Wish Farm Prioritization Methods?

Hi all!

I kind of can't believe I get to start 2019 with no non-mortgage debt (well, kind of "start." My student loans will be paid off this weekend if signing papers goes well today for house-buying and house-selling).

Like any good YNABer I then made a wish list with the things I'd like to get/do for the new house, and a wish farm with a small, medium, and large item from the list. All of my wish list items (including those in the wish farm) currently have goal amounts with no end date.

My question is for anyone who has used a wish farm: how do you prioritize for it? Do you fund all of a small goal, then work on the medium, then a large? Put a certain amount toward each level?

I know there's no right answer here, but I'd love to hear how people prioritize wants. So much of my YNAB use has been making ends meet. Minmaxing and letting our money do fun things for us is new to me, and almost as overwhelming as it was to get used to YNAB in the beginning (way less stressful, but just as much of a mindset shift).

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  • There isn't a right or wrong way to manage a Wish Farm, but I wanted to share a quick video on how to Build a Wish Farm (I'm a sucker for Hannah's videos! 😅). We also have a few wish farm blog posts: Start A Wish Farm and Welcome to the Wish Farm - just to give you a few examples! :)


  • I have a WISH FARM category where I have one small, one medium and one large item which are currently being funded (well they should be but January is looking tight). I then have a HOME OF UNFUNDED DREAMS category where I list all the other things I want to fund at some point.

    Deciding which items get promoted to the WISH FARM category requires me to really reflect which is either more important to me and/or more urgent. Deciding which wish farm item gets the funds if there's not enough is harder and I'm still finding my way around that. It's the same reflection process really so I may eventually stop funding all three and just move things up to the wish farm when I can fund them.

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    • monkeyhanger How do you allocate money toward the three in your wish farm, though? I have the same set-up, and right now we have a $150 small goal, a $500-$1,000 medium goal (new mattress; haven't decided which yet though), and a $2,000+ goal in the Wish Farm itself. I'm happy with the three I chose to prioritize, but not sure how to allocate. If, say, I have $300 I can budget to Wish Farm goals, and $85 in the small goal already and $70 in the medium and $0 in the large, how do you split it? By percentage? by buying the small goal, putting the rest in the medium, and not adding another small goal to the Wish Farm until the medium and large are both bought? By Tarot deck reading?

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      slightlysmall I'm still working on that as I'm relatively new to it. Same logic as what gets in there in the first place. How much I want them, how urgent it is or when the event is. I have something in the unfunded area which is in May this year. The fact that it never got any funds made me realise that it wasn't my highest priority for May 2019 but I do want to do it at some point so it's now relegated to May 2020 and isn't getting any funds at the moment. The three things I have supposedly getting funded at the moment (but you know, January) are:

      Custom orthotics for cycling (S) - normally they'd be expensive but they'll be a vastly reduced price addition to a bike fit that has already been booked and paid for. £50.

      New bag (M) - more of a need than a want. I keep looking at them and veering between wanting to spend a fortune and hoping the zip on my current small backpack can hold on forever. 

      New road bike (L) - I don't have one at the moment but I can cycle if a bit more slowly on my hybrid. That won't be suitable for the challenges I'm booked in for this year.

      Currently there is £nil in each of these as I've just cleared out the ones were in there. The bike fit is February 5th so that wins on priority and I will be able to get the £50 in by then. As for between the other two then I suspect the bike will get funded before the bag unless the existing bag completely dies and then I'll pull funds in from wherever I can.

      I could do percentages and I might in future if there isn't as much of a timeframe involved. That said, I quite like the reflection that is involved in the decisions in this area. Much of the rest of my budget is fairly automatic now but in this area I can really decide what I care about.

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    • monkeyhanger Glad to see I'm not alone in sort of fumbling through the Wish Farm! I quite like my automated budget, but I agree figuring out a strategy for the Wish Farm will probably change dependent on what is in there, the timing, and what feels like I need to accomplish it soonest. Thanks for the camaraderie!

  • I used different strategies over the last year, but the one that I've stuck with the longest so far is decide on a reasonable monthly wish farm amount for my budget (€50 at this point - I am more focused on reducing debt and this amount seems to work well for me on balance) and allocate according to how soon I want the thing / how I want to prioritise the item. The L wish is a couple of years away. I got through a few S wishes, and two M wishes I think. I fund all 3 wishes in parallel, and replace completed ones with a new wish. I also redirect "extra" money to the wish farm, like stuff I manage to sell online (running out now though!) or adding another €20-€50 if I got a bonus in work or something, or leftover groceries money. At the moment I seem to put €30 toward the L wish and divide the remaining €20 between the S and M wishes depending on how soon I want to do something with it (I've had seasonal wishes with soft deadlines, like "this must be done before winter.")

    Now you mention having just bought a house... I found YNAB about 2 months after getting the house (well, really, I found it because of the state of my finances after buying and furnishing it!) and I don't think I would have used the Wish Farm for all the immediate / nearly immediate needs like getting a couch and hoover, painting and getting flooring, etc... I think I would have tried to work out the costs and save in regular categories to prepare and try to prevent things from getting too wild. If it's truly about not immediately necessary things though (I have a "kitchen remodel" L wish I plan to start saving for when I'm done with the debt, in another 12 years or so probably 🙃), deciding on a reasonable amount for funding and evaluating the wish priorities every month may work, if you're concerned about avoiding splurges?

    Let us know what you try and end up with too!! I'm always curious about wish farm strategies as well.

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