Dealing with my Foodie Category Group

Hello YNABers,

 

An easy one for you. When I started with YNAB in January, I had only one single category for "Eating Out". It was working well with my but I found out that it would be helpful for me to know in a year from now on what type of meal I spent my money. So I have decided to create a few categories for this purpose: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, snacks, Coffee/Drinks, and Happy Hour Drink . So far so go. 

Now, I can easily budget money in all of them. Which I did, but obviously I keep WAMing money around according to what I spend. I do not care that much, but I was wondering if I could simply the management there. What I was thinking was to create an additional Category named "Food Fund", from which I would never expense anything, but put the expected Budget of all the meals types. Then, I would simply never budget the meal, but always cover the Overspending with the Food Fund.

Does it make sense? Is that a good way to do it? I am still debating,

Thoughts? 

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  • You'll still need to WAM before month end otherwise the overspending will be added to credit card debt (if yellow) or removed from next month's TBB (if red).

    I sometimes do things as you've originally suggested - funding the top category in a group (for us - joint spending) and then WAMing to more specific categories (theatre tickets, sports events etc). An alternative is to only have one group but then put #breakfast, #lunch in the memo tab. This lets you budget to one category, does not need WAMing and you can still look at the breakdown by searching for your hashtags. The downside is that you they won't show separately in reports.

    (The hashtags aren't necessary. Any emoji or word will do and is searchable but in the absence of tags you need to make sure you have a consistent approach to labelling.)

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  • Very good point. So the good news is that I do not mind at all covering the overspending right away from the over arching Foodie Group. So I should never end up in a situation where I forget some categories in negative (red).   

    As for the hashtag, it is another good point but I really want the report, and like you said it needs to be isolated for this.

     

    Right now, my Foodie Category group looks like this:

    • Snacks
    • Breakfast
    • Lunch
    • Dinner
    • Happy Drinks (Beer, etc)
    • Regular Drinks (Coffee / Tea, etc)

    So the idea I suggested above would be for that group to look like this:

    • Food Fund
    • Snacks
    • Breakfast
    • Lunch
    • Dinner
    • Happy Drinks (Beer, etc)
    • Regular Drinks (Coffee / Tea, etc)

    So every time I spend against a category, I cover the overspend with the Food Fund. Does not take long to do, especially in mobile app. But instead of the Food Fund, this make me wonders if instead I should simply leave the money in TBB? 

    I will see... Maybe I will still put money in these category based on Average Spent, and WAM when needed... that might be a better way. 

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    • Eric Poulin 

      I also would not leave money in TBB. I would use the overarching category. 

      Keep in mind that when you're done getting this information in the reports and want to consolidate the categories, it is very very very very very very (very) difficult to do that right now.  The good news is your proposed set up would be the most conducive to doing it. It's just a lot of work and headache a few months or years down the line.

      Category consolidation requires recategorizing all the purchases (I think manually for each one, no groups, but I could be wrong) to your dining out category, and moving the budgeted spending for each month into the new category, each month, keeping the numbers straight so the SFTF is immediately rectified. Each month, for each transaction, for each category.  Having them all in the same category group will be your only check to avoid math errors that will result in lasting SFTF.

      I have put in a feature request to make this easier, because budgets grow and shrink over time. I, for one, would like the data to reflect reality as the overlay of categories on transactions changes.

      I would still do it if i had a good enough reason to want the granularity (and you probably do). Just be aware that you're also making a long, long date with your data when you want to consolidate the categories. For me, the work would be worth it.

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    • Eric Poulin 

      Also, if it were me, I would lable the Food Fund as Eating Out, because it's not groceries. ...Unless you're tracking gourmet cooking as part of each meal data, I suppose. 

      That's just personal preference. 

      We budget a lump sum to groceries, and then if we eat out, we WAM from groceries to dining out or convenience meals. It helps us limit the restaurants.

      There only reason I share this is because I like to anticipate how my life will change and lable things to avoid confusion. Food Funds would not be specific enough for me, but Dining Out (with all those other categories under it) would be. I would never get it confused with Groceries at the end of this data year you want.

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    • Voracious Reader
    • YNAB broke is not the absence of money, but rather the judgment that it has something more important to do.
    • Orange_Cheetah.3
    • 6 mths ago
    • Reported - view

    I would counsel you against leaving the money in TBB. This violates rule one, because you aren't giving your dollars jobs...which means you aren't really feeling the scarcity when you make your spending decisions.

    In the interest of simplifying your life, what are you hoping to learn from this level of detail? What behavior do you want to change based upon what you learn? 

    I have just two eating out categories: Work Lunches/Snacks, and Dining Out. That's because Work Lunches gets really out of line if I don't plan ahead and pack lunches: either the night before or for several days at a time.  I kind of resent the money I spend in the Work category, whereas if I'm going out for ricotta pancakes with lemon curd and raspberries, or hitting an amazing noodle and dumpling house, or grabbing a mocha with a friend, it's not money that I'm necessarily looking to trim, unless it gets too excessive. So Dining Out gets its own budget. But within that budget, I don't really care if it was Breakfast, Lunch, or Dinner.

    I can think of reasons to track at the level that you do...especially if you're actively dating and trying to judge your coffee/alcohol budget, but I don't think that most people need to track ALL of those categories. I'm not saying NOT to, just, would you do anything different with the information? Will that change your decisions next month? Because if not, maybe you're just giving yourself extra work for no reason.

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    • Voracious Reader Thanks for your reply!

      So leaving money in TBB does violates rules one..... depending on your definition of a job.  Having money waiting to be used is a pretty good damn job in my mind! :) I know some people have deferred income category or some type of buffer, but TBB works too in my mind. When my son is on the bench in his soccer team, he has a job.; To be available when needed. :) But this is rhetorical at this point. I do agree with you, it is just that I do not mind that much if I leave money there. I do not feel it that it hurts my budgeting exercise

       

      As for the food, well it is because it is a big part of my lifestyle. I am a big fan of eating out (a bit too much), and I am curious to see how I will spend that money. But Move Light Sound Life outline I could probably satisfy my curiosity using #hashtag and search when needed. I might do actually do that. I will give myself 1-2 weeks to think this through.    

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    • Eric Poulin 

      Definitely try the #filter first. It's much less work, if you're happy with what it shows.  Good luck!

      If you leave money in TBB for your Food Fund, and you're also building a buffer for next month, how will you know how much goes to either job? It would be so easy to go out to eat more than you planned, and then have less money for next month. That would be backwards progress for the goal of living on last month's income, if that is your priority.

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  • Eric Poulin

    "I found out that it would be helpful for me to know in a year from now on what type of meal I spent my money".....mmmmm...and what exactly would you actually USE that information for - a year from now? Let's say you HAD this information from last year and it showed your spent 75% on breakfast out and 25% on dinner out..so what? Wouldn't it just be the TOTAL amount spent on eating out that is significant rather than the meal-type??? Or is it your plan to say:  in 2019 I spent too much on breakfast out, I need to reduce my breakfast spending and need to concentrate on spending that money on dinner out instead?

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