YNAB makes it difficult to plan ahead!

WAIT! Before you fire off your standard response to this much discussed topic, please read further- this is not THAT question!

I'll also say that this is probably more of a feature request than a question, but I don't see a place for that, so I'm hoping someone at YNAB might read this...

As a new user I've had much frustration and headache about the "budget only what you have" philosophy and the inability of YNAB to plan for future expenses. But I did more research and followed the advice to make a budget template with scheduled transactions and funding goals. Then I had the "Eureka!" moment and now I totally get it. 

BUT!!!
This look-ahead functionality is still not that great. YNAB seems to be mostly about managing spending. But isn't budgeting about planning too?

YNAB still seems very weak on that front. As is clear from the many posts and help articles that I've read, those of us accustomed to traditional budgeting methods do not want to give up the clear view of future cashflow that we're used to.

While YNAB does allow us to schedule transactions and create goals, it is still difficult to see what is going on. If I want to see what my planned expenses look like, I have to go through each budget item, one by one, to look at my goals and upcoming transactions, all in different places. This makes it practically impossible to see the whole picture.

Here's my proposal FWIW:
Please consider creating a "LOOK AHEAD" report tabulating scheduled transactions and goal amounts for each budget item, for this month and next. This would allow us to see the big picture in one view, and make better decisions in goals and budget.

I think having this feature will also cause less frustration for new users. It would provide the future cashflow view that traditional budgeters are craving, while also pointing them towards the proper way to set up a budget template in YNAB (which is currently kind of an "under the hood" feature not immediately obvious to us newbies)

To me, adding this simple "LOOK AHEAD" report to the (very) few you have available now would be a huge improvement.

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  • Seconded. 

    I think you can tag YNAB employees just like you would in a tweet or Instagram post.  Just type '@YNAB (without the apostrophe) to bring up a listing of them.  That should either get their attention, or annoy them.  Or both! :D

    I wouldn't tag anyone that doesn't have YNAB in their username. 

    Angela at YNAB April at YNAB Arturo Guzman Ben at YNAB

    Reply Like
    • Lucas Not annoying at all! :)

      We're here to listen, so we like it when you point things out to us (using the @option makes sure we don't miss anything)!

      Reply Like
  • You will find that this seems UBER IMPORTANT when you begin using YNAB, and then slowly, your desire for it fades as you get better with your budget, and as you start building wealth. I don't need to see what's coming down the pike anymore. I'm prepared for it. There's usually too much money in my checking and savings accounts rather than the potential of too little. And when my water heater eventually blows, the money is already sitting there. 

    Reply Like 7
      • 57 Twin
      • 57Twin
      • 1 yr ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      WordTenor That's not necessarily the case with me. Before starting YNAB, I was already budgeting so I start the month with a healthy surplus to be applied to the next month's bills. I don't have a 30 day reserve yet like YNAB encourages, but it is enough so I don't have to worry about whether the check will clear or not. So from that point of view, I already was kind of on autopilot and not worrying about what was coming down the pike, like you suggested. 

      But I started YNAB because I wanted to be more proactive about budgeting my money. I don't want to be on autopilot. So I find myself wanting this "future look" even more than ever after starting YNAB. Now that I am setting goals, I find a difficult to see how they work into the whole budget for the coming month. A "future look" report would help me see if any of my goals are disproportionately aggressive or weak compared to other stuff I have planned for the upcoming month. The information is all there, it would just be nice to have a report where I can see it all on one page.

      I guess I'm a control freak, but I don't see myself being less interested in where my money is going, even after I build more wealth.

      Reply Like 1
      • WordTenor
      • Arranged the menu, the venue, the seating.
      • WordTenor
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      57 Twin It will be. :) Trust me. I could see them including this kind of report; I don't think it's a bad idea. But five years into using the software, I have no use for it. Five years into using the software, you probably won't have much use for it, either. 

      Reply Like
      • Zentach
      • Hot_Pink_Song.1
      • 1 yr ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      WordTenor To me that's like saying "Parks and Recreation is hilarious once you can drudge through the first 2 season" or "Coffee is an acquired taste"

      I don't want to drudge through 2 seasons! I don't want drink bitter coffee until I can enjoy it. If the experience can't hook me from the beginning I am less likely use it long enough that this feature is not necessary.

      Reply Like 1
      • WordTenor
      • Arranged the menu, the venue, the seating.
      • WordTenor
      • 1 yr ago
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      Zentach See my post below. It's about adjusting how you think about budgeting, which used to be a primary tenet of using this software. The point of the budget is not to predict the future, it's to execute a plan with the money you have  now. 

