No Place to Maintain a Static Baseline Monthly Budget

Monthly I resolve overspending and sweep and excess funds into savings by moving funds between categories and then Replenish each Category with the Same Static Monthly Budget. No matter how I do this there is no where in YNAB to maintain a static baseline monthly budget amount for categories.  

I first tried setting up Goals for my Categories to establish a monthly baseline budget amount. Whenever I moved $ from one category to another it would flag the category as being Under Funded and Updated the Budget Amount.  I researched this and it was recommended not using goals and just set the budget in Month 1 and used it as the basis for the Budget next month.

Okay fine, I tried it and it too doesn't allow you to maintain a static baseline monthly budget either. When ever you move available funds from 1 category to another is doesn't just move the available funds it adjusts your budget amount even without goals being established. So I can't copy last month to this month.  I would need to enter the same budget month after month after month after month......... and occasionally make a one time adjustment. 

YNAB supports many ways to establish a Monthly Budget Amount except a Static Monthly Budget. Currently I Maintain my Baseline Monthly Budget in Excel (not YNAB) and Re-Renter it every month for every category because their is no way in YNAB to do it.

It would seem I should be able to both Set a Static Monthly Budget Amount that i can use every month and override as needed and Move $ Between Categories but as currently defined that is not possible since they are hard linked under the covers in your design. 

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  • The old-school approach is to simply put the nominal value right in the category name. E.g., "Eating Out $100/mo". Or if splitting across checks, "Rent $800/ck".

    Regarding the nag of Goals after reallocation: you can squelch that by editing the goal in next month's area and just hitting OK. (This does not work for Spend By Date goals.)

    One question: are you ahead enough where all your income is budgeted into the following month's area?

    Like 1
    • dakinemaui  Yes I'm ahead on the budget. Budgets are all Forecasts/Educated Guesses. I used a baseline to monitor how i'm doing each month and alert me to any trouble areas and do a true up at the end of each month to cover any overspending (life) that happens and sweep any excess funds into savings and then repeat the next month. If I'm consistently over/under spending or my income changes I adjust my baseline.  

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      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 5 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Terry McDonald I keep my baseline/template in next months area. Consequently, I have no need for goals or their nagging when I reallocate. I've also walled off the months (as have many) so each month is standalone. Kind of a mini-fresh start or reset.

      It is only appropriate for someone who pushes all income into next months area.

      Complete workflow described here:

      https://support.youneedabudget.com/t/m2acjg

      Like 1
    • dakinemaui Thanks for the suggestion. That works. YNAB could support it cleaner by simply maintaining a Budget Template that is separate from the Budget/Activity/Balance math and could be applied to the new month as a Quick Budget option. Doesn't compromise the assign every $ a Job concept. Again Thanks! 

      Like 5
      • bobbucy
      • Tomato_Snow_237e7f17927
      • 5 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Terry McDonald I recommended a budget template years ago in YNAB4.  That suggestion went nowhere.  I use goals to maintain at least somewhat of a baseline budget.  Goals are very useful for many things, but cannot replicate a baseline budget.  Ultimately I have to go to a spreadsheet to work out a true baseline budget.

      Like 1
  • YNAB's stance is that there is no "normal" month; spending varies month to month. Putting the minimum/maximum in the category name guides allocation, and after the first month or two you can use Quick Budget to fill in the average or last month's spending with three clicks. It's easy to make adjustments after that.

    Like 1
      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 6 mths ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      dangerosity Quite right. The lack of a normal month doesn't preclude striving for good "nominal" values to start the month in the absence of additional information. As the month progresses and new information arrives, that's when things will often need to shift.

      Like 2
      • dangerosity
      • Aquamarine_Piranha.9
      • 6 mths ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view
      dakinemaui said:
      As the month progresses and new information arrives, that's when things will often need to shift.

      ^^This is imperative to remember. 

      I had the same problem with goals as OP. Then I saw a reply from you dakinemaui in another thread about how you don't use goals, and I switched to only using them if I needed to reach a total balance (i.e. 1,000 by July for a trip).

