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).