      I probably shouldn't have said five years--that just happens to be how long I've used YNAB . It was actually more like a week before I understood I didn't need a forecast report. Instead of banging my head against the wall looking for YNAB to be just like other budgets I had tried before, I listened to the more experienced budgeters who were telling me to adjust my thinking. I did, and my finances are much better for it. Maybe that seems mean, but it's right. 

      The actual analogy you're looking for is feeling like you have to have a fancy new coffee maker  and we're saying, "No just grind the grocery store beans differently and put them in this French Press you already have and you'll get a smooth flavor." 

      Reply Like 4
      • Vi S.
      • what's your vision?
      • moonlitblue93
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      WordTenor Yes, I'm seeing a pattern here with your responses. You seem to come from a place where you already have it made up and just "drudge" through inefficient tools because you have your sights set hard on an end goal. Tools attract me and others who would like to use them to aid in the achievement of end goals we normally struggle with. Your philosophy doesn't seem to be about improving tools/innovating them to increase coverage of different needs at different times for users.

      Reply Like
  • Hey 57 Twin !

     

    Thank you so much for this detailed feedback/feature request! It's so helpful to see where YNABers are coming from when they have a feature request or submit feedback, because that's exactly what our designers ask themselves when researching to plan for what’s next  in YNAB! 

     

    Speaking of feature requests, did you see this recent announcement that Janelle made?  Feel free to submit a request for this feature! 

    Reply Like
      • 57 Twin
      • 57Twin
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Jannelle Very cool, thank you. I didn't see that link before. I will try to summarize my request and submit this through that page.

      Reply Like
  • I am currently looking at a few issues that may be related to this.

    One is that I have expenses that are seasonal. Examples for me are that in the Winter months, my gas bill goes from its stove only $40 per month up to as high as $300 a month for 3 months or so. My electric bill does the same in the Summer with the engagement of central air (although the swing is lower, base electric in winter is $180, goes to $250 in dead of Summer). I also have landscaping in the non Winter (lawn, fertilization, tick spraying. And of course there are those two months I have no car insurance. All of these are smaller things, so I’m not to worried about it one even offsets the other. But it’s tougher to see what that extra cash is for without the future visuals 

     

    the other is home renovation. We are just kicking off a major kitchen renovation. I’m not quite sure how this should be budgeted. I have decided to create a Home Renovation category and budgeted 40,000 for it in March, even though it’s going to be paid out over 3-6 months starting next month. The money is there, it’s sitting in checking now. This brought my “to be budgeted” down from 50k to 10k or so. Not sure if this is the right way. I’m guessing it is ONE right way anyway.

    Reply Like
  • This seems so obvious. Whether I can afford to allocate all my budget items at once for the month, or I am doing it piecemeal as the money comes in, I need an overview to help me decide what to allocate. This is really lacking. I can do it myself with exports and spreadsheets, but this functionality should be built in. All that's needed is a spreadsheet-style list of categories (same order as the budget) which shows previous months' actual spending.

    Reply Like
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 1 yr ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      doctor_who Income and Expenses report. Pull it up in another browser window.

      Reply Like 1
    • nolesrule Interesting. OK, I didn't notice that before; it is helpful. Would still be great if it was integrated into a planning page, and I could record projected allocations on that page. But thanks for pointing it out.

      Reply Like
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 1 yr ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      doctor_who I run all sorts of calculations in external spreadsheets, but I'm a data and analytics kinda guy. I have tabs for each utility bill, monthly transit and gas costs where some of the data works its way back into the amount budgeted. but the calculations are too advanced for something like YNAB.

      Reply Like 1
      • 57 Twin
      • 57Twin
      • 1 yr ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      nolesrule doctor_who For the record, my suggestion was to have a "Future" look, and the current Income & Expenses report does not show any upcoming goals or expenses. I think this would be a huge improvement to our ability to make good budget decisions. 

      As you mentioned, I'm the type to run all sorts of calculations in external spreadsheets too. But it kind of bothers me if I purchase one of the more expensive budget apps out there, and still have to use an external spreadsheet to make calculations that could easily be done by the app. For an app this big and well supported, having only 3 reports available seems kind of weak to me. As a new user, this is only the most obvious "missing report". There are a handful of other obvious reports that seem to be missing too, but those are posts for another day...

      Reply Like 1
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 1 yr ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      57 Twin I guess I still don't understand the purpose of the report. If you calculate correctly the amount you need monthly so you have the category filled by the target date and you budget the amount you need monthly, then your budget is doing everything you need. You can even set a goal for that.

      If you WAM from one of those categories, then you should already know you need to re-evaluate it, and make a mental, or physical, note to look at it again.

