Hidden Categories vs. Deleting a Category

Hello Budget Buddies.

I'm curious to see how/if other people have dealt with this.

I  just started using YNAB in May, and thanks to it and a few well-timed side hustles, I was able to save up for a bicycle replacement (my main mode of transportation) to my dream bike in a few months. I created a category for the bike simply titled "Bicycle Replacement" and set aside money over a few months and then purchased the bike! Huzzah!

But now what do I do with that category? I don't really intend to save up for another bicycle replacement... With the amount I spent on this one, I'm hoping it will last me for quite some time. 😳

Similarly, I recently moved and created a category for moving expenses. But I'm settled in now and really don't plan to move again any time soon (at least I really truly hope not!). I also recently paid off a credit-building loan to my bank that was also category.

So currently, the bicycle and the loan are now "hidden categories" and the moving expenses simply got renamed to "home improvements". I'm curious what other people do once a category has fulfilled it's usefulness and you find you no longer need it.  Do you delete it? Rename it? Hide it indefinitely? I don't particularly like the hiding option, as I imagine over time, as I hide more categories, it will throw the reports off in a weird way.

Happy budgeting, y'all. I'm a 100% convert to the ynab life. I'm still not a rich person, but I've never felt more financially secure in my life and that's been a priceless feeling. Besides, my wealth has always manifested in ways other than money. 😊

 

Thanks  in advance for your opinions and insights!

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  • If your bike is your main mode of transportation, keep the category and start budgeting for the next one. Even if that means putting $1 per month, it's easier to put in $1 every month over a long period than $200 over a few months. This category could also be used for the bike maintenance or parts that you will most certainly need if you prefer.

    Never delete a category that has transactions in it. If you don't like hiding, you can use the idea of the Wish Farm: https://www.youneedabudget.com/wish-lists/ 

    Like 4
  • Hidden and deleted categories don't show up under reports, but that's not the end of the world. I think the main utility of the reports is to help budget for future purchases.

    I would personally hide if I didn't have an idea of something new for which to save. Otherwise, I would rename it.

    Consider a bike maintenance category?

    Like 2
    • dakinemaui I was looking up what to do with categories I am not longer using and got worried about reports.

      Seems they added an include hidden categories in the reports section now.

      Like
  • Hi sgard !

    I realize I'm a bit late, but welcome aboard the YNAB train - I'm happy to hear you're enjoying the ride! ;)

    When you're done with a category, you can either hide it or repurpose it. We don't suggest deleting categories that have previous spending in them - it uncategorizes the transactions and sends any funds that were budgeted towards that category back to To Be Budgeted. It can cause a bit of a mess.

    Instead, I'd vote for a Bike Maintenance category or changing it to your Transportation category if that's how you tend to travel. :)

    Like 1
  • This is all very helpful! I have a transportation category already, which I've used for everything from lyft rides to public transit to flat tire fixes, but a separate bike maintenance category couldn't hurt.

     

    Thanks for the help, all!

    Like 1
  • Here's how I think of it.  There are two types of categories (well, probably more than that, but two for the purpose of this discussion):  Budget categories and Spending categories.  Instead of a bike, imagine you want to save for a big vacation next June.  But you also want to save up for a weekend trip in January. 

    So, you would have three categories:  two budget categories, June Vacation and January Vacation, and one spending category, Vacation.  The Vacation budget sits empty until you go on vacation.  The other two categories are where you save up for the specific vacations.  

    The most important part:  Log your transactions to ONLY the Vacation budget!  When you actually go on that January trip, here's what you do:

    1. Before the trip, move the money from the January Vacation category into the Vacation category.

    2. Delete the January Vacation budget, you don't need it any more.

    2. Go on vacation!  Have fun!

    3. Log all of your transactions to the Vacation budget.

    4. If you come in under budget, move the money from Vacation to June Vacation (or wherever).  If you come in over budget, well...  You'll have to figure that part out.  :)

    This is what I did for our vacation this summer, and it worked out great.  The pros to this are that the report shows exactly how much I spent on vacation.  The con is, it doesn't show WHAT you spent your money on over vacation.  I guess it depends on what you prefer, but option B is, forget about the Vacation budget.  Just move the money from January Vacation to the categories that you will be spending on during your vacation and go from there.

