Feature Request: Multiple Target Date Balance Goals Per Category

I've mentioned this already in a few other threads but feel it deserves its own thread in the hopes that it becomes a much bigger focus moving forward. I think this feature would be a game changer for so many people.

Effectively, we should be allowed to create multiple target date balance goals in a single category where YNAB will then automatically adjust and calculate how much we need to be saving for this category.

An example of how this might be useful are my professional membership dues. I have three different memberships, each renewing annually in March, June and November. By allowing us to create three separate target-date balance goals in a single category called "Membership Dues", YNAB could then automatically adjust and calculate how much I need to set aside each month for this category.

Without this feature, it requires either a lot of manual calculation on my part or I have to break those 3 memberships into their own categories which I don't want to do.

What needs to happen for the YNAB developers/team to really bring this to the forefront.I know it's a feature that has been requested from the very beginning and I honestly think it simplify many people's budget categories moving forward.

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  • This would work fantastically for Birthdays and can even be used to compute the optimal "budget-billing" (i.e., consistent) amount for utilities. (Hint, it's not necessarily the yearly total / 12 because of the well known startup phase.)

  • 10SNE1 said:
    break those 3 memberships into their own categories

    It isn't obvious, but separate categories is very likely (92% chance on average) to tie up more money than necessary due to the startup phase. This is permanently tied up, and can be a significant portion of the total category's funding. See this thread for more details.

    Like 1
  • I have a question about this idea (which I like very much, to be clear).

    Do you think this would be as useful if the goal were based purely on scheduled transactions?

    The reason I ask is:

    Allowing multiple goals per category is a big user interface change, and it raises all kinds of implementation questions. But we already have a way within YNAB to specify future outflows in a category—scheduled transactions!

    And given the list of upcoming transactions in a category and the current amount Available in the category, you have enough information to calculate how much to budget this month to be on track to cover all of those future outflows.

    Just spitballing here!

    Like 1
    • Matthew The inspector only shows upcoming transactions in the current month, so there would have to be a longer time frame shown, as well as awareness of when the category would hit the lowest point. I use that calc-it-out site dakinemaui recommended a couple of years ago, which graphs all those things. There would need to be some big interface changes to deal with it from a scheduled transaction perspective, as well, I would guess. Besides, would you have us put scheduled transactions in for anticipated birthday gifts? I mean, I use scheduled transactions for a lot of things, but that is possibly a little much. 

      I think it's 5 in one hand (scheduled transactions) and half a dozen in another (multiple goals). Also, committed transactions would play nicely with multiple goals... 

      Like 1
    • Matthew Scheduled transactions could be one way to specify the "input" to the multi-outflow goal, but it's not without its own issues. The issue is that the "real" transactions are often different from the plan. For instance, a Birthday category with a planned $50 in January and $80 in October. There might be several transactions totalling $45 for the Jan. birthday. There's also the issue that the scheduled transaction "fires" and creates a $50 outflow that isn't real and needs to be deleted.

      I expect the GUI changes to allow multiple amounts and multiple dates would be simpler than trying to shoehorn something with scheduled transactions. However, a "Promote to Goal" when right-clicking on a scheduled, recurring transaction would be welcome.

      Like 3
      • 10SNE1
      • jagstyles
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Matthew If scheduled transactions were incorporated into the feature request I've made as a stop-gap measure, I'd be willing to accept that for now. 

      I think the key takeaway is that I'm tired of having to create separate categories for expenses of a similar nature. I'm actually quite surprised YNAB hasn't launched something like this already given that it would result in much simpler budget categories.

      I also think this feature alone would go a long way at showing the users of YNAB the value that comes with their subscription. It's something they can't easily replicate/duplicate on their own. I mean sure, right now most people are using the prefunding strategy of manually calculating all their expected expenses for the category and then prefunding it but not everyone enjoys doing this and not everyone has sufficient money available to pre-fund the category.

      So long-story short, if YNAB could quickly implement this feature request by only looking at scheduled transactions for now, I would take this! I could simply schedule estimated/budgeted amounts for things like birthdays where the exact amount may not be known.

