New to YNAB

So i am very new to YNAB. Just downloaded yesterday from a recommendation from my cousin. She loves it, and we are all pretty into the dave ramsey debt snowball ideas, so strong financial goals. 

I have been using a excel spreadsheet for all my budgeting, but i basically break things down by paycheck rather than monthly expenses. I am curious how that will interpret into YNAB and how to make it fit what i am used to. I am pretty good about allocating every dollar of my paycheck, and making adjustments, but it might be nice to be able to do it on the go and see balances in real time, rather than just the 3-4 times i sit down with my spreadsheet and bank account. Any suggestions or tips to help me get used to it or used to best fill my needs? 

Long term goals is pay off student loans, then save for a cash car, but i am currently in a job transition and have no real idea what my paycheck is going to look like fore the next few months due to this. i have money set aside to protect from any issues with the transition, but it is making it hard to plan everything too exactly. 

Anyways, and tips or tricks you can suggest would be great! 

Gray Drum out. 

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  • An important concept to understand is that YNAB is a 21st century, more flexible version of the age old envelope budget. In that budget,you take all the money you have in cash, and apportion it into paper envelopes according to what it is you need to spend on. You cannot dole out more cash than you have because you literally don't have it to put in any envelopes. And in order to spend more than you have in one envelope, you must take from another envelope.

    When you first start YNAB, you'll make plans for all the money you physically have right now.  As you are paid again, you'll add to your categories to make plans for the new money. You then can alter that plan and move money around as needed using the app. 

    There's a very recent blog post which might help you think through using goals to nanage your monthly spending as you budget each paycheck. I'm on my phone at the moment, but if no one links it, I'll add it when I get back to the computer. 



    is this the one you are referring to? 

    Yeah i am getting that concept. The weird part for me i think is i like to plan ahead. I budget my paycheck before i get it. I am trying to figure out how to incorporate a little bit of that into YNAB. Is it better to use the goals feature or the scheduled transactions. I am slowly getting to know the system, and i am going to read that Article, so maybe that will help me figure it out. 

  • That's the one!

    You want to use both, ideally. Goals are better for discretionary categories and scheduled transactions for fixed ones. For instance, you can schedule your housing payment--you know what it is and when it's due. But you can't schedule the $36.48 you'll spend at the grocery store this weekend, so a monthly funding goal is a better choice there. 

    YNAB is different from other budgets in the expectation that you will budget only money you already have. It doesn't mean you don't still plan; it just means that you don't execute the plan until the money is there. While it might seem counter-intuitive at first, ultimately it's what makes YNAB so powerful. You'll never be doing the mental math of stepping into the grocery store and trying to figure out if you'll still be okay to have the nice dinner out you wanted to have if you take advantage of the big sale on wild-caught salmon. You'll know that the money you've set aside for dining out is ready to go, and as long as you don't overspend the grocery category, you'll be just fine to still do everything else you wanted to do (including savings goals.) 

    • Tan Major (faac422e1003) Thanks! This is helpful, And after reading the blog post, i think i am understanding it a little better. I am hoping that YNAB works out better than mint did... 

  • I'm also a major planner, and at first I was kinda confused by how YNAB works.  I really recommend that you make time to attend some of the webinars.  The presenters do a great job of running through how the system works and you can ask questions along the way.  I think I watched almost all of them in the first few weeks when I started YNAB.  It is a different approach than I had used before.

    I expect if you set up monthly funding goals or scheduled transactions for your fixed expenses, and you have money set aside for some of these costs, you should be able to get to a reasonable "age of money" quickly.  That way your expected spending for the next month or so is covered.  Then you can set goals for some of your longer term priorities, and as you get paid you can allocate each paycheck among your fixed expenses for next month, as well as funding what you plan to pay towards your school loans and savings for your future car purchase.  If your paycheck varies for a while, thats ok, you will make more or less progress towards your ultimate goals, but still have the security that the necessities are covered.

    Like 1
  • I really encourage you to take their classes. They are free, offered all the time with real live helpful teachers, and you can take them as many times as you want. I took a few classes when I started with YNAB, and then a few months later after I had the basics down. Every class I took taught me something!

    YNAB still works paycheck to paycheck. You just use the money you have to budget for what must be paid before you get paid again. The Break the Paycheck to Paycheck Cycle class is great for that. :)

    Keep plugging away at YNAB and if you get stuck, ask for help - either from [email protected] (wonderful real live people answer your questions quickly - usually in 24 hours!), or from the Facebook or Reddit groups, and here. There are so many folks who have been where you are and want to help! :) Welcome to YNAB! :)

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  • Hi, Gray Drum,

    I came to YNAB after I lost my husband of 30 years. I couldn't figure out how much I had to live on beyond my own paycheck (except that I couldn't pay for the house AND the taxes!).  The hardest thing for me was to learn the language. It was so unfamiliar that I didn't know enough to even frame a question. More than once, one of the support staff made a video for me (thank you, thank you, thank you again!).  There are still terms on the UI that I don't understand fully.  So (for a couple of years!) I took the webinar classes (repeatedly), perused instructions, listened to White Boards. I was inconsistent, so it's not so surprising that it took so long. Sometimes I couldn't bear to face it. The one thing that I did was to never stop completely. Even if I was just using it as a time consuming check register, I kept filling in my expenses (usually after the fact) and always reconciling my accounts. 

    That template that Tan Major mentioned was a HUGE help, tying up a lot of bits and pieces. I'd love to see more blog posts that focus on the interconnections of what YNAB can do. The Budget Template begins with scheduling all the fixed payments, then you turn to the variable expenses and set goals for most of them. Paying attention to what is happening in the Inspector>Budget>underfunded makes sense of a lot of the other numbers. It makes it very easy to make a big picture plan, visualize what you can pay for now, and what you can pay for later. 

    Good luck in mastering it. I've seen a lot of good ideas on these forum pages already.

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    • MsTJ
    • YNAB has given me back my future
    • Believer_in_YNAb
    • 3 yrs ago
    • Reported - view

    So glad to see the feed back you are getting.  I've been using YNAB for almost 3 years now and still take the classes sometimes, mostly when I'm feeling defeated.  Every once in a while they are updated with new information so I plan to continue watching them.  

    The budget template is the most recent update I'm aware of, and is the method I'm using.  Still fine tuning it and have most of the big things scheduled or budgeted for.  

    YNAB uses a method of budgeting that I haven't found any place else.  The classes help understanding the flow thereby making my transition from what I did in the past (that did not work) to the YNAB way (which works, after some adjustments) as easy as possible, for me.  

  • Add my voice to the chorus of "Take the classes!".  I've also found their support staff to be VERY responsive and helpful.  The other thing I would recommend, based on my own personal experience, is to make it a habit each day.  I get to work.  I fire up my computer and log into YNAB.  I update any transactions and then I start my day with a clear head.  It takes maybe 10 minutes and has become something that is not only a habit, but something that I truly enjoy.  That being said, we're a family of four and we're dedicated to paying off our credit card each and every month (points baby!) so I always have between 2-5 transactions to allocate each day.  If you don't have that kind of volume, then establish a schedule that makes more sense.  The important thing is that using YNAB (and constantly aligning with other financial decision makers in your household, like spouses) is something that should become as regular as brushing your teeth.  And if you don't regularly brush your teeth, BRUSH. YOUR. TEETH!! 

      • Matt
      • thinkmps
      • 3 yrs ago
      • Reported - view

      Orchid General (6de881fb3b42) yep - take the classes! Very practical. I especially liked the q& a and hearing from others.

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