Incredibly confusing

I have done 2 online workshops and I'm still hopelessly confused about how to set up the budget and update my balance. This is such a complicated program, I don't think I'll ever figure it out unless I get 1-on-1 step-by-step assistance. Also it says it can't link to my banks.  Honestly, this is why I've never set up a real budget because it's SO confusing with a million different categories.  I was really hoping your program would simplify the process but I'm more confused than ever. The  online workshops go WAY too fast for me. There is no time to process what they're teaching before they're on to the next topic.  

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  • Watch this video:
    Budgeting when you're broke

     You don't have to be broke. It's the best general introduction to how to use YNAB. Then come back here with questions!

    Like 1
  • Hi Cadet Blue Python !

    We're here to help! :)

    If the workshops are too fast, you can watch the recordings so you can go at your own speed - Mamster linked one below. Do you prefer videos? If so, we have a number of workshop recordings available and here's a short video that explains these three main steps: 

    1. Add your primary accounts with the balances as of today. 

    2. Budget those dollars where they’re needed before you get paid again. 

    3. Record your spending. It’s best to enter transactions right away so you can always trust your budget!

    Take a look at those links and let us know if you still have questions! :)

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  • Thanks for the info. This is what I don't understand: when I go into my budget, which I haven't finished setting up, why does it say I have $2036 to be budgeted? Since the day I entered this info, my account balance has gone down. Now my balance is much less, and I've tried to update it and "reconcile" the account. But it still says I have over $2000 to be budgeted. That's not true today. Plus, $1200 of that money is in a savings account I don't even touch. So I really don't have that money to play with.  That's why it's confusing. 

    Like 2
    • Cadet Blue Python When you first add your accounts, your starting balances are combined to generate your amount To Be Budgeted. You then budget dollars towards your different categories. So if you have $2,036 To Be Budgeted, you can enter $50 in your Dining Out category, $800 in your Rent category, and so forth. If you have $1,200 that's for savings, divvy that $1,200 up between savings categories - are you saving for a Vacation? An Emergency Fund? Whatever it is you're saving for, budget those dollars there. :)

      The Budget those dollars article goes over giving those dollars a job. As you spend money and your account balance goes down, Record your spending. That will keep your account balance accurate and when you categorize transactions it will update your budget.

      Let's say you have $2,000 in your account and you have $50 budgeted towards Dining Out. When you spend $50, enter the transaction in your account and categorize it as Dining Out - your account balance will be updated to show $1,950 and your Dining Out category will go from $50 Available to $0 (since you spent that money).

      I recommend signing up for our Learn the Four Rules workshop, because YNAB’s Four Rules are at the heart of everything we do. With the four rules in hand, you’ll be ready to set up your budget, take control of your money and reach your financial goals. It’s the perfect foundation to build your budget on! :)

      Like 1
      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 4
      • Reported - view

      Cadet Blue Python To Be Budgeted is still where it is because you haven't defined a plan for those dollars. Independently, you spent money -- and probably incurred overspending -- so you should "plan" to spend money in those overspent categories to match reality. The main point of doing that is that it lowers the amount you have in TBB to plan on other (future) purchases/expenses.

      Like 4
  • Maybe this tutorial would help: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xPVEB759gkU

    He talks fast but you can pause it and set your budget up with him. I hope that helps. He has other videos as well that may be helpful.

    Like 1
  • I agree...YNAB is so stressful. I want to like it but it gives me major anxiety. 

    Like
      • satcook
      • satcook
      • 3 mths ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      Powder Blue Panther ynab shows you the true picture of your finances which may cause anxiety at first but then will reduce your anxiety as you continue on. 

      Like 2
      • Superbone
      • YNAB convert since 2008
      • Superbone
      • 3 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Powder Blue Panther What makes it stressful for you? How does it make you anxious? I'm really curious because for me it is quite the opposite.  It makes me blissful.

      Ask questions here for anything you don't understand as there are a lot of helpful people that YNAB has really been working for. It should have the opposite effect once you start to use it correctly. It gives you total clarity to how you allocate your income. 

      Now, if you don't have enough income to cover your expenses, I could see how it might make you feel those ways. But it's still better knowing your reality than putting your head in the sand. Then you can figure out what you need to do to make things better.

      Like
    • Superbone , I think I know why it makes me so stressed...it's not that I don't have enough income and am bad with money. Quite the opposite...I am very good and very organized with my money! I used the word 'organize' with intention because that is what I do. I don't budget down to the $1.49 dog toy. (But I probably wouldn't buy a $1.49 dog toy because I am inherently frugal) Most of my money is automated - retirement, long term savings, short term savings, travel fund, house fund, etc. I always always have a surplus of money as a buffer in my checking account. (Budgeting down to $0 makes no sense to me) I pay everything with my credit card to get points and pay it off completely every month. Just that simple. YNAB makes me feel like this:

          Imagine a person that is thin, fit, healthy, and has a good relationship with food in that they don't have to really think about it that much. Maybe the occasional indulging at Christmas or party but then gets back on track.  Thinks about food in general, healthful terms. Then YNAB comes along and says that you now have to think about, categorize, label, and track every single piece of food that goes in your mouth...what type of food is it? Meat? Dairy? Fruit? Vegetable? Is it a carb? Protein? How much sugar? Fat? How often do you eat it? Once a day? Three times a week? Monthly? How much do you eat? One serving 2 times a day? 5 servings weekly? One big serving once a month? Now all of a sudden that person that was so comfortable and had a good relationship with food feels stressed, overwhelmed, and panicked. Instead of helping that person that person is now riddled with anxiety and feels bad about themselves and their food intake. THAT is how YNAB makes me feel. 

