Categories

I’ve been using YNAB for years and love it but must admit I’ve never truly budgeted for my true expenses. The challenge I have is how to limit my categories but still budget for large in frequent expenses. For example, I have a category for car maintenance/repairs....and another one for car insurance because I pay them both monthly. How do I add one for vehicle registration which is annual without creating another category? Is there some way to consolidate everything under a “Transportation” category while making sure to have the right amount for my vehicle registration when it’s due and not be short due to some type of car repair that occurs prior?

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  • You will have to manually determine the amount you'd need in the category if you are going to combine expenses.

    I've been using YNAB for 3.5 years. I don't understand the concern for category bloat with recurring expenses and bills. I'd only be concerned about category bloat in the categories I need to look at all the time and have frequent transactions in.

    I would suggest you keep auto registration out of the maintenance/repairs category since you need the clarity, and not be concerned that it adds another category. And It's easier to just make the change to the discrete category and know you've made the correct change when a monthly change in cost comes around.

     

    I do have a question. If you've been using YNAB for years, but haven't been budgeting for true expenses, how have you been successful?

    Like 2
      • Johnny
      • Investor
      • Turquoise_Mainframe_ff1
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      nolesrule success in terms of not overspending, always maintaining a budget since I started YNAB and following the rules 90-95% of the time.  I am in the process of drilling down on every "true expense" and accounting for it rather than taking for granted that I've always had the funds to cover whatever came up.

      Like 1
  • I have my Car Fuel and Car Insurance both as separate categories, but Maintenance and Registration is one category. We have multiple vehicles, so I total up the registration amounts and divide by 52. I add to this weekly amount how much I want to add for maintenance weekly.  Each week on payday, I add this amount to the category. 

    Hope that makes sense and helps.

    Like 2
  • This is a great discussion! Like other users have mentioned, I keep my auto categories separate. We do recommend fewer, broader categories to start with, but adding more as needed is expected. One of our educators, Erin, says that if you have a category for toothpaste you're probably getting too detailed. :-)

    However, there are some separate expenses that I combine into a single category. Summer camp for my kid, for example, is one category and I use the category note section to keep track of each camp cost then combine them all into one Target Category Balance by Date goal.  

    It's great that you're getting a good handle on all of your True Expenses! 

    Like 2
      • Jennifer D.
      • On a money journey
      • jendd2
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      April at YNAB Where is the category note section? I didn't see that. Thank you! PS Is birthday cards too detailed of a category? :) I like to buy cards haha!

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    • Hi Jennifer D. !

      I hope you don't mind me jumping in here for April! :)

      The category note section is in the bottom right** hand side of the screen once you have a category selected.

      Personally, I'd group Birthday Cards into my Giving category. You can use the Memo section of the category to note that the purchase was for Birthday Cards. However, if that's a big portion of your spending and you want to know specifically how much you have just for cards, you can create that separate category - it's all about making your budget work for you!

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      • Jennifer D.
      • On a money journey
      • jendd2
      • 1 yr ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Faness thank you! I see it on the bottom right hand of my screen but I may be looking at something different. Either way, I think I found it :)

      Like 1
    • Jennifer D. Sorry! I meant Right** 😅

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  • This is what I do. I have a main category group for "annual payments" and then I have a list of annual bills as categories. i.e., car insurance (which I pay annually), home insurance, YNAB subscription, Amazon Prime etc. Then I take the annual amount for each and divide it by 12 and then put that as the monthly funding target for the expense category.  Then I collapse this Annual Bills main category sothat I don't constantly see the growing list of annual payments. I am currently on a monthly O365 plan but each month I save towards the annual one in my annual bills. When I get enough I will switch to the annual payment instead (saves me 16% per year) but my budget just cannot afford a $99 O365 payment right now.

    Like 3
      • Jennifer D.
      • On a money journey
      • jendd2
      • 1 yr ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      kayjenx that's really interesting - thanks for sharing - I have been organizing all of my categories by topic - not by date. I wish there were multiple views so you could tag a category as monthly or quarterly, bi annual (my car insurance), or annual and then see them by category or my frequency of bill. (Hey YNAB team - here's a new idea for a user-suggested requirement :)

      Like 1
  • I decided to put my annual vehicle registrations as part of "True Expenses: Insurance - auto/home/life". I made a future annual recurring expense for it in the month of my birthday. 

