Next Month's Goal deletes this month's goal

New to YNAB and loving it!  I have a question about setting up goals for next month.

So, let's say this month I have $250 to put towards a category.  But, next month I don't have as many expenses so I want to devote $350 towards that category.

If I go into next month (planning ahead) and tell it to set my goal to $350 for that category, it deletes the category goal for this month.  Is there a way to change next month's goal without affecting this month's goal?

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  • I'd like this answered also.  Thanks!

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  • i think the goal is for the category as a whole through time, not just for one month. I personally would set my goal (if i did monthly funding goals) for the minimum it needs, and then just add the extra.

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    • eloquentz
    • Numbers Wizard (Accountant), Acoustic Artist (Musician) and Jill of all Trades (Wife & Mother)
    • eloquentz
    • 3 mths ago
    • Reported - view

    If your normal goal will be $250, I would just keep that as the goal but next month add an extra $100 to it. You could add a note in the category or temporarily change the category name to remind yourself you had this intention.

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  • I guess my thing about using that method is that I have to make a mental note about it.  Since I use the app for planning purposes, I wouldn't be able to glance and see how much money I need to cover things.  I would need to add up what is in the app, and then go back and add up all my mental notes. 

    The example I gave was one in which I'm just choosing to pay more towards.  But, this also applies to things where I can't choose - such as my electric bill.  And I'm in the same situation with it right now.  I already have my bill for next month.  But, I can't go in and change my goal for next month to match my bill because I'll delete this month's goal in the process.

    Maybe I'm using the software wrong or thinking about this incorrectly.  But, I want my goals to accurately depict what I know is going to happen.  I'd rather not just set some amount and then deal with the over/under when I know exactly how much I'm going to need.

    If the goal is to get a month ahead - how can I accurately do that without being able to change goal amounts in the future without affecting current goals?

    Am I thinking of this wrong?

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  • You're missing one of the more useful aspects of the methodology - Rule 2. Everyone's actual expenses differ from month to month, but ideally, you would be striving for relatively consistent budget entries.

    Your nominal budget entries will change over time due to shifts in priority or bill amount changes. Exploiting Rule 2, they don't change just because time goes by.

    A consistent process is easier (a few clicks is all I need at the start of a month for my entire budget). It is also far less error prone.

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  • If the amounts change month to month, then I will either put in the amount needed in the name of the category - ex. "📞Cell Phones - 7th - $73.94."  My cell bill is due on the 7th, this month it was $73.94. Next month it's a bit more, so when I get around to budgeting in August (which I do at the end of the month), I'll change the category name.

    Alternately, when the amount changes but it's going to be stable going forward after a certain point, I'll put the month when it changes in the Category name.  I.e. I started YNAB in January of this month.  I'm playing catchup on a lot of bills so I have to save more per month now than I will when I have to pay that same bill in 2020.  So for instance, I have an insurance that's billed annually.  It's:  ☂️Insur. Umbrella Policy 👩🏽‍⚖️- Sept.  So in September, I will annualize the bill, i.e. budget 1/12 of the bill each month.  I will change the goal in September.  I leave the month of an annual bill in the name of each annual bill category because it's a reminder that I will need to change the goal when the bill comes due and I need to start saving anew because most of those bills are target amount by date and those kinds of goals don't automatically reset.   

    As I'm fully buffered, as next month's bill come rolling in, I'll change the amount in the category title this month since I've already paid this month's bill or I've got it scheduled and waiting to come out.  But if you're still budgeting this month's expenses with this month's income, you'll need to be careful.  

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  • @dakinemaui I've got a counter to that rule - occasionally, a budget needs to change substantially, and I'd love not to wipe out old accounting.

    For instance - I was self-employed until a couple months ago, and had to pay my health insurance premium out of pocket. Now, I no longer need that budget goal, or even really line item. I definitely want to delete the goal, since there's zero utility of the little orange light going forward. But if I do, obviously it makes all previous months change also.

    In this case, I guess deleting the goal (or setting to zero anyway) is fine - who cares about months in the past lighting up correctly, since the budget is inherently a tool for the present and future?