      Reply Like 2
  • Silver Dollars said:
    One is that I have expenses that are seasonal. Examples for me are that in the Winter months, my gas bill goes from its stove only $40 per month up to as high as $300 a month for 3 months or so. My electric bill does the same in the Summer with the engagement of central air (although the swing is lower, base electric in winter is $180, goes to $250 in dead of Summer). I also have landscaping in the non Winter (lawn, fertilization, tick spraying. And of course there are those two months I have no car insurance.

     How you handle cyclical utilities depends on when you start using YNAB. If you start during the low usage months, look at your past bills and just budget your 12 month average. By the time you get to the high months, you'll have the money sitting there to pay those higher bills. If you start in the high months, you should be budgeting the highest amount you paid in the last 12 months. Then once the bills drop below the average you budget the average. You can calculate your "overage" number... that's the sum of all above the average spending over the course of the previous 12 months.  At the end of a month, you can pull out any amount above the overage total.

    For the seasonal, you budget for it like a monthly expense. It's just that depending on when you start YNAB, you may need to budget more during the first annual cycle so that you have enough when you need it. The examples you gave are all predictable spending.

    For the 10-month insurance, I handle it by just budgeting the monthly cost in the 10 months I'll be paying it. I budget zero in the 2 months I don't. If you don't pay attention, just budget it every month, and then take it out at the end of the month in the two months you don't pay it.

    The software can only do so much.  You have to be proactive in determining some of the correct numbers yourself.

    Reply Like 3
    • nolesrule this is actually what I am doing currently. I go back and forth on whether it’s easier to just have one category called “utilities” or break them all out into individual items. Right now I’m doing individual.

      the items that are still catching me are the ones that are random that I forgot about. Examples would be emissions and annual car registration. Travel soccer season fee for kid. End of year accountant fee. Other items like that. Again, still trying to decide whether it’s worth having a bucket for a bunch of these combined, or having 300 categories to break them all out where I’m allocating $12 a month etc.

      Reply Like 1
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Silver Dollars Because they are cyclical and not on the same cycle, keep them separate.

      It usually takes a good full year of using YNAB before you manage to capture all your True Expenses.

      Our budget has around 90 categories in it, and I've been using YNAB for about 4 years. Are you sure you'd really need 300 or is that a bit of an exaggeration?

      There are a couple places where I have combined categories.

      I keep Car maintenance and repairs as a single category ($50 per car per month should cover all car-related expenses other than gas)

      I do similar with Home maintenance and repairs. This also includes the quarterly exterminator visits and our lawn guy. Because we live in a newer house, we've been budgeting 1/10 of 1% of the insurance replacement cost every month (so we increase the amount ever year when we get the new insurance number)... an older house should be more, and when we moved in we seeded the category with 1% of the purchase price.  Right now 3.5 years in the house it has 20 months worth at our current monthly budget amount. And that also includes 2 major appliance replacements in the last 4 months.

      Reply Like
    • nolesrule yeah 300 was probably an exaggeration! Although I feel it could be quite high depending on granularity. The three kids have a lot of categories if we want to break it all up, from orthodontia to singing lessons and school musical costs for one, multiple sports for the other, oldest doing SAT prep and such. Feels like we’re running 2 kids somewhere most days of the week.  I have been lumping digital into a single item (XM, Netflix, cloud storage, Hulu, a few cheap apps I pay for, and other items). Could break them all out I guess.

      and then food ... could have categories for takeout, dining out, snacks or coffee, lunch money for kids on days we don’t make their lunches - but sort of put those all together as well now. I try to utilize the free food and coffee where I work as much as possible. I also avoid the lattes and go with coffee straight to avoid paying $4.50 as well. 

      Reply Like
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Silver Dollars I keep the subscriptions for apps and services separate because it gives me better visibility into the individual items that are using up my money. Then I can decide individually if some are cancel-able because I have a better use for the money.

      For food we just have Groceries and Restaurants. They are all inclusive. Restaurants includes all food prepared by others (whether dining out, takeout or delivery), Groceries includes all grocery food, but also household consumables items typically bought at a grocery store or even drug store (toothpaste, shampoo, dishwasher detergent, etc.)

      As for kids lunches, our kids are responsible for packing their own lunches, and have been since they were in kindergarten (they are now in 5th and 3rd grade). If they choose to buy lunch at school instead, they take it out of their own money. As they get older, I want them to become responsible for more of their expenses, so those costs will be built into their allowances, and it will help them learn to set their own monetary priorities like we do with paychecks. That's what my parents did for me... when I was a senior in high school in 1994, my allowance was $150/month, but I had to pay for a majority of my personal expenses and activities out of that.

