Total Budgeted $0.00 after budgeting expenses for the month. Help.

Hi all.  I have a question to how this function is supposed to work.  I set my budget on the first of every month and have just noticed that when I am done the "Total Budgeted" amount is $0.00.  There seems to be no way to see how much is actually budged for the month in the right hand summary pane.

Obviously this makes it hard to see how much I have actually budgeted for the month.  🤷‍♂️

Any ideas to what is happening here?

 

Example budget below.

1) Last day of the month my budget is clear.  I have ensured all expenses have been paid, there is no red and any left over surplus amounts are moved to a "buffer" category that hopefully grows month on month.  This amount always equals the "Total Available" section upon reconciliation at the end of the month.

Please pretend there was actual budgeted amounts and activity here.  It's a test budget for illustration purposes.

 

2) Next day, 1st of the month I update my monthly goals and enter any manual amounts to the "Budgeted" column.  This results in a completed budget and a negative amount in the TBB field, "Total Available" is then higher than the actual amount of cash on hand but the "Total Budgeted" is correct.

 

3) Next, since a negative TBB needs to be covered by real money as entering budgeted amounts against nothing is a bad idea, I cover the TBB from the buffer account.

The problem now everything is balanced except the "Total Budgeted" amount on the right is $0.00.

  

4) Further along the month, lets say the 20th, some income comes in and it gets assigned into the TBB field. 

 

5) I then move the TBB to the buffer category.  Now we see the "Total Budgeted" updated with the income that has come in.

 

 

I don't understand how this works or the "Total Budged" is not actually reflecting the amounts set in the "Budgeted" column.

I really don't want to have a negative TBB amount every month until income comes in, what if there is no income that month?  Everything then goes out of whack.

 

Can anyone please explain this to me?

 

Thanks.

39replies Oldest first
  • Oldest first
  • Newest first
  • Active threads
  • Popular
  • Ah, I see.  The "Total Budgeted" is simply a sum of the "Budgeted" column.

    Now my question is how does this work as a monthly budgeting platform at all?  The whole idea of YNAB is "put every cent to work".  The rule explained is make sure there is no red, including the TBB field.

    By definition, a positive cash flow will result in at least one category that will have a surplus each month.  So now the 1st, when we assigned "budgeted" amounts, that money must come from the surplus category leaving the "Total Budgeted" always $0.00 until income comes in at some point.

    This doesn't make sense to me.

    Like
    • Gold Major please read dakinemaui 's comments below; your method at best is convoluted....

      However, if you're doing what you explain, your problem mechanically-speaking is when you cover the negative TBB from the buffer account. Don't "move" the money by entering a negative amount in the Budgeted column (this will net with the other actual budgeted amounts to 0). Instead you would move the money by clicking on the TTB and when it asks what category you want to use to cover the overbudgeting choose the buffer category. It then moves the funds from the buffer's Available amount, not the budgeted column. Same for when money comes in - click TBB and tell it to move $5,000 to the buffer category. The inbound money will be added to the buffer's Available.

      Like
    • Periwinkle Flute Unless I'm misunderstanding your suggestion, clicking on the negative TBB and specifying the buffer category (from which to cover) results in the exact same negative budget entry (no different than manually typing it). Have I missed something?

      Like
    • dakinemaui Jeez Louise, of course you're right! I'm sorry Gold Major  ignore my comment please.

      Like 1
    • Periwinkle Flute Weekend's coming, Periwinkle! Hold out just a little longer. :-)

      Like
    • dakinemaui I think I'll just start mine now!  :)

      Like 1
      • Gold Major
      • Gold_Major.8
      • 3 wk ago
      • Reported - view

      Periwinkle Flute Don't worry mate, this thing seems all a bit backward to me too.

      Like
  • Why do you need to see Total Budgeted? You already know all your income is being allocated and meets your spending obligations. If the Buffer category has a positive budget entry by month-end, that shows you're making progress toward getting ahead. That is exactly what I recommend for anyone who still needs to budget funds in the current month's area.

    In other words, what would you do with Total Budgeted if you had it? FWIW, that same amount is exactly equal to what you released from the buffer category. But it's still just as useless to me.

