Budget for annual expenses in one category

So, YNAB currently does not allow you to have multiple goals per category and that feature has been requested for a long time. I may just start contributing to the toolkit myself. 

How have people that used YNAB for a long time budgeted for their annual or monthly subscriptions? I am trying to set a monthly goal for my store subscriptions category with my Amazon, Costco and Sams Club account for it. 

I was trying to understand how to do my math for it since YNAB doesn't have that feature, and I don't mind sharpening my brain a bit. It's not just dividing by 12. Since it's one category, I need to budget a little more for my Amazon membership since that is due sooner than my Sams club membership. Having one category will tie up less money, but I need to figure out how much to save in the category so I can cover those expenses. 

Is it just taking the Bill A / number of months left + Bill B / number of months left + .... + Bill ? / number of months left, the decimal approximation is fine? 

Read more here: https://support.youneedabudget.com/t/y727d8/budgeting-for-future-transactions

I do hope YNAB comes up with a nice solution for this. The obvious use case is for birthdays and subscriptions, having enough for each child. 

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  • Paging dakinemaui who has developed a formula for this. Or you throw some extra in at the beginning so that in the future months you can just divide by 12.

    Like 3
    • jenmas Where is Dakinemaui these days? Hasn't been around in a while...

      Like 4
      • Bruce
      • Software Engineer
      • Bruce
      • 6 mths ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      Periwinkle Flute I know, it's been like 3 months since I've seen anything from him.

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    • jenmas if you can explain the spreadsheet  - if it's the multi outflow budgeting named sheet. That would be a huge help, because even with directions I am a little lost. 

      Is the drawdown/amortized amount supposed to be negative or not zero? 

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      • jenmas
      • jenmas
      • 6 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Slate Blue Pilot (2903ac015cdb) it’s not my spreadsheet so I couldn’t say. I have a single category for my credit card annual fees. Even though they’re all due in different months, back when I set it up, I front loaded it in that first month so that I can just do 1/12 every month. It’s such a small piece of my budget that I don’t care if it’s tying up an extra $50 because it’s more convenient for me to budget the same amount every month. My other lump categories are for things that are charged monthly so not an issue. Also, I don’t use the goals features at all because I haven’t found them to make my life any easier than the quick budget feature whereby I budget the same amount from last month. 

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    • jenmas I dropped dakinemaui an email, and he said to let everyone know he's doing fine, just busy with work!

      Like 9
      • nolesrule
      • Stealing From the Future fix is an improvement but is incomplete....
      • nolesrule
      • 6 mths ago
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      Matthew thank you. I know I can speak for many of us "old-timers" that's a relief to know.

      Like 4
    • nolesrule If only there was a way to be at work and hang out in the YNAB Forum....

      Like 5
      • Annieland
      • I was told there would be no math.
      • Annieland
      • 6 mths ago
      • 1
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      Matthew Oh thank Goodness!!!  Thank you for letting us know!

      Like 1
    • Vibrant
    • No more counting dollars, we'll be counting stars
    • vibrant
    • 6 mths ago
    • Reported - view

    I lump my monthly subscriptions together into one category but keep my annuals as separate line items. It's not as sophisticated a solution as Dakinemaui's spreadsheet, but it works for me.

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    • nolesrule
    • Stealing From the Future fix is an improvement but is incomplete....
    • nolesrule
    • 6 mths ago
    • 3
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    Slate Blue Pilot (2903ac015cdb) said:
    How have people that used YNAB for a long time budgeted for their annual or monthly subscriptions?

     I keep them in separate categories. It's more for the constant awareness than the convenience of calculating monthly amounts. I don't like putting different things in the same category because I tend to lose sight of the individual components that may have a change in priority at any given point.

    Like 3
    • nolesrule That's fine. I may have to do that anyway, it's just I'd rather not be saving money for subscription A when I can use those funds for other things at the moment if I need to. 

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      • Cirrus
      • Living mobile and solo
      • miriamnz
      • 6 mths ago
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      Slate Blue Pilot (2903ac015cdb)  What stops you using those funds for something else? Just move them into whatever category you want, leaving Subscription A empty until you are ready to feed it.

      If you set a target goal by date, (I think)  for Subscription A, then you get to keep your green categories and the move money tool will tell you what to put in this month if you want to pay equal amounts between now and then. (One of the goals leaves it green, though living with yellow is an option.)

      Or schedule the payment  for Subscription A, instead of using a goal, and ynab will remind you at the start of the month it is due that you need to feeds that category. (You might want to schedule it a month early, if you need a bit more time to get those $ together.) (or does ynab remind you of scheduled needs more than a calendar month in advance; I can't quite remember.)

      In fact you could have one category for all the subs, and then schedule all the transactions for their different due dates. Could be that then ynab will tell you each month what you need to budget. All depends if the size of those subs would give you a problem in any one month.

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      • nolesrule
      • Stealing From the Future fix is an improvement but is incomplete....
      • nolesrule
      • 6 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Cirrus The idea is that if you fund a bunch in a single category that have different payment schedules, you can optimize the amount being saved on a per-month basis and it is less than saving for each in an individual category. While it's a benefit, the question is whether that benefit is enough to go through the exercise.... especially when price increases seem to happen regularly so you need to frequently recalculate.