      Reply Like
    • nolesrule kindergarten? That’s impressive. My wife refuses to make the kids make their own lunches because she claims they would just pack chips or crackers. No real food. My argument was “then get rid of the chips”, to which she said “nope”. And that’s that. So now she makes their lunches and they are 11/14/17. I like the allowance idea. We do a hybrid of that now. Oldest has her own debit account and babysits to fund it. But we don’t make them pay for soccer, or SAT prep type things. Clothes and other stuff yes, they pay for.

      Reply Like
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 1 yr ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view

      Silver Dollars For the kids lunches, you just have to train them. My kids tried to pack the junk food, but we would inspect the lunches and have a discussion if it wasn't properly balanced. Nowadays we no longer need that discussion, mainly because they get used to packing the same general items everyday, with slight variety depending on whether they are feeling to lazy to make a sandwich. We do make sure to keep hard boiled eggs stocked in the refrigerator.

      They also help us pick out what they want for their lunches.... they get to pick out flavors/varieties for things like individual serving sizes of cheese, yogurts, fruit cups or applesauce pouches, crackers, milk/juice flavors.

      My activities when I was in high school were pretty much Boy Scouts, and youth group at my synagogue. Nothing as expensive as team sports, so I would exclude something like that. My parents did pay for education-related expenses and fees, and we will do that too as our kids get older.... to demonstrate that we hold their education as a high priority toward a successful life. Once I got to college, i was on my own, so I'm glad they taught me how to take care of myself earlier. I just wish I'd had a program like YNAB back then.

      Reply Like 3
    • nolesrule Do you have the ability to do budget billing from your utility companies? My natural gas and utilities are the same each month and whatever is unused rolls over. My monthly amount changes maybe once per year and gets re-evaluated the following year. 

      Reply Like
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Sky Blue Tugboat I use Budget Billing for Natural Gas. It's available, but I do not use it for electricity. The amount they want per month for the first year is ridiculously high compared to my previous 12-month average and for the entire 3.5 years we've been living in the house.

      Reply Like
  • OP here again... After seeing the responses here, let me try my same question from a different angle, since clearly I'm missing something.

    After your budget, scheduled transactions, and goals are all set up- how do you guys compare your monthly expenses with your monthly income to make sure you're on track? And yes, I get it- after staying with the YNAB program for a while you probably don't even have to worry about it. If you are there already, I'm truly happy for you. But the rest of us still need to use this tool to get there.

    The only way I can see to get a forward view of the month is to look at the "underfunded" number to see if that is in line with my expected income. But as I mentioned in my OP, this feels kind of weak as a planning tool. This is only is valid for the brief moment in time before you do your budget. For the rest of the month, any forward-looking data is a bit convoluted.

    To illustrate, here's my situation: A week or so ago, I wrapped up my March budget and had about $3000 to budget for April, which I did. But I have set some rather aggressive goals to pay off some debt, so I was wondering if my payoff goals exceeded my income. But since I had already plugged that money in the budget, that underfunded number no longer reflected the total monthly expenses.

    Now that we're in April, I've made some tweaks to my budget and my income forecast has changed a bit, so I find myself wanting to look at this again. As far as I know, the only way to figure this out is to look at the current underfunded number, add my expected income for the rest of the month, then subtract the amount of money I want to have left at the end of the month. And of course, that's not a hard math problem. It's just the principle of it. To me that "total month's expenses" number seems like it should be important enough in a premium budget program that it should be readily available without having to do off-line math.

    In my particular case, I'm finding that some of my goals were unreasonably aggressive and I would quickly blow through the cash reserve that I like to have at the end of the month. Again, I was only able to figure this out by doing some off-line calculations. So I'm having to make many iterative adjustments across all of my goals and budget items to balance things out. This is a pain since I have to look at each individual budget item to see what is going on with goals and upcoming transactions. All I'm saying is that I know the info is already there in the app, but it would be nice to see it all on the same page and totaled so I can quickly see if something is out of whack. And maybe I won't care about this after a few years of building wealth. But I'm not there yet...

    For those of you who still have some debt, and don't have a 30 day supply of cash, how do you make sure your budget and goal plans are in line with your income? I feel like the idea of "balancing" your budget is one of those traditional ideas that YNAB is trying to eliminate. From the above responses, it is clear that this isn't an important concept in YNAB-world. So, please help me out. What am I missing? 

    (And maybe as a related side-question- how do you guys account for the cash surplus that you want to have at the end of the month. Do you make a budget line item for it? )

    Reply Like 1
      • WordTenor
      • Arranged the menu, the venue, the seating.
      • WordTenor
      • 1 yr ago
      • 6
      • Reported - view

      57 Twin I made plans for the money I had instead of the money I would receive.

      I figured out what the non-negotiables were. From each pay, I budgeted that amount divided by the number of paychecks I had. Anything left was able to be budgeted wherever I wanted, including toward aggressive goals (I got buffered in 54 days because it was extremely important to me at the time). 