          I know YNAB has such a following and really helps people get out of debt and they swear by it, but there are others maybe like me that it just doesn't work for and has the opposite intended effect. I thought I would like it because I am into personal finance and thought it would be fun to use and am really quite surprised that I have had such an averse reaction it but c'est la vie! 

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    • satcook , for me the true picture of my finances is what is going on in my bank account. ;)

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      • Superbone
      • YNAB convert since 2008
      • Superbone
      • 3 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Powder Blue Panther Hey, if you already have a system that's working for you, then stick with it. I'm much like you. No debt, large reserves, pay everything on CC and auto pay off each month. I'm growing my net worth every month.

      I'll just tell you don't have the full grasp of how to use YNAB. "Budgeting down to $0 makes no sense to me." Like jenmas said, budgeting doesn't mean spending. It includes saving as well. I save more than I spend. Also, it can be as detailed or not as you'd like. You only need to categorize what you want to track. In fact, you could model your current system easily in YNAB.

      Anyway, stick with what's working for you. Sounds like you're in pretty good shape. If it ain't broke, don't try to fix it.

      Like
    • Superbone , thanks! I'm glad YNAB works for you! I'm going to go and check on my surplus... ;)

      Like 1
    • Powder Blue Panther I'm pretty sure my husband thinks of YNAB the way you do (as expressed by your food example).

      As I keep trying to explain to him, though, his doctors don't want him to track every single piece of food that goes into his mouth. They just want to know *how many times a day* he eats and *what times* he eats (and sometimes *whether he eats when taking his medications*).

      YNAB is the same. For those people who don't have a healthy relationship with food, or want to track every single calorie, they can. They can track the type of food, the calorie count, how many servings, etc. (Read: they have really detailed categories for everything.)  Those who don't? They don't have to track at that level. They can just track "breakfast" "lunch" "dinner" "snack," if they want. Your categories can be as broad or as narrow as you'd like, and as makes sense to you.

       

      Granted, if it doesn't make sense to you and you don't want to use it, don't. However, you started using YNAB for a reason. If what's causing you anxiety is the granularity of tracking, go up a level, and see if that helps. Keep iterating until it's either definitely not useful to you or you've found something that works for you. (Or find something else that does for you what you thought YNAB would; there are many apps out there, as well as pencil and paper, etc.)

      Like 1
  • Powder Blue Panther said:
    I always always have a surplus of money as a buffer in my checking account. (Budgeting down to $0 makes no sense to me)

    Budgeting down to zero does NOT equal spending down to zero. Budgeting to zero means making a plan for all your money. The plan may be to just "sit there" until a dire situation arises. My plan includes a Loss of Income category that is funded to cover me for 6-8 months if I should lose my job (I've been laid off twice since 2007). It includes fully funding an annual IRA contribution and monthly taxable investing (I also fully fund my 401(k) but that happens as a payroll deduction so I don't need to budget for it). It includes fully funding "this year's" and "next year's" Medical Out of Pocket Max category in case I have something bad happen at the end of one plan year and it spills over into the beginning of the next plan year. It includes a super fancy trip to Hawaii even though I don't know when it's actually going to happen.

    I didn't start YNAB because I was in financial need. I literally started because I was bored one Saturday afternoon and I had heard someone talk about it so I thought I'll try. At the time (as now), I only had my mortgage debt and my student loans (however I was only a few months away from paying off the student loans). I had already saved enough to buy a new car for cash in the next year. I was maximizing my retirement accounts. I was never making any attempt to cut expenses (I'm a tightwad in that I'll complain about the cost of things and skip certain totally discretionary things, but I'm not particularly frugal - if I want the fancy cheese, I'll buy the fancy cheese. And I may have a bag situation). I am just able to be more mindful about my money. Also, YNAB let me see that I could totally make an impulse purchase - I bought a rental house on impulse several years ago (I'm not joking, it really was pretty much an impulse).

    I don't have a large "buffer" in my checking account because I keep as little in my checking account as I can get away with and instead keep as much as possible in accounts with higher interest rates.  For example, the Loss of Income category money? I couldn't tell you what account it "lives" in - but because it is fully budgeted for, I know it's "there" in one of my 3 checking or 4 savings accounts should I ever need it (which obviously hopefully will never happen and when I retire, I can just reallocate those funds to other categories and live off of that for a while before taking money from my 401(k) or IRA or investments.

    Like 2
    • jenmas , I tried YNAB, too, because I was bored and thought it would be fun...but for me it just isn't and that is OK. And for me a buffer works...it if gets too big I always move it over to my emergency or long term savings which makes more interest...or maybe I'll pay ahead on something or add it to my travel fund..whatever I think is best at that time. I am very organized and intentional with my money. I am always looking at my bank accounts and moving around my money...much like people probably do in YNAB...and that is what works for me. I am so glad that YNAB helps people but I don't think people should feel bad if it is not for them. :)

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