Bi-weekly Budgeting

How do y'all handle non-monthly budgeting items? I mean, I get the YNAB system when it comes to budgeting stuff like mortgage and energy bills and creating sinking funds and stuff - but for us, we handle our budget for daily expenses like food on a bi-weekly basis (because that's when I get paid, but it could be weekly if you prefer).

I think I'm just missing something, but the current budgeting tools mean that I either have to have a decent buffer in my accounts and leave that money just sitting there, or I have to deal with it in some convoluted way. As it is, I am currently just using a scheduled transaction to move money into that category every two weeks on payday, after which I can then budget the rest (although at that point I tend to just make add categories to the scheduled transaction to auto-allocate much of the paycheck as soon as I get it).

I recognize that I may need to alter my thinking on this, so what are some other approaches?

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  • Hi Lavender Router,

    Apologies, this may be a silly question but are you budgeting based on what has to be paid for the monthly period or budgeting your account balances that you have on hand?

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      • Troy Miller
      • Budgeter, FPU Leader, Programmer, Dad, Husband
      • yort
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Tan Banjo (c031bfdaebb1) For the monthly bills, I budget based on what will need to be paid. Most of those bills are relatively static, so that's fairly straightforward.

       

      Where I get tripped up a bit is that I want to budget, let's say $300 every two weeks for Groceries, and maybe $50 every two weeks for eating out.

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    • Lavender Router (8b33f3d07c2f) Sounds like what you need to do is make a monthly funding goal of $600 for groceries and $100 for eating out. When the first paycheck of the month hits you put $300 and $50 into those categories. It will show orange telling you that it needs more but you have it set for the second paycheck.

      Reply Like 3
      • Troy Miller
      • Budgeter, FPU Leader, Programmer, Dad, Husband
      • yort
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Tomato Mask (05bd62cee897) But there are more than four weeks in most months. Do I just have to eat Instant Ramen for those last 2 or 3 days?

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    • Lavender Router (8b33f3d07c2f) 

      A couple of things which may help:

      1. Blue Leopard made a post here where they spoke on dealing with the split in months with some being 4 weeks and some being 5.  https://support.youneedabudget.com/t/k9kllc/diy-budget-billing-for-almost-anything. In essence they noted that by multiplying their budget by 4.33 they were adequately covered for the months which had 4 weeks and the rollover from those months would cover those which had 5 weeks. 

      2. Creating a budget template may also help which is shown in this link.  https://www.youneedabudget.com/how-to-create-a-budget-template/ It combines scheduled transactions with the different types of goals so that when I review my budget I can think of the timing of upcoming payments and how I can allocate funds if something is due after I get paid again.

      3. If you haven't as yet I also found the classes very useful. The instructors have quite varied ways of approaching different scenarios and tend to give me a quick check to see if there are any elements I can improve in my budget.  https://www.youneedabudget.com/classes/

      Reply Like 3
      • Troy Miller
      • Budgeter, FPU Leader, Programmer, Dad, Husband
      • yort
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Tan Banjo (c031bfdaebb1) Hmm... that's an option, I guess. I'm not sure yet if it's any better than just a scheduled transaction out of each paycheck though. 

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    • Lavender Router (8b33f3d07c2f) The template is well worth time and effort and is way better than manually inputting each paycheck, it takes some to set up but it saves you time in the future. If you have been using YNAB for a bit you can quickly start one by going into your register and changing recurring bills from a one-time thing, to monthly, every 30 days or whatever the frequency is.

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  • Not sure I quite understand the dilemna.  What's that about ramen the last several days?  Don't you generally have more food than days in a shopping period, or are your freezer and pantry completely bare when you hit the supermarket?  I could easily eat out of the pantry and freezer for 2-3 weeks, as long as I was still allowed to buy milk and produce as needed.

    Reply Like 3
  • As Sky Blue Tape said you should be able to survive on your pantry/freezer staples for several weeks just buying some eggs, milk and such. I am my mom's son, she was an army wife who raised 3 kids. She always bought a bit extra, it is like budgeting and generally takes me about 3-5 months to fill my pantry when it is depleted after something major or a move, but I have gone 5 months without out a major shopping trip after losing my job years ago. 

    Reply Like 1
      • Troy Miller
      • Budgeter, FPU Leader, Programmer, Dad, Husband
      • yort
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Tomato Mask (05bd62cee897) It's not really the food in the pantry that is the point, it's the approach to the budget.

      Here's another example - allowance for the kids. They get $X dollars each time I get paid, just like they get paid. So currently I have a scheduled transaction that moves that money. I could do it monthly, sure, but the kids (at least the ones that can do math) would object to missing out on that 2-3 days worth of "income."

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    • Lavender Router (8b33f3d07c2f)  I think I understand what is bothering you. Check me is I am right. you are somehow calculating what you make into daily income. Say you make $2,000 a month, in Feburaryyour daily income would be $71.43 a day, in November is would be $66.67 a day, and in December it would be $64.52. Is this the problem?

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      • Troy Miller
      • Budgeter, FPU Leader, Programmer, Dad, Husband
      • yort
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Tomato Mask (05bd62cee897) Not quite - that is the way YNAB is structured, but it's not the way I am paid. To use your example, I am paid $1000 every two weeks. So I am paid the same amount daily, regardless of the month ($71.43). However, in the month of February, I make a total of $2000, but in the month of November, I will technically make $2142.

      Whichever way I do things, I am going to have to deal with that "extra". But since YNAB is set up with a "monthly" mindset and I am paid on a "daily" mindset, those two things can be at odds, and I end up having to translate one into the other. It'd be nice if I could do both.

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      • Troy Miller
      • Budgeter, FPU Leader, Programmer, Dad, Husband
      • yort
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Another example: tithe. I give 10% of each paycheck to my local church. Since I am paid bi-weekly, a monthly funding target does not work well.

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      • kayjenx
      • Debt Ninja Trainee
      • kayjenx
      • 1 yr ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Troy Miller For things that have to be paid weekly like my son's allowance, I do a scheduled transaction. I give him $40 a week. On the last payday of the month I look ahead a see how much upcoming payments for the month. (if you click on the allowance category you will see this). If it shows 5 then i put aside $120 and then mid month another $80 for the rest of the month. If it's 4 then i put $80. For food, we just try our best to stretch it. Eat what we have, but you can't do that for everything.

      Reply Like 1
  • You could have multiple categories, one for each week. 

    But what I would  recommend is just using goals and the move money tool (MMT). When you get paid, you'll add (Total grocery amount)/number of paychecks to the grocery category by moving it from TBB. Then, when you're paid again, you'll use the MMT to budget more to groceries. 

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  • As you get to a point where you're budgeting for next month with this month's money, this will get easier. For right now, when you hit a 3 paycheck month, you can just allocate the extra amount you're going to use from those categories when you get the money. I like to put the $ amount in the category name. So, if I have a biweekly category, I'd list, say "Groceries $300 biweekly".  And then you know, when you get your paycheck, just put 300 into that category as you're going through the paycheck. Same with allowance. I would also put those "fund first" categories at the top.  

