Each month expenditure differs

I have several categories that have expenses different each month.

The amounts can vary by quite a bit.  And I know what the amount will be each month.  But I can't figure out how to target each month differently.

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  • Do you know what the amount will be over the course of the year? This is one of those things where people recommend "smoothing the bumps" - figuring out how much you spend/need to fund on average each month, and then funding that amount. It may still be a bit bumpy to start with, particularly if you have a larger expense in the near future, but over time will even out so that the money is always there when you need it and your budget is more similar month-to-month.

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  • I do understand this workaround.  But I would love an option to fill in amounts on a month to month basis.  I know other budget programs have this ability.

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    • Blue Ink Use the assign cell? What else do you want?

      I'd rather assign a normalized amount myself that builds to a cap such that I'll never overspend (for example, electricity). It's much less work and I don't have to rely on scrimping in my other categories to afford the cold months.

      However, it sounds like you want to assign exactly the amount of the bill every month. The assign cell is what you want. 

      Unless you want to rethink your funding approach, of course. 😉

      ETA: I see you're really asking about targets. Please know that the purpose of targets is to simply save clicks for otherwise repetitively typing into the assign cells. 

      That being said, there is a way to use the Auto-Assign button to assign different amounts each month: use scheduled transactions.

      When you get your bill, update the scheduled transaction and put the month in the memo to tell your future self that the number is correct.

      The "Assign for Upcoming" (or some other equivalent name, maybe "Underfunded" they keep changing it) will take into account any upcoming activity within the category and assign exactly that amount or the target, whichever is higher.

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  • I will re-think!

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    • Blue Ink I just edited my above reply because I thought of something else you might find useful. Tagging you so you'll see it.

      I'd still opt for a way to normalize my funding amounts, though that may not be possible right away. It took me over a year to get there.

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  • Interesting idea

    Thank you for thinking of ways.

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  • I do both options. I use the average spent to establish what the target will be. Then, I have a scheduled transaction for those that occur monthly. In most of them, I have the average spent as the default amount because I struggle with using one with no amount. When the bill comes in, I make the adjustment to the scheduled transaction. If the scheduled transaction exceeds the target, it will show as underfunded. I can then also remove the amount if it is less. But generally I let it roll over so that I am not scrambling every month.

    Also adding that if you have a bill that varies widely, using the high month for the target in the beginning and allowing it to roll over really helps to avoid that scrambling to cover it when it is a high month. Once we started doing that, it became super easy to budget and not spend tons of time figuring out what will be cut back to account for that high bill.

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  • Blue Ink Another idea with scheduled transactions. If you know a long time in advance what the amount will be for each month, you can put in a different schedule transaction for each month, instead of a monthly repeating transaction. This way you don't have to update the amount. It really depends on how much in advance you know the amount you'll have to pay.

    But the whole idea of YNAB and Rule 2 about the True expenses is to smooth out the bumps.

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  • I handle this differently. YMMV. 

    For example my water bill is issued every 3 months and the amount is different every time. I tried various budget methods but what I do now works best (for me). I make an actual payment every 2 weeks by setting up a recurring payment in my bank. I have a corresponding scheduled transaction in YNAB. Then when I budget the month, it budgets for the upcoming transactions.

    The amount is about 1/6 of the average over the year. When the bill comes, the balance is either a credit or a small amount owing that I can easily cover with the next biweekly auto payment. So I never actually deal with the true amount of the bill.  I review this once a year to confirm that the biweekly amount is reasonable.  

    I set this up based on the way my electricity company does this for me. They bill me a fixed amount each month. Some months the actual usage is more, some months it is less. At the end of the year, in the last month, they bill the actual amount due to clear the account.  I realize that I am giving them money ahead of time but with interest rates so low and the amount minimal ($30 per payment), I find the convenience is worth it. 

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