    Like 1
      • Gold Major
      • Gold_Major.8
      • 3 wk ago
      • Reported - view

      dakinemaui Because it shows how much I have budgeted for the month, or at least I think it should.  For example, at the 1st of the month when I have created all my "Budgeted" expenses, I can't see how much I have actually budgeted for.  Is it $1000 or $5000?  No idea, it's not displayed in the spot that suggests it should.  Obviously I want to keep that figure under my expected income for the month so where is it displayed?

      This answers your question I believe, what would I do with "Total Budgeted" if I had it?  See exactly how much I have budgeted for the month.  Seems simple to me but I must be missing something.

      That raises the question, what is the "Total Budgeted" field for if not to display how much you have budged for the month?

      Like
    • Gold Major You are trying to keep it under the amount you've released, so having TBB at $0 means it's exactly equal to that. Job well done. In other words, you want X in order to achieve Y. However, you've already achieved Y, making X superfluous.

      Yes, I know it shows Total Budgeted, which would suggest it's important, but when you think about it, it's just not in your particular situation.

      TBH, I personally don't see that it's important ever. Having TBB at $0 is the bottom line that matters.

      Like
      • Gold Major
      • Gold_Major.8
      • 3 wk ago
      • Reported - view

      dakinemaui Yes, I am spending less than I am earning but that doesn't make it superfluous.  The goal is to grow my savings, not perfectly spend what I am earning.  So I need to know the difference between budgeted amounts at any time and the expected income.  It's important to understand the budget is flexible, so knowing how much more I can spend before hitting my monthly income limit is very important. 

      Look at the UI at point 3.  I have set all my expenditures for the month entered and covered the TBB by correctly moving the amount from the buffer category. 

      Where does it show how much I have budged for the month?  The answer seems to be by looking at the negative buffer amount not the "Total Budgeted" figure, but that won't be accurate once I start moving money between categories during the month.  It does not make sense to me.

      What is the function of that very prominent field in the UI if not to display how much is budged in total?

      I understand you are saying that I don't need to worry about it because my TBB is always covered.  Great but that is not really what I am talking about here.

      Like
      • Gold Major
      • Gold_Major.8
      • 3 wk ago
      • Reported - view

      dakinemaui Think about it this way.  I can release all 20K from buffer to TBB and spend it.  I will still be balanced but have spent far more than the expected monthly income. 

      So let's say income will be 6K.  Keeping monthly spend under 6K is optimal.  How much more can I potentially allocate from 1st of the day before hitting that 6K spend mark?  How much at 14th of the month?  How much if I have an emergency car repair of $900? etc.

      To know that I need to know how much is budgeted in whole for the month at anytime in that month.  Where do I see that?

      Like
  • Gold Major said:
    any left over surplus amounts are moved to a "buffer" category

    You should NOT do this for the True Expense or savings-type categories. Non-monthly expenses should accumulate in the category where they are safe.

    Like 1
      • Gold Major
      • Gold_Major.8
      • 3 wk ago
      • Reported - view

      dakinemaui Not sure what you mean by this.  Are you saying any surplus in a category at the end of the month should stay in said category?  I can't see how that is different to moving the surpluses into the buffer category or any other category for that matter.  The difference is the left over money is allocated to one "savings" category at the end of the month instead of spread over a number of different categories.  Why is that a problem?

      The surplus have to go somewhere right?  Why not into a specific holding category that is functioning exactly as it should?  A buffer or Savings category if you like. 

      Like
    • Gold Major I meant funds should accumulate toward non-monthly expenses, commonly referred as True Expenses in the YNAB literature. Sounds like you're doing that, so no problem.

      Like
      • Gold Major
      • Gold_Major.8
      • 3 wk ago
      • Reported - view

      dakinemaui Ok, but now I am confused.  What was the problem then?

      Like
    • Gold Major My interpretation of what I quoted was that you were sweeping all categories to $0 Available at the end of the month. You clarified you weren't, so the "problem" was my interpretation.

      Like
  • To be clear.  I do have non-monthly expenses that are budgeted monthly that accrue until the yearly bill comes in and gets paid.  This is not done directly from the buffer, every expense has it's own category.

    The buffer is the "savings" category if you like which is drawn upon at the first of the month when the budgeted expenses are entered.

