Accountability for category overspending

I am new to the "new" YNAB, and I'm wondering how others are holding themselves accountable for overspending in a category. In the "old" YNAB, if I overspent in a category, the debt would roll over to the next month, automatically reducing the amount available to spend in that category. A fair, just, and expected consequence.

I understand that there are probably super logical accounting reasons for not allowing this in the new YNAB, but it's becoming a real pain to deal with. Since I can't use my old method of rolling debt to the next month, what options do I have?

(I'll go first, using monthly personal allowances as an example: if the overspending is less than the amount that I plan to budget for the next month, I'll just deduct the overspending from the new budgeted amount. E.g. the budget amount for the category is always $200, but I overspent by $50 in the previous month, so I adjust the new month's budget to $150. I resent that this is now a manual process, but I can live with it.

The hitch comes when the previous month's overspending exceeds the regularly budgeted amount. Hey, life happens, but I still want to remain accountable at the category level. In these cases, even making the category's budget $0 doesn't fix the overspending. E.g. the budget amount for the category is always $200, but I overspent by $250 (a total of $450) in the previous month. Adjusting the next month's budget to $0 still leaves $50 of overspending that does not remain tied to the category.)

Ideas?

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  • You're right, life does happen so you are held accountable by reallocating from a category in the existing month to get rid of the red.

    Long lost cousin that you haven't seen in 15 years is in town for one night only and wants to get together for dinner but there's nothing left in the eating out category? Life happens. So you look at your budget and say that you know, it makes sense to take $25 out of the Bahamas 2021 category to top up Eating Out because I personally value spending time with family and I really want to know what Cousin Fred has been doing in the Andes for the last decade and a half. That's all the accountability that is required.

    Now yes, $250 is more than $25. But the minute you overspent a category and didn't fix it, all of your other categories are inherently inaccurate so where is the accountability in that? On the first of the month you didn't know that you needed $450 so you made a plan based on the $200 you normally budget. Gee, you aren't able to predict the future. Such is life. The budget is merely a spending plan based on the information that you have available to you at the time that you make the budget. When the information changes, you change the plan.

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    • nolesrule
    • YNAB4 Evangelist
    • nolesrule
    • 10 mths ago
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    YNAB is a plan for the money you have.  Admit that your plan has changed and move money from other categories.

    The Red Arrow being used to take money from a future month is a cop-out because it's not really accountability. It will allow you to keep kicking the can down the road as much as you want.

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