    So yeah, keep your bike budget and start saving already for the next one!  You'll need one eventually!

    Like 3
      • jenmas
      • jenmas
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Max Green If you delete the January Budget category you will have unbudgeted funds in all of your past months before moving the money to the general vacation category.

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    • Max Green said:
      Log all of your transactions to the Vacation budget.

      I like to tag transactions in the memo (e.g., #mexico2019) if they're going to be in a generic reporting category. A search can then provide the subtotal for just that trip (useful when planning for the next one).

      Like 2
      • Max Green
      • Software Quality Assurance Test Engineer
      • maxgreen
      • 1 yr ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      jenmas No, because I never use the January Vacation budget to categorize any transactions.  It's just a holding tank.  When I'm ready to spend the money, I move the money into the Vacation category, which is the permanent one I want showing up in my reports.

      Like 1
      • Max Green
      • Software Quality Assurance Test Engineer
      • maxgreen
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      dakinemaui Great idea.  Side note, and we're getting away from the bicycle example that the OP was asking about, but just wanted to mention, when I went on my vacation this year, every single transaction got labeled as Vacation.  Gas, groceries, dining out, everything.  We budgeted less for those things in June because two weeks of that month everything got categorized as Vacation.  Just depends on how you want your charts to look.  I wanted to see how much we spent on vacation, but you may prefer to know exactly how much you spent on gas, even while on vacation.

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      • jenmas
      • jenmas
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Max Green Look again. If there is money in March 2019 allocated to January 2020 Vacation category and you delete the January 2020 vacation category in December 2019, the money in your March 2019 budget has to go somewhere.

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      • Max Green
      • Software Quality Assurance Test Engineer
      • maxgreen
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      jenmas Hmm, you've lost me a little there. What I'm saying is, before the January vacation, move the money from the "January Vacation" budget to the "Vacation" budget.  Now "January Vacation" is empty so you can safely delete it.

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    • jenmas that money does go somewhere -- to the generic Vacation category, because it was moved before deleting the specific savings-only category.

      Your walled month roots are showing, my friend. 😉

      Had the specific saving category been deleted first, yes the historic TBBs would have increased cascading all the way to the present. However a subsequent budget entry to the generic category in the current month (in the future from the perspective of all those past months) would immediately consume all that money, putting all the TBBs back to $0 (or whatever the pre-deletion values were).

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      • jenmas
      • jenmas
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      dakinemaui okay, I see what you mean now and I do indeed hate this fluid month thing. I did it in my rental property budget and just deleted my entire maintenance category after moving the money to property manager fee and the complete lack of trace that I had been allocating hundreds of dollars per month to maintenance but now there is this huge sum in a category that shouldn't have much money at all is annoying.

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      • Max Green
      • Software Quality Assurance Test Engineer
      • maxgreen
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      jenmas And now I see what you mean (I think).  The key is to never use a budget category (i.e., January Vacation) as a category when logging actual transactions.  So you wouldn't log that transaction for your snorkeling gear rental using January Vacation, you would use the transaction budget Vacation instead.  My budget categories never have any transactions logged against them so they can always be safely deleted.

      Btw, for clarity, many of my categories are simply transaction categories.  I don't have a special budget category for every little thing like the electricity bill, just the big stuff I'm saving up for.

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      • jenmas
      • jenmas
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Max Green here's the thing, I personally would have no issue with this because I don't randomly click things in my budget and I understand how it works (whereas there are always beginners who haven't taken the classes and have no idea that they have hidden or deleted things). I have three "savings" categories: Small, Med, and Large and I never delete them, I just rename them for the next thing I'm saving for after I move the funds out. But I also don't really use nYNAB for my personal budget, only for my rental property budget; I use YNAB 4 because I find it to be a far superior program. Eventually I'll probably be forced to move everything over, but I'm not going to rush it.