    FYI: we get paid biweekly too. But now that I am buffered, the first biweekly check of the month goes toward the first half of next month's expenses (I tend to cover housing stuff and half the groceries first), then the 2nd paycheck covers the other half plus any leftover goes to sinking funds. So I allocate enough for the month, but dole it out weekly or biweekly or whatever needs to happen. 3rd paychecks I treat as bonuses and they get allocated not to day-to-day stuff but to filling up sinking funds for emergencies and annual stuff (like property taxes).

    Reply Like 4
  • Hi Lavender ,

    The way I do this is to put all of my fixed monthly expenses into my budget as recurring transactions. This gives me a bird's eye view of the month as it is unfolding. It also triggers YNAB's budget screen to show you areas where you have upcoming expenses that don't have enough budgeted for that month, highlighting those areas in orange.

    I know that I'm going to always take care of the "four walls" first as soon as I get paid, and I know which dates I will get paid (every other Friday). The four walls are food, shelter (including mortgage/rent and utilities), basic clothing and transportation - in that order. Once I've budgeted food (and I know I'll always need about the same amount every two weeks), I look at my upcoming bills in the accounts page to see which of them is going to come due before the next time I get paid. That is, anything that's coming due in the next two weeks gets money allocated for it. I work my way down the list of four walls first, then tackle the other things, like debt payments and saving for an emergency fund. The extra fun stuff comes last. But a credit card payment never comes before food or the mortgage/rent. Ever. Eat first.

    For the record, I also tithe at my local church, so that money comes "off the top", before anything else. Yes, even before the four walls.

    I guess the bottom line here is that I don't look at YNAB from a monthly perspective. Since I had experience with other budgeting apps that insist on seeing the entire month in advance, I had the same issue you did. When I finally started looking at it from a biweekly perspective, everything changed for me.

    Remember the YNAB rules:

    1. Get some money
    2. Tell it what to do (give it a job)
    3. Spend it the way you said you would

    When you look at it in this way, the boundaries between months simply fade into the background. I'm working only with the money I have in the bank, not worrying about the money I haven't yet been paid. I'll deal with it when it comes.

    As annaraven suggests above, this all becomes a non-issue as you age your money and build up a large emergency fund. I suggest you aim for an emergency fund large enough to cover 3 to 6 months of expenses. That's not the same as 3-6 months of income, unless you are truly already living on beans and rice and have nothing else that can be cut out of your budget.

    Best wishes.

    Reply Like 3
  • I think everyone has good suggestions with how to "smooth" out your income. I get paid every other week as well, but the way I do it is I assume that my monthly income is the value of 2 paychecks -then twice a year when I get a third paycheck, I use that to fund a larger big picture goal (currently student loan debt.) 

    Reply Like 2
  • The answer to all timing problems between budgeting and spending is to Budget using the previous month's income. (Classic YNAB Rule 4). Until you get to that point, there have been some good suggestions.

    It's a rare recurring expense that has an actual frequency less than one month outside of what I would consider the "everyday spending" types of categories. We've been budgeting the same amount toward groceries, restaurants and similar other everyday spending categories every month for the 3+ years we've been using YNAB, with a slight inflationary increase. Didn't matter if the month was 28, 29, 30 or 31 days. The same amount has always been enough.

    Reply Like 1
      • Troy Miller
      • Budgeter, FPU Leader, Programmer, Dad, Husband
      • yort
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      nolesrule - That does not actually solve the problem when the budget in question is essentially a percentage of the paycheck, like Tithe (i.e., 10% of every paycheck). I'm not saying you can't still manage it, whether by doing manual adjustments or dividing yearly income by 12 and budgeting that per month, I'm just saying all of that is extra work. At this point, I don't see anything more compelling than just using a recurring scheduled transaction for those things.

      It's likely that something like Tithe is specific enough to as not be worth muddying the waters of the rest of the YNAB mindset by adding in a bi-weekly/fortnight option, so I think I'll just have to make do.

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      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Troy Miller Tithing is easy.  Budget 10% of whatever is in TBB when you go to budget. You just need to make sure the rest of your budget goals can support that.

      In addition, work your monthly budget to the point you can live off the same number of paychecks every month (so bi-weekly means 2, weekly means 4), and then the extra paychecks are exactly that.... extra. If you can live for 30 days on 28 days worth of money, you're in good shape. If you are relying on that extra paycheck, which comes only twice a year, things will be uncomfortably tight until you get one of those 3 paycheck months.

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      • Troy Miller
      • Budgeter, FPU Leader, Programmer, Dad, Husband
      • yort
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      nolesrule That's assuming you Tithe off net, not gross. ;)

      Again, I'm not saying it's not doable with minimal effort, just that it's not built-in where you can set it on auto-pilot, aside from making a scheduled transaction that moves the money.

      Reply Like
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 1 yr ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Troy Miller I've had that gross/net discussion before. I'm a firm believer in using net. But that's another discussion. 😉

       

      The easiest way to auto-pilot your budget is to get a month ahead. As a YNAB4 user, I've been budgeting using the previous month's income for 3.5 years now. It takes some work to reach that point (though if you already have a large enough emergency fund, you can raid that to make it happen... you can always undo it if you need to), but trust me it's easier and once you get there, the LOE for budgeting is greatly reduced.

       

      We're a two-income household on 2 different pay cycles. Mrs. nolesrule is biweekly and I'm semi-monthly.

      Reply Like 1
      • Troy Miller
      • Budgeter, FPU Leader, Programmer, Dad, Husband
      • yort
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      nolesrule Thanks - I'm fully buffered, which is why I am fortunate enough to be looking for ways to automate as much as possible and only have to do work for the extras/outliers.

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  • Most of my budget is fortnightly/biweekly.

    For expenses that get spent straight away, like groceries, I forget about the months.  I just go by fortnight. I budget $500, for example, when the pay comes in and if I am still in the same, month, make that figure $1000 with the next pay.
    I either go by memory or by putting the amount in the name of the category.
    Monthly and fortnightly regular transactions are scheduled and for the rest (quarterly, annual, ad hoc like car service or date driven like Christmas) I use the goals. 
    First pay of the month:

    1. allocate for the expenses due this fortnight, rent, groceries, fuel, orthodontist payment etc
    2. What ever is left over then goes to the bills that are paid quarterly or annually.  I use the goals to guide me, along with if I have received a bill, making sure that category has what it needs.
    3. any left overs after that to saving or debt reduction - 

    Second pay of the month (and 3rd if there is one)

    1. allocate for the expenses due this fortnight, rent, groceries, fuel, orthodontist payment etc (so same as first pay)
    2. If I was short with step 2 of last pay, then top up those categories, especially if a bill has come in higher than expected.
    3.  savings, debt reduction or WAMing if need be (sadly normally this one).

    This difficulty I have to have in to add together the amounts.  Sometimes I stuff up that entry.

    To initially work out what I needed to allocate (and could afford to allocate), I did a basic yearly budget in excel, then added a monthly column and a fortnightly column. I then used this budget to work out my categories. 

    Reply Like 1
      • whatsup
      • whatsup
      • 1 yr ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      What we do is when our pay comes in, we budget say $300 to groceries. That is expected to last the fortnight until we get paid again. When we get paid again I just add another $300 to the groceries category again.  However if we had overspent on groceries between pays, which we regularly do, I try and take some money from other categories to cover it so the groceries category is always 0 when new money comes in. 

