Problem with repeating goals?

Hello!

 

I have been enjoying the new types of goals, and decided to try the new "repeat" feature.  But I am running into some behavior that I think may be a bug, or it may just me try to make it do something it can't.  Anyway, here's the situation:

I have a "needed for spending" goal of a certain amount (for this example, let's say 500), with a goal by date (once again, for this example, let's say September 10, 2020).  I then set it to repeat every 7 months (yes, it's an odd time interval, and one of the reasons I was looking forward to the repeat function.)  And it worked great for the September goal.  Hit that, spent the money, life is good.  But now, I find that even though it has set the goal to April, it says that the goal has been met, and doesn't assign any money to the goal.  Which, I guess, technically it was met, back in September.  But I want it to reset after I spend the money.  Which it does if I delete the goal and recreate it.

So, is this the correct behavior?  Is the issue that I have this set as a Spending Goal, and not a Target Goal?  I think the behavior I want is more of a Target (X amount by day Y), but Target doesn't allow you to set the day level, just the month, and it doesn't allow you to set a repeat interval.

On the other hand, what's the point of allowing us to set a Repeats interval in the Spending Goal if the software ignores it after you fully fund the goal?

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  • No, it's a bug. I've seen the same thing the first time one of mine repeated. I think it's been broken since the beginning. My fix was to recreate it for the new period.

    Like 3
  • I have noticed this bug as well. Annoying. 

    Like
  • I had a problem something like this, but ...  When the month changed the goal 'came right'.

    So for the rest of September in your example it would say the goal has been met. But in October (and not until it was October; none of this looking forward into October) it would resume expecting the goal to be fed. I can't get the logic of the new goals firmly in my head, and it doesn't help that when ynab does them, I don't see the numbers I would expect. I hope they are still working on this.

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

      Cirrus Ah, I think you’re right. It’s that silly design decision where some things aren’t right until the month changes over. Good call. Horrible design decision.

      Like 2
  • A repeating goal will start again in the month after you meet the goal, and I'm going to argue that this is the correct design decision, but it could probably be clearer what's happening.

    Let's say I set a goal in an empty category for $120 by November 2021, repeating annually. YNAB prompts me to budget $10/month, starting this month. When I budget the $10 in November of next year, the category will have $120 in it.

    I then make the $120 payment, in November 2021, and the category is empty. Why isn't the goal prompting me to budget again, now that the category is empty?

    Because this would ask me to budget an inconsistent amount of money. I already budgeted $10 in November 2021, and asking me to budget more is unnecessary, because when the goal restarts next month, I can continue budgeting $10/month.

    Now, to go back to the OP's question: If you set a repeating goal that ended in September, and it didn't ask you for more money starting in October, then yes, something's wrong, and I'd love to take a look. Just let me know.

    Like 3
    • Matthew  This is the bit that is going to cause me grief with the repeating goals:  "Let's say I set a goal in an empty category for $120 by November 2021, repeating annually. YNAB prompts me to budget $10/month, starting this month. When I budget the $10 in November of next year, the category will have $120 in it."

      This could just be me, but if I have a goal of having 120 by November 2021, I actually want to have that BY November 2021.  So, on October 31st, the goal should be met.  Then I spend the money in November.  I really dislike the thought of adding the last bit of money in the month that it's due, because "what if"?  So I am always trying to max the goals before I need to spend it, which is going to cause problems because of what I wrote above.  

      But this does raise another interesting (to me!) question.  Since Spending goals do allow you to specify a date, do they do monthly or rolling 30-day periods when they consider their funding?  In other words, if I have a date of the 15th, does YNAB consider the funding times to go from the 1st to the last day of the month, or from the 16th to the 15th of the next month?  Or, in other other words, if I set a date of the 15th but spend the money on the 20th, is that  still in the goal month of the first occurrence, or in the first month of the next goal?

      Like
      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 10 mths ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view

      Aquamarine Unicorn The specific day is ignored for monthly repeating. A better UI would disable or hide it. (As to your last question, you're still in the first instance of the Goal.)

      Goals have always expected you to be able to budget in the target month before the outflow. If that's not possible (e.g., because the outflow is on the 5th but you're not paid until the 15th), then it's on you to specify the previous month as the target month. (That was true even before Goals were implemented. You're the only one who knows when you'll budget to that particular category.)

      Like 3
    • Matthew 

      I set a repeating goal that ended in July. The charge happened in July, available in the category is $0, and has been since mid-July. It is now August 1, my other goals have adjusted based on ending figures for July, so I'm not in random month-didn't-update bug land.