    YNAB is my first and only dues so I didn't want a dues & subscriptions category (we borrow a friend's Amazon Prime account when I truly need something fast, Costco membership I view as a cost of groceries  & ideally it pays for itself via rewards that were used to reduce the grocery bill anyway, and I don't have any music/car subscriptions). With that in mind, I decided to put it in with my monthly netflix and comcast charges, so I am renaming the account to "Immediate Obligations: TV, Internet, Budget".  

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  • I want to set up a separate bank savings account to hold my actual $ for true expenses. Make a deposit to that account at each pay period. So the transaction I created in my checking account was slit categories-so that YNAB fully funded the "true expense" categories. My problem is My connected savings account -- if I say it was a trasfer, then YNAB says the categories don't matter.  The categories do matter bc I want to show that they were funded. Anyone get what Im trying to do-have an answer?

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      • bevocat
      • Sometimes, It Just Sucks to Be You
      • bevocat
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Orange Snow Why do you want to set up a separate bank savings account to hold your money for true expenses? YNAB is already doing that work for you holding it in categories for your true expenses. Put that money in your checking account, in your pocket, under your mattress. YNAB doesn't care.

      If you just like to keep some of your money in a checking and some in a savings, go ahead and do a transfer. You still need to add the money into budget categories in your budget to reserve the money for that purpose.

      Why would you double your workload though?

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      • Orange Snow
      • Orange_Snow.3
      • 11 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      bevocat I want to make sure not to spend it until the "Sinking Fund" category bill is due.  I kind of understand that it's more work, because when I want to spend it on a "true expenses" category I'll have to transfer it back to checking. Can you tell me how the budget thing works for holding onto the $ till it's needed. 

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      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 11 mths ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      Orange Snow You save money by budgeting it to a category and then not spending from the category and also not pulling money out of it to cover overspending in other categories. As long as it's still in the "Sinking Fund" category (and you don't have overspending in your budget anywhere) then you haven't spent it. it's still available. It does not matter what account the money is in, because it's your categories that guide how much you have spent and saved.

      Like 2
  • OK. I think I'll stop transferring actual $ to a separate bank acct. Thanks.  Another question about this category thing. If I fund a "true expenses" category is there a report I can run to see how much is in the category. Or, better yet, can I see the totals for all the categories in a report? 

    Like 1
      • Khaki Storm
      • YNAB book topics online: https://support.youneedabudget.com/r/q5w48j
      • Khaki_Storm.1
      • 11 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Orange Snow That's a very good question. I wish I could find that, especially when you start budgeting into the future months.

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      • adriana01
      • adriana01
      • 11 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Orange Snow are you saving money in the category (the funds are in an on-budget account? Or are you transferring funds to a tracking account or one that isn't in YNAB?

      If you are saving the money in an on-budget account and building up the category, the category's Available balance is how much you have.

      If you have been transferring it out of the budget, the Income/Expense report (when viewed for the whole time of your budget) will tell you how much you have "spent" in transfers for that category. If you transferred money from that back in using the same category, it will show you how much you have left, but if you transferred it in using TBB or didn't record it at all, it will not show you a current total.

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  • OK.  I am so happy and thankful for all the responses. I am very diligently working on controlling and working the budget-now 1 month.  I had my first roll over, March 1. My mindset is trying to get wrapped around this.  I see now how the categories "available" show what the amount that is available to pay that bill when it comes due. We are having trouble with 'saving' with "true expenses" while having enough to pay "current obligations".  Any good ways to get this whole thing working? Should I fund each category of "true expenses" a little each or leave some unfunded. Maybe fund the ones that are nearest the due date, then ... Any other ideas? 

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      • bevocat
      • Sometimes, It Just Sucks to Be You
      • bevocat
      • 11 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Orange Snow At first you're going to have to front-load the ones that are coming up soonest. But as you continue to spend less than you bring in, you will get further ahead, and then you will just be able to budget equal amounts every month toward those expenses.

      It isn't very much fun at first to be constantly trying to cut back here and there, but it sure pays off when your annual homeowner's policy comes due and the money's just sitting there going "okay, I'm ready to do my job now!"

      Like 1
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