facetious intent of the rest of your question, it actually proves the point more than counters it. If my accounts were to suddenly be frozen, I’d know exactly what money I’d have to remove from my budget and can easily prioritize the money that’s left. And that is the whole point. 

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      • Habanero Salsa
      • Second generation user
      • Aquamarine_Pony.8
      • 3 mths ago
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       WordTenor No, it isn’t. Unless you can point out the YNAB documentation that says not to budget using money in bank accounts, that’s your idea, but not YNAB’s. 

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      • WordTenor
      • I'm the oldest and the wittiest.
      • WordTenor
      • 3 mths ago
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      Habanero Salsa Oh you mean actual cash. I always use cash to make a distinction  between cash and credit, not cash and dollar bills. No. But read my edit above re: how that scenario would work. 

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      • Habanero Salsa
      • Second generation user
      • Aquamarine_Pony.8
      • 3 mths ago
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      WordTenor Yes, when I wrote “actual, physical cash” I meant actual, physical cash. 
       

      And if your accounts were frozen, you’d know what money you’d have to remove from your budget. Just like someone whose pension, annuity, or paycheck is delayed would know what money they’d have to remove from theirs. 

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      • WordTenor
      • I'm the oldest and the wittiest.
      • WordTenor
      • 3 mths ago
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      Habanero Salsa Yeah, I think you’re at the point where your questions are showing more about what you don’t get than what you do. So, in deference to the fact that I know that a thing happened, I’m just going to let you go on this one. Have a nice evening.

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      • Habanero Salsa
      • Second generation user
      • Aquamarine_Pony.8
      • 3 mths ago
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      WordTenor I’m not asking questions, I’m telling you that your distinction is arbitrary because a frozen bank account presents the same fundamental issue as a delayed annuity check, your doomsday scenarios aren’t relevant for the same reason and because someone who has forecast can adjust just like someone who hasn’t, and because if I make decisions based on my category balances, which are based on what I actually have, it doesn’t matter if I’ve forecast five years ahead or if I haven’t. 

      If someone isn’t buffered or makes up income in the current month, that could be very problematic  

      I get YNAB4 just fine. I was taught by someone who knew about as much about it as anyone, developers included, and have been using it since I was about 12. 
       

      You have a nice evening, as well. 

      Like
  • JoeDid said:
    I deal only with cash on hand in my decision making, and I'm grateful for YNAB for having taught me to think that way

    I think this is a key distinction. Rule 2 inherently assumes you will receive income next month, so YNAB clearly does not expect you to completely ignore future income. However, actual *spending* decisions and therefore budget entries should be made solely with spendable funds. Obviously, you cannot spend money before receipt.

    Like 4
      • JoeDid
      • Remember: It is To Laugh
      • Purple_rain
      • 3 mths ago
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      dakinemaui Yeah, that was the point I was making. Sure, there are all sorts of possible doomsday scenarios. The world could end tomorrow -- for some people it will; today, even -- but I can still pretend that at some point in the future, if the future happens, I'll have more money to play with.

      Again, my real budget choices are affected only by what I've already received, but even in my situation I like to look forward beyond the end of the month, in this case, eight days.

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      • WordTenor
      • I'm the oldest and the wittiest.
      • WordTenor
      • 3 mths ago
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      JoeDid Also I apologize for not giving this as much service in my reply. This is the key point--making decisions with money that that has already been received. 

      The line I think is useful to draw, and that I'm referring to is that there's a clear line between money received and money not received. All other money is on some degree of likelihood of receipt--almost 100% sure, 80% sure, not really sure, etc.  The only truly binary distinction that can be made is "do you have it already, or not?" I work for a state government in a crazy stable job. My paycheck is coming. So when I think about some options for my overall plan, I plan for my paycheck to come because odds are nearly perfect that it will. Heck, I've even calculated out a conservative estimate of what it's going to look like in 2021 when I get promoted. But until money is here, it's not here, so it's not being used to make decisions today. 