      My repeating goal now has a target for next year, but says I need $0 to meet it and is still showing as fully funded/spent.

      Based on this thread, that is not the expected behavior, correct? I'm leaving it as is so someone can look at it as needed, but the whole reason to set it to repeating is so I don't have to keep manually recreating the goal.

      (P.S. I'm on my mobile (android) and have not checked the web app yet).

      Like 1
      • satcook
      • satcook
      • 2 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Fuzzball Meows when did the goal reset (day of the month) and what day did you make the payment?

      Like
    • satcook Hmm... in looking closer at this, there is apparently weirdness, so I *might* have done something? I set it up as Needed for Spending By July 31 2021". The payment came out on the third. 

      The goal now says "Needed for Spending by July 31 2022" and "Started July 2021", and when I go back a month to June, there's no goal. (This is the weirdness I mentioned.)

      I know I was really interested to see how this rolling over the goal works, so I'd be extremely surprised if I changed the goal. But the "Started July 2021" and the lack of previous goal says maybe I did?

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

      Fuzzball Meows hmm. It does seem like it was restarted somehow 

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

      Fuzzball Meows my guess is that this is expected behind-the-scenes behavior for repeating goals - it deletes the old goal and creates a new one for you instead of just extending the due date by a year. But the not prompting you to assign anything to it in August IS a problem. 

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

      Fuzzball Meows I haven't had a successful repeating yearly goal yet. It is a very touchy feature apparently. We'll see what happens on my next one. Unfortunately, you have to wait a year to find out!

      Breaking news! I have a yearly mobile phone bill (Mint) that is due this month. It shows that I have the full balance ready to go. When I move over to September, it shows 0 funded and the correct total needed with a correct Underfunded monthly amount. So it looks promising. We'll see what happens after I pay the bill.

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

      Superbone Oh, wow!  has it already been a year?  I remember a bunch of people were discussing Mint, and other ways of saving on their wireless plans.  Doesn't seem that long ago, but apparently it was!

      So, after a year, you're a satisfied customer?

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

      Bruce Yes, sir! I'm extremely pleased. How could I not be? No difference in service and yet the cost for a year is what I used to pay for two months of Verizon!

      Like 1
      • dyanawu
      • Purple_Sound.20
      • 1 mth ago
      • Reported - view

      Matthew the behaviour as described seems perfectly fine to me, the only thing lacking for me is look-forward:

      1. I have an annual goal of let's say, 3600 for insurance, with a due date of 31 Jul (it gets debited sometime in August, so I'd like to have it fully funded with my July paycheck)

      2. Sometime in August (today!) the auto-debit went through

      3. It says I've met my goal, which is fine, and I'll report back in a week or so to confirm if it reset the goal amount correctly in September

      4. If I click thru to September now, to start estimating how much I'll be budgeting in September. it shows 0 for this goal, but I'd expect it to show 300 - this would be funded with my August paycheck, putting me on track to reach the same goal by 31 Jul 2022. This is the only issue I have with the repeating goals feature :) 

      Like
  • I actually took this up with the bug team, and a very nice person named Kathleen sent me this, which turned out to be what my issue was.  It turned out that while I set my goal for September, I didn't actually spend the money until October, so it assumed I had met the next goal.  Now, part of the problem (which has been passed along to Sarah), is that I don't really want a repeating Spending goal.  What I want is a repeating Target Date goal, with the ability to specify date instead of just month. Because then, If I spent the money I had saved for September in October, it would still look ahead and see that I won't have the money in April and start saving up again.

    The only thing I am unsure of in the response below is what would happen if I spent say 400 of the 500 in September, so there was still money in the category in October, but not the full 500.  Would it restart and just save up 400 more?

    Thanks for reaching out - this is a great question and you've written a perfect example! I suspect I might know what's happening here, so let me explain my theory and then you can let me know if it fits what you're seeing in the budget!
    • If you set a goal to have $500 Needed for Spending by September 10, 2020, and you hit that goal, then let's assume that there was $500 in the category on September 10th.
    • If you spent all of those funds by the end of September, beginning October with $0.00 in the category, then the goal would reset as expected.
    • If, however, there were any funds left in the category on October 1, they would count toward the April goal. If the $500 was still in the category on October 1, the April goal will show that it's been met! 🧐

     

    Like 2
      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 10 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view
      Support said:
      If, however, there were any funds left in the category on October 1, they would count toward the April goal.

