Confused about To Be Budgeted

I have a positive balance in my To Be Budgeted category for the month, I haven't budgeted to $0. My question though is, I'm confused about how YNAB assigned the TBB amount month to month. Let's say I have $50 left to budget this month but I have also started to budget for next month and the balance there is $25. If I budget the rest of this month then that effects the balance next month to a negative balance. 

I had originally budgeted to the point where it was $0 after I budgeted for the following month but then I had more income.  I don't understand why I can't budget with the TBB balance without causing the following month being affected? 

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  • I'm confused by your question, but maybe an example will help:

    If you have $50 To Be Budgeted in August, you'll see that same number if you jump ahead into September (or beyond).  You can budget that money in any month, and you should budget until the TBB balance is 0.  Let's say you budget $25 in August and $25 in September. 

    Where things get messy: Let's say you need to adjust your August budget and add $10 to your "groceries" category.  You are now overbudgetted -- you've allocated more money than you actually have -- but your August TBB still says 0.  If you jump back to September, you'll see the TBB balance is -10.  YNAB has assumed you intended to pull that September money back into August.  Some users describe this behavior as "stealing from the future."

    Now lets say you receive additional income during August. If you haven't corrected the September budget yet -- if it still has a negative TBB balance -- then YNAB will suck that new income forward to bring the negative balance back to zero.

    If you find these behaviors confusing / counter-intuitive, you can take some solace in knowing that you're not alone. Personally, I avoid budgeting in future months altogether because I don't want to make any mistakes because of how YNAB shifts money around unexpectedly.

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    • bret I'm with you - I don't budget anything into the future, and that resolves that issue.

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  • So maybe I should just budget everything to the current month and let everything roll over until the beginning of the following month? 

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  • It's up to you.  If you feel you can master the mechanics of TBB and are comfortable budgeting directly into future months, go for it!  The "slippery" behaviors I described above only occur when you're overbudgeted, which you can avoid if you're careful.  (E.g. don't directly edit budget entries; restrict yourself to using the "Move Money" dialog, which prevents you from overbudgeting.)

    But if you'd rather not deal with it, my approach is to set aside money that I intend for future months into a category (e.g. "Income for Next Month").  Once the month rolls over, I empty that category out and use it to fund the new month.  Rinse & repeat.

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  • Some people use a buffer category and a budget template.  Others consider a buffer too much effort and just let category balances roll over month-to-month as you're considering. Do whatever works for you.

    Personally, I prefer the template approach because it helps me adhere to monthly spending limits in categories like groceries, entertainment, etc. If I allocated everything to all categories as the income happened it would be hard to know how soon I could spend whatever is in any category at any time.  With the template approach I know that whatever is there has to last me until the end of the month. (I do roll over categories where spending is very irregular, or in which I'm accumulating for a goal.)

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  • bret said:
    If you have $50 To Be Budgeted in August, you'll see that same number if you jump ahead into September (or beyond).  You can budget that money in any month, and you should budget until the TBB balance is 0. 

     So if you have $20,000 as available funds but your monthly expenses are only $5,000, ynab expects you to budget all of that money for months and months!?  Is there a way to get it to tell me how much I've budgeted for this month and how much income I expect for this month like ynab classic?

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    • Orange Saxophone The only thing I would tell you differently from the process described there comes in to play if you've already received income this month. 

      Instead of step 3 as described, you'll also want to directly budget the amount you've been paid so far this month to the INM category. Then, at the end of June, recategorize the paychecks that happened after you started YNAB as described AND move the money you budgeted directly to the INM category back to TBB. This catches your entire monthly income and pushes it to the following month, even though done if it was wrapped up in your starting balance. 

      The following months will be as described with scheduling income transactions to INM and then recategorizing to TBB - no extra budget screen movement.

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  • I am relatively new to YNAB but based on my experience I fully appreciate the concept of zero dollar budget. It makes sure, you have a job for each dollar and if you have any excess you could move it to a savings category. As others have commented, if you keep all the money within the current month, it gives better control to move money around easily or keeping it a month out gives peace of mind. For the time being I have decided not to budget beyond one extra month even in future, so that it is easier to remember where my money is. Hope this helps ! 

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  • Orange Saxophone said:
    So if you have $20,000 as available funds but your monthly expenses are only $5,000, ynab expects you to budget all of that money for months and months!?

     All YNAB expects is that you give each of those $20,000 jobs.  It doesn't care when (or how many months ahead) you do it.  One job is to keep 1 month's worth of activity in the INM (Income for Next Month).  Other jobs are various true expenses, such as insurance deductibles, annual and bi-annual payments, car and home maintenance, etc.  Another one, if all your true expenses are caught up, is "Income Replacement" which will just sit there until you need it (hopefully you won't need it).  If your expenses are $5000/month, then stick $5,000 into your INM and $15,000 into Income Replacement.

    Now you are 4 months ahead.  (1 month in INM, and 3 months in IR)  It's much easier to do it this way than to go months into the future, trying to guess what your priorities are going to be 4 months from now.

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