First Time Budget :S

Hi Everyone,

Love the idea of YNAB and can't wait to get it all set up and working well so I can manage my money better and see what's really going on.

At the moment, I simply have everything set-up as automatic debits and scheduled transfers. My personal bills all get debited from my Everday account, while I send my half of all the 'joint' bills to a separate account where the joint bills are automatically paid. 

My question is; is it possible to track this properly in YNAB without causing chaos?

My first idea was to neglect the Joint billing account in YNAB, making things much simpler.

However, I also thought I could treat the money sent to the joint account from my partner as an income (as YNAB would treat it that way) and set my bill goals to the full amount not just my share (obviously more complex - lots of scheduled transactions etc).

Thoughts? Should I just keep it simple for now and let the joint account be its own thing?

My monthly pay comes in a few days and I want to try and sort it before then :D

Thanks in advance!


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  • You've got good ideas and seem to have a handle on how the software works.

    Here are my thoughts.

    1. If you only use the joint account for bills and not variable spending (groceries, etc), then you could certainly keep it off budget and treat the transfer as paying the bills with regard to the budget. This is the least work, but only gives you a certain amount of data.

    2. You could bring the joint account on budget, treat your partner's contributions as income, and assign the money to the full bill amounts. As you say, scheduled transactions can minimize this work, and you'll have the benefit of seeing the full bill amounts in your data (if you want it). However, in terms of couple communication, YNAB wouldn't be the easiest avenue. You may find yourself wanting to be particular about timing budget activity to the partner's inflows (not my preference), or they may question some of the more efficient YNAB workflows if they want to see where their money is going. It could more easily work if the joint account is only for fixed bills. Or these thoughts may not be a problem for you. The reason I bring them up is that this workflow is most akin to having combined finances, and you presumably don't want that.

    3. Inflow partner's contributions as a split transaction to the bill categories they're covering. You assign your half. The full bill amount comes from the category. I like this best. Reports will show the net, ie. your responsibility.

    4. Variable category activity in the joint account could similarly use a Joint reimbursable category, if you need more info on that.

  • Thanks heaps! If I understand you correctly on point 3, I can set it up so the money coming in from my partner directly goes to covering the correct categories, would my personal targets sit at 50% funded until that point or is there a way around that?

    • Juji That's right - and this is a great follow-up question! Since option three causes the inflows to bypass the "Assigned" column, the inflows actually won't ever contribute to the funded-ness of a target (at least, not before the month rolls over).

      This is because targets are first looking to the assigned amount to calculate funded-ness for the month, and by categorizing your partner's inflows directly into categories, they will bypass the assigned column entirely.

      Here's how I'd recommend making things work with this setup:

      • Set targets for your half of the bill.
      • Use scheduled transactions in concert with targets. The target will prompt you to assign your amount, but as long as there's an upcoming transaction greater than the target amount, you'll still be prompted to fund the category to meet the need of the upcoming transaction.

      Alternatively, Move Light Sound Life's option 1 may be easiest as you get your bearings (and you could even create a separate budget for that joint account, as outlined here). Finally, you can always change your setup or make a Fresh Start if circumstances or priorities change! Does this give you some more ideas about how this might work for you?

      • Juji
      • Pink_Display.13
      • 4 mths ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      Rachel I actually just watched a YouTube run through and think I’ve found the easiest way. Simply setup the joint accounts and expenses in a separate budget. So from my personal budget POV I will have paid the correct amounts of each bill, and from the joint account perspective the target will be met when both parties have paid. Easy as!

      thanks very much the the effort in your responses and helping me, seems like a great community here in YNAB!

      Like 2
    • Juji That is an excellent way forward you've chosen. Let us know if you run into more questions about it 😊

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