Classic YNAB "Income for next month"
I'm sorry if this is elsewhere, but if it is I can't find it. My budget is fully buffered, and with the classic YNAB I used to just hit the "Income for next month" all the time, and then at the beginning of the month I would take all the income from August, and put it into September's categories. I'm struggling with how to get this to work in the online YNAB. Not being able to get this right is actually almost causing me to fall off the budgeting bandwagon. I've been budgeting for over 10 years now, and I loved YNAB classic, but this new thing is not going well. Is there some way I haven't found to re-institute the designating a paycheck as to be budgeted next month, so I can just do it all at the beginning of the month?
You're going to need a category to temporarily hold next month's funds. There are a couple ways to put money into the category as well as "release" them. Then there's the "when" aspect (this/next month) to the "catch" and "release" actions. These choices influence effort, reports, budget headers, and whether "stealing from the future" is possible.
Ultimately, I want all of the following:
- Automate the process as much as possible (e.g., favor memorized/scheduled transactions over budget entries).
- Reports are accurate (income show up in the correct month in the income section).
- Headers at the top of the month are accurate (e.g., "Budgeted in <month>").
- Impossible to steal from the future (without benefit of the Toolkit Extension or always having to scroll around the Move Money dialog)
- Retain the benefits of a zero-based TBB (e.g., error detection)
- Current spending plan to be available WITHOUT flipping back and forth between months.
- Keep a template budget in next month's area for vastly reduced effort and easy reference/adjustment throughout the month. (The use of Goals to implement a template budget is unacceptable to me because I do WAM during the month, resulting in yellow categories -- yuck.)
The following workflow achieves all of this. (Assume January is the current month.)
Setup: Make a category "Income For Next Month" (referred to as INM in the following)
During the month:
Categorize income directly to INM as it arrives -- no budget operations
Adjust the template numbers (*) in Feb. as your needs/priorities change
Any budget manipulation in Jan is not complete until To Be Budgeted (TBB) == $0 AND Budgeted In Future (BIF) == $0
(*) One useful tip for working with the template is to negative-budget your expected income in INM and work toward Budgeted In Feb = $0. Additionally, the balance of INM is the remaining income you need/expect. Make sure that you delete this budget entry when Feb arrives; it's only used in the template.
Transition at the end of Jan:
1) Release funds by recategorizing transactions as TBB. (Search for INM in All Accounts, Select All, Edit | Categorize As... | TBB)
<These funds flow into Feb, "fixing" the negative TBB normally present in the template area.>
2) Move forward to what will be the new template area (March), Quick-Budget the budget entries from "last month" i.e., the current template in Feb.
3) Go back to Feb and fix up the budget if necessary -- Make TBB == BIF == $0.
Differences from my YNAB4 workflow:
1) The release of funds is a manual operation.
2) Both TBB and BIF should be $0 during most of the month.
I've tried a variety of different methods with an open mind, often making myself live with process for a few months as I test them.
I like this one the best: I created a Master Group and a subcategory for next month's income. It's the number one item at the top of my budget. That is a pretty fair indicator of just how important my classic buffer is to me. You'll have to pry it out of my cold dead hands....
Every inflow gets entered as inflow: to be budgeted, which makes it immediately available to budget. It puts it into the TBB for the current month, and I budget it to the Income for Next Month category in the current month's budget. I don't budget anything into the future until I get the entire month's income. When I'm ready to budget all of next month in one sitting (after the receipt of my month-end salary deposit), I then revise the budgeted for this category to zero, releasing all funds back to TBB, click forward to next month, and budget the next month until TBB is zero.
I make sure that the Total Budgeted for this month is an exact match for Total Inflows from last month. No exceptions. The fluid or porous walls of the web YNAB budget just make me extremely nervous and make me feel like I can't trust my budget. Doing it this way creates the sense of stability I need.
I have used the above solution for buffering. Within a master group called Buffer, each month of the year has its own sub-category.
Any money left unbudgeted each month is simply assigned to a future month(s). When that month comes around you simply move the available amount back into the TBB for that month.