      Once you get ahead and budgeting with last months pay perhaps you could setup two separate categories for Fortnight 1 and Fortnight 2 groceries. That is the strategy I'm considering when I finally take the plunge to monthly budgeting(I've chosen not to make it a priority so far). But I'm still using YNAB4

      Reply Like 1
  • If you were budgeting last months income, it doesn't make a difference how much you got paid, you just budget what you have to zero, then stop.

     

    Some months will have a little more, but that is what happened

    Reply Like 2
  • For those who do not have a temporal buffer in place and who are budgeting twice a month after receipt of each paycheque, you can speed up the doubling by category by keying:

    [End] * 2 in each budget cell then using a cursor arrow up or down to complete the action and enter the next cell down or up.

    Obviously, you can multiply by any number (*2, *3, etc). You can also divide the current entry as well by using /.  So to halve an existing budgeted cell, key [End] / 2.

    Reply Like 1
      • Beige Hail
      • Beige_Hail.1
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      HappyDance Say what??? This is a great tip, thanks for sharing!

      I budget the full monthly amount; I use the Toolkit Extension to display that budgeted amount (allowing me to use the name section for other indicators); and I have a special emoji that I use to tell me that I am only funding, say, half of the category with each biweekly paycheck.  With the first paycheck of the month, I pay all of the monthly bills that are due in the first half of the month, then I go through and fill things like groceries halfway.  With the second paycheck of the month, I pay second-half-of-month bills (I use a little clock emoji with 1st or `15th, and arrange them in chronological order) and then put in the other half of the budgeted amounts for variable/discretionary line items.

      (Actually, this is what I *was* doing, until a few days ago. Now we have unemployment/zero income and a lump sum of severance/back pay that we will eventually run out of, so I have set up a new Unemployment budget that lumps all the variable/discretionary categories into Week 1, Week 2, etc. -- and I adjust a bit so that Week 4 has more than the other weeks, to deal with those extra days. I just set this up, though, so I don't know how well it will work.)

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  • Quick comment: If you budget income directly into a category, then it will not be tracked as income in reports - it gets listed under expenses in that category as a "+ expense".  Only transactions categorized as Inflow: To Be Budgeted are listed as Income in reports. So if you care that your reports are accurate, then all income should be listed as Inflow: To Be Budgeted then allocated to the expense categories.

    I think a template (see previous post) would work well for you; I know other folks separate out their budget as week 1, week 2, etc. based on their pay cycle and what has to be paid when.  Troy Miller : I am confused though - if you are buffered (you mentioned that in a comment), why not budget the monthly amount for groceries?  (If it's a matter of pacing, the toolkit has a visual indicator for that.)

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      • Troy Miller
      • Budgeter, FPU Leader, Programmer, Dad, Husband
      • yort
      • 1 yr ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      GBR Mainly because I'm lazy - or, as I like to call it, efficient. I don't like to do more work for a task than necessary. I get paid a consistent amount on a consistent basis (every two weeks). I also eat on a consistent basis (every day). It's just easier to allocate the same amount of money out of each paycheck to groceries. Same with tithe and other regular costs. Sure, I *could* do some math and figure out, on average, how much we want to spend on food "per day" and then multiply that times how many days are in a month, and do that each time. Or I could just budget a particular amount per month knowing that the three-day swing isn't likely going to make a big difference. 

      It's probably more about ritual. My wife is a person of ritual, she likes to do things on a rhythm. Right now, I get paid on Thursday, and we take out cash for the next two weeks of groceries on Thursday. It works for her rhythm. 1st and 15th would not work as well, as those would fall on different days of the week each month.

      It's not really a huge problem, but I've noticed that it tends to be one of the sticking points for people when they first start to budget - in the financial class I'm leading right now, for example, several couples of commented on struggling to reconcile their monthly expenses with their bi-weekly expenses. The software can't accommodate every stylistic difference, of course, but this one comes up enough that as the product matures, I'm wondering if there is a way it could smooth out that experience.

      Reply Like 1
    • Troy Miller I think any way to smooth out a true bi-weekly expense in a monthly budget program will, by nature, be a workaround.  As YNAB works, it would be possible to simply throw 14 days worth of budget at the Groceries category out of every bi-weekly paycheck; but the user would need to get used to the idea that the budget is not going to look the same from month to month, and he needs to look at the amount available in the Groceries category to make his spending decisions.

      The idea of food "per day" makes me reflect on my own budget practice.  Right now, I happen to budget $300 per month to a Groceries:Food category.  That makes the math easy.  In theory, I could budget $310 for 31 day months, $300 for 30 day months, and $280 or $290 for February depending on whether it's a leap year.   In practice, my spending never comes in at exactly $300 anyway, and I do a true-up the next month to start the month with $300.

      So in theory, suppose the bi-weekly budget for Groceries for a bigger family than my single person household is $300.  First bi-weekly paycheck, budget $300.  Subsequent bi-weekly paychecks, budget $300 less anything still available in Groceries when it's time to budget.  Come up with a way to handle the overspend if more than $300 is spent in a fortnight; if that happens mid-month (as will usually be the case), it would be consistent with the YNAB philosophy to budget $300 plus the deficit in Groceries when it's time to budget.  That turns Groceries into a bi-weekly budgeted line item; you just don't get monthly reports or monthly results that mean much of anything for that category.

      I'm not sure about the theory of managing a complete budget where some things are budgeted bi-weekly and others are budgeted monthly.  I'm sure it could be managed, but even the most efficient way to manage it might add in enough complexity to be a challenge for people just starting to budget.

      Reply Like
      • HappyDance
      • YNABing consistently since 2014
      • HappyDance
      • 1 yr ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      Troy Miller 

      Bravo on finding a pattern that serves your family and keeps both you and your wife engaged in the process.  I attribute much of my own success in hitting my goals to date on the practice of dedicated budgeting. I'm pretty sure that I was able to do what I've done because I ritualized the process and entered my transactions daily.

      Like your wife, I find great comfort and peace of mind in a predictable process, having a set amount of funds on a set date allowed me to plan efficiently. I have ritualized my interaction with my YNAB budget as well.  I have made a couple of gradual changes to my ritual along the way:  I no longer schedule my cash withdrawals to coincide with my salary or my spending, and my wallet cash is just another account to me. I also switched out my cash envelopes for YNAB category control and cash in my wallet. Despite co-mingling the cash for various categories together and carrying more cash than I need for the month, I have not strayed from my established funding and purchasing pattern.  I am able to stick to my budget. For years I used cash in envelopes to contain my spending on a category to a specific amount and a specific time-frame, and I think that doing that for so long has made it all second nature to me.  I thank that repetitive discipline for establishing a rhythmic pattern on my spending to one that is well below my means.

      I now budget my entire month in a sitting at the beginning of the month (using last month's income). That too was a significant leap forward for me, one that contributed to my sense of accomplishment in the beginning and which has provided additional clarity and control on my spending. In addition to the psychological win, I found some efficiencies in budgeting in longer chunks of time.

