New Year Plan: Fresh Start? Or Just Continue On W/ Current Budget

I started YNAB Jan 1st, 2020, have used it successfully throughout this year, and plan to continue using it in 2021.  So...what's your view on the best approach:

1) Continue along - Jan 1st 2021 is just another day, use the same budget started last year, maybe tweak some categories, goals, but otherwise, same old same old....

Or...

2) New Budget - Close out the 2020 budget as an archive, use Fresh Start to bring over the core info (balances, recurring transactions) and tweak as necessary

I can see advantages in both... Option 1 handles issues like January 2021 credit card refunds to December 2020 category spends much more gracefully....Option 2 'closes out your books' like a business, so each year can be seen as its own entity (great for business accounting, tax purposes).

Any thoughts?

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  • I have 10 years of history so you know my answer. I love looking at my net worth graph over time.

    Like 1
  • If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

    Like 3
  • Superbone  dakinemaui  Thanks -= can I ask how you handle  category changes & consolidation?  I went very granular in categories in 2020, don't really need that level of detail in 2021.  Especially with a 10 year history, I imagine you've dealt with that issue a few times....

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      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 5 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      WhoMovedMyCheese I typically hide the category. I can still search for hidden categories just fine and get totals from transactions. It's only Reports that don't show hidden categories.

      I'd rename in some cases. For instance, I currently have Groceries, Fast Food, and Restaurants. If I wanted to combine them, I'd probably rename Groceries to Food and hide the other two.

      Honestly, I rarely look backwards. The budget itself tells me what I need to know.

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      • RyanB
      • Budget Nerd
      • seahag
      • 5 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      WhoMovedMyCheese  I found the only time Fresh Start was helpful is when I've neglected my budget for a long time. Or if my manual transactions became exceedingly erroneous - oh, the days before I synced my accounts...

      Have you used Fresh Start before?

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

      WhoMovedMyCheese I hide old categories and sometimes merge them. A couple months ago, as an exercise, I cleaned up all my 10 years worth of hidden categories. Only two remain which I could see myself using again in the future.

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      • Von Pow
      • Tan_Drum.2
      • 5 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Superbone 

      Not to get off on another subject but how do you go about merging your hidden categories?  I don't see an obvious way to this but it would be useful.

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

      Von Pow 

      https://support.youneedabudget.com/t/80jmcs/deleting-a-category

      I had over 20 hidden categories from many years of YNABing across different versions. I decided to do some cleanup on them. I got rid of all of them except for two that I decided to keep around as I could possibly use them again in the future.

      Here was my process:

      1. Unhide a few categories at a time that I was working on eliminating.
      2. Right-click on a category and select delete.
      3. Select an existing category to recategorize the transactions to. (choose something most similar)
      4. Occasionally some funds would appear in To be Budgeted. I would just put these back into the category above that I had recategorized to and I would end up back where I started in that category.

      I also had a handful of credit card hidden payment categories. In order to get rid of those, I had to go into my closed accounts and reopen them and convert them to checking accounts. Then I deleted the credit cards which removed the hidden credit card payment categories. Finally, I re-closed the converted credit cards.

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      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 5 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Superbone I would add a step 1.5 to record the CC Payment categories. As part of step 4, the first thing would be to restore the CC Payment categories if they've changed with the rest going into the destination category.

      (The additional expense in the destination category will likely cause overspending. The cash overspending works itself out, but credit overspending does not.)

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      • Von Pow
      • Tan_Drum.2
      • 5 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Superbone 

      Thanks for that info, I believe it will be very useful to me.

      Like 1
  • Just a thought if someone really wants to make a Fresh Start. Net Worth is the one historic thing I do like to see. If I were to Fresh Start for whatever reason, I'd take the time to make a tracking account and assemble transactions that yielded the historic net worth values.

    Reconcile to the first month's net worth, make the adjustment transaction, and back date the adjustment. Repeat for each month. Even 10 years should only take about 20 minutes to recreate. Second browser window open showing the historic values for easy reference.

    Alternatively, making a spreadsheet of the adjustment values and importing into YNAB via CSV format could bring that down to about 10 minutes for 10 years of values.

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

      dakinemaui I need to do this. I started YNAB in January 2018 and did a Fresh Start at the end of February and it makes me crazy that my net worth graph is missing that first six weeks of data. 😂

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      • Superbone
      • YNAB convert since 2008
      • Superbone
      • 5 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      dakinemaui This is great. I copied this down if I ever have to do this. It really is the most important thing about my long history. Very occasionally, I will look up a purchase and usually only go back about four years at most. Like when I bought my last TV and what price and from where.

      Like 1
  • I definitely would say that if things have been working well for you throughout 2020 then option 1 is best for now. Sit down and see what worked and didn't work for you in how you were set up through 2020 and see if the things that didn't work as well can be addressed.

    I feel like Fresh Start is only a decent option if your current setup hasn't worked for you and there is no obvious way to get it all in a better order OR your budget has got horribly out of whack and cannot be salvaged.

    Good luck in 2021!

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  • I just did a fresh start and I'm happy with it.  Not sure if I'll do it every year.

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