Categories Groups - Frequency vs. Types
I submitted this change in the suggested features section, but I wanted to post something here to get thoughts from the community. I've been using YNAB for a little over a month now and really like it. But there is one thing that is bothering me. The way the system uses Category Groups. I understand the difference between "immediate obligations," "true expenses," etc. and how they work with the four rules. This is largely based on the frequency that an expense occurs. What appears to be missing to me is a new category attribute called "type" or something similar. Something that would allow me to tag a category as the "type" of expense it is. Types I have in mind include House, Health, Food, Comm/Media, Personal Care, Transportation, Entertainment, etc.
It seems to me that adding this field or attribute would allow for some very useful reporting options that would allow you to see how much money is going to these category types.
Right now, in order to do this, you have to adjust the Category Groups to "types" instead of the YNAB "frequency" method. It seems to me that it would be a fairly simple process technically to just add a field to capture type. Tags would be useful in this regard as well. Then you wouldn't have to choose between the two. You could have your cake and eat it too on this one, and it would be a great enhancement to YNAB overall.
Am I alone on this? Does anyone have a solution I'm not seeing that resolves this without a technical change? I've bounced back and forth between using Category Groups for both of these two uses and it seems to me that you should be able to have both without doing that. It's not a deal breaker. YNAB is still the best tool out there I have found for budgeting. This would clearly put it over the top in my book though.
I had the same concern when starting YNAB six years ago, and I think that many people do. The focus of YNAB for new users is to break the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle, so the default category groups are focused on that. After I broke out of that cycle and got a month ahead, I reorganized all of my category Groups, using the same categories I already had (preserving reporting information) into types of categories.
I don't know if the various helpful blogs, videos, workshops, etc. have this as one of the topics. I've watched, listened, read, and participated in most of the topics but don't remember that one. My category groups have been massively reorganized a couple more times since then, once by priorities of bills, and currently by the Maslow's heirarchy of needs.
Your category groups should reflect your current needs to better see what is important to you.
Yeah, I don't use those default categories. Mine are all functional. I just know which ones are short term and which are longer term. My master categories are Food, Savings, Housing, Auto, etc.
But I should add that I'm a long time user that budgets a month at time using the classic rule 4, live on last month's income. Like casner says, it probably depends on where you are in your journey as to the best way to lay out your master categories.
Thanks all. Validating to hear from long time users that I am not missing anything here. I've converted to grouping by type and inserting the frequency into the title as a work around for January to see how it goes. Hopefully YNAB will consider making these two separate attributes in the future. In the meantime, I think this will give me what I need for filtering by frequency in the title to be sure I'm prioritizing, while still giving me the reporting I want by type in the reports section. Not ideal, but I think I can make it work. Thanks all.
One more note on this. Above I mention how I am filtering by frequency based on inserting the frequency into the title. I'm able to do this because I installed Toolkit via chrome and turned on the feature that allows you to filter categories on screen. Very useful. I recommend exploring the Toolkit options for anyone out there who is looking to customize YNAB. There are some useful interface enhancements such as this. I stumbled on how to turn on Toolkit and an overview of the features via a youtube video from Nick True (who has been very helpful in getting going with YNAB by the way. Good stuff from this guy).