      Reply Like 2
      • Astrid
      • Astrid
      • 1 yr ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Patzer It is not as difficult as you may think.  I suspect most of us who are paid fortnightly have had to deal with fortnightly, monthly, quarterly expenditure since our first pay.  
      There is no need to worry about the monthly balance on a category that gets normally spent to its entirety, like groceries or rent.   What does it matter that a balance rolls over to the next month as the fortnight crosses a month?
      Honestly I am confused that others are confused by the concept. 

      I can understand it would cause issues for someone who had been always paid monthly and using YNAB, to then be paid fortnightly, but for those of us already fortnightly then using YNAB, it is not that hard.  

      Reply Like 1
  • You've gotten some good suggestions. Here's one more way to look at it:

    In reality, there aren't five full weeks in any month, so you don't need to feed your family for a full extra week. It's just that because of timing, you might get paid an extra time and that's a different thing.

    You budget $300 every two weeks for groceries. This is $7,800/year or $650/month. At the beginning of the month, put $650 in your grocery  category. Some months you might have extra, but let it build up for those months where your grocery bill is bigger.

    This is part of the concept of budgeting for "true expenses." Your true expenses aren't what you spend for two weeks or for one specific month. They're what you spend over time. Because isn't your grocery bill bigger at the holidays and smaller when you go on vacation? Over a whole year, if you really are spending $650/month and budgeting for it that way, so you have the extra at the holidays to ease up the annual "I cannot believe how expensive December is" panic. Now, when December comes, you just say to yourself "it's okay, we've got this."

    Your tithe  and your kids's allowance would work the same way. Whatever that money is every two weeks, just multiply by 26 and divide by 12. That's your monthly budget for that category. When you pay it out, in these cases, is up to you,

    And, as long as you're trying to budget based strictly on your paycheck cycle, you're living paycheck to paycheck. Sure, lots of us are in that place and need to figure out how to get through the next two weeks. But the goal should be a lot bigger.

    (By the way, if you were living paycheck to paycheck, I would have suggested following Jesse's fundamental advice: Whenever you get some money, ask yourself, "What does this money have to do until I get paid again?" In your grocery example, it needs to provide $300 for groceries over the next two weeks. If you get paid near the end of a calendar month because you get paid every two weeks, you can still put $300 in the grocery category. You don't have to spend it all in that calendar month. What you don't spend will still be sitting there in that category when the calendar changes. So you'll spend some in month 1 and some in month 2.)

    Reply Like
      • Astrid
      • Astrid
      • 1 yr ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view

      ZuleikaD Budgeting fortnightly does not = living pay cheque to pay cheque.  If there was zero in the bank accounts, then yes, but if there are funds then no.
      I know with us, if a pay was late, it would not be a drama, we could still pay rent and buy groceries etc.  It would just mean raiding the emergency fund or one of the categories that is well funded, but not due for awhile. 

      It is not like those of us who get paid fortnightly have different spending habits and spend every dollar as it comes in.  It just means we think on a fortnightly basis for a number of categories.  I would like to think that people are smart enough to get jump between thinking fortnight and monthly, I know I can and I don't think that I am that special for being able to do so ;) 

      I have been finding the comments interesting on this and it is really not that complicated, as posted but others in this thread.  First and foremost Rule 1, budget for what needs to be paid before the next pay  (or however it is worded these days)  There is no difference to that rule whether you budget week, fortnightly or monthly.

      Reply Like 3
      • whatsup
      • whatsup
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Astrid 

       

      +1

      Reply Like
      • Troy Miller
      • Budgeter, FPU Leader, Programmer, Dad, Husband
      • yort
      • 1 yr ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      ZuleikaD I am not living paycheck to paycheck. I am fully buffered with an emergency fund. And I *am* following the advice of "what does this money have to do before I get paid again?" I'm just effectively doing it in two phases - the first phase is "$X of this regularly occurring paycheck is always going to go to tithe right off the top. $Y is also going to go to food right off the top." Then I can move on to the other categories. And I would agree - if I were currently trying to get out of a hole and get ahead, it is probably best to still budget each of these things manually and individually. But being fully buffered, I'd rather put those things on auto-pilot so that I can actually spend my time looking at the rest of the budget, and put that money to optimum use. 

      Since I have a scheduled transaction that moves the money as soon as it gets deposited, I guess you could say that kinda just pretend I get paid less. Instead of starting with the full amount of the paycheck, I just start with $Z - ($X + $Y) and budget from there. 

      Reply Like 1
      • WordTenor
      • Arranged the menu, the venue, the seating.
      • WordTenor
      • 1 yr ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view

      Troy Miller I'm confused now. If you are buffered, budget the whole month at once. That sounds much easier than having a wash transaction that moves money for you. Look at your average grocery spend, and budget that amount each month. Some months you'll probably be under that; let that money roll over. 

      Most people will tell you that the flux between 28 and 31 days doesn't ultimately have an appreciable affect on our budgets to the extent that we need to budget extra for 31-day months. But actually, if you're buffered, you can handle that, too. Look at your average spend, divide it by the total number of days in the average (or just divide it by 4.33 and then by 7) to get the per-day number. Since you're buffered, at the beginning of the month, budget average * number of days in the month. 

      It's remarkably straightforward. 

      Reply Like 3
      • Troy Miller
      • Budgeter, FPU Leader, Programmer, Dad, Husband
      • yort
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      WordTenor It's just more work than taking it off the top. Same for tithe - why bother to do the extra math? An automatic 10% off the top of the income is just easier. 

      For the groceries, honestly it's probably more about the ritual I referred to earlier than anything else. It'd be fairly trivial to switch the actual budgeting to a monthly basis, but since we are withdrawing on a bi-weekly basis, it's just easier to match that up with the bi-weekly paycheck. Same for our kids' allowance - it's a lot easier for them to know they get "paid" on Saturday rather than on the 1st and 15th.

      Reply Like
      • WordTenor
      • Arranged the menu, the venue, the seating.
      • WordTenor
      • 1 yr ago
      • 4
      • Reported - view

      Troy Miller Why not withdraw monthly? Even better, why not stop using the cash envelopes? (I'm making a guess here based on the FPU leader in your ID.) YNAB is the cash envelopes, with the added benefit that your grocery category balance can't get left at home by mistake. 

      I think most YNABers would disagree that your method is less work than budgeting once a month. Budgeting more than once a month is always more work than budgeting once a month. You can do thing as you wish, but there's a more straightforward way to do this one. 

      Reply Like 4
      • Troy Miller
      • Budgeter, FPU Leader, Programmer, Dad, Husband
      • yort
      • 1 yr ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      WordTenor Lessee:
      1) Why  not withdraw monthly? Because that's too much to manage at once. 

      2) Why not stop using cash envelopes? Because my wife does most of the shopping, and cash works better for her. She doesn't relate as much to an app on her phone with numbers that change. She relates better to physical cash. In fact, she made her own oil-cloth envelopes for this purpose. ( Side note: while I am an FPU leader, this is why I tend to recommend YNAB over EveryDollar. General philosophies are fine, but individuals are different. One size does not fit all, and YNAB has more flexibility.)

