Taking the plunge into auto-assign. Any tips?

At first I thought auto-assign was just a rebranding of the functionality I've been using for years to automatically budget groups of categories based on budgeted last month, average spent, etc. But now I see the power of setting your category targets and then letting YNAB do the rest.

Any other tips from those of you that have already worked through the learning curve?

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  • This is an excellent question.  I'm very interested in if there are tips for this, and if I should adjust my goals to take advantage of it.

    Like 1
  • Hmmm - I think my tips include:

    1. Update your Targets. I had some that were languishing because I was manually assigning money - it was time to make sure my Targets really represented my priorities.
    2. If you auto-assign on Web, remember that you can Undo. 
    3. If you auto-assign on Mobile, remember that you can change the numbers before you hit Done and complete the process.
    4. If you slip and fall and complete the Auto-Assign and reload the page all in one go, and it is a huge mess, remember to check out Recent Moves
    Like 1
    • Marisa I like how all your replies were related to everything that can go horribly wrong. The pain of your learning curve must still be fresh. 😂

      Like 3
    • CPA Budgeter 😂Also: eat cake. 🤷‍♀️

      I've always been suspicious of auto-assigning - I like to go line by line. 😅But I did try it out without any mishaps.

      Like 2
    • nolesrule
    • Stealing From the Future fix is an improvement but is incomplete....
    • nolesrule
    • 1 mth ago
    • 2
    • Reported - view

    Not a tip, but I feel the function was introduced prematurely seeing as they have ignored various requests for goal/target types for years that would have helped round out how people actually want to auto-assign money to their categories.

    1. Why are there no Target types that match Average Assigned or Average Spent?

    2. Why do the above not exist with a rounding feature (MROUND, CEILING, FLOOR)?

    3. Why is there no Target type for Monthly funding amount with a Target Balance? This would solve the issue that YNAB doesn't actually auto-assign money to Target type for a Target Balance.

    Lastly, the Fix Overfunding bug for Target Balances still hasn't been fixed. I find that very annoying as it makes actually fixing overfunding useless on the whole budget all at once.

    Like 2
      • LarryinLA
      • Larryinla.1
      • 1 mth ago
      • Reported - view

      nolesrule Bummer.  I'm also still trying to figure out the best way to do targets for categories that represent a collection of uneven bills.   This is a goal type that would be very useful, but also does not exist.

      My current model is to predict out the total spending over the next 12 months and then set up Target Needed for Spending with a date in 12 months, or alternatively with a date that's the month I want the category to zero out. (as well as having set up the Scheduled transactions themselves).  However, that will lower the priority of auto-assign for that category, so it won't work well.

      Generally I have used Quick Budget one master category at a time, with adjustments, but I was wondering if I could use auto-assign + Targets to make my implicit prioritization more clear.

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      • nolesrule
      • Stealing From the Future fix is an improvement but is incomplete....
      • nolesrule
      • 1 mth ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      LarryinLA my current workflow is to use the amount assigned last month and then adjust the handful of categories that need adjusting. As someone who budgets a month at a time, I don't see the point in modifying my workflow if the modification isn't going to improve my efficiency.

      Seems to me that the Auto Assign was mostly built with paycheck to paycheck budgeters in mind, which is fine. I realized a long time ago that I'm not really their target market. I was just hoping if they were going to finally implement a budget template system, they'd make sure they have all of the most often requested calculations built into it from the start.

      Like 1
      • Bruce
      • Software Engineer
      • Bruce
      • 1 mth ago
      • 6
      • Reported - view

      nolesrule Yeah, I kinda feel the same way.  Since I'm buffered, and am able to budget monthly, I don't really need to use that.  I can either use underfunded or assigned last month, and I do use a combination of them based on the category group I'm on.  I never (hardly ever) do the whole budget in one button press (even though I could) because there are certain category groups I treat differently, and besides, it's over way too quick if you just hit the one button! 

      I mean seriously...  I didn't wait ALL MONTH to get all my paychecks together, just to have it done with in 1.25 seconds!  Let me at least enjoy the process a little bit. :)

      Like 6
      • LarryinLA
      • Larryinla.1
      • 1 mth ago
      • Reported - view

      nolesrule That makes sense.

       

      Our income tends to fluctuate from month to month for a few reasons, and there are some savings-type goals that are fairly aggressive, so it's ok if they don't get fully funded every month (e.g. A renovation project that doesn't necessarily have a specific timeline).  I was thinking maybe the auto-assign rules could sort of force us to clarify our priorities.  Doing it manually each month is fine, though.

      Like
    • WordTenor
    • Can we agree that goals are dumb and immature? Sure.
    • WordTenor
    • 1 mth ago
    • Reported - view

    Yeah, I'm with @nolesrule, there are still way too many holes in the way Targets are created for me to use them successfully on enough categories to make auto assign worthwhile. I use scheduled transactions to budget my Immediate Obligations category and that's pretty much it. 

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  • Okay so the moral of the story is I should un-plunge this crap show? *slowly backs away* 😂

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    • CPA Budgeter Haha. Yeah, I've got one test waiting (mainly because I don't want to go to the trouble of creating a whole fake scenario atm) for my next paycheck. However, it's purely academic. I'll likely only assign stuff via mobile under duress. I have way more (efficient) control on web. 

      Plus - no undo! Why bother?

      Like 1
  • Bit less then pleased with auto assign as well.  Feeling like a grumpy old man about it at the moment.

     

    Found I've accidentally invoked it while trying to assign money to a category or two on mobile and then wondered what happened and have to undo category by category which is not terrible but kind of annoying as I can see the list but can't just hit an undo.

    think my old way of doing things I would tap the available to budget amount to start putting some in a category and be done with it.  Seems I need to start with the category I'm moving into now.  Is that right?

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    • M B Not exactly. When you tap on any category, it pulls up the "what do you want to do" screen on the bottom half. If you tap "move money", you can change both the to AND the from categories. So tapping *any* category will let you move money from RTA to any category you want.

      (I'm assuming iOS and Android are the same for this; I have Android and just doubled checked that's how it works.)

      Like 2
  • So a problem I have encountered with Auto Assign (unless I am using it wrong). I assign a target to the category and fund the category (I typically am funding a month or two ahead - i.e. currently funding September/October).  To simplify - I am going to use an example. 

    I have target of $100 for Groceries (by end of month) and another target of $50 for eating out (by end of month). I have funded both these categories. 

    During the month I have overspend my eating category with actual expenses of $60.  

    So I move $10 from Groceries to eating out and I plan to spend $10 less in groceries this month. 

    The problem is that now my Groceries Category shows up in Yellow because it says I have not funded my category with $100.  

    So, auto-assign based on target does make assigning the funds easy but indicating categories as not funded when I had funded but then moved it is creating confusion. So, now the categories that I have overspent and not funded look the same way - which creates confusion in my family.  Unless I am using this wrong. 

    Like
    • Purple Drill Nope, that's how this works. There's some argument that the move money feature (aka rolling with the punches) turning categories yellow is confusing and makes people not want to move money so their categories can stay green. But YNAB is set up so that the move money feature works by "last in, first out," so if you assign money and then move it, even if you had saved more than the assigned amount, your "assigned" amount is reduced. Since the targets are calculating from assigned amount, the target will read as unmet if the assigned amount is less than the target amount.

      Like
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