Goals for everything??


I am new to YNAB and trying to set up my budget.  I am getting a little confused.  I understand the 4 rules however when adding money to a category for the first time is got me stumped.  Lets say my electric is $100/month.  But I only have $30 to put towards it, is everyone just using a goal of 100 or do you just remember what you wanted to budget and keep adding.

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  • When adding for the first time - think about what expenses you will have between now and the next time you receive income. Budget for those expenses first. If you have some leftover start planning for expenses further off.

    For example, if between now and your next income you have a $200 electricity bill due, you will need to budget $200 for electricity. But if you don't, budget other things first and then see if you have money leftover to budget for electricity.

    Depending on your current situation, it might not be the best time to start trying to get goals set up for everything. If like a lot of us who start YNAB living pay to pay and constantly behind, the aim of those initial weeks is to prioritise what you need to pay. More detailed planning can come later on.

  • Yes, a goal of $100 but a budget entry of $30 will cause the category to be yellow as a reminder you need another $70 (e.g., from a check received later in the month).

    A lot of people put the target right in the category name ("Electric $100/mo, due 15th" or some variant) for easy reference. Or, since it seems you budget per check, "Electric $50/chk..." (if you have 2 checks per month).

    That said, I'd say it's better for the monthly recurring expenses to make scheduled transactions, which automatically creates implicit goals.

    For next-level planning of things that vary over the year (like electric), the scheduled transaction can be combined with a normal goal set to the average bill amount (yearly total / 12). This will budget more in the low months, building a surplus, and automatically draw from that surplus in the higher months. This minimizes the amount of scrambling you typically have to do down the road and also makes planning for other categories easier. The scheduled transaction/implicit goal will warn you when the surplus is insufficient, which (unfortunately) is typical when you start out in the high months.

  • No. (To the title question. At least not for me. Many but not all.)

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  • Superbone  dakinemaui  spyral

    Thank you all for the suggestions.  I am self employed and never know when I will have money.  So I was liking the idea of goals to see where and how much I needed since some may only be partially funded at a time.   

    However there are some great tips.  I did not know about scheduled transactions.  Putting the amount along with the date in the category also sounds like a good option,

    Thank you again!!

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      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 9 mths ago
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      • Reported - view

      Powder Blue Leopard One tip for variable income is to target your budget at your average level. When you make more than average, you can stash the above-average amount in a deferred income (holding) category. When you have a less than average month, you can supplement from the holding category up to the average level. (Cross your fingers you have a few high months first!) Working with a consistent amount makes it far easier to plan and understand what you really can afford.

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  • dakinemaui   Thank you.   

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