    Then again, I'd prefer to delete the "insurance premium" category entirely, which would really screw up earlier months and also new months.

    How would you handle a situation like this, besides making an entirely new budget and starting fresh?

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      • jenmas
      • jenmas
      • 3 mths ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      AlexW delete the goal, hide the category.

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      • WordTenor
      • Arranged the menu, the venue, the seating.
      • WordTenor
      • 3 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      AlexW You might also want to consider if, as years go on, you want that category to be part of a larger capture of a certain kind of expense. I would probably include insurance premiums paid while self-employed as "medical." I could always delimit my reports by time to figure out what medical costs were at different points in my employment status. 

      For example, I started using YNAB after I'd paid off my previous car and so I didn't need a category for car payments. But then it got totaled, and I had a car payment for 3.5 years. Now that my car is paid off again, my car payment category is for saving up for the car that will replace the current one in about 7 years. In 2026, I will then use that category to look back and see how much I've spent on buying cars, regardless of whether that buying happened piecemeal, or all at once. 

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      • Superbone
      • YNAB convert since 2008
      • Superbone
      • 3 mths ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view

      jenmas Wasn't that the tag line for the old TV show Heroes? It was something like that. 😉

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

      Superbone I could have sworn there was a cheerleader involved. And an evil Spock.

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      • HappyDance
      • YNABing consistently since 2014
      • HappyDance
      • 2 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      AlexW 

      I tend to use the same approach outlined by  WordTenor .  I have renamed my car loan category to next car purchase, following the same logic.    At other times I've gone through my transactions and combined categories.  My separate public transit pass was rolled into a generic "transportation" category when I realized I didn't need to keep such specific categories. Eventually that transportation category was renamed "fuel", so when I look at my entire history in the reports, I know that the fuel category encompasses my monthly transportation costs both fuel and, when I didn't have a car, transit.

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      • AlexW
      • Alexw
      • 2 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      jenmas Hey hiding the category seems like a highly relevant option :)

      WordTenor I agree with your thought generally, but at least for fixed expenses, it kinda makes sense to me to have a category for each expense. Like "Phone bill: 120/mo", "Internet: 100/mo" etc. It might make the budget listing look a little cleaner to say "Telecom services: 220/mo" and just keep a "note" about the breakdown, but then it also robs you of info when assigning dollars - the phone bill might be end of month while internet is the first, for instance. For fixed monthly bills, I like being able to assign dollars just in time, without any mental overhead of "how many dollars are due when" - just look at the line item and "oh man, insurance is tomorrow, best assign this first." (for reference, I think I picked up in a youtube tutorial the habit of including bill date in the category name, for at-a-glance understanding.

      Your point about the car makes perfect sense, but I think it only makes sense in the context of assets you know you'll want to replace. Like, I've got a "Replacement Computer" category/goal, even though I just got a new laptop. I have no immediate intent to buy any new computer, and certainly don't need to. But I do, vaguely, know when and how much the next expense in that category will be. Medical premium, I might never have one again, or I might have one in two months if I go back to self employment.

      Annieland As it happens, I was wrong in my original post, and what you do manually is actually what YNAB does automatically - if I change my goal for "Gas" from $150 to $300 (new job, far as hell away), it automatically deletes the goal for all prior months there was a goal.

      HappyDance I'm definitely running into this in other over-specific categories, but I think my points above still stand - it makes more sense for me personally to have one category per actual fixed bill, but I'll definitely need to morph some other less-fixed categories like you have.

      Y'all are so helpful, thanks for all the replies!

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      • Annieland
      • YNABbing every day since 2009!
      • Annieland
      • 2 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      AlexW Oh heh, I guess you're right.  My first instinct was probably to turn the nag off (I usually do this when I've spent what I saved up for with a date target goal) so I just went and deleted the current goal first. 

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  • What I do is delete the goal in the current month, flip forward and set the new goal for the next month.  I do that a lot when I've met a goal and now have a new goal to set for that category going forward.  You won't get a nag for the current month, just keep it funded as intended.

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