      I was never in danger of plannning for more money than I received because I was never budgeting or setting goals based on money I didn't have. And I got buffered quickly, so that I could make plans based on a month of income I already had instead of tying to figure out if my plans were in line with the month of income I could expect. 

      it really does all come back to rule number 1. 

      Reply Like 6
      • 57 Twin
      • 57Twin
      • 1 yr ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      WordTenor 

      To me, the whole point of setting a goal is to plan for money that I don't have yet. Then you plan ahead to accumulate the money in a responsible way. So I'm really not following you on that point.

      Anyway, I guess we're just going to have to agree to disagree here. I don't see that either of our philosophies are against the YNAB method. I completely understand the concepts you're talking about. I passionately agree with all four rules, and I'm 100% on board and doing my best to get to the place that you've reached. But you have to understand that a lot of people like me aren't there yet. Some of us still have yellow "underfunded" numbers to deal with as we set up our budget. YNAB is telling me my money is around 20 days old, so I feel like I'm well on my way. But I still have to carefully plan my goals and expenses each month so I stay on track. 

      I feel like there is such a passion around here for teaching the four rules and denouncing traditional budgeting that babies are getting thrown out with the bathwater. Good information and planning will always be core principles to me no matter how much money is in my bank account or which budget app I use.

      And again, this is just about the reporting capability of YNAB, not the whole budgeting method. YNAB gives us a way to set up a "budget template" as they call it. But there isn't a good way to view it all at once. That's all I'm saying.

      Reply Like 2
      • 57 Twin
      • 57Twin
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      WordTenor  

      P.S. I apologize, I'm not trying to be argumentative. I'm really not a jerk in real life. So I'm sorry if this has come across that way. I was just a little shocked that a request for better reporting would be met with resistance, especially from what I thought was a "finance" crowd. I have a feeling that our differing approach to budgeting may have more to do with our personalities than how we follow the YNAB method. In any case, this conversation has really helped me better understand the YNAB method and where other users are coming from.

      Reply Like
      • WordTenor
      • Arranged the menu, the venue, the seating.
      • WordTenor
      • 1 yr ago
      • 7
      • Reported - view

      57 Twin You asked how to do it. That's how to do it. You can agree to disagree all you want but that's the way to do it. 

      The reason so many people have so much zeal for "Do it this way" is because that way works. We've been having long discussions over on the old forum about how this new forum seems to discourage newbies from getting the polite "face slap" that most of us got when we were new. The extreme over helpfulness of the official support people lead new people to ignore the fact that the system works. I think it ultimately is more frustrating for newbies, because you're led to believe that you should just keep doing things in a way that obviously isn't helping, but maybe you feel very taken care of by them and very annoyed by those of us who are saying, "Stop. Do it/ think about it differently and you won't have that problem." 

       I started YNAB with $7 in my checking account.  Now, I have several categories that are over $7000. Some of that is that I got a better job. But most of that is YNAB. But you are welcome to dismiss my advice as  "They have so much money they can't possibly understand where I'm coming from" if you want. Ultimately, it's your money and your loss at learning a truly revolutionary way to manage and grow it. 

      Reply Like 7
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 1 yr ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      I agree with WordTenor . I'll add that if your income doesn't have room to budget for every future planned expense based simply on saving $X/[paychecks remaining till due] per paycheck, you are overextending and can't afford it. There are some edge cases where it might work out if you are snowballing your savings in a way that can minimize/optimize what you need to save, but those are edge cases and not the norm.

      Reply Like 2
      • Dazed
      • and a little less confused
      • dazed
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      57 Twin Jumping in a week late, but I feel the same frustration.  I have an Excel file that I created so I can see the big picture and forecast ahead.  I found I couldn't wrap my head around whether or not I was on track just looking at YNAB.  The excel template mirrors my YNAB categories and I'm currently forecasted out through September.  We needed to know if our budget could support an education expense under two different scenarios.  I tweek Excel and YNAB here and there as I get new information.

      As for my Snowball to throw at debt payments, I have a category called "Debt Snowball - $700" in my Debts master category.  The $700 is my goal.  If at the end of the month I've funded all of my budgets as intended, I budget to this category.  If I'm under my $700 goal (because I overspent or my funding goals for the month didn't leave enough), then I contribute what I can.  If I'm over, I budget the $700 to the Snowball and any excess to start funding the following month.  I then make my Snowball payment on the 1st so I'm not tempted to rob it.

      Reply Like
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 1 yr ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Dazed You are on track in your true expense and savings categories if you are budgeting the proper amount with each paycheck or month. If not, you're not on track. You can set a monthly budgeting goal to give you the answer.

