Spending vs Assigned vs Actual
Hello YNAB family! I'm a satisfied customer for several years running. I have an idea for a new feature and wanted to first post it here for feedback.
I have a need to produce a report (for a 3rd party) that compares my planned spending with my actual spending. I've seen several suggestions to use the Budget, which displays Assigned vs Activity and the balance. This isn't working for me - I have to export my file from YNAB and pull it into a report template I've created in Excel. Here's why it doesn't work for me.
When I enter a deposit, I assign every dollar a job (step 1) and I remember to embrace my true expenses. The challenge is that then I roll with the punches, which often means I need to re-assign dollars to cover over-spending. As a result, the Assigned dollar no longer reflects my original plan. It reflects the adjusted plan.
I need to compare my original plan to my actual spending to help me better understand where I've overspending and need to either change my behavior or change my next month's plan.
My idea is for YNAB to add a field to the Budget called "Planned" that allows users to (optionally) enter the amount they plan to spend that month. I'd also like a filter-based report (similar to the others) that compares Planned with Actual. To provide added flexibility, users could choose between viewing Planned and Assigned.
I appreciate your constructive feedback.
I think you make a good point. And I have 2 items of feedback. It's coincidental, that as I'm working my way away from YNAB into another program, I noticed it pretty much has the exact feature you're describing. As it's a traditional budget with an "envelope option." So it has 1) Budgeted, 2) Actual, and 3) Envelope Balance columns. At first I was like, ok ignore Budgeted because I'm just going to be assigning to envelopes. But then I realized, I can use the Budgeted column as a reminder for what my plan is for this month, or quarter or whatever. For example, I've found that I sometimes overspend on gifts for one holiday without thinking about upcoming holidays, even though I have enough saved. So now I plan on using the Budgeted column to remind myself what the plan is for a certain time period without affecting my envelope savings and get alerted if I'm over budget, but not "penalized" by a negative envelope.
Also, I've used YNAB in the past to manage a budget for a non-profit group at my kids' school. So I know what you're talking about. For the front-facing crowd I had no choice but to make an Excel version of the budget (pretty much from scratch after printing of reports was permanently removed from nYNAB) that would make sense to people who are just looking to see Budgeted vs. Actual with a percent differential. And then I'd represent my covering the overspends with line items on the bottom as far as "remaining cash on hand." It was annoying, and when the traditional school CPA later assumed the role, he was like, WTH is all this?? You're fired. But for the 4 years I was Treasurer, the members were very happy with my reports so it was all good and I was very happy to hand the chore to someone else (who actually got paid).
Now, will YNAB implement something like this? Doubtful, but they'd probably suggest some kind of spending goal and progress bar...