      3) I don't "budget" more than once a month. My paycheck is automatically deposited, and the "off the top" monies are automatically budgeted via scheduled transactions (they still flow through TBB). And thus I do not have to bother with calculating averages and dividing by 12.

      So I guess it comes down to a preferential difference. For things that happen on a bi-weekly basis, I fail to see the benefit in forcing it into a monthly strategy. To be clear, when I originally posited this question, I was still in my old habit of automatically scheduling most of my budgeting items, even in YNAB. The reason for the post in the first place was to help me adjust my thinking to a more YNAB-like way, and I have moved the needle. For everything but tithe, allowance, and groceries, I am doing it on a monthly basis. But those things are still, at least for us, inherently a bi-weekly ritual, so they have remained automatic scheduled transactions. No extra math needed.

      Reply Like 1
      • WordTenor
      • Arranged the menu, the venue, the seating.
      • WordTenor
      • 1 yr ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view

      Troy Miller Your method obviously works for you. I'm merely pointing out that if the goal is efficiency, your way is actually more work in the end. The time spent is obviously worth it to you! But if you're looking for the YNAB mindset, that mindset is "Budget the amount needed for groceries for the month at the beginning of the month. Spend based on the category balance." 

      Reply Like 3
      • Troy Miller
      • Budgeter, FPU Leader, Programmer, Dad, Husband
      • yort
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      WordTenor That's the part I'm missing. How is doing it my way more work? I don't interact with the bi-weekly budgeted items at all once they are set up.

      Reply Like
      • WordTenor
      • Arranged the menu, the venue, the seating.
      • WordTenor
      • 1 yr ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      Troy Miller wash transctions aren't real transactions in your account. You have to deal with those; ignoring them, clearing them, what have you. You withdraw cash every two weeks to keep your wife happy, you have to deal with the risk of that. (Again with things that are more work but marital harmony is worth it!)  Your reports aren't accurate, based on what you describe. If you're inflowing money via transaction, your spending will net to zero. So you have to somehow keep track of your spending, if that record is important to you. 

      Compare that to budgeting $500 once a month and then just spending from the category using whatever tender is most available at the moment. It's much easier. You don't have to believe me, but anyone here would tell you it is (and have, above). 

      Reply Like 2
      • Troy Miller
      • Budgeter, FPU Leader, Programmer, Dad, Husband
      • yort
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      WordTenor I guess I could say the same thing to you - while I will concede that having to physically visit an ATM is added work, it's also only one transaction to deal with, vs. multiple swipes of the card over that same period. "Easy" is perhaps in the eye of the beholder.

      Reporting is a good point - which is another reason that I switched from my "old" way of thinking to the YNAB way on most everything else. For Groceries, I don't really care about that from a reporting standpoint, and the convenience of sticking to the bi-weekly schedule outweighed the benefits from reporting. Still, I should probably be willing to experiment with it, so I appreciate your perspective. 

      Thanks to all in this thread, actually. The input here will help me to guide others in the "right" direction as well.

      Reply Like
      • Patzer
      • Retired at age 60. Thank you, YNAB!
      • Patzer
      • 1 yr ago
      • 7
      • Reported - view

      WordTenor You want to budget by the month on last month's income, and I want to budget by the month on last month's income; but that's not necessarily best for everyone for all categories.  This thread has put biweekly budgeting in perspective for me.

      At the bottom, the purpose of the budget is to help control and optimize spending.  Much of this is psychological and behavioral; getting these aspects right is more important than getting the technical money management right, or minimizing the work involved.

      I have categories where I salvage excess funds because having too much in the category could tempt me into making unwise or frivolous purchases with money that could be better used for some other category.  It's not much of a stretch to imagine someone who simply *thinks* of groceries on a biweekly cycle, and needs to have no more than 2 weeks worth of money in the groceries category at any point in time in order to properly control spending.  If that is the case, budgeting groceries biweekly makes a lot of sense.  It makes sense even if the rest of the budget is done monthly and with last month's income.

      Reply Like 7
      • Troy Miller
      • Budgeter, FPU Leader, Programmer, Dad, Husband
      • yort
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Patzer That's it exactly!

      Reply Like
      • Beige Hail
      • Beige_Hail.1
      • 1 yr ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Patzer While I generally agree with others on this post that you seem to be heavily overthinking this (and clinging to a sense that it's impossible), I think i get what you are saying. This might be like what I ran into when we got a lump-sum severance pay. I tried to just fill out my budget for the next 2+ months (it was so pretty!) but then quickly realized that this would give us a false sense of security (because this is a set amount that will dwindle away to zero and then we will be screwed; while there will be unemployment insurance income, it is tiny in comparison to our expenses, and it too will run out).  I realized that budgeting twice a month for discretionary/variable spending had been a really useful tool, and that I was glad that we didn't have enough of a buffer yet that we were budgeting for a full month.  Frankly, when I am am checking my budget on the 10th of the month and trying to decide whether we can afford to grab takeout, my mind -- which already struggles to fully comprehend concepts like "time" and "money" -- is pretty much incapable of assessing a full month's worth of budget. Biweekly is about the furthers out that I can handle; maybe this will improve over time and as I build new habits. And with our new, precarious financial situation, what we need to do is review our spending and reset our expectations and goals each and every week.

      Reply Like 1
  • Lastly, as sort of a final summary to this topic - as a programmer, when I look past the UI and see how things are set up (or how I assume they are) in the back end in order to facilitate, I do see the difficulty of reconciling the monthly view with a bi-weekly view and that in almost all circumstances it is better to shift your behavior to match that of the software tool. However, I talk often with very un-technical people, so this whole conversation has given me a much better context to help with that conversation than it would modeling an ERD on the blackboard. ;)

    Reply Like 3
  • Troy Miller I had to step back and think about this for a bit, but here's an idea to budget every two weeks.  You could create three category groups: Paycheck #1, Paycheck #2 and Paycheck #3 (or Day 1-14; Day 15-31 or whatever makes sense to you).  Each group should have a version of your bi-weekly categories [groceries #1, kid's allowance #1, groceries #2, etc - it seems like you don't have too many of these categories so it shouldn't be too bad].  Additionally, since you know what your spending will be, use a monthly funding goal.  When your paycheck comes in, record it as inflow to TBB. Then go to the budget, use the checkbox to select the appropriate category group, then click underfunded and budget anything else (no convoluted transaction necessary & accurate reporting).  If you are buffered, you could budget to all of these categories for the whole month at the beginning of the month and spend from the appropriate category by paycheck/date. Since groups are collapsible, you could collapse the category group(s) not in use, depending on the paycheck/date.  And if you ever wanted to know what your total average spending on groceries, for example, you can just select all the grocery categories and check the inspector.  Just a thought.

    Reply Like
  • I'm new to YNAB, only have had it a few weeks, however before YNAB I used a spreadsheet budget that followed many of the same principals. My husband gets paid every week, I get paid twice a month. So for items like groceries that need to be paid every week, I take the weekly amount - say $150 per week. multiply by 52 weeks a year- $7,800. Divide by 12 months- $650 per month. I grocery shop every Thursday.  So, Jan has 4 Thursdays- that's $600. $50 left to carry over. Feb budget $650. Feb also has 4 Thursdays- $600 again.  Another $50 carryover, so now I'm $100 ahead.  March has $5 Thursdays, so I need $750 total. Again, March budget is $650 , but I have $100 carried over from previous months, so all is good. Yes it overlaps months a few days in either direction, but it all washes out in the end. Don't let it stress you. The $650 is budgeted, but only funded $150 per week as my husband gets paid. Kids allowances, gasoline, pocket money, anything allocated weekly or bi-weekly would work this way.  