      While that's what is implemented, that's not the way it should be in my view. The non-monthly Spending Goals should be looking at the cumulative budget entries. The accumulation satisfied the goal criteria in Sept. The fact you didn't spend it is immaterial the way I think it should be implemented. October should be the starting month of the next instance, which would be looking to split the remaining funds over the remaining months.

      This is another aspect of the design mistake (my opinion) that based budget behavior on the passage of time in the real-world. It would have been a simpler implementation and more understandable for the new user if Spending Goals looked at what was budgeted since the "anchor" month and Savings Goals looked at the Available amount.

      Like 1
    • dakinemaui Well said! Your expectation of how it should work is, in fact, how it should work. YNAM needs to take a cue from their users rather than their design team on this one.

      Like
  • Matthew said:
    Now, to go back to the OP's question: If you set a repeating goal that ended in September, and it didn't ask you for more money starting in October, then yes, something's wrong, and I'd love to take a look. Just let me know.

    This is exactly what happened to me. I’m guessing it would have fixed itself when the calendar date actually flipped to the next month? I don’t know. I didn’t like it so my fix was to delete and restart the goal in the next month.

    Like
  • Forgive me, for I am NEW to this.  I have set a goal for my property taxes (which are not included with my mortgage) for "Target Savings Balance" and the amount I need for next payment is 839.71.  I have been putting aside $300 each month which is a transfer from my checking TO my savings account, under "property taxes".  I already had budgeted $300.00 from last month in that category.  When my bank made the import from checking to savings for this month, the $300 I had disappeared and now shows only the latest $300.00.  It should be $600.00 that's sitting there waiting to be paid in February, 2021.  I approved both transactions in the register, the $300 coming out of my checking and the $300 going into my savings, but it still only shows $300.00 in that category.  I'm very confused.  HELP!  

    Like
      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 10 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Cadet Blue Android It sounds like your savings account is a Tracking account, but it should be a Budget account. A Tracking account is outside the budget. Money leaving the budget is spending (by definition), which removes money from categories.

      If your savings account is listed in the Tracking section of the account list, then I suggest you create a new account, move all the transactions from the old to new, and then close/delete the old.

      Like
  • So should I unlink my Savings account?   How, exactly do I make it a Budget account and not a tracking one?  It's listed in both my Budget and "All Accounts" for transactions

    Like
  • To further clarify this, both my savings and checking are in same bank and tracked with direct importing.  So any transfers between either of the accounts to the other are pulled in.  Since I already had 300 in savings from November (before starting YNAB) I want that to be reflected in my ongoing total (goal) so now should be 600.00.  I went back to November and manually entered the 300.00 as a transfer, and now I have a green 600.00 showing in "property taxes" but a RED 300.00 "needing to be budgeted".  

    Like
      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 10 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Cadet Blue Android "linking" just means you auto import. Both Tracking and Budget accounts can be linked.

      Is the savings account listed under the Budget account group or the Tracking group? See the last image here for an example:

      https://docs.youneedabudget.com/article/177-account-types

      Alternatively, if it is correctly under the budget group, then you may not have recorded the transfer correctly. For that, the Payee should be "Transfer To: <account name>" and NO CATEGORY is specified. Import doesn't know to rename to that special Payee until you do it yourself one time. Example here:

      https://docs.youneedabudget.com/article/168-making-a-transfer

      Like
  • OK, I just got off a chat with support so I finally understand what's going on now. I first used the Needed For Spending goal as a yearly goal for transferring money to my IRA. I set it up to have the funds by December 31st, 2020. Normally I would make this transfer in January but was busy this year and didn't get around to it until February. I just noticed yesterday that I hadn't funded anything in Jan through March because the goal said it had been met!

    The deal is that in order for a yearly repeating Needed For Spending goal to work properly, you MUST spend the funds in the month the goal is set. If not, for an entire year it will tell you that your goal has been met! So, my adjustment was to recreate the yearly goal for January 31st. In order for the goal to work properly, I must fund my IRA in January. If not, I'll have to recreate the goal. If I do transfer the funds in January, when February rolls around, it will then start the next year's spending goal. So instead of a January to December period, it's actually February to January. Same difference monthly.

    I hope this helps somebody else. What this really comes down to is we need a different type of repeating savings goal. One that isn't dependent on when/if you spend the funds. Either that or just do the math yourself and use the Monthly Savings Builder goal.

