Fresh Start or New Budget?

I've been dabbling/learning YNAB this month and want to start on the first of the next month.  Way too much experimentation this month to continue but not sure if Fresh Start or just creating a New Budget is best way forward.  Suggestions?

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  • There are only 2 differences between the 2 options.

     A Fresh start will keep your categories (not the money assigned and spent etc, just the names) and account settings. A new budget will not. Which one is best is for you to decide.

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  • Very helpful, thanks!

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  • Welcome Scoobie Doo ! I just want to say that I think a Fresh Start (or new budget) is a great plan after you've done some experimenting. Even experienced budgeters learn a lot with each new iteration! 🎉 Let us know if you have any questions along the way!

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  • Welcome, and congrats on getting started! There's plenty of dabbling and learning to do in YNAB, and either solution you mentioned will work for you, so you really can't go wrong!

    As others said, the Fresh Start will keep your current categories and accounts, but will not keep any of the money from those accounts. So if you feel like your categories and targets are pretty well dialed in, then a Fresh Start might feel just right!

    But if you think you want to try a new experiment, or practice building from scratch, or etc., then maybe a blank canvas is the right option to help you create a new piece of living art! 

    Whatever you choose, have fun digging into another month of YNAB!

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  • Ok, very specific question ... If I connect my accounts on Aug. 1, will YVAB import a bunch of July transactions?  In other words, how can I really have a FRESH START as of this Sunday, Aug 1?

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      • tekgy
      • Neuroscience & Technology
      • tekgy
      • 1 mth ago
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      Scoobie Doo I believe that when you create the new account it will take the current balance as "starting balance" and begin importing new pending/posted charges from that point moving forward. However that means you might have made a purchase in July that hasn't posted yet, and it would get imported when it does clear your bank, so be sure you assign money in August to the right category to cover any charges like that. FWIW, this is always something to keep in mind, whether you start on the 1st of a month or somewhere in the middle. Pre-YNAB purchases might post after beginning your budget.

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      • Scoobie Doo
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      • Budgetmasterwannabe
      • 1 mth ago
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      tekgy 

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      • Scoobie Doo
      • Budget Mania
      • Budgetmasterwannabe
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      Scoobie Doo  We’re so jazzed about YNAB we’re actually going the rest of the week with no transactions hoping all will be cleared by Aug 1. A YNAB geek in the making!!

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    • Scoobie Doo Just a thought - to have cleaner reports for your new budget, inflow your account balances dated July 31st. Then, flip to August and budget it.

       

      Optional, Buffered workflow: Assign any bulk savings in July, then flip to August and budget the normal month.

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      • Scoobie Doo
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      • Budgetmasterwannabe
      • 1 mth ago
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      Move Light Sound Life hey great ideas ... just to make sure I understand ... "inflow account balances" meaning filter by date from bank/Visa accounts?  Also, "buffered workflow" - how would I do that?

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    • Scoobie Doo Sorry, I meant make your starting balances dated in July, that way you can begin with a "normal" (no month is really normal) month in August. 

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    • The reason I like doing this is because I already had some savings categories from before YNAB, so I filled them in July and then made the normal, monthly contribution in August. 

      If you want to be Buffered (see more below), see about putting what you will absolutely need to spend in August in the July IFNM category (see below), then fill up the other savings categories. 

      Then, you would empty that IFNM category in July, flip to August, and budget your month. 

      Then, any income earned in August would go to IFNM, rinse and repeat.

      Like 1
  • Scoobie Doo said:
    Also, "buffered workflow" - how would I do that?

     Being Buffered is a state where you can push all money earned in one month into the next month's budget.

    If you Fresh Start on August 1st and can budget whatever you need to spend in August with money from before August, you can be Buffered. 

    If you can't, then you'll just budget paycheck to paycheck for now.

    A lot of people use an Income For Next Month category to facilitate saving for being Buffered and then executing being Buffered. There are many benefits.

    If you think that's a good fit for you and you want (a lot) more info, search "Trying Out The YNAB Buffer" on this forum. 

    I tried to compile everything I'd read about it in that post, and I know it's overwhelming, so if you want to take it bit by bit, just ask and someone can clarify for your situation. 

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      • Scoobie Doo
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      • Budgetmasterwannabe
      • 1 mth ago
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      Move Light Sound Life Ok, that's really helpful.  Yes, we have enough in checking for Aug bills so I was planning on/hoping for all transactions to be cleared in July then use the checking account balance to fund (or do I dare say buffer!) Aug bills.  Am I on the right track?