      Reply Like 1
      • VanillaCottage
      • Believer in the life-changing magic of YNAB4 - since 2013
      • VanillaCottage
      • 1 yr ago
      • 6
      • Reported - view

      I have to really agree with what WordTenor is saying here. Even without an actual pay raise, the system works so that, if you use it religiously as intended, you will somehow end up with extra (real) money in your budget that you can eventually use to fund those future goals. In the old forum, we used to call this the "ynab raise." It happened with us, but we ended up adding income too, so while it worked like magic, I didn't really see the magic until I started doing my mother's finances a couple of years ago. She is on a fixed income of SS. She went from having negative dollars in her checking account, overdrawing every month, and adding extra credit card debt each month to now having over $8000 in cash saved. And she's not really doing anything all that different. Using YNAB in the way it is intended creates awareness. Even without goals and forecasting.

      All that to say, listen to WordTenor . Take that slap in the face. I endured it as well back then, and I'm richer today for it.

      Reply Like 6
  • I agree that for the planning stages at the least (and why not for ever) a list of the planned expenses would be useful.

    I analysed my expenses for the last year, spreadsheet and classified everything I could (cash was just a lot of guesswork) and pulled together a list of amounts by category. I've put them into YNAB but some are already paid by this point in the month. So all I want to see is how does May the first full month shape up. Does it square to my spreadsheet? Have I entered it right? I can't check by adding up the two columns of numbers.

     

    I also want it to gloat over and cheer myself up but also it's nice to try the expected spend and the actual for months that vary.

    Reply Like
  • Sorry. I've just loaded up all my categories and accounts today.

     

    Also a strong sense that there are folks out there who clearly think that 57 Twin and myself are missing a point.  Coming up to 40 years of digital spreadsheets makes not having a future view feels a bit perverse.

    Reply Like
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 1 yr ago
      • 8
      • Reported - view

      Sea Green Hammer A view of the future does not reflect reality. Determining a savings rate needed to meet a goal and then saving at that rate is the only reality one needs to cling to. Projections are wishful thinking.

       

      The entire reason envelope/allocation budgeting works as well as it does is precisely because you do not look past now. You determine what you have to do now to meet your future goals.

      Projecting is determining what you will have to do in the future to meet your future goals. The problem with projecting is it all falls apart with one missed or reduced paycheck.

      Reply Like 8
    • Hi @nolesrule,

      This argument is a rehash of so many rather naïve  arguments about planning. You argument is "planning goes wrong therefore planning is pointless."

      Of course a plan goes wrong of course "A view of the future does not reflect reality". One point about planning is that you think through options and choices in advance so you can better understand the impacts of change. In that sense planning is like practicing your cognitive golf swing, rehearsing your future responses.

       

      You argument would be an argument for ignoring weather forecasts completely but forecasts save the US Billions of dollars every year because people can work with them and plan better futures.

       

      "Plans are useless planning is essential" said Churchill. "The first casualty of any battle is the plan" said von Clausewitz. Planning is preparation, rehearsal and practise.

      Not answering the question "what would that look like in the future feels" - a rehearsal - quite perverse.

      Reply Like
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 1 yr ago
      • 5
      • Reported - view

      Sea Green Hammer You haven't actually given me a reason why I'm wrong. It seems you completely mis-understand what I am saying. Your budget itself is the plan.

      If your income can't support funding all your categories at the appropriately calculated monthly amount, you are planning to do to much.

      So all you can do is divide up the income you have and new income you receive to be used across all of your plans, doing your best to use the "equal installment" method of Saving for True Expenses to get you there. If your goal needs $1200 in a year, you need to budget $100/month. If it needs $1200 in 2 years, then $50/month.

      But if your income can't support all of them in aggregate, you don't really have the income to support all your goals. And that's the reality that YNAB makes you face. And at that point you must choose which plans to prioritize.

      You can have anything you want, but you can't have everything you want.

      Reply Like 5
      • LarryinLA
      • Larryinla.1
      • 1 yr ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      nolesrule Sea Green Hammer

      nolesrule said:
      The entire reason envelope/allocation budgeting works as well as it does is precisely because you do not look past now. You determine what you have to do now to meet your future goals.
      Projecting is determining what you will have to do in the future to meet your future goals. The problem with projecting is it all falls apart with one missed or reduced paycheck.

       This is the crux of it.  The reason YNAB works is because you determine what you have to do now.  That's actionable.  You can actually do it.  Or you can see that you are not doing it.  The problem with projecting is that you can't do anything about it now.  You can't make it work today, you have to wait for the future to arrive.  The key is taking your plan and converting it into something that you can act on today.  That's the big difference, and that's what YNAB forces you to do.