    Reply Like 2
  • I love YNAB, but..  forcing people to do monthly is really annoying for a few reasons. 

    One, I'm pretty broke, it is hard to build a buffer of a month when I don't even have a buffer of a week.

    Two, I'm so sick of multiply numbers by 4.33 and then entering in a total that doesn't reflect how I actually spend my money in a month. 

    Money is being utilised incorrectly as I allocate money to things that aren't actually due till the start of the next week on Monday, not on the last day of the month.  i.e. I do no have 33% of a weeks costs due on the last day of the month. 

    This is forcing me to do manual transactions that are different from month to month, i.e. more work.  If it is a a four-Monday-month I have to calculate my weekly budget by 4, and if it is a five-Monday-month I have to multiply it by five to be ACCURATE.  If it were weekly I could set and forget.

    Monthly is a stupid cycle, weekly just makes so much more sense.  Our lives run much more on a weekly basis than a monthly basis.  A budget should match the way we live our lives.  That is, people live on weekly routines more so than monthly routines.  

    As an idea, I think progressing to a monthly cycle once it is viable may have some merit, but for people trying to get things under control, it just doesn't feel like I have things under control.  Monthly numbers mean very little to me.

    My 2 cents (which I have budgeted for) 

    Reply Like 1
      • johnboy
      • Lavender_Battery
      • 1 yr ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

       And just to add this, and this is important!  After I finished this post and wandered off to do some shopping, I looked at my grocery budget and realised it was inaccurate, because it was telling me what I have for the month, not this week!  I could easily overspend my budget this week because the app is telling me I have all this money that I cannot spend this week!!!  It's depressing because I do not feel in control.  The budget should not be green if I have a monthly goal of $400 on groceries, and I allocate the money to groceries, and then I spend $300 in the first week!!!  

      Just make a weekly option please!  I'm not trying to match a paycheck, I am self employed so money comes in all over the place.  I am just trying to budget according to my routine.  Weekends are more expensive etc.  Unlike end-of-months, or beginnings, which do not match each other routine-wise.  

      Anyway, I've seen enough self righteous preaching of monthly budgeting that I know it won't change.  Why I am I ranting here again?  Anyway, the app is still good, good enough that I will use it and I just have to adjust to a less practical way of budgeting my money and hope I don't make mistakes along the way.

      Reply Like 2
    • johnboy I just want to say, about the being mostly broke thing, me too. I'm a student so...

      I like @GBR's suggestion but I'll create one category for each week instead: groceries wk1... 

      OR, since it actually makes more sense for me to budget daily: Create a category for overall monthly expenses, throw money in there as it comes in till I've budgeted my monthly spending average. Then pick money from that and throw into my daily categories...daily...

      Plus

      Create one category for weekends, another for workdays, and another for holidays that is hidden most of the year. To help with weekend spending being irregular.

      Reply Like
  • Here are your steps from your post arguing monthly at https://docs.youneedabudget.com/article/205-budgeting-with-non-monthly-pay-cycle

    1. Enter your income – whenever it arrives.  (this makes sense.. no problem!)
    2. Give those dollars jobs. (again no problem)
    3. Spend based on your budget.  (My budget says I have $400 for groceries - hooray!!  time for some nice food!!)
    4. Adjust when needed.  (It's the 25th of the month and my budget says I have $2 left for groceries.  I don't have money in other budgets to transfer back into groceries.  I have made a mistake with my budgeting, which would have been avoided if I had just ignored what YNAB was telling me and stuck to me $100/week budget)

    Here is another example

    1. Enter your income – whenever it arrives.  (all good)
    2. Give those dollars jobs.  (I have $433.33 this month for play money - drinking and eating out etc.  Adjusted to a monthly budget instead of a weekly budget of $100)
    3. Spend based on your budget. (It's the 9th of March (today) and I have $333.33 because I was able to mentally track my weekly spending limit is $100.  I keep spending $100 per week end then it's Friday the 30th of March.  The weekend has landed and I have $33.33 in my play money account.  I guess I am staying home...?
    4. Adjust when needed.   (Yes, sure I can adjust now, but I have to take money from other budgets because I have in fact made a mistake with my budgeting.  Because it is a 5-weekend-month, my monthly budget was actually short by 2/3 of a week.  And now I can't just re-use that budget for April, it's a weird month that starts on a Sunday...  and then 4 more weekends..  so how the hell do I budget for that?)

    Anyway, I believe there is a very strong case for allowing weekly budgeting..

    Reply Like
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 1 yr ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      johnboy There are other budgeting software out there that let you set budget cycles on a category by category basis. I find it too confusing.

      On the other hand, I budget the same in every category every month. Doesn't matter if the month is 28, 30 or 31 days. In 4 years using YNAB, I've never had an issue with pacing. In fact I think I'd find myself spending less with monthly than with weekly, because the weekly number is so tight that I'd probably spend to zero each week rather than spending as necessary.

      Reply Like 2
      • johnboy
      • Lavender_Battery
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      nolesrule Thanks for the reply.  I think when you have more buffer then you can afford to overestimate or underestimate your budget for the month because you have more wiggle room.  But when things are tight, I do not have wiggle room and these mistakes are costly, and also time consuming to adjust for.  Monthly is causing me to make mistakes because each month is different and I am trying to do too much manual adjusting.  I don't have the buffer to work with and to be honest, even though I know I am gaining ground on my weekly budget, it still feels like I am behind because I have so much left to budget for this month that I cannot afford.  And I am nervous because I don't think I can rely on my monthly budgets because they are full of manual calculations.  I need accuracy more than anything, and I need to closely manage my money. 

      I would love to hear about other budgeting software that is as good as YNAB but does weekly!!!   I don't actually need individual categories to be done differently, just that everything is done weekly.  That would be great!  I know I would be getting ahead then, and I would know how much money I can spend before Monday.

      Reply Like
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      johnboy You misunderstand me. I don't pad what I put in for a month. When I started YNAB, I chose to budget each month as if it was 4 weeks, and our family adjusted our spending habits.

      That's not going to work with a category like gasoline where prices fluctuate and you have to drive to work, but most everyday spending categories you can adjust your habits to decrease your spending. The difference between 28 days and 31 days is only 10%.

      The result of this change is an increase in ability to save and meet your goals faster. We do have plenty of padding in our budget... now. Because we tightened our spending.

       

      One other piece of advice.... if you weren't using a short hand to describe it, split up that play money into multiple categories.

      Reply Like
      • Patzer
      • Retired at age 60. Thank you, YNAB!
      • Patzer
      • 1 yr ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      johnboy 

      johnboy said:
      Monthly is causing me to make mistakes because each month is different and I am trying to do too much manual adjusting.

