New user first steps - why?

This is probably more feedback than a question, but: when a brand new user first signs up and the budget opens, why is the first step in the tutorial "create a goal"? I think goals and scheduled transactions are powerful tools and I couldn't run my budget without them, but for someone who has never laid eyes on the software, this is not an intuitive first step at all. Setting a goal should be step 5 or 6, after you've gotten through the basics of add account, budget funds, enter a transaction. 

Furthermore, putting the goal under GIFTS with no explanation other than a cutesy wink-nudge is baffling.  Be straightforward. Put it under Software Subscriptions where it belongs! 😉

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  • Maybe it's to make people dream? To highlight the budget will allow you to fulfil your goals. At least the financial ones. Note to self: maybe I should have waited on an official YNAB reply before giving them a possible one... :)

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  • I had the same thought when I first started in this version of YNAB.  

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  • Really! Good heavens that explains so much of the confusion I see from new users. 

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  • Hi Vibrant !

    When we first added the Goals walkthrough, there were different options for where that goal was placed. I believe now it does go towards the Subscription category with the caveat of saving for your YNAB subscription. ;)

    As for why the Goals walkthrough appears so early, it's to help highlight navigating the app (selecting a category, the details option, seeing the information there, etc.). However, I'll pass this feedback along to our development team! I can definitely understand how learning how to add an account would make things easier from the beginning!

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      • Vibrant
      • No more counting dollars, we'll be counting stars
      • vibrant
      • 3 yrs ago
      • Reported - view

      Faness Did they change this literally in the last week? Because I set up my teenager with their own account and these are not the prompts I got. (I'm currently looking at a pretend new account with a spare email address). In any case, much improved, thank you!

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    • Vibrant I dig some digging to check my facts and the debate between Gift category and Subscription category took place back in September. I'm going to pass a note along to the developers just to make sure this hasn't been toggled back! Thanks for pointing this out! :)

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  • Yes yes yes to this comment from Vibrant  I’ve spent hours and hours over the past two weeks now, trying to untangle the mess I created after trying to follow the onboarding steps.  After multiple long emails with support, 5 classes, and more hours alone reading and studying support docs, it seems the mess started because I set-up Goals first, blindly doing what I was told, without a deeper understanding of the ecosystem and intricacies of how those Goals work with Scheduled Transactions, etc. I’m planning to do a Fresh Start but jeeze.

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    • Hi Powder Blue Pegasus , 
      I'm sorry to hear the steps in our onboarding sequence let you down, and I'd like to know more if you're up for it. Now that you've gone deeper into our educational materials and have a better understanding of the software, what would you do to change the onboarding process? I'm all ears!

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    • Janelle 

      Hey there -- I might consider changing it so that Goals are introduced later, rather than sooner.  Maybe introduce the idea of Categories, then have people Add Accounts, then Schedule Transactions in those Accounts, then Budget Your Money for those transactions back in the Categories you set up earlier....  THEN introduce the tool of Goals for those Categories, to demonstrate how Goals help to plan for Scheduled Transactions AND ALSO to plan for 'True Expenses' that are not 'scheduled.'

      Of course, this is all coming from me,  a super new newbie here, so I don't even have real world, first hand experience in exactly how Goals work in tandem with Scheduled Transactions yet myself.  And - full disclosure - I don't have much experience with budgeting, either.  

      All I know is, I went through the Quick Start and a half week later, was trying to untangle a huge mess in YNAB that almost made me want to call it quits.  

      So, re/ onboarding.  Maybe another idea is to have more than one type of onboarding.  One for people who have a lot of experience with budgeting, which can introduce everything sooner.  And another version for budget newbies like me, that advises us to learn and use just the basics for a while, and then introduces more features over a longer stretch of time.

      I think the things with Goals that confused and alarmed me (and still does, a bit) the most, was:

      1) the "Monthly Funding Goal" option.  It wasn't/isn't clear to me how that really works.  That is: whether this Goal would a) re-set itself to have you start from zero on the 1st of each month (which is what I assumed), or, b) be cumulative, that is, carrying whatever had been budgeted and (or not budgeted) from the previous month towards (or away from) the new month's Monthly Goal.  (And then, what happens when this category's Goal money is used this month?  does that put me back, and short of this month's goal again...even though we're putting money towards the goal so that we can use it. ...for, say, a goal of $500 for groceries each month.)  

      (I also realize that maybe it's just my newness to the YNAB philosophy and budgeting in general that has me confused! :)

      My understanding at this point is that b) is the reality of how Monthly Funding Goals work, but PLEASE CORRECT ME IF I'M WRONG! :D

      2) So many orange ovals.  It's alarming to see them, so maybe a section explaining that "orange doesn't necessarily mean you're screwed" would help.  haha!   From what I get so far,  what it does mean is: you now know what to look at first when deciding what jobs you want to give your money.   (Hopefully I'm understanding this right, too.)

      OK, I've gone on long enough.  But I want to end by saying that the Class Instructors and the Email Support I've experienced so far as has been very impressive and helpful.  So thank gawd for that, because if it hadn't, I'd still be dismally confused, instead of just sort of tentative about it all.  Cheers and thanks for reading.

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    • Powder Blue Pegasus 
      Thank you so much for taking the time to share. We're doing a lot of work on the onboarding experience so this is wonderful. 

      I have one follow-up question, if that's alright :) Would it be helpful to have an overview of YNAB's Four Rules as part of the onboarding? Maybe before any of the other steps? Or would you prefer to do some hands-on setting up and then dive a little deeper into the method? 