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    • Scoobie Doo Regardless of what has cleared when you want to start, you can manually enter the starting balance you need it to be, then reconcile it on the 31st. You can even change the number by editing the transaction.

      Actually, it doesn't hurt to enter the first few days of transactions manually to make sure the bicycle is riding smoothly on your import. Any duplicates can be matched or deleted.

      For that matter, why not set up your scheduled transactions for August now? 

      If you're not going to spend money this week, set your starting balances for today and get all that work done before August. Why wait?

      ETA: Even you you have another transaction slip through at the end of this month, you could feasibly take the amount of that transaction and add/subtract it to the starting balance transaction. That's if you really care about a clean report at the "beginning."

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      • Scoobie Doo
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      • Budgetmasterwannabe
      • 1 mth ago
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      Move Light Sound Life Ok, now you're getting at what I really was trying to avoid.  (thanks for your patience with 3 week old YNAB'er!) My main motivation for the fresh start was I didn't want all the July over/under amounts to automatically move into August.  I may not fully understand YNAB monthly transitions but that was what I was seeing happen with the July dabbling I was doing. 

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    • Scoobie Doo I'll make a screen shot tomorrow to illustrate what I mean. A picture is worth 1000 words. 🙂

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      • Scoobie Doo
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      • Budgetmasterwannabe
      • 1 mth ago
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      Move Light Sound Life Fanstastic thanks a ton!

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    • Scoobie Doo Sorry, yesterday was busy.

      Pic #1 - starting balance, but later in the day there was another transaction.

      Pic #2 - NBD, change the starting balance

      The only thing you'll have to do is take the $55 from some category in the budget, because naturally, you'll have $55 less than when you assigned the whole $3000.

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    • Scoobie Doo 

      Here's an example of scheduled transactions. Note the memos that say "Aug number" reflect the bill I've already updated, and when the water bill repeats in Sept, it is obvious that I haven't gotten the bill and changed the transaction yet.

      Also, more words about the same: https://support.youneedabudget.com/t/y4hllkz/using-scheduled-transactions-for-cash-flow-projection-in-ynab

      And I'm sure there are help docs available as well, now that you know some useful vocabulary to search.

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      • Scoobie Doo
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      • Budgetmasterwannabe
      • 1 mth ago
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      Move Light Sound Life Ok, I think I'm getting it!  Maybe overthinking it a bit :) 

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      • Scoobie Doo
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      • Budgetmasterwannabe
      • 1 mth ago
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      Move Light Sound Life  That article is helpful.  Thanks, love this forum for dummies like me! 

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    • Scoobie Doo Your welcome!

      The nice thing about YNAB is that you really can just go for it. Don't worry about overthinking anything or not getting set up perfectly. It's easy to change what you're doing as you learn more. 

      I started in the middle of August, but I always filter my reports to start in Sept. 

      There are options. There are also loads of people with things to say. Keep asking questions if you want to optimize a certain scenario or are having trouble with anything.

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      • Scoobie Doo
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      • Budgetmasterwannabe
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      Move Light Sound Life Thanks a ton.  Really apprecaite it. 

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    • Silver_Screwdiver.4
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    Thank!

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  • Scoobie Doo said:
    I didn't want all the July over/under amounts to automatically move into August

     To address this issue:

    Any positive available amount left in a category will roll over and stay in that category in the next month.

    Any negative available amount in a category due to cash spending will be taken from the next month's RTA.

    Any negative available amount in a category due to credit spending will be (is already, technically) added to the credit card debt (no CC debt means the amount available in the CC Payment category is the positive equivalent to the working balance on the card at all times).

    The Assigned cells, which simply represent the math of moving money into/among categories in a given month, will be empty in the new month.

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  • HI Everyone ... not sure my plan to start everything clean on Aug 1 worked out (I'm confused on a number of issues but just jumping in!) ... can anyone speak to what's going on with my Visa card?  I thought ALL the transactions would show in the Visa category as we made purchases but only one is showing up?  Plus I've got a credit from last month that showed up Aug 2 and a crazy $4,595 amount in the total spending spot (it was zeroed out end of July  ... I think I've made a mess.  Suggestions?

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      • satcook
      • satcook
      • 1 mth ago
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      Scoobie Doo Do your budget categories have money in them or do they have a negative available amount?

      WHat was the starting balance on your credit card?

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      • Scoobie Doo
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      • Budgetmasterwannabe
      • 1 mth ago
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      satcook All the August categories were "assigned" with funds I had in our checking account.

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    • Scoobie Doo when you assign funds to the categories, as you already know it should automatically transfer those funds to the credit card as "Funded Spending". Let's use a simple example. Suppose I have $5,000 in my checking account.

