Not quite conceptualizing the benefit of the new goals
So I got my wish, and have the new goal options. To try one out I went down my 80-some-odd categories and can't find one that would make sense to test-drive in. I don't quite have a "one-click" budget, nor do I really care to, I'm fine with fooling around and tinkering about.
I mainly budget in these ways:
1. Scheduled transactions, big time. Then try to top off a bit for fun/security.
2. Rounded off amount of funding for either monthly or semi-annual expenses. $500 a month for gas/electric, $150 a month for auto and liability insurance, $900 for property taxes and insurance, etc. Has kept me on track for a while.
3. Some categories, which are very necessary immediate/true expenses often were underfunded by me, so I started budgeting whatever the last average was and watching it grow. No way to automatically cap it though, as far as I can tell.
4. No monthly funding, lump sum. I have a category that holds the last 6 payments of my kids' school tuition payments, plus the $2k I'll need for a contract deposit for next year. I also have a category with $25k for home improvements we plan to make whenever we get our acts together. I expect that to dwindle over time until probably nothing's left and we start over.
5. Income smoothing. Release an even amount (usually 1/6th) from certain lump income categories.
Ok, so how about categories I struggle with? Car repairs. I'm always trying to get that to at least $1k, ideally $2k. I started saving $300 a month and then quickly changed it to $600 a month and my husband suddenly takes his car in for $732.10. RWTP. $600 a month again for Sept., and he needed new brakes last week for $619. RWTP again. Trying for $600 again in October...
I try to keep Vet at $1k, but often "borrow from it" then repay it the next month.
Eating out. It's $500 a month now, because try as a might, I still always end up overspending that $300-$400 I hope to spend.
So like, making a monthly spending goal kind of makes me antsy, because if I decide I really really want those chicken wings at midnight, or those new shoes, and decide to re-prioritize from other discretionary categories, why do I need to be further warned of my "limit?" If I'm saving for gifts all year (based on averages), and underspending each month, leaving me with a nice pot by December, which I probably won't spend all of because I know more gifts will come up throughout 2020, how would a spend by date benefit me?
So it's not that I feel like I'm struggling for help, just wondering if I'm missing some "Ah-ha moment" that others are benefiting from.
Also, the link to "Learn More About Goal Types" in the goals popup is broken, at least on my end (Chrome).
I've always liked them, and the basic ones have definitely helped me in the past, but maybe I'm just a little more advanced in my budgeting journey to use them as successfully. A lot of my targets are reached, or I have my own convoluted ideas about how I want to fund stuff that would probably never be implemented in the app. I live by scheduled transactions though!! That's the majority of my quick budgeting, and thank goodness the "underfunded" option recently magically appeared.
Basically there are 2 new goals .
One let's you spend without the goal nagging you about it. Classic use case is a vacation where you buy airfare several months ahead of the target date.
(The old monthly funding goal would allow you to do this, but wouldn't adjust if you reallocated for some reason. This one does.)
The second is trying to eliminate the sweeping of leftovers. Leftovers, say in Groceries, contribute toward the next month's desired total . The result is the leftover will be in TBB in the new month and budget values will be inconsistent.
I prefer sweeping since that money reaches the new destination in the current month's area (one earlier than with the new goal), and there's something cathartic about seeing a string of $0 Available in those discretionary categories.
This one is also weird in that it's tied to the passage of time in the real world. This is contrary to all other operations that consider the currently month displayed to be the "present".
For better or worse, this is perhaps one of the first instances I can recall that YNAB has listened to feedback requests. Newbies often want to do what is achieved by these goals.
I personally think other approaches are better and these things are desired because newbies don't understand the subtleties of YNAB, but that's a debate for a different day.
Ok I think this is dumb. Here’s my home repairs category. This is August. I set it for 25k spending thru next year. Does this dialog make sense to you?? I want to SAVE? My available is now obviously under $25k, but I’m on track, which technically is true. I think there is a lot of messy text with these goals which they will no doubt update a dozen more times I’m sure.
I can afford more activities for my kids and want to budget more in that area, for instance.
This is one reason I normalized this category to work with a consistent amount (budget the average as long as there's no overspending). The category accumulates in the slow months but dwindles in the high. It's just easier to acknowledge that's important to us and decrease/eliminate something else on a consistent basis.
The less I have to (get to?) think the better -- otherwise, I might talk myself into chicken wings weekly! Some might call it "disciplined", but I merely think of it as, "staying out of my own way".
I'm trying to grasp this as well. I thought I could use the "Monthly Contribution goal" for expenses like Restaurants and Entertainment, that vary each month. If on average i spend 1200 dollars a year on entertainment, I'd like to save 100.00/month so I will have enough over the course of the year for tickets, etc. that come up. But how do I ensure I don't overspend that category on any given month? Usually, if I go over in a discretionary category on a certain month, I'll just replenish it from another category. I am trying to have a buffer for each category, but I'm not sure if this is the correct goal for this. Any help would be appreciated!
Ok, here I go again. Because I just can't leave well enough alone, I chose some categories to mess with. I chose a couple where I've budgeted a flat amount each month (and we know I don't sweep) and because I started spending less, the category has perhaps grown too large. So I went back to January and set a yearly goal. Then I adjusted each month to the new goal amount to see if at any point I ended red. There was a couple of times, but it was only a few bucks so I covered it (I think this is an implicit red arrow but I ain't going there :)), and continued all the way forward to see what I had TBB in October. I did this with a couple categories, and tried it with a monthly goal in some too. I ended freeing up like $600-700 for this month!
Am I correctly understanding that if we set a spending goal and overspend, we can just roll with the punches as usual, and then the next month's goal will self-adjust to account for it? I think I get scared that I'm going to go over and that's why I don't sweep out categories or let true expenses build up too high.
OK, I completed the October rollover and this is where I landed: Got rid of all of my goals except for those related to a specific date.
I'm using only one "Spending Goal - By Date" for Christmas spending, as a little experiment. I like the idea of limiting my Christmas spending, but I'm sobered by what dakinemaui explains about the conflict with Rule 3. Next year I will probably go back to adding a set monthly amount to my Christmas goal and letting it build so that there is money available when I am ready to spend. That is the whole point of YNAB, no?
The rest are "Savings Goals - Target Balance by Date," such as property tax due in December. I find these helpful for calculating my monthly contributions.