      Otherwise, I use Quick Budget's last month's spend as my template for a new month. Not using monthly goals has made a world of difference for Rolling With the Punches. I don't feel locked in to set limits that restrict the need for flexibility.

      Terry McDonald in my opinion, Quick Budget doesn't get enough credit, but it is more useful after completing a couple months in YNAB. That may fulfill the need for a static approach.

      Like 2
    • dangerosity There is also no perfect budget so I choose to establish a reasonable baseline and will adjust the baseline if my spending or income needs change. It's a simple way to monitor and averages for the year for any given discretionary category will change monthly.  Baseline, Monitor, True Up, Adjust as Needed, Repeat. Not looking to micromanage every $. 

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    • dakinemaui I don't shift the budget during the month. I simply monitor and at the end of each month do a true up. If the needs or income changes then periodically i will adjust the baseline as needed. Very simple but effective process and have doing this for 20 years. Takes very little time. No place in YNAB to store a baseline for the month so i'll need to add inputting the budget fresh each month from Excel. 

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    • dangerosity I initially set the baseline using averages for the year but since then i adjust the baseline if I'm overspending consistently in a a category or my income changes. 

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    • dakinemaui My goal is not to get my budget right every month. It's to set reasonable levels of spending and monitor and adjust periodically as needed. YHAB has all types of ways to manage a budget except for a good way support a baseline approach to the budgeting. I like the tool and will keep using it. I just need to add typing in my baseline each month. 

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    • dangerosity yes but that's why they have rule 3. You have to start from somewhere (a baseline) then adjust as needed throughout the month.

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  • Terry McDonald said:
    I don't shift the budget during the month.

    This ignores Rule 3 which is part of the method. You can use YNAB however you want, of course, but if you refuse to use the method, features which aren't important will seem important and this will be unnecessarily frustrating. 

    When you use Rule 3, the act of having to reallocate all the time gives a pretty clear indicator that you need to change the amount you're regularly budgeting. Having a nominal amount becomes much less important, and whatever nominal values you might have are easily handled with goals and Quick Budget. 

    Like 2
      • bobbucy
      • Tomato_Snow_237e7f17927
      • 5 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      WordTenor Definitely have to roll with the punches.  Whack a mole happens - especially in this crazy sequestered environment.  Grocery budget has been clobbered but have adjusted from other areas of the budget - like gas.

      Like 1
    •   WordTenor I may have to take another look at some point. My Nominal values actually work quite well and need very few adjustments. Once a month I resolve overspending issues (very few if any) and sweep any unused funds to savings. Just a different take on rolling with punches. Thanks

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  • I also wish that it had this feature. What I've done is use the Chrome Toolkit to add the goal column to my budget, and to change the colors of the available column (honestly, I forget what it used to be, only that it works much better for me the way the Toolkit makes it). Then I set up all my goals, and because I'm able to budget the whole month on the first, I know that on 5/1 everything is green and based on my goals. Then, if during the month I move things around a bit and the available column turns light blue to show that it's no longer fully funded, that's fine, I can ignore it and/or decide if it's time to change the baseline budget for that category. It works really well for me, but I'm pretty sure it would not work for me at all if I wasn't fully funding on the first of each month.

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    • Peppr2 I may look into that because that essentially the same way I'm looking at it as well. I wasn't aware of the toolkit so that new for me. Thanks!

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      • Peppr2
      • peppr2
      • 5 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Terry McDonald Let me know if you have any questions. The Toolkit is great. I resisted it at first, because I don't use Chrome for my financial stuff and it is personally irritating to me that these functions aren't available in YNAB itself, but whatever, I have to let go and work with what I've got. There are a lot of options on the Toolkit and I've only turned on half a dozen or so. Nick True has a YouTube video that shows the ones he's found helpful and I used that as a starting point.

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    • Peppr2 Thanks I appreciate the offer. 

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