      Like 1
  • I don't use Goals, but I do keep notes for each category. This is my "Digital" category. Amounts below are the monthly amounts needed for each item plus a little extra. Very simple and clean, don't over-complicate it. 

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    • Gearbanger you pay 9.87 for netflix? 

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      • nolesrule
      • Stealing From the Future fix is an improvement but is incomplete....
      • nolesrule
      • 6 mths ago
      • 1
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      Slate Blue Pilot (2903ac015cdb) The Standard Definition plan is $8.99 + tax.

      Like 1
      • Bruce
      • Software Engineer
      • Bruce
      • 6 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      nolesrule Yep, that's what I use.  No need for higher definition on my 31" TV.  Although my tax must be different, I'm only paying $9.66...  It also has to do with how many people (devices) watch it at a time.  But we only really use it on the TV during the day, and if I'm watching on my computer, it's usually at a time when nobody else is watching on the TV, so it works for us.

      Yes, I realize I'm an anomaly, we have only one TV (usually behind closed doors in entertainment center) and we don't have it on all the time, in fact very rarely.  So the cheap plan works for us.

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      • nolesrule
      • Stealing From the Future fix is an improvement but is incomplete....
      • nolesrule
      • 6 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Bruce we use the next tier up. we have 1 nearly ancient (2014) 1080p and 2 4k TVs that we watch Netflix on.

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    • nolesrule Yeah, you don't need the two screens which is the next tier up.....

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    • Gearbanger Yes but my issue is specifically the annual amounts in that monthly total. You budget 3.75 for YNAB, do you update that every month? What if it's the month before the bill is due and you still need a little bit more, how much would you need? 

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  • For birthdays I had to throw it in a spreadsheet and just tweak numbers until I had the right amount at the right times, because the birthdays are spread out sporadically through the year I couldn't do a simple formula to hit each one.

    I had a column for what I'm adding, a column for what's coming out each birthday, and a running total column, then rows for each month. I just had to tweak my monthly contribution amount while I watched the total each month to make sure none went negative.

    I include Christmas too, which actually helps because it's a big amount at the end of the year, so it pushes up the necessary monthly contribution which helps make sure the category has enough for the smaller birthday budgets earlier.

    It also helps that I don't have birthdays until May. Combining expenses into one category is way easier if the timing is convenient.

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  • When combining multiple annual transactions in one category, I have figured out that I need to establish the starting month as the month following the largest scheduled transaction in that category. That gives me a starting month that may not necessarily be January.

    Example:  my family birthdays and special events are spread out over the entire year, but there are more in Feb to April, so month # 1 in my family events category is May. This means I can spend down to zero in that category in April without running into a problem, and I need to start putting aside the 1/12th starting in May in order to have enough to get through the early spring birthdays.

    Example: I run all my licenses, insurance, and memberships through one category. My annual car insurance is easily the largest transaction. It occurs in July, and often takes the category to zero or near zero, so month # 1 for this category is August.

    By identifying the starting month for the grouped expenses, I can then simply go with 1/12th of the total sum needed for the 12-month period that will follow.

    Like 1
    • HappyDance but how do you budget for that stuff? Month 1 is where in your formula? 

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      • HappyDance
      • YNABing consistently since 2014
      • HappyDance
      • 6 mths ago
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      Slate Blue Pilot (2903ac015cdb) 

      Using the example of my licenses/insurance category, the spending goal went into effect in August of 2020 with a total needed for spending by July 2021. I will reset the goal in August.

      I will review the total spent over the 12 months ending in July 2021, assess how much I will need to set aside over the next 12 months and update the goal.  I usually increase the amount needed for annual insurance by 10% over what it was this year, for example.  The category goal is then reset  to the new total amount needed for spending between August 2021 and July 2022.

      Like
  • I also created a spreadsheet for this.  Check it out: Here's a Spreadsheet to Audit Your "Subscriptions" Category - Using YNAB - YNAB Support Forum (youneedabudget.com).  You can download it from my OneDrive to try out yourself. 👍

    Like 1
  • I've used YNAB for many years (YNAB 2).  My general view is to customize to whatever works best for you.

    I've gone back and forth between very general categories and super specific categories.  I have a lot of subscription type categories.  Some are monthly, some are annual, some are in between.  A few are every 2 years.

    What I have decided works best for me is to have a separate category for every subscription.  The monthly ones go in a master category for those.  The lumpy ones go in a different master category.  I put the amount of the subscription in the category name so it is up front.

    I don't actually set up a goal for these categories nor do I budget in advance for them.  I'm retired so I know I have the money to pay them when it gets to the month.  If I did need to budget in advance for them I would problem set a target amount goal and budget as I could to them to make sure I had enough.  I would initially start out by dividing by the number of months.  So if it was $700 due in 7 months then I would budget $100 a month.  But, I would set a goal so that if I got ahead (or behind) I would see how to adjust to make it by the date.

    Like 1
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