       

      Now let's enter two credit card transactions, for $100 each. Since I haven't assigned anything to those categories yet, it will show $200 overspending on the credit card account screen.

       

      And in the credit card activity screen within the budget, it will show $200 of spending and $0 of funded spending.

       

      Now let's budget for one of those transactions by assigning funds to the Electric category.

       

      You can see now my overspending on the credit card changes to $100.

       

      My total spending in the credit card activity screen within the budget is still $200, but the funded spending is now $100 because it automatically transferred that funding to the credit card payment.

       

      Question 1: When you click the credit card account screen, do you see any overspending in the upper right corner for August?

      It also sounded to me like you didn't understand why your credit card total spending was so high. One way to check that is to filter your credit card account for august spending only, and look to see if anything is incorrect, such as transactions for the wrong amount, duplicates, inflow outflow going the wrong direction, transaction posted to the wrong account, etc.

      Here's how you do that.

      First, go to the credit card account in your account list.

       

      Click view in the upper right near the search bar.

       

      Select this month and make sure show reconciled transactions is checked.

       

      Question 2: Now you should be seeing just the August credit card activity. Does anything look unusual?

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    • Scoobie Doo After looking at this, I'm wondering how your Starting Balance was entered? Either of these options will work, but if it says Category not needed it won't reflected in that top-left spending number in the Activity window. If it looks like the bottom version in my screenshot, and is categorized as Inflow: Ready to Assign, it will be reflected in Spending.

      Rather than getting caught up in these numbers, can you let us know how you use your credit card? Do you pay in full? Pay the statement balance? Are you working on some debt? We can help you make sure it is set up and ready for you to use according to your budgeting needs.

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      • Scoobie Doo
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      • Budgetmasterwannabe
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      CPA Budgeter Wow, thanks for the help!  I had to read through your help a few times but I think I got it.  I was not categorizing any of the July items and that was messing things up then when I did the August filter that helped a ton.  Thanks for your help! 

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      • Scoobie Doo
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      • Budgetmasterwannabe
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      Marisa I think I did that part ok.  I was just trying to get off to this really clean start but with all the chaos of our finances ( I dont' recommend new YNAB members buy a new vehicle or start a new countertop kitchen project the first month!  

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  • Thanks everyone for your help as I've got going in YNAB this month.  

    One more question ... do the green numbers in the income categories mean they can be assigned to Sept and Oct budgets?  Not sure why it says "all money assigned?" 

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    • Scoobie Doo You should not have income categories. All income should be categorized as RTA*. 

      The way to differentiate income in the reports is by payee.

      * Are you Buffered? As in, you've assigned what you need for August already, and your August paychecks will be assigned in September? If so, those can be categorized to an INM category for now, but they'll be recategorized to RTA when it's time to budget September.

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    • Scoobie Doo You've got over $500 in uncategorized transactions.

      If those are refunds, categorize them to the spending category.

      If they are refunds for things purchased before starting YNAB, either categorize as RTA (they'll show up in the income report, though) or CC payment category (not sure if that's possible).

      If they are CC rewards, categorize as RTA with a payee of Rewards.

      If at any point you have money you don't need in a category because of a refund/reward (make sure CC category represents PIF), move it (assigned column, budget screen) to a category that needs it.

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      • Scoobie Doo
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      • Budgetmasterwannabe
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      Move Light Sound Life Ok, that makes sense. Yes, Aug covered and wanting to get Sept and Oct started (or buffered in YNAB lingo?)  So just to be sure what's RTA and INM?

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      • Scoobie Doo
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      • Budgetmasterwannabe
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      Move Light Sound Life Ok that's helpful.  I def wasn't able to get the clean start on Aug 1 so now I've got credits from last month showing up. What you said seems to make sense.  Thanks again for your help. 

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    • Scoobie Doo 

      RTA = Ready To Assign. This is the built in category to deal with income in YNAB and is displayed at the top of the budget screen.

      INM = Income for Next Month. This is a category that you make to hold income until you're ready to assign it in a future month. 

      I'd recommend just assigning one month out and building up a category called Loss of Income for the more future months. If you have irregular income, you can make another category called Deferred Income to help smooth that out, if needed 

      Both the LOI and the DI categories will only have money moved into/out of on the budget page. You don't categorize to those.

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  • Scoobie Doo said:
    I def wasn't able to get the clean start on Aug 1

     I wouldn't worry too much about that. You can make the reports as clean as you want them. I'm glad you jumped in regardless!

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