       You need to do something that the program is not designed to do.  So you need to be a little creative to meet your needs.  I don't have a problem with a monthly grocery budget, but you need it to be weekly to control your spending.  Okay, I get that.  How do I work with the need to have $100 per week, rather than $400 or $500 per month, in a grocery budget?

      Possible solution #1:  If you are paid weekly, simply budget $100 to groceries out of every paycheck, when you are  paid.  Problem solved.

      Possible solution #2:  If you are on some other pay schedule, but your grocery expense is weekly and you need a weekly number to help control your spending, this is what I come up with:  Create a cash account for budget adjusting transactions.  Mine has the snappy name, "Budget Adjustments."  Create a category with a name like, "Future Groceries."  This is in addition to your regular Groceries  category, which you will continue to use to monitor grocery spending.  Each month, budget $400 or $500 to Future Groceries, depending on whether it's a 4 week or 5 week month according to your grocery spending category.  In the Budget Adjustments account, create a weekly recurring transaction for a total of zero, with $100 outflow from Future Groceries and $100 inflow to Groceries.  Put that transaction on whatever day of the week makes sense for your grocery spending cycle

      What solution #2 will do:  You will be budgeting Future Groceries like all the standard advice says to budget.  Each week, $100 will be split off and show up in Groceries as an inflow, putting money in the Groceries category.  When you go grocery shopping, use the amount Available in the Groceries category to guide your spending.

      Of course, you won't be able to use built-in YNAB goals for the Groceries category, and the goals might not be sophisticated enough for the Future Groceries category.  But the system should work, as long as you can live with figuring out how to behave with goal-created color codes.

      Reply Like 1
      • johnboy
      • Lavender_Battery
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Patzer This may work...  I really appreciate the advice, and I might implement it.  I am self employed so I do not have regular income.    

      So I could budget $433 for groceries each month into a category called Groceries-monthly.  Setup an auto transaction each week into another category called Groceries-weekly of $100.  That way I will actually know what my weekly budget is.  I just need to make sure I have the money in the monthly budget.  

      I'm not sure why I wouldn't be able to use the goals??  Anyway, thanks again!

      p.s. I still think they should just give a weekly option.. :P

      Reply Like
      • johnboy
      • Lavender_Battery
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      johnboy hmmm.. this isn't as easy as I thought..  It would be great to have an automatic way of moving my money to another budget category.   

      This is the problem...  This should just be a simple matter and not require these long winded solutions...  :(

      Reply Like
      • Patzer
      • Retired at age 60. Thank you, YNAB!
      • Patzer
      • 1 yr ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      johnboy It's not that you can't use goals, it's that you will find that sometimes they aren't flexible enough to capture what you want to do.  For example, I have some categories where I want to budget $X per month, to a cap of $YY.  I could create a goal of budgeting $X per month, or I could create a goal of budgeting to the amount of $YY, but I can't create a goal that says, "Budget $X per month until you reach $YY, then stop."  For categories like that, the colors created by goals don't help me. 

      So I don't use goals for much, and I haven't really thought through the implications of how they'd work with the ideas I described for weekly budgeting.  I just had a kneejerk reaction that they wouldn't be flexible enough.

      Reply Like 1
      • johnboy
      • Lavender_Battery
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Patzer I can't find a way to do an inflow and outflow in the one transaction...I guess I can do two transactions, but this will have knock-on effects to my revenue reports.  hmmmm..   I'm starting to get over budgeting..

      Reply Like
      • johnboy
      • Lavender_Battery
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      nolesrule Yeah but the difference between 4 weekends and 5 weekends is much more than 10%.  It's all good.  I'm a lost cause.  I don't think anyone is going to convince me that monthly is better than weekly.  It seems so obvious to me...

      Reply Like
      • HappyDance
      • YNABing consistently since 2014
      • HappyDance
      • 1 yr ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      johnboy 

      If you always spend exactly the same amount every week on groceries, and you are satisfied with your diet, and you don't have significant food going to waste, then I agree with you that a weekly budget is the way to go for you. Your issue seems to be one of pacing. If you need the assistance of scarcity to stay on pace and not overspend this week, you could create a holding category to slowly replenish your other categories every week. I can tell you that after years of doing this, my ability to stay on pace is quite remarkable. I would not have envisioned me doing this.

      I can speak to the difference in planning by the week versus the month. In my first year of budgeting, I pulled out $100/week out in cash for groceries and I spent every dollar. If I didn't spend it on groceries, I felt justified in spending the remainder on anything else, almost like a reward for staying on/under budget.

      After shifting to a monthly perspective and paying attention to meal planning, batch-cooking, buying in bulk when items were on sale, and saying 'no' to treats I really didn't need, I reduced my grocery spending by more than half. Coincidentally, I noticed a massive reduction in food going bad and being thrown out.  It seems I was not a very efficient food shopper when I was spending $100/week.

      I reduced my spending gradually by challenging myself to spend $25 less this month or 10% less until I reduced my spending to essentials. I still spend less today than I did when I started twelve years ago, and that is despite inflation and the downslide of our Cdn dollar against the US dollar, considering we truck in most of our fresh food from the US in the winter. No, I don't spend the same amount every week. Last week I spent $158.75 on food, more than half my grocery budget for the month, but in addition to fresh items for the week, I included pantry items (on sale), and a few bulk freezer items (also on sale).  Based on my list today, I expect my grocery bill will be around $35 for a few fresh staples since I will be relying on what is in my pantry and freezer as well.

      Reply Like 1
      • GBR
      • GBR
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      johnboy you can do it as a split transaction.

      Reply Like
      • Beige Hail
      • Beige_Hail.1
      • 1 yr ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      johnboy I don't know if this will help you, but I'll share what I've just set up (I'm in a position where I have to control our spending, as we are unemployed and we need to stretch severance pay as far as possible, and I'm finding we NEED to budget weekly).

      1) I have a master category for regular obligations/bills that happen every 1, 2, or 3 months, which I have filled from our pot 'o money.   (The way to handle this with weekly or biweekly or inconsistent pay is to indicate when each item is due, then arrange them chronologically and fill them in as money comes in.)

      2) I have a master category for upcoming true expenses that *must* be funded immediately. If we had regular income, this might come after variable/discretionary items; the main principle in play is that these are things to deal with once a month, or to fill in with each subsequent paycheck.

      3) Here is where I really deviate from the monthly approach: I have created a master category called "Week 1-Necessities (*weekly goals*)" that a) has a category called "Wk 1: Necessities Funding."  We will have some income (unemployment), and this is where I am going to put the week's necessities funding as it comes in, and this category will act as my TBB pot for this master category.  The goal total is the sum of all other categories in this Master Category. b) My categories are named   "Wk1: Groceries," and etc."  

      *In order to consider this on a higher-level budgeting basis and strategize on a monthly basis, which @HappyDancer speaks to above, I have created a master category called "Monthly Budget Reference: Necessities," in which I set monthly goals for each of my categories.  (The most methodical way to do this would be to determine a weekly amount, multiply by 52, and divide by 12. I have been using a monthly budget, so I just drew from that.) Because I am using the Toolkit, I can see what the monthly goals are at a glance. I mostly used this to set up my weeks, and will only update it if we decide we can or need to change the monthly budgeting.  