    Like
  • Thanks for the input so far all but I still don't have my questions answered.  What is going on here?  Why is my expectation seemingly wrong, and what does the "Total Budgeted" actually show if not the total amount budgeted?

    Like
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 3 wk ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      Gold Major 

      Gold Major said:
      Why is my expectation seemingly wrong, and what does the "Total Budgeted" actually show if not the total amount budgeted?

      You haven't actually budgeted any new money, you've just moved it around between categories.

      Like 2
    • Hi Gold Major !

      Think of the "Total Budgeted" as the running total of new funds budgeted towards your categories. The money in your buffer is from previous months, so it isn't "new" and thus isn't counted. When you receive the new $5k in October, that's new money and is counted in your Total Budgeted - the money in your buffer would've been included in Total Budgeted in past months (the months where it was received). 

      Like 1
  • If you want to see what you have allocated or available for the month, you can check the boxes to the left of whole category groups or multiple categories. Then totals should display on the right side of the screen.

    Like
  • Faness said:
    Think of the "Total Budgeted" as the running total of new funds budgeted towards your categories.

    Ok.  Please look at the screenshot in point #3.  Where does it show the running total that I have budgeted for the month?

    Like
    • Gold Major The funds you mention in screenshot #4 are "new" since they were received in that month. The Total Budgeted is a running total for funds added to your budget in that month (moving money from previous months doesn't count towards it).

      Like
  • Gold Major said:
    The goal is to grow my savings [...] So I need to know the difference between budgeted amounts at any time and the expected income

    Not at all. You save by putting money in a category and not spending it. Keep doing that and it grows... all without knowledge of that difference.

    Gold Major said:
    Where does it show how much I have budged for the month?  The answer seems to be by looking at the negative buffer amount not the "Total Budgeted" figure

     As I previously said, yes, that gives you the answer you're looking for. 

    Gold Major said:
    but that won't be accurate once I start moving money between categories during the month

     It will still be accurate, because those movements offset (sum to $0).

    Gold Major said:
    What is the function of that very prominent field in the UI if not to display how much is budged in total?

     It is the amount budgeted in total. It's simply the way you're choosing to budget that obscures something you feel you need to see.

    Like 1
  • Gold Major said:
    I can release all 20K from buffer to TBB and spend it.  I will still be balanced but have spent far more than the expected monthly income.

     A 20k buffer but only 6k income. I think that's where your disconnect lies. I suggest you only put income arriving in the current month into the buffer category -- many people call this category "Income For Next Month". What you are calling your "buffer" seems more like an emergency fund. Put the remainder in such a category, and I suspect things will work better for you.

    Since you clearly have sufficient funds to budget in month-sized chunks, I would refer you to the first workflow in this writeup. The Total Budgeted header will be accurate -- by your definition, in fact.

    Hope it helps!

    Like 1
      • Gold Major
      • Gold_Major.8
      • 3 wk ago
      • Reported - view

      dakinemaui The numbers are an example, don't get hung up on them.

      Let's ditch the example for now.  This is my real world approach and understand I am probably not going to use YNAB lingo and terminology to the letter.

