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.

    Like 5
      • Annieland
      • I was told there would be no math.
      • Annieland
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      jenmas Yep, that's exactly what I've always done. Very easy and useful!

      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.

      Like 4
  • 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). 

    Like 3
    • 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!

      Like 1
  • 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. 

    Like 3
  • 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.

    Like 3
    • 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.  

      Like 3
  • 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.

    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.

  • Great ideas. I use YNAB for my farm business because I've already been using it for my family budget and because I love how it handles goals and cash flow (cash flow is extremely important in farming). However, income categories and tracking is also extremely important for my business and creating expense categories for my income is super messy for the many many tiny income transactions I have. Instead what I've done is use an excel spreadsheet to track my revenue and then input it into YNAB when I'm ready to deposit it into the bank account (as a lump sum) and record the payee as my categories (eg. Sales: Farm Stand; Sales: Restaurants; etc). The specific payees are recorded in my spreadsheet. But then I'm having to do way more entries than I'd like to. Each week, 20 in excel, then 5 in ynab, for example. Then I get behind during my busy season and skip the YNAB entries (cause at least I recorded them in Excel) and then my YNAB budget is off and chaos ensues. Sigh.

    Your suggestions would work great for me though. I especially like the suggestion to have income goals and to include goals in the reports, which would also be great for expenses too. I input my annual expense goals at the beginning of the season, but I would love to be able to look at my reports and see how I'm doing throughout the year in meeting my annual goals for both sales and expenses without having to refer back to an excel spreadsheet (like I do now).

    Like 2
  • The workaround of using expense categories as negative income categories has at least one more problem. It ruins the budget totals.  

    If, according to the suggestions above, I add a "Side Gig 1" category, assign $100 income to it, and then budget -$100 from it (move to TBB), then my budgeted expense totals for the month (and for the year, I suppose) change by that month.  I've won a specific type of reporting, but lost the general (and more important) type.

    I'd say Falco Lombardi 's feature request is very important to someone like me. Thanks!

    Like 1
      • Superbone
      • YNAB convert since 2008
      • Superbone
      • 1 yr ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Russell Income is income to the budget. The source is defined by the Payee. You could also use flags for different income streams if you so desired. Another option is searchable hashtags in the comment field.

      Like 1
  • I still don't understand why the income sub-categories can't be replaced by different payee names. If I take the OP examples of Basic Pay, Overtime, Bonuses, Commissions. You can replace the Payee name with:

    Name of Payee - Pay

    Name of Payee - Overtime

    Name of Payee - Bonuses

    Name of Payee - Commission

    You would have to tell YNAB which one to choose but it's the same with a category. It works the same if you get the subtotals from split transactions, just change the payee instead of the category.

    Like 2
  • Well, I would really appreciate a feature like the one requested as it would give me better insight of my incomes. To reply to the workaround of categorizing using the payee name, in my case I export the Income/Expenses report for better insight in Excel and it only comes with categories, not payees.  So not much helpful for me. 

    • Hi Cornflower Blue Drum !

      When you export the Income vs Expenses report, the payee for the income is listed in that category column. Even though that main column says category, for income sources (which will be listed at the top) it will be the payee listed.

  • Categorizing using the payee name still does not help. I want to categorize interest income separate from w2 income separate from business income. In the same year you can go from being an employee (w2) to just doing side jobs for them as a contractor (business income ) or versa vica for the same payee

    • erbos I would use a unique payee: "Company - W2" and "Company - Contract".

  • I would use the memo field to specify the type of income. You can then total each income type up by searching transactions in the All Accounts view, or exporting and loading your transaction data in a spreadsheet app.

  • That still doesn't help to keep all interest income together in a single category separate from all W2 income (e.g. if I work two jobs). We REALLY need to be able to add income categories.

    • erbos I use a payee of "Interest", which keeps it separate from all other sources of income.

      Like 2
  • I use the payee who paid the interest (more than one) and still need an interest income subcategory. Really, it can't be that hard. You have subcategories for expenses!!

  • Revisiting this topic much later...

    As a small businessowner, I receive income daily and it must be accounted for properly. I, too, have tried all the workarounds above. Currently, I am using categories for income and it does mess up my reports and exports terribly. 

    This discussion is essentially a philosophical discussion about the YNAB method. I love the envelope budgeting method for expenses and YNAB does it better than anyone else. Still, there are some practical considerations for me, and clearly I am not alone:

    • I want to give my YNAB data to my accountant without having to export and tweak the heck out of it to show both income and expense categories.
    • I don't want to maintain YNAB and a separate bookkeeping spreadsheet or app. I tried doing that. As someone said above, the spreadsheet was always up-to-date and YNAB got behind :( 

    If YNAB has an overall mission of helping people live within their budget and increase savings, I think they could learn something from Debtors Anonymous: The solution is not just to cut spending. It is also to increase income.  YNAB does not help me with that at all.

    I love the suggestion by OP.  I hope YNAB people will consider that it is NOT out of the scope of envelope budgeting - in fact, neglecting it is ignoring half of the budget, the half without which there would be no budget: Income!

    Like 2
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