      Reply Like 2
  • 57 Twin said:
    those of us accustomed to traditional budgeting methods do not want to give up the clear view of future cashflow that we're used to.

     

    Hi 57 Twin ,
    I'm glad this discussion is happening for many reasons, so thank you for bringing it up and continuing to ask questions. I wanted to speak to this particular quote, if that's alright.

    It's going to be an adjustment, and it may be uncomfortable at first, but we've intentionally designed YNAB as an allocation system, not a forecasting system. Not that we think all forecasting is bad, but allocation is the purpose of the software itself. And the reason we focus so much on allocation in the here and now is because it creates a feeling of scarcity and eliminates speculation at the same time. Scarcity helps us make good decisions -- to dig into the nitty gritty of our priorities. When we forecast, we solve everything with future money, which ultimately allows us to let ourselves off the hook. And how often does everything go according to plan? That future money may or may not come about the way we imagined it. Or, it may not come at all! So, all we have is what's in front of us -- today's dollars and our priorities. 

    We talk a lot about setting the right goals. There are those non-negotiables others have mentioned here -- annual car registration fees, for example, or maybe tuition fees charged every few months. We have to pay those. But there are also personal goals -- debt paydown, travel, or other things we dream of achieving. So we set those goals in the budget and let YNAB break down the monthly allotment. 

    Then, we make every spending decision count. Will this purchase -- in this moment -- get us closer to or further away from our goals? We have the goal (the long term thinking), and we have the focused, in-the-moment decisions. The combination is where the prioritization magic happens. And it's ongoing. We don't want anyone to become "less interested" in where their money is going at any point. We make choices about our priorities every single day and each one matters. 

    This is getting long so I'll wrap it up, but if you're meeting your immediate needs and funding your goals in each month, you can be confident that you're on track. Goals with timelines are typically highest priority, so if a goal is restricting your cash flow so much that you can't cover an immediate need, it's worth investigating and possibly adjusting a lower priority goal to make more room -- just keep in mind the priorities you set and use them as the compass. And allow time for adjusting to the newness. We're here to help and encourage along the way :) 

    Reply Like 10
      • Zentach
      • Hot_Pink_Song.1
      • 1 yr ago
      • 4
      • Reported - view

      Janelle I "super like" this. I agree 100%. It wasn't until I flipped the switch of "YNAB is an advanced overview of my finances for the month" to "YNAB is a virtual Envelop/Allocation system" that it really became useful to me. 

      Reply Like 4
  • Such a great thread, thanks for getting the ball rolling 57 Twin . After reading through, I wanted to throw a hypothetical out there. Hopefully I can get to it in a minimum of words. 🙂

    As Janelle mentions, YNAB is purpose-built to be an allocation system. The best decisions you can make are only about now. It's the origin of the idea of think long, act now. The lure of a prediction is strong and can cause problems when we're acting now, in negative ways we can't always anticipate. So, yup, we've always been cautious about that.

    But/and, we all want to feel confident about our future, right? I mean, that's why so many of us, myself included, started budgeting. And WordTenor is right about "five years in", as far as my experience has shown me (and I don't mean just my experience, I mean that of thousands of YNABers...).

    BUT STILL, I can hear people saying. And I empathize. So how can we provide some view into the future that doesn't trick you into believing that that particular future is exactly how it is going to be? (Half of my current spending are things I might not have predicted five years ago...).

    Okay, okay, here's what I wanted to throw out: What if you could see a report that shows the net cumulative effect, into the future, of the goals you set. So, I don't mean the net effect on your account balances, there's really no point in predicting those. Danger lies there.

    So 57 Twin I don't mean just looking ahead to next month, but looking as far as the scope of the goals you have set. If you set goals A, B, C, etc., how much money would you need to fund all those goals (remembering needs outside your goals may change dramatically, to keep throwing out the same caution...)?

    How would trying to save for one goal in a shorter time-frame impact six months from now? And if you're in a good enough position to be budgeting into next month (or the next one or the next one...), how many of these goals/months are already funded? 

    Reply Like
    • Todd 

      I read everything regarding a plan for my money with YNAB. I found it very interesting but I still don’t appreciate the fact that I can’t register an income in the future. For say, I receive my paycheck on a regular basis every two week. So, that would help me a lot if I could see what happen in the future with my budget with these futures revenus. I understand all the principe with the rules but I really don’t understand why we can consider a future revenu as done. We could do that in YNAB4 and I really liked it. That is helped me very much to see the big picture and see what it will be in relation to my money. 

      I do not understand why you do not let the user choose. I fully understand the principle of the rules. The idea of allowing income to be considered at later dates is simply to provide an overview of longer-term planning. You lose me because of that. I invite you to contact me if this item is corrected to your application. For your information, I am a professional accountant (CPA) and I loved your application.

