How to use this software if you are Freelance/unstable income??

Hello YNAB Experts...

I'm new to the software and learning the methodology, and I'm totally into it.

Question: How does it work for freelancers who don't get paid regularly?

I'm in a weird position as a film director, I only get paid a handful of times per year but in large lump sums of money, and some time I can go months, sometimes up to 6 months without getting paid, but need to budget monthly for everyday needs. (I"m really good and thinking I have money to burn when in reality I should be penny pinching even after depositing a $35k check).

This year so far for example...

Jan - $10K

Feb - $0

March - $0

April - $3k+6k+$14k

May - $25k + $12k

June - $0k

I've made a budget of my expenses in google sheets and have started to integrate it into the software, but I don’t exactly understand how to use YNAB day to day...


I don’t really understand how I make a monthly budget and track my expenses if I get paid irregularly… how do I budget all of my money for months to come? EG if I get 10k, how to I budget for multiple mortgage payments instead of just 1 mortgage payment and bunch of left over cash to invest or blow on camera gear/beer/whatever stupid thing that looks cool?

What is the step by step process for making YNAB work for me?

Bonus questions: Capital One Credit Cards need to re verify every single day by them sending me a text… is there a way to fix this? (My personal Capital account does not have this same issue so I don’t understand why YNAB does, it must be on the YNAB end not the capital one end…)

Thank you in advance, my wallet and my son (due in August!) thank you!

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  • Hi Salmon Moose !

    We like to think YNAB works better for folks in your situation because we don't believe a budget needs to be, or even should be, the same each month. You need to adjust to meet different needs, and we're built for that - so we have a number of resources for you!

    When you have a moment, check out our Variable Income Blog Series, Slaying the Variable Income Dragon and our You Can Budget with Variable Income workshop!

    In short, you'll need to use Rule Two (Embrace Your True Expenses) in those "bigger months," to build up Available amounts in your categories for the leaner months. Or, go ahead and budget excess directly to a future month! If you do move forward, always use a process for prioritizing that funds Immediate Obligations first, and you won't be caught short. When a lower month comes along, the money is there for you.

    Please let me know if you have a more specific question about how to implement something!

    Also, congratulations on your soon-to-be little one! I'm sure budgeting now will make all those new baby expenses easier to deal with later! :)

  • This is helpful thank you, I'll look into your above links.

    Is there a way to fix my capital one syncing issue? Is it because I'm still on the trial period?

      • Jannelle
      • jannelle_ynabsupport
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Salmon Moose I hope you don't mind if I jump in for Faness! We can definitely work on getting your Capital One connection up and running, it should work the same whether you're on a trial or subscription! 😊


      I took a look at the backend, and at the moment it looks like it’s waiting for you to answer your security questions again. Go ahead and follow that process by clicking the “Import(!)" button at the top of your account register, and answer your authentication questions (if there are any to answer) from there.

      If it still won’t connect, can you let me know if anything is amiss with the authentication questions (i.e. a one-time passcode you don’t ever receive, or a question you don’t recognize)? Then I can let our Direct Import partner know!

    • Jannelle yes so this is the problem. I verify it via that text message and it works, but it makes me do this EVERY DAY. Like every 24 hours. I don’t get it and it’s driving me mad. How do I make it so that I don’t neeed to get s text message and type in a code everyday?

      • Jannelle
      • jannelle_ynabsupport
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Salmon Moose Ah, I see! 

      I’m sorry you’re having to re-authenticate your accounts so frequently—I know it can be frustrating! We’ve dug into this issue on many occasions with our providers and we learned that, at this time, certain security protocols require repeated re-authorizations. In other words, they’re expected.

      This is great for security, of course, but not so great for the import experience. We completely understand that which is why we’ve had our Direct Import partner looking into the issue for months — pushing and prodding them to make it go away (not just for Capital One, but for other banks too!). Ultimately, they’ve determined they just don’t have any control over these security requirements.

      In some cases, we’ve found those will slowly start to subside, but we can’t guarantee it since each connection is unique.

      We’re hopeful this will improve as our Direct Import partner develops more direct connections, but right now (and for the foreseeable future) it is expected.

      If you’re finding that you can’t connect and/or import even after re-entering your credentials, that is not expected. Please let me know if that’s the case!

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