"Need for spending" goal doesn't consider available balance

I'm trying to create a "need for spending" goal to account for my YNAB subscription which comes due every September. When I create the goal, add the cost of my subscription, and set the due date to be September 2021 (repeat every 1 year), it says I've funded $0 even though the available balance in the category is $41. Why doesn't the goal recognize the existing available balance as funds towards the new goal?

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  • How were those dollars added to the category. We’re they budgeted on the budget line or inflowed straight to the category 

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  • I just hit the same issue. I got some last month's work expenses reimbursed, bringing this month's "available" way above the spending target. I'm not going to spend that much this month (that's why the target is lower!) so I tried to reduce my "assigned" by the reimbursed amount. When I did that, YNAB complained that I'm underfunded, even though I still had my target's worth of money available.

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      • Vibrant
      • No more counting dollars, we'll be counting stars
      • vibrant
      • 3 days ago
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      • Reported - view

      Turquoise Android Your situation is different from OP's based on their new comment below, but in your case - only money assigned to the category on the budget page counts toward the target. Transactions are not considered. When you removed previously assigned money from the category, the target is technically no longer met for this month even though the Available amount may still meet or exceed the target amount.

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    • Vibrant You are right, thank you!

      When I noticed the money in my bank account and assigned it to the Work Expenses category, I thought that I'm budgeting it for that category (increasing the length of the filled progress bar), whereas to YNAB it became negative spending (decreasing the length of the striped progress bar). To achieve the effect I expected, the money should have entered the budget via Ready to Assign, but then it would have looked like additional income instead of a reimbursement.

      So YNAB is correct when it warns me that the filled progress bar isn't as long as the target – that's true! I can safely ignore this warning and leave the category on yellow, since I know that the striped progress bar is so short that its end is to the left of where the filled progress bar even begins (my spending this month is negative), and the distance between the ends of the striped progress bar and the filled progress bar (my "available" for the month) is long enough to cover this month's upcoming expenses.

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  • It looks like this happens if you try to create goals in a future month. I'm not sure I understand the logic here on why that would be the case, but if I delete the goal I was setting up in August (due date in September) and recreate the exact same goal in July, it works just fine. Anyone have an explanation?

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      • Vibrant
      • No more counting dollars, we'll be counting stars
      • vibrant
      • 3 days ago
      • Reported - view

      Sky Blue Crab the Needed for Spending target doesn't recognize available balances until the month rolls over. If you create the target on the August budget page, YNAB can't "see" the $41 available until August 1.

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    • Vibrant I'm not sure I follow. If I create it in July and then flip to August, it "sees" the available balance and counts it towards "funded". What's the difference?

      If that is true, am I supposed to wait until the next month starts before assigning dollars to categories with goals? If I assign them before the month starts, I might rollover dollars from the previous month and end up over-funding a category.

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      • Vibrant
      • No more counting dollars, we'll be counting stars
      • vibrant
      • 3 days ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Sky Blue Crab Honestly, the logic behind the Needed for Spending targets eludes me sometimes. I can't tell you why it works that way, only that it does.

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    • Sky Blue Crab If you created that target in August, YNAB will not prompt you to fund any specific amount until August. If you have an available amount that ends up rolling over from July to August, then it will count towards that goal, but only once the month rolls over in real-time, too. From there, your monthly prompts should calculate as expected! 

      If you choose to fund the coming month prior to the month rolling over in real-time, it certainly is possible you'll end up overfunded in the new month. I like to use the "Reduce Overfunding" feature to resolve this. Alan, one of our product designers, dove into the logic of this in this thread, in case you're interested!  

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    • Rachel After reading Alan's explanation, keep going for more people who think it's extra work, unintuitive, and inconsistent. 

      I don't get why the reduce overfunding button is better than sweeping the previous month with a consistent contribution.

      Seems a lot easier to check the few boxes left with green money at the end of a month, set available to 0, and scoop that into wherever you want it. This can be done anytime after all transactions for the month are reconciled.

      Alternatively, looking at a random number in the reduce overfunding box (I have cleaned up my goals twice in the past year and I still don't know where the number is coming from) and then hunting down which green categories among the other green categories have more than I want in them after a few days worth of transactions have hit, calculating what the available would have been on the first without activity... That's a lot more work. The only way to avoid that work is to interact with the budget on the first of the month. That's very restrictive.

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    • Move Light Sound Life  Sweeping categories in that way is another great workaround - thanks for pointing that out!

      And I totally agree that there are improvements to be made here. Regarding the "reduce overfunding" button specifically, I've 100% found myself either clