Income Categories/Sub-Categories

What I Want! What I’d Like

I would really love to have the ability to categorise my inflows, this would be extremely insightful for me and I think it can be done without breaking the sacred YNAB rules. 


Why Do I Want It?

The main reason I want to be able to categorise income is for reporting purposes.  I find it useful to break down where my income is coming from and how much so e.g. how does my job income breakdown? A second job income? Is a particular side hustle making much difference to my cash-flow? Am I over-reliant on certain types of irregular income? etc.  Sure you can kind of use income by source for this, but it's not as elegant.


Whinging and Moaning Current Limitations

I'm sure this has been requested a million times before and I'm pretty sure that it hasn't been implemented because it would go against the methodology of YNAB. I get that it's all about expenses in YNAB (budget what you have, etc).

There are of course existing workarounds to the problem - namely creating budget categories that mimick income categories - but this is a messy solution which kind of breaks the income vs expense report and can cause havoc in your budgeting screen.  Using the Payee field for categorising income is also a bit of a clunky solution.

I have made this request a couple of times using the feature request, but I'm not confident anybody ever reads them - I've never had a response and you don't even get a reference number to be able to follow up on if you wanted to...


My Suggestion AKA Sales Pitch

I would suggest an additional screen on the left-hand navigation panel between Budget and Reports called 'Income'.  In my opinion, this should be kept separate from Budget so as not to clutter the budget screen, and also because you’re not budgeting with income.

This screen would be very similar to the budget screen in terms of layout with main income categories and sub-categories underneath.  Then when adding transactions these are listed on the dropdown for income (as is for expenses).  Of course, all inflows are really just ‘Inflows – To be Budgeted’ in the background. However, this allows you to report on income in far more detail.

Firstly, the Income vs Expense report is immediately usable in such as fashion. Simples.

Secondly, I would then very much like to see an Income report in the reports screen which is basically the Spending Report, but for Income.

Now, a further possibility is to actually bring in the option of forecasting. Within the income screen, you could have ‘Projected’ and ‘Actual’ in place of ‘Budgeted’ and ‘Activity’, thus in a similar vein to the budget, you can project (budget) your income each month against actual activity. You could even have income goals (good motivation to increase your income).

Should these projections/forecasts have any bearing on your budget? I’d suggest no, if you are following the YNAB rules then future income should not be factored into the budgeting screen (others may disagree).  

I do love YNAB in many respects (it’s the best out there IMHO), but I think it’s missing a trick by ignoring income so wilfully, yet you could add so much more by at least making income categories a thing.


To Wrap It Up

I'm sticking my thoughts on here in part because it’s at least a bit more visible than the feature request black hole 😐.

I’d love to get the thoughts/feelings of fellow YNABers on this topic and what you think about my idea/feature request. Also, interested to know how others deal with income in their own budgets and how many have resorted to workarounds.

Also, if somebody from the Support Team is reading this, I'd really like to know if there is any likelihood of this sort of thing being developed and a ballpark idea of when that might be, if ever.

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  • Is the information in the Income vs Expense report not sufficient? If you give each income source a unique Payee name it will break down how much per month, per year, and averages.

    Reply Like 5
      • Annieland
      • YNABbing every day since 2009!
      • Annieland
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      jenmas Yep, that's exactly what I've always done. Very easy and useful!

      Reply Like 1
    • jenmas I've had budgets set up that way and also tired budgets with an outflow category (and subs) used as income categories, and others still with multiple inflow categories.

      Whilst the income sources do work in a simplistic fashion, I find it a bit too basic.  I would much rather have the income split into categories and sub-categories e.g. Job 1 as the main category and then split by the constituent parts such as overtime payments etc.

      I'd like to be able to get more granularity out of it. Income sources as they are, too me at least, just feel a bit lightweight.

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  • YNAB4 has a linked drop-down that shows the individual transactions of income received in a specific month. Total income displayed at the top of the screen is $X. Click on it, and you see which entries contributed to that total. I still miss that feature.  It was handy.  Now, I have to click away from the budget, into reports, select income/expense, and look at all the sources of income in the income/expense report, then click back to the budget. short-term memory is not what it used to be, so sometimes I have to repeat the process.  If there was a drop-down link on the budget screen again, I would use it.

    I could get behind income categories.  My current list of income sources is 24, and it's listed alphabetically, which isn't always the most convenient display for how I want to see those numbers. I've been considering revising some of my payee names to more generic category-type names in order to better corral my information into a display I will use.


    Still waiting on more report options and PRINTABLES (already). 

    Reply Like 1
    • HappyDance I'm sure there's something similar to that YNAB4 feature you speak of in the toolkit - will need to check it out?!

      I tend to go round in circles with my methods of how to deal with Income, but always seem to get frustrated with YNAB's handling of it - the focus is squarely on spending (it's envelope budgeting after all) with little thought spared to the other half of the equation - the answer, I'm sure, is properly supported income categories... 🤪

      Agree with more report options - I'm not holding out much hope though - it took them long enough to just re-implement the reports that were in YNAB4!

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  • Here are a few mockups of what I'd like to see in terms of income categories (I'd suggest a different colour scheme to help differentiate from the budget/spending).


    Image 1: On the proposed 'income screen', I'd like to be able to project income and see how this compares to actual income.

    To maintain compatibility with YNAB's focus on only spending what you have, the projections of income should not affect the TBB amount.

    I would find this useful for planning the months ahead in terms of where my money is coming from. It may assist in forecasting potential dips in revenue, potentially allowing to cut back on spending as early as possible to further navigate the danger and avoid eating into my buffer. 

     Image 2: Having the ability to set income targets/goals. This can assist in planning, but more importantly, it can be used to help motivate me to earn more and push for higher returns.



    Image 3: An Income report similar to the Spending report - with a further breakdown by sub-categories. This can help visualize your spending and over-reliance on certain revenue streams. The same thing can be achieved for 'Income Trends' view.


    I'd also like to see an 'Income by Source' report similar to the Payee report in the toolkit, but for income sources. 

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  • This *can* be done, I do it in my business budget to track each revenue source for either business and/or tax purposes. Create a category for each type of income and record the credit not as an inflow TBB but directly to the appropriate income category. Then enter a negative budged amount to that category to pull the funds back out into TBB to be allocated to the appropriate spending category.

    Reply Like 1
    • Navy Blue Foal This is kind of what I do myself and it does (admittedly) pretty much do the job as a workaround.

      My gipe is basically that I'm a perfectionist and I think it would be neater and cleaner if YNAB supported all this sort of thing natively rather than having to shoe-horn it in.

      It may be much of a muchness, but literally just having native income categories (and sub-categories) that you can assign income against (that behaves like inflow to be budgeted) is all I'm really after.  

      Reply Like
  • Falco Lombardi said:
    I'd like to be able to project income

    I'm sorry to say that such features are the opposite direction that YNAB wants you to go. They would have you save now in anticipation of dips in revenue.

    YNAB already has an Income report, complete with averages. The "sub-categories" are simply the contents of the Payee field.

    In short, YNAB's stated purpose is to make a plan for the cash you hold. That's it. Your suggestions are more in line with a comprehensive personal finance application. I'm not saying people wouldn't find them useful; only that you shouldn't hold your breath. I feel they will fall on deaf ears at YNAB.

    Reply Like 2
    • dakinemaui Yeah, that's pretty much what I thought tbh. I've used YNAB for a long time and they do indeed have a very specific philosophy in mind, which most certainly does not involve anything to do with your income.

      It's just that I love the way YNAB does envelope budgeting (other, more complete personal finance packages seem to suck at this) - if that could be combined with a more elegant income solution, I'd be happy as Larry...  

      I use workarounds which more or less achieve what I'm after - such inbuilt features will most likely remain a pipe dream of mine I guess - it is what it is.

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