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    • Janelle Cool!  Good idea!  Yes, it'd be helpful to have an overview/reminder of the Four Rules before the hands-on setting-up steps.  This would reassure us that YNAB is helping us do the Four Rules, by connecting the dots between the setting-up steps, with each of the Rules.  I imagine that new YNABers have already "bought into" the Four Rules, and are willing to trust them.  So if the onboarding can really show us how YNAB is helping us do the Four Rules, sweet.

      Also, because people are coming to YNAB from so many different financial situations, maybe a Choose Your Own Adventure type onboarding, where after completing certain steps, the user answers a question like: are you freaked out by the number of orange ovals, or, do you simply have a lot of orange ovals staring you in the face and you want to understand how to use them better?   :)

      Because some people will be in that situation, and others won't.  And I think those that are would feel really reassured if given specific guidance like...

      1. This doesn't mean you're screwed.  This means you have clarity, and clarity is power.
      2. Find out exactly when each of your Fixed Bills are due, write that date after the Category name for it (eg: Rent 25th), and put your Categories in the order they're due.  Yay, more clarity, and now you know which bills to prioritize budgeting for first!  You're making great choices about which ovals you want to be green at this time.  (Ovals/Goals = Jobs for your Dollars = Rule One)
      3. Embrace Your True Expenses and budget for those, too.  Yay, you're doing Rule Two!
      4. And now, here's the Plan for when you overspend in one of your Categories (this is you doing Rule Three).

      ...something like that...?

      I learned a lot of helpful tips and concepts by attending Classes and reading docs and blogs, but learning how to use YNAB for myself felt very much like "Wow, this is a lot of information, but now I have the additional job of figuring out which pieces of all this info *I* should focus on.  And how I can apply it to *my* situation."  Y'know?  it's like wow, I have a whole grocery store full of features and benefits...but now it's on me to figure out which aisle and shelf actually applies to me.

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      • chahan
      • chahan
      • 3 yrs ago
      • 4
      • Reported - view

      Janelle I think if you can find a way to introduce the YNAB philosophy onto the onboarding process (without being too much material so as to be overwhelming) it would certainly help all the new users. This is before they even get to play with the software. 

      My experience was probably different from how most people start using YNAB. I went through the website and read the YNAB method to budgeting and got to understand the process. I read some of the blogs, watched Jesse's whiteboard wednesdays, and finally took the webinar classes. I had not even signed up for the 34 day trial at this point. I spent about 2-3 weeks just learning YNAB. 

      When I started my free trial, I knew what most of everything meant and how it was supposed to work. This was really important for credit cards (a lot of new users get hung up on this). I have not has any problems with handling credit cards and like how YNAB handles is actually because I have 2 PIF cards and one balance transfer card with 0% interest that I have a goal of paying off before the promotional period runs out. 

      I was able to use the trial period to then just figure out how to set up my categories and realize what my priorities need to be. It was easier for me to decide whether I was going to stick with YNAB long term because I was not using my trial period to learn the software; I was using it to budget and learn things about my financial situation that I had no idea about before. My situation just after 10 months is significantly better than when I started. It was probably going to improve anyways, but with YNAB I feel that I was able to fast track it and make sure that I form healthy habits that will carry me forward for a long time. 

      If people were introduced the YNAB method and philosophy first before they just started inputting numbers into the software without any clue might help them.  

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      • MsTJ
      • YNAB has given me back my future
      • Believer_in_YNAb
      • 3 yrs ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      chahan Those are words of wisdom and I highly recommend everyone follows your path.  My problem is I like to try to figure things out myself first, then go back and read the manual.  This is a great topic and am following it.

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    • Powder Blue Pegasus Thank you, again! 

      I do want to be sure not to skip over your concerns about those orange categories and the Monthly Funding Goal :) 

      You're on the right track that orange categories usually need some immediate attention. Orange indicates the category is underfunded, so one of three things could be happening:

      • You haven’t budgeted enough to stay on track with a goal. Check the goals section of the category panel (right sidebar) to be sure.
      • You haven't budgeted enough for an upcoming scheduled transaction. Select the category and look in the category panel.
      • You have overspending that happened on a credit card (the amount would be orange and negative). If you don’t cover this overspending now, it will become debt that you need to pay off.

      For Monthly Funding Goals, this goal type only looks at the Budgeted field. The budgeted amount for each category resets to zero each month. So even if you have a surplus that rolls over to the new month, YNAB will still ask you to budget the amount you've set for the goal. 

      And if you spend the available dollars in that category, the goal will not be impacted because it's still only looking at the Budgeted amount, which would unchanged. 

      Now if you moved funds from that category because you didn't need them that month, then you'd see the orange pop up because moving funds impacts the budgeted amount. Does that make sense so far? 

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    • Janelle I think it makes sense, in the abstract, in my head :)  I'm going to keep your explanation on file so I can refer to it as I continue moving fwd with YNAB, in the real world, to make sure it keeps making sense and I get it.  Thank you so much for taking the time to explain!

      Like 1
  • Janelle is there any way to do something to see the onboarding process? I've never seen it.  But I certainly think that not starting with the four rules is a pretty grave oversight,  and it certainly explains a lot of explanations I wind up giving on Facebook  what an envelope but it is and why you don't bother more money than you have. 

    I suppose I could always make a trial under a new email...

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    • WordTenor Yep, feel free to start a new trial if you'd like to go through it. 

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    • WordTenor  You are a hero. You are volunteering your time to do extra  research so you can be more effective when you volunteer to help their customers. It's like when I first started and the patient users on the original forum were the ones who really taught me how to use it and transformed me into a loyal customer...

      Like 1
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