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      • Annieland
      • YNABbing every day since 2009!
      • Annieland
      • 3 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      WordTenor Yeah, I think we need to separate the ideas of "planning" and "decision-making."  A couple years ago I looked at my conservative cash flow spreadsheet to get a rough idea on if I'd have money left over at the end of the year for a vacation.  It looked pretty doable.  But I in NO WAY went and bought tickets!  It just meant it might be worth it to set a YNAB goal to start saving up.  

      Looking at my cash flow, yeah I can afford a vacation this year.  Looking at my YNAB? No gosh darn way.  *Difference*

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    • dakinemaui I think this is exactly it. Obviously YNAB isn't asking you to pretend that you'll never get paid again and plan out the rest of your deprived life accordingly. Budgeting only the money you have is just a tool that helps people make better decisions.

      Very few good spending decisions in history have started with the words, "Well, I'm getting paid next week, so I'll just go ahead and..."

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  • Maroon Falcon said:
    using goals isn't sufficient enough beacuse "goals" are more of a "nice to have" unlike paying my rent.

    It seems that you view "goal" to be synonymous with "optional", which I suspect is a pervasive mistake in today's society. If they had called this capability Allocation Assistant, I wonder if it would be clearer to more people.

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      • WordTenor
      • I'm the oldest and the wittiest.
      • WordTenor
      • 3 mths ago
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      dakinemaui Well-spotted. 

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  • Other than it being antithetical to the method, I think budgeting future spending based on future money just eventually leads to disaster for most people.  Maybe not all, or maybe not people with super solid finances/assets.  The friends I have who are planning how to spend next year's tax refund today are never the ones who are on firm financial ground.  Figuring out what kind of dinner you can afford tonight based on next week's paycheck and next month's expenses is exactly the kind of poor financial health YNAB is trying to cure.  If that kind of system has been working for you for so long, well kudos to you.  Because it's been nothing but trouble for me in the past and everyone I know.

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    • Annieland "The friends I have who are planning how to spend next year's tax refund today are never the ones who are on firm financial ground." Exactly. I used to be this way as well. It's not a good feeling when one realizes that they have already spent money that they are assuming they will receive a few months into the future. 

      I think that part of what makes YNAB so difficult for many new users - and to explain to the general public - is that it forces an immediate reality check, which for most people who turn to budgeting software, is going to feel negative. Starting YNAB, one isn't confronted with the promise of all they can do with future money, but rather, the realism of where one stands today, minus the smoke and mirrors of things that make one believe their financial situation is better than it is, such as credit card float, a potential tax return in 4 months, that pay raise that you might get next summer, and the idea of discounting "atypical" months such as December. 

      Starting a forecasting budget just seems easier. It's a clean slate, and frankly, it's more in line with how most of our friends, family, colleagues, and peers - and even many businesses - talk about money. But there is a very powerful distinction that has clicked within me regarding money I have earned and money that I may earn or be paid in the future, and in my experience, budgeting with future money leads to trouble. I don't believe in rigid black-and-white rules for everything, so I can understand if someone wants to say that they will budget money that they have earned for the last two weeks of works but will be paid out in a few days. Really, YNAB will never know the difference, and as long as you don't overdraw accounts, it should work just fine. But to do a projection budget assuming you'll be getting a big tax return in March? No way. 

      Like 2
  • All I know is that I started with debt and no savings when I started using YNAB and now years later with no forecasting, I have no debt and tons of savings. I am proof positive that forecasting is unnecessary when using the YNAB method properly.

    Let me add that with YNAB, you are planning for future spending by setting aside a calculated amount for future spending so that you will have a certain amount available to spend at that future time. So, it is a kind of forecasting but with funds in hand targeted for a future time.

    Like 8
      • ynaber2613
      • ynaber2613
      • 2 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Superbone Exactly

      Like 1
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