How to reflect a temporary category for goals?

Hi there,


I wondered how people use categories for goals like "new bike", "new car", "canon lens XY".

They basically are completed once the goal is reached, but I guess it will be a problem if I delete a category.

Do you name them generically and just re-use them? Or how do you manage this?


If I name them too generically, like "Hobbies", I don't remember what the goal was for.

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  • You could keep using the same category and change the name as the goal changes.  Or you can hide the category once completed but if you use reports, the hidden category won't show up.  

    Like 1
    • Whiskey Mama renaming is the nicer option I think - however, analytics will not be usable then

      Like 1
    • Chrissy
    • YNAB Technical Support Manager
    • chrissy_ynab
    • 2 yrs ago
    • 2
    • Reported - view

    Personally,  I do a fresh start each year on my budget so that we can keep really specific categories in our budget and then just hide them, but each new year, with a new budget, we won't have a ton of hidden categories.  You could also use the strategy we recommend in our Wish Farm article (Step 4), which is similar to what you mentioned--have a specific goal, but then when it's fully funded move the money to the category where you'll do the actual spending and then you can delete the category without a problem. You could use the notes to remind yourself of all the goals you accomplished throughout the year. 


    You just don't want to delete categories (hiding is great!) once you have spending in that category.


    I can't wait to hear what others do though! 

    Like 2
    • Chrissy Hi! A follow up question re: this strategy. I'm wondering about the previous months when I was still saving for the goal.

      Here's my actual issue right now: I was saving for a Quaffle from Sept 2017 to June 2019. Reached my goal in June 2019, so I could move the budgeted amount from Quaffle to Fun purchases and I categorize the actual expense as Fun purchases in June 2019 on the register. As far as I'm reading, this means now I can delete the category Quaffle without wreaking havoc on reports or the current budget.

      However what about the months while I was saving?

      For example, in Dec 2017 I had to buy a new tires and I had to draw from other categories, so I moved all the money from Quaffle into Auto Maintenance.  Then started saving in Quaffle again in April 2018. 

      So, if delete the Quaffle category, how is Auto Maintenance in Dec 2017 going to be affected?

      As to why I'm so interested in deleting vs alternatives:

      I'm interested in pulling accurate reports, which is why I'm reluctant to start a new budget, as I would lose that historical data. So I'm trying make it work on this current budget. Which also means that unnecessary categories are starting to clutter. To get rid of the clutter, I'm hoping to delete categories I won't need again and use the Hide Category option only for categories I'll need in the future again but don't need right now.


    • Turquoise Mill Don't worry—Auto Maintenance isn't going to be affected at all. When you delete the category, YNAB will treat the deleted category as if it were To be Budgeted. So you might see some unexpected money in To be Budgeted in a past month (just ignore it!), but none of your budgeted categories will be affected.

      Your reports are based on your transactions, not your budget entries, so as long as there were no transactions categorized to the Quaffle category, those won't be affected either!

      Like 1
  • Another option is to move the money into a more general category before making the purchase; it's then safe to delete the one-off category. That said, I don't mind having hidden categories accumulate.

    Like 1
  • I have a wish farm, so I save for these things in my Wish Farm. When it comes time to spend I move the money out of the  wish farm into the appropriate category. It might be Household stuff if it were furniture, or Fitness for a bike, or Travel, if the bike was for commuting etc.

    So I save in one category, then move it to another to spend it.

    I have 3 wish farm categories: Small, Medium and Large. I change the name to "L: Bike $1200" while saving for a bike. Then rename it when the bike saving is over.

    Like 1
    • RIP_MSMoney
    • Software Developer at Microsoft (Previously FinTech)
    • rip_ms_money
    • 1 yr ago
    • 2
    • Reported - view

    I use wish farm method but we group our categories differently. Instead we use icons to represent items that are temp. So our temp categories are grouped in with permanent ones. Anything with 🚫 should never be associated to a transaction. Rather the funds should be moved to another appropriate permanent category and the transaction gets a hashtag comment for later searching. (Eg #kidsbed, #grill, #newcar). This is helpful when the funds dont get used all at once. Then when the temp category is done, it can be cleanly/safely deleted without issue

    Like 2
  • Matthew said:
    YNAB will treat the deleted category as if it were To be Budgeted. So you might see some unexpected money in To be Budgeted in a past month

    Since all the money from the category was reallocated in June 2019, there is nothing to increase past TBB values. If there is a nonzero TBB in the past, it is not due to the deletion of this category.

    • dakinemaui True! Good point.

      Like 1
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