      1. Yes, I have more savings than monthly expenses and income.  I am ahead of my income by about 6 months or in other words I can live without income for 6 months on my savings.  This savings is represented by the "buffer" category in my budget, remember "buffer" is just a label I use.
      2. I am able to fully cover my entire monthly budget from last months buffer category, savings, "money for next month".  Whatever you want to call it I don't care.
      3. As I exampled above.  At the first of the month I plan out my expenses in the budget.  This creates a negative TBB as expected.  From there, I cover that negative TBB figure the with the money from the buffer, or money from last month, or old money.  I don't care what we call it but I think you get the idea?
      4. Now as the month proceeds activity is transacted and assigned to the appropriate categories as normal.
      5. When income comes in, it first gets assigned to TBB so it shows up in the reporting graphs correctly.  Then I immediately move that positive TBB amount to the buffer.  The result is TBB is $0.00 at all times and no categories are overspent. 
      6. If I need to move money, funds, amounts, whatever, from one category to another to cover excessive spending then I do so by the normal YNAB method.  Click the green amount and enter the $ I want to move to another category, or I click the red amount and cover from a different category. 
      7. I do not use buffer amounts for typical/day to day category changes.  Amounts are moved or covered from regular expense categories as per the normal YNAB "roll with the punches" approach.  But again, the category buffer is not used for this.
      8. If I overspent the entire budget and need to dig into more funds than would be covered by income, then I cover it from the buffer, savings, whatever.  This would obviously result in a net loss at the end of the month but that's what the buffer, savings, whatever is there for.
      9. At the end of the month all remaining transactions are imported, reconciled and applied to budget categories as normal.
      10. Any categories with surplus funds, amounts, figures, whatever, those surplus amounts are moved to the buffer zeroing out the category.  Note, I obviously have categories that accumulate monthly amounts such as yearly bills, rego for example.  These don't get moved around, they just accumulate until the bill comes in and gets paid.  Same goes for other "savings" categories, like "New car Savings" category.  It's just the typical expenses that get shuffled back to the buffer if there is a surplus, such as Groceries, or Eating Out, or Fuel etc.
      11. So yes, I am using last months money to fund the current months expenses.  I tried just letting categories all grow naturally over time as my expenses are less than income, but that turned out to be really messy.  I much prefer having a "holding" category of old money if you like.  Obviously this wouldn't work if I was not at least a month ahead, but I am so this works and I like it.
      12. EXCEPT, I cannot see how much is budged at any time, see point #3.  Sure I can add up all the categories I have set expenses to but that is silly.  I was expecting the "Total Budgeted" field to tell me how much I have budgeted.  I am not sure why you think this is an irrational need to have.

      I feel like I am fighting YNAB's mechanics here.  I simply want to know this.  At any point in the month I should be able to see the following metrics:

      • Total amount budgeted for all expenses,
      • Total amount of activity,
      • Total inflow amount,
      • Current cash flow indication,
      • Total amount available to spend overall.

      Looking at the EXAMPLE screenshot in point #3.  Keeping in mind this is a sample budget just for illustrative purposes and you are not seeing yearly or savings categories such as care rego etc but they would typically be there, so moving past that.  I should still be able to answer all the 5 dot points above.

      This is what I can answer using the UI as it is presented.

      • Amount budgeted for all expenses - No idea, "Total Budgeted" says $0.00.
      • Amount of activity - None yet.  "Total Activity" is zero but that is expected and correct.  Good.
      • Total inflow amount - None yet.  "Total Inflows" is zero but that is expected and correct.  Good.
      • Cash flow indication - No change yet.  "Total Activity" vs "Total Inflows".  Good.
      • Total amount available to spend overall.  "Total Available" is $20K.  Good.

      The only thing I can't see how much I have set for my total expenditure for the month, the total budgeted. 

      Please help me work within this products' system to achieve what I want to achieve.

      Thank you.

      Like
    • Gold Major You will have to tweak your system to achieve your goal. If you use the categorization-based approach I linked earlier to put funds into and later release from your Buffer category, then Total Budgeted will give you the total you desire. Your Steps 3 and 5 are slightly impacted. Everything else is the same.

      The altered workflow is also less work, as those funds are automatically moved to the Buffer category.

      Like 2
    • TBH, I'd also suggest you break up your Buffer into two categories, but it's not strictly necessary to solve your "total budgeted" problem. Doing so just means you won't have to look at total budgeted at all. If you wanted to explore that option, create a category called Emergency Fund or Long Term Buffer or similar. After your Step 3, move the remainder of funds in Buffer to Emergency Fund. This won't be touched unless your Step 8 mandates it.

      After this modification, Buffer represents your monthly income. Depleted at the beginning of the month and refilled throughout the month. This is the workflow many veterans employ for various reasons I won't go into here.

      Like 1
      • Gold Major
      • Gold_Major.8
      • 3 wk ago
      • Reported - view

      dakinemaui Thank you, I'll review you comments tomorrow when I am a bit more awake.  If you have further suggestions to how to make this all work right then I am all ears.  If I am way off the mark the point me in the right direction.

      I still feel like I am fighting the system for control or visibility of what is important.  The mechanics of this program feel counter-intuitive to me still.

      Of to bed, I'll get back to you tomorrow.

      Thanks

      Like
      • WordTenor
      • I have the honor to be your obedient servant
      • WordTenor
      • 3 wk ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Gold Major It might help you to realize that in YNAB, there's actually only one thing that matters. What's in the available for the category you want to spend from? 