    Like 4
      • nolesrule
      • Stealing From the Future fix is an improvement but is incomplete....
      • nolesrule
      • 6 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Superbone think about how monthly Needed for spending goals work. At the start of the next month, the goal looks at the remaining available and makes your target whatever it takes to top it up to the target amount. So if you spent nothing, you're good when the goal resets.

      It works the same way for any other repeat cycle. When the goal resets, it reduces the amount you need to fund toward the target by what is available in the category, because it assumes whatever you haven't spend is carried over to the new target.

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

      nolesrule Yeah, I get it. Apparently I didn't make myself clear above. Doesn't work too well for a yearly  goal if you don't spend it in the goal month. Now it's off for an entire year.

      Like 1
    • Superbone Yeah, this bugs me, too. I know our Goals team is taking a look at this issue—it snags a lot of people.

      Like 5
  • I'm so relieved to see this is a bug and not expected behavior because it has been messing up my budgets a lot recently. There were 3 different repeating goals that I thought I was contributing to, but it turns out they were all marked as "goal met" in 2020, so I haven't been budgeting for them in months. Please post here when the bug is resolved, thank you!

    Like 1
    • Pink Yeti I don't think it's a bug, exactly, but it's a design that we're going to revisit the next time we refresh goals. (Kind of like how somehow authorities name someone as a "person of interest" rather than a suspect. 😁)

      The feature is definitely usable now—I have plenty of repeating goals in my own budget—but you have to be careful to spend the money in the target month, or let YNAB know if you didn't by deleting and restarting the goal.

      Like 5
      • Pink Yeti
      • Pink_Yeti.5
      • 5 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Matthew thanks for the clarification and quick support. I’ll try to ensure that the time I use the funds is the same month that my goal fund ends and see if the repeat works!

      Like
    • Matthew I consider it a real bug from a usability standpoint, even if that's the design. It's impractical and tedious to have to stay on top of and delete/recreate multiple repeating goals if the full payment just didn't happen to be made in the original target month. It would serve you well to admit this rather than to continue insisting it's not a bug. Most of the users in this thread would feel a sense of validation and respect for YNAB if you would simply come out and admit it.

      Like 1
  • The way I use recurring goals also requires deleting and restarting them, but I don't know of a way for YNAB to support it without a more complicated UX. For example, my brother's birthday is on 3/4, so I have a recurring goal to save $100 by 2/18, giving me enough time to buy him a present. From this goal, I spent $75 on 2/21 and then $25 on 3/4.

    The end result, that I only just noticed for this goal, is what I think bothers most people: There is a nonempty "Funded Spending" of $25, so "Funded" does not match "Available".

    So right now, I've funded $46 for next year's birthday, but I've already spent $25 of it! So in reality I only have $21 saved up. To support this would require each recurring goal to have two dates, an end and a start, instead of a single restart date. IMO it would be too complicated. But it is quite annoying to recreate this goal.

    A very simple solution, perhaps even doable from the Toolkit Extension, would be to allow a "Reset Funded Spending" button. (As long as the underlying transactions could still be associated with the category of course.) For example, if before you clicked the button you had total needed $20, funded $9, to go $11, but spent $3, with progress bar representation:

    (///------           )

    then after clicking this button you would have total needed $20, funded $6, to go $14, spent $0 with progress bar

    (------              )
    Like 1
    • I came to the forum specifically for this topic, and see Sea Green Sun recently suggested what I would like to see. How complex would it be to add a "reset goal" button? Sometimes I like to overfund a goal, pay it (use it) early or late, etc. Goals has been a big selling feature of YNAB, but I'm finding all the same issues listed by others in this thread, but no true workaround other than to DELETE the entire goal and start over. That's fine for one or two goals, but as a touted feature, I use goals for many of my categories. Resetting even a few is a hassle, and I am more prone to making mistakes -- like thinking I don't need to move more money into the goal because, guess what? it's funded, but it's really NOT. I am using YNAB to greatly reduce the need for 2 things: manual math, avoiding/correcting human errors. The lack of the ability to reset goals, particularly once the money is used, is highly concerning.

      Like 1
    • Purple Piano 

      Like
  • This is still the only issue I have with YNAB.  A reset goal option would be wonderful. 

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  • Bump this. I've had trouble with the same workflow. 

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  • I agree, I also have the same issue with this workflow. Also, goal $ can change, I would like to be able to change the goal $ for the next year. So I would like to be able to set start and end dates for the same category.

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  • Yes, they are easily broken. I got my new property tax bill, changed the amount on my yearly property tax goal and that broke it. I had to recreate it for the upcoming year.

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