      Like
  • Max Green said:
    My budget categories never have any transactions logged against them so they can always be safely deleted.

    Realistically, you could have logged transactions to January Vacation. YNAB will prompt you for a replacement category when you delete January Vacation. The funds that subsequently show up in TBB can be moved to the generic Vacation after the deletion.

    As an example, I would buy plane tickets directly in the January Vacation category. This avoids having to move money to the generic category multiple times.

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      • Max Green
      • Software Quality Assurance Test Engineer
      • maxgreen
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      dakinemaui Good to know.  Most of my wish list items are one-and-done kind of things, like saving up to buy a thing, but yeah, vacations are a little different.  I did buy things before the vacation and moved the money over each time, no big deal, but maybe I'll try this method next time.  Thanks for the tip!

      Like
      • Mani
      • Aquamarine_Memory.15
      • 7 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      dakinemaui Late to the thread, but this is a really helpful tip! I also like to buy things incrementally before the trip itself like flights, hotels, etc. and the idea of manually moving the money before making all those transactions seemed really painful. So if I undestand you correctly I can just spend freely from my "January Greece Trip" category for example, and then delete it after the trip and move it to a generic travel category? Awesome!

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

      Aquamarine Memory I'm afraid not, at least not if you care about your past month's budget integrity. While YNAB can recategorize transactions when you delete a category, it does NOT shift the budget allocations. (Instead, it returns that money to TBB.) The additional spending in the generic category often causes overspending.

      Add your voice with a Feature Request to finish the implementation by adjusting budget entries as well. Until then, I suggest you manually shift the budget entries before deleting a specific category.

      Edit: looking at my earlier response, I overlooked this deficiency.

      Like
      • Mani
      • Aquamarine_Memory.15
      • 7 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      dakinemaui Yeah I went to test it as soon as I commented and figured out that the budgeted amount shifts. Annoying, but I just I'll go the manual route then.

      Like
  • I saved for a kitchen appliance, and bought it today. Now I’m trying to figure out what to do with the category. I don’t buy appliances on a regular basis so that would be a daft sort of catch-all category also. There’s more stuff like this in the wish list, just the one-off’s. 
     

    I understand the vacation example perfectly but I have a fever and can’t come up with anything for these kind of purchases and I’m getting annoyed with the transaction left open 😆 Any ideas? 
     

    Right now I’m thinking ‘wish farm one-offs’, or something similar. 
     

    Like
      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 11 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Cacti Household Goods. Just the first of many such purchases. 😉

      Edit: I use Groceries for things that are "used up" or consumed (e.g., paper towels, toilet paper, laundry soap). Household Goods for "durable" things and replacement thereof (lamps, tables, Super Ninja Blender 2000 Premium Gold Elite, etc.) Home Improvement for permanent house modifications (e.g., new locks, new windows, faucet replacement). Home Improvement == "nailed down", Household Goods != "nailed down".

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

      Cacti I have a category called "Furniture & Appliances."  Most people don't buy those things very often, but when you need to, you NEED to.  So I consider it a true expense and keep it funded as best I can, mostly for emergencies.  It's also used for the inevitable appliance repair too.  

      Like 1
    • Cacti I have a "Home Maintenance" category for big home items. I always keep that category funded with my home warranty and home insurance deductibles and a bit extra for any surprises - it's essentially a home emergency fund. 

      Like
  • Similar issue. Curious as to how you guys fix say cancelled memberships or subscriptions. Say I cancelled Netflix or Gym Membership? Do you hide the category? Create a Discontinued category group? How would you repurpose a category in this case?

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      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 8 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      SeasonedRice I would hide it. This eliminates it from reports, but no big deal to me. I tend to use the search, if I ever wanted to look at something.

      Like
    • SeasonedRice I just have a subscription category that catches all of these.  There are too many to separate them all out.  I just put a note in the Memo field for what it was for.

      Like 1
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