    • 10SNE1 Our team is continuing to work on goal improvements! I love the idea of simplifying and cutting down on category bloat. When or if certain type or implementation will be available, is another matter. This is quite a different approach, so we'd definitely test thoroughly—and I feel comfortable saying that exploring this concept would take time. Thank you so much for submitting the Feature Request and sharing your thoughts with our Product team!

      Like 1
      • PhysicsGal
      • Nerdy female homo sapien
      • physicsgal
      • 1 yr ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      Nicole This would be an awesome feature!!!!  Crossing my fingers...

      Like 2
  • I want this feature too!!!!!!

    Like 1
  • Would be an incredible feature!!!   All for it!!!

  • A small improvement would be just to allow arithmetic in Goals Amount field like it is in the budgeting & transactions fields.

    Like 2
  • I definitely would appreciate being able to handle subcategory goals on a category. I understand it's a change in UI and on the database level, but it would make things simpler for some more complex people. 

    Like 1
  • Coming to YNAB from MoneyWell, this is the feature I immediately missed the most. MoneyWell figures out the appropriate amount to put aside each month in order to meet multiple targets for a given envelope (category).

    This allows you to create one "Car Maintenance" envelope/category that combines things like car washes, interior cleanings, washer fluid, tire purchases, tire swaps, oil changes, new brakes, license renewal, etc, each with its own schedule.

    With YNAB, I believe there are two ways to manage this:

    1. Create separate categories for everything (I pay $240 once every two years for license renewal... imagine adding an entire category to budget for a transaction that occurs so infrequently!), OR
    2. Add up all the separate car maintenance items (prorated monthly) and set a Monthly Saving Target for that amount. Try to mention all those items in the Note field, so you can remove them (or add more) manually in the future.

    Choice 1 introduces significant category clutter. Sure, I could put all those categories under a Car Maintenance category group and collapse it to reduce visual clutter most of the time, but whenever I expand that group I'd have to wade through all those (mostly stagnant) categories to figure out what's going on.

    Choice 2 is what I'm doing now but it feels wrong because a human is doing the work that computers do so very well, and I know if (e.g.) I stop getting car washes it won't be obvious how much I should remove from that monthly target. For that, I'd need to use a spreadsheet alongside YNAB.

    Car Maintenance is just one example of a category that contains many periodic items (others include Utilities, Subscriptions, and more). Is the idiomatic YNAB approach to create a separate category for each periodic transaction? A separate category for each of my family's cell phone plans, bus passes, and for each separate subscription (Netflix, Amazon, Apple, YNAB, app subscriptions, internet domains, magazines, etc, etc)? I could see a busy household requiring 100 or more categories to manage this.

    I'm still new to YNAB so please set me straight if I'm missing something. Thanks!

      • Mark
      • warby
      • 1 mth ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      p.s. Just noticed that MoneyWell uses a verry similar example to mine above in their documentation on "Events" 😃

      It really seems like a fundamental budgeting capability, which I'd expect to see in a premium app like YNAB.

      Like 1
    • Mark It's not just you. Not sure if it's a technology problem --- where the database can't have multiple entries or whatever their internal database schema looks like. I am not sure how much effort is involved, but this is a premium feature to me as well. 

      Like 1
    • Mark Thanks for this thoughtful write up. I wonder, after reading the thread here have you tried to add Scheduled Transactions for the many costs in a single category to help add some automation as you implement Choice 2? That should allow you to see in real time how much less you need to assign to the "Car Maintenance" category, for instance, when you stop getting car washes and delete the recurring scheduled transaction. While scheduled transactions aren't perfect, I think they're helpful in this scenario.

      Also, if you haven't yet, please do share what you'd like to see in a Feature Request so our design team can consider your ideas. :)

      • Mark
      • warby
      • 3 wk ago
      • Reported - view

      Dela that's a pretty interesting workaround you suggested. I just tried setting up a Scheduled Transaction in a category with a target and it's certainly better than nothing! At least it gives me the information I need to update the target amount in some cases (it's definitely more suited to things like license renewals that occur on a specific date than it is to more fuzzy things like car washes or oil changes). I'll also follow your recommendation to submit a feature request.

      Thanks kindly for your suggestions and help!

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