I'm pretty much still using my initial budget that I set up when I started using YNAB in April of this year. I've tweaked it here and there, but now I think I want to move a bunch of categories around, get rid of some, add new ones, etc. Am I better off doing a fresh start or simply rearranging what I'm currently using? I don't want to lose the data I've collected since April and I'm unclear of what gets saved when you do a fresh start.
Any help greatly appreciated.
I’ve never fresh started in six years of using the software. Just don’t delete any categories and you’ll be fine. Hide them if you must, or repurpose them if needed; over time my “TV” category became “Entertainment subscriptions” as I went from a cable bill to several types of media streaming, and my “car payment” category has been used for a car payment, hidden, unhidden, hidden again, and soon will be unhidden to be a category for saving up for the next car
The official YNAB advice is to fresh start liberally and often. You don’t lose the old data, but it is sequestered in a separate budget. Not my preference, so I haven’t done that.
I've never Fresh Started either. I started YNAB(3/4) in 2009 and using this YNAB since early 2016. It was painful to "close down" YNAB4, but at least it's there, and thankfully I haven't needed to open it as often as I thought I would (yet I do keep transaction records in other places that go back even further).
I'm excited to say I just renamed a category this week. Even though I have 70-80 categories, I still consider most of them very concrete and straightforward (no "fun money" or "just because" stuff). My 10 yr old "Computer" category just became "Computer & Technology," which is still in the Recreation master category. I'm not putting things like a new printer, toner, cables, iPad cases etc. in "Household Needs" anymore. It's exciting! I do hide, but rarely, as most of my categories are routinely used or True/Emergency expenses.
Definitely rearrange or rename. I can say it's always a work in progress as your living/family environment changes, and even your thought process changes. Just my opinion, but unless you have some major disaster or setback in your budgeting, I think the Fresh Start is overrated. I'd much rather see a duplication function.
I like the historical view of my (coming up on 5 years) budget. I have repurposed categories along the way -- car loan became next car savings; new sofa became furnishings; new laptop became electronics -- and I have both combined categories into one (both my transit pass and parking categories were blended into a generic transportation category which eventually became just fuel) and separated spending from one category into two (separated grooming from clothing).
starting at the beginning date of my budget
re: combining... I wouldn't do this. Instead, I would not venture beyond the current month:
- Make a note of the CC Payment category balances in the current month and ensure TBB = $0.
- Delete one of the categories to combine, and pick the other category when asked how to recategorize. (This will put a bunch of money in TBB.)
- Restore the CC Payment categories and move the rest from TBB to the destination category.
This may cause overspending in past months' budget areas, but I don't care about that. I use YNAB to plan my future spending.
At some point, I hope YNAB will realize that moving transactions without moving the budgeted funds is a poor design choice. After they finish the implementation, #3 will be unnecessary (nor will there be overspending).
I'm coming to this discussion a year late, it appears! I've just done a bunch of reworking of my budget categories over the last couple of days. (Tried to go from a topic/category based arrangement that I'd been using for years back to YNAB's recommended tiered budgeting approach (immediate, true, extras...) to see if that would help me shift my thinking a little. But then I just couldn't live with the grouping of so many categories together in 3-4 master categories. So... then I tried to combine some things into single line items - like Ben's example in the budget nerd video where he combines all of his subscriptions together into one line item and budget's one amount to cover all those transactions in the month (with just a note to indicate what's included). I was assuming that every time I combined or separated categories, YNAB was also shifting those funds. Well, that created quite a mess with the added TBB funds for current month and swaths of red and yellow across my previous months' budgets. Oh my!! I'm a bit overwhelmed and cannot begin to go back and sort all of that out!! I was so hoping to have another year of useful historical data collected. But alas, I think I'm headed for a fresh start! Did this once before and it's not too bad. But it's not what I want to do. So in case YNAB product managers are seeing this -- this is one more plea to PLEASE implement moving the $$ when transactions are recategorized!!
I’m going on 11 years of contiguous data. I love seeing my net worth history over that time.
But yes, currently, you really have to know what you’re doing when moving things around, recategorizing, and especially deleting! I even figured out how to clean up 10 years of hidden categories the other day.