      It doesn't actually matter how it got that way. What matters is what it is. There's lots of other things the program can show you, but that's the only one that matters. 

      Like 1
    • Gold Major You're not alone. Many of us feel the mechanics are counter-intuitive. YNAB is optimized for the paycheck-to-paycheck user who frequently adds debt without the immediate intention of paying it back. It's no surprise that it's therefore not as streamlined as it could be for anyone else.

      Like 1
      • Bruce
      • Software Engineer
      • Bruce
      • 3 wk ago
      • 4
      • Reported - view

      Gold Major Yes, I think that by following dak's instructions above, you'll achieve what you want.  Part of the problem is that you're pulling from a much larger category than you need, and it's difficult to see how much you pulled out, but if all of your income from the previous month (and only that income) is sitting in your buffer category, then you simply empty that back into TBB at the beginning of the next month and budget away.  The rest of your buffer goes into something like "Income Replacement" or "other buffer" or whatever you feel like calling it.  You can easily see how many months you can survive on that by dividing the average monthly budgeted amount.  

      Like 4
  • WordTenor said:
    It doesn't actually matter how it got that way. What matters is what it is.

     Yes I agree to a point.  I agree YNAB is great for managing individual spending categories.  It seems to be not great at dealing with the overall picture and the "and now what" though, hence my original question.  But thanks for the comment.

    Like
  • dakinemaui Thank you for your assistance and guiding me to the resources you mentioned.

    I think I have a handle on it now, is this about right?

    • Rename my "buffer" category to "Savings".  This is now my cold-storage if you like.
    • Create a new IRP category for temporarily holding income that comes in during the month.
    • At the end of the month I move the contents of the IRP category to TBB.  This creates a positive TBB that rolls over to the next month ready for budgeting against.
    • Any surpluses as mentioned above get moved to "Savings" and stay there, reflecting my increased cash reserve.

    I still feel like this is a workaround to make YNAB operate in a way that provides more high level, overall detail than just the immediate.

    I see others have said that the only thing that matters is that your categories are funded and not overspent.  I disagree, I feel that micromanaging the individual categories is only half the story.  I still should be able to quickly see, a pane-of-glass view if you like, the overall position of the monthly budget as well as the overall position of the budget in it's entirety.  This in turn gives me an ability to make forecasting and trending decisions that YNAB does not do natively.

    What is the workflow that YNAB wants us to use exactly if not this?

    Thanks again.

    Like
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 2 wk ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Gold Major 

      Gold Major said:
      I still feel like this is a workaround to make YNAB operate

       It is a work around, but not in the way you were expecting things to work.

      What you were asking for was the Total Budgeted to ignore the negative budget amount in one category because it offset the money you added to other categories. The problem with this line of thinking is that as you move money around in your budget, there inevitably will be more categories with negative offsetting categories with positive, and if you ignore the negatives then it would not longer represent what you were wanting it represent anyway.

      The reason the rest of us consider it a work around is because there was functionality in YNAB4 that allowed you to push your income directly into next month's TBB through a designated category in the income transaction, so it did not need to be hidden away in a category to avoid being consumed in the current month's budget.

      Like 1
  • Gold Major said:
    This in turn gives me an ability to make forecasting and trending decisions

    Yes, you seem to have the mechanics now. As for forecasting, the trees may be obscuring the forest. I have already looked ahead to where I want to be (end state on various categories), which mandates the ongoing contributions. If I were to forecast, it shouldn't come as a surprise things will be exactly where I planned for them to be.

    Instead of forecasting to see when I might be able to buy/do something, I choose the timeline and make it happen.

    Like 3
  • Gold Major said:
    the overall position of the monthly budget as well as the overall position of the budget in it's entirety

     I don't know what this means. If I were to guess, I see this months remaining funds in various categories, and I know I'm on track for all anticipated expenses. I'm not sure what other "positions" would be of interest.

    Like
  • Don't worry.  At the end of the day, all I wanted to know was the exact amount I have budgeted for the month.  The workaround will do.

    Like
Like Follow
  • 2 wk agoLast active
  • 39Replies
  • 236Views
  • 8 Following