      Reply Like
  • For me, I find it annoying that I have to trick YNAB into setting up my monthly budget for the next month. Although I get paid twice each month, I usually just enter transactions for both pays at the start of the month. I know that YNAB says to budget as the money comes in, but most of my expenses are monthly so it is easier to do it by month. The other problem is that I have to wait to set up a new months budget until the date actually changes to that month. As I write this, it is 11PM on 4/30. I really want to set up May's budget tonight, not tomorrow. So I have to trick YNAB for the next hour into thinking I've been paid today, then change it tomorrow, then change it again when the second pay really comes in. Other than this issue, I find YNAB really helpful. It is much better than my old spreadsheet. Oh, and I'd really like to see a list of all transactions, including moving from one budget item to another.

    Reply Like 2
      • Orchid Cup
      • Orchid_Cup
      • 9 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      I have this problem, too, but even more so. My income is from mid-month to mid-month. Only half my expenses show as "upcoming" or goals when I get my income. I have to look at every scheduled payment I have past the 1st of the month to do my budget for the money. It would be nice to set the time period for my "month" to a different date than the 1st.

      Reply Like
    • Hi Orchid Cup !

      We believe the YNAB Method shines brightest because it’ll work with any pay schedule! You can apply the method—no matter when you get paid. If you have a few minutes (five, to be exact!), watch this Whiteboard Wednesday episode for more info.


      With YNAB, it’s not only about the calendar, it’s about the method (trust us on this one). What you do when you’re paid is more important than the date itself. Just use these three steps:

      1. Record your income.
      2. Give those dollars a job. Ask yourself, “What does this money need to do before I’m paid again?”. Do you have an Immediate Obligation that needs to be taken care of before your next payday? Budget money there. If you have extra, budget towards your True Expenses.
      3. Spend. Don’t forget to check your category balances first! :)

      That said, I do have a few tips to help with some of the things you mentioned!

      When you have a Scheduled Transaction, your Available column will be orange, with a calendar icon. In our Help Docs, we have an article that talks about what all of those colors and icons in your budget mean!

      I like to add the date of my scheduled transaction to the category name, and then drag them into order. The screenshot below is a quick example from my test budget. 😀

      I hope that helps! Let me know if you still have questions. I’m happy to help!

      Reply Like
  • I read everything regarding a plan for my money with YNAB. I found it very interesting but I still don’t appreciate the fact that I can’t register an income in the future. For say, I receive my paycheck on a regular basis every two week. So, that would help me a lot if I could see what happen in the future with my budget with these futures revenus. I understand all the principe with the rules but I really don’t understand why we can consider a future revenu as done. We could do that in YNAB4 and I really liked it. That is helped me very much to see the big picture andsee what it will be in relation to my money. 

    I do not understand why you do not let the user choose. I fullyunderstand the principle of the rules. The idea of allowing income to be considered at later dates is simply to provide an overview of longer-term planning. You lose me because of that. I invite you to contact me if this item is corrected to your application. For your information, I am a professional accountant (CPA) and I loved your application.

    Reply Like
  • For me just the simple addition of a "Goals" column before the "Budgeted" column with totals for each group and a grand total would be extremely useful, even if there was a way to toggle it on and off.  The numbers in the "Goals" column would reflect the "Goal Target" number for each category. The key here for me is the grand total. If the grand total amount is equal to or less than how much money I expect to have for that month then I know I likely won't overspend. If the grand total is greater, however, I need to adjust my goals until I can afford to cover them all.

    I am actually able to gain most of this functionality already with the "Toolkit for YNAB" plugin for Chrome, but the font doesn't match the rest of the UI and there are no group totals.

    Reply Like 1
  • Todd said:
    I can hear people saying. And I empathize. So how can we provide some view into the future that doesn't trick you into believing that that particular future is exactly how it is going to be?

     Todd the feature that 57 Twin and several others, including myself, are asking for would be covered with an additional column that considers the future transactions in that category. I've seen this in several other software and spreadsheets (see attached picture). Currently as is, YNAB will show funded categories with future/planned transactions having money available in "green", however it's not until that money is spent will the category go to "orange" to  show it's unfunded for a future transaction.  What an awful workflow, seems like a little too late for that,  because now I've got to go adjust my budget to cover the overspending. By contrast, if I had seen no available money in my budget prior to spending taht money I won't have spent it in the first place and avoided all the issues.  It's such a "reactive" method for budgeting and feels unplanned.  Reminds me of the days before I budgeted and planned for expenses. 

    After nearly 3 years being released I'm disappointed that simple features like these have not be integrated. Not sure that the YNAB team is much concerned with their customers feedback, and yes I've submitted a feature request for this specially. 

    Reply Like
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