      *Each goal has a weekly budget.  Week 1-3 goals are identical, while Week 4 is a bit larger. I considered dividing by 4.33, but decided that for now I really want to have a hard stop for our spending, and not try to remember that I need to leave a little extra during weeks 1-3. So instead, I am just eyeballing it and making sure there's a reasonable amount for the extra 2-3 days. (For groceries it's not that important, but for things I purchase daily I make sure to actually fund those days.) 

      *My intention is to WAM only within the master category. We'll see how that works. And my thinking is that I'll use that "TBB" Funding category to collect any moneys left at the end of a week, and then put that TBB money for a future month's spending or to help WAM for unexpected expenses.

      4) My other Weekly master category is "Week1-Quality of Life" (eating out, entertainment, stuff like that). This also has a Funding master category for reference. 

      5) My thinking is that as Week 1 ends, I will actually move those two Week 1 master categories down to below Week 4, so that each week the relevant categories will be at the top. We'll see if that's too much work.

      I realize that having so many categories will make it really onerous if I decide that the weekly budget amounts need to change, but I am willing to put in that effort to get this level of control.

      Reply Like 1
      • johnboy
      • Lavender_Battery
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Beige Hail Thanks for such a detailed response.  My free trail actually expired, and funnily enough, I am too broke to pay for it.  I think the app is good, but it doesn't help people in our situation.  As you said.  Monthly is just not an option and I don't have time to be trying to come up with a good system for managing peanuts.  The return isn't there.  I actually wasted a lot of time on various budgeting apps.  I would say YNAB is the best, and I might go back to using it once I think I have a chance of making a monthly budget work, but for now, I'll just go back to looking at my bank balance.     

      Reply Like
      • Beige Hail
      • Beige_Hail.1
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      johnboy Have you tried a free envelope budgeting app?  YNAB is essentially a complex envelope system, albeit one that helps keep you working only with money you have. 

      Reply Like
      • johnboy
      • Lavender_Battery
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Beige Hail I've tried quite a few budgeting apps, and had problems with them all.  Mainly, I am just spending too much time on my budget instead of trying to earn money.  I don't think I say any other envelope systems though, so happy to get recommendations.  However, I am loathe to spend more time on these apps.  One of the last things I did with YNAB was adding a credit card for a payment, and that was very confusing when I wanted to pay it off.  Anyway, it was a good learning experience.. 

      Reply Like
  • I get paid biweekly, so for the most part -- I budget biweekly as well. That means I don't always get paid on the 1st or the 15th, since it depends on when the weeks fall... So what I've done is used the categories and a simple Note to keep things in check.

    For categories, I give them a name to represent what it's for, how much the monthly cost is that I need to pay/save, and what date it's due. For example, my electric category looks like "Electric $40mo (12th)", so I know it averages $40 a month and is due on the 12th of each month. For a quarterly bill like the water/sewer, I name it "Water/Sewer $10mo/$30qtr (15th Jan/Apr/Jul/Oct)". This tells me that I can pay my utilities at either $10 a month or $30 a quarter (the average cost), as long as the total amount is paid in full by the due date/months I listed (Bill needs paid by Apr for the 1st qtr, July for the 2nd qtr, etc.)

    Each month, I keep a list of the paydays and what I expect to get on each paycheck. Then I take a look at my list of bills and when they're due, so that I can plan ahead and see which paychecks will be paying off which bills by the due date.

    Every payday, I budget in my income and the bills I'm paying out of that paycheck until I've zeroe'd out YNAB at the top. If I budgeted correctly, I won't have to do this again until next payday. I just enter my transactions as I go, knowing what my budgeted limits are for the categories. If I haven't already set up the billpay in the beginning of the month, I will do so on payday for the upcoming bills.

    Reply Like 1
      • johnboy
      • Lavender_Battery
      • 1 yr ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      BlueJhay Thanks bluejay, this is also an interesting idea!  I'm going to try the budget adjusting account first, but typing in some details into the category itself could be useful.  I'm just trying to move away from the manual adjustments.  For example.  I have a weekly budget of $100 for food, but I know that in the 1st week I blew that budget because I had a fancy dinner party and so I spent $150.  I don't want to take out the extra spending from my monthly food budget so I need to add to the total budget.  But this also makes it difficult for me to work out what my weekly budget is because my monthly totals are adjusted and unusual.  Again.. thanks for the tips!!

      Reply Like 1
      • BlueJhay
      • Bluejhay
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      johnboy No problem! Glad I can help spark some ideas.

      So for you, maybe you can make a category or 2, like so:

      "Groceries/Household Goods $100wk/$400mo" - Then you can see that you need to try and put $100 aside each week, or $400 a month, in order to stick to your budget goal.
      Laundry soap, groceries, etc are budgeted under this, which I have grouped under my "Recurring expenses" category because I know I need to get groceries at regular intervals.

      "Dining/Takeout $50wk/$200mo" - This shows that you can try to set aside $50 a week or a total of $200 a month, in order to keep this item in check.
      Any time I eat out, go to a drive thru, get take-out or delivery, including any convenience store/gas station junk food -- I categorize them under this one, which is grouped under "Just for Fun" to remind me that it may be fun to eat out & not cook, but that I can easily cut corners with this frivolous expense. Groceries save me money; dining out doesn't. :)

      Reply Like
  • I just never really think of my budget in terms of monthly.   When I get my paycheck from my job (every two weeks) I budget for that with the money I have.  When the check from my side gig comes in (1st and 15th)  I budget for that.    So I figure out what bills are being paid with which paycheck and just do it that way.

    Reply Like
  • There are so many things--incoming and outgoing--that are on different cycles that one has to adjust all the time. I get paid weekly, but most of my bills and my rent are paid monthly. Some bills are paid every two months. Some things are roughly weekly expenditures. Bills aren't always the same amount (like the gas bill in the winter or the water bill from the summer when the yard needs watering).  That's never going to fit into a rigid weekly system. It doesn't fit in a rigid monthly system either. This is why people do things like budget average amounts of money and let extra roll over to the next month and build up for things like those five weekend months or the winter gas bill.

    YNAB is the best budgeting system I've come across, but you still have to look at it constantly in the first couple of months until you get a better handle on what you're doing. And if your finances are really tight, then you will have to continue to look at it constantly. 

    Reply Like 1
  • I budget the way FPU would do.  When I get a paycheck deposited into my account, I then budget for what needs to be done with that money until the next paycheck.  Some of those YNAB envelopes are accumulating cash and some are just monthly income/outgo like rent.  I currently have an AOM of 109 days and using the chrome extension a buffer of 199 days, but I still don't move ahead in the ynab month to budget money.  Instead, I am accumulating in my cash accounts.  This works best for me.  So, when I get paid, I think, I have 2.5 weeks before the next paycheck, I will need 250.00 dollars for groceries.  If I spend less, that's okay, I leave it as a buffer.  If I need more, well I roll with the punches and look at another category to move money from.  All, the while, I am building my Emergency Fund category.  Perhaps once I get 6 months in my Emergency Fund, then I might place funds into the next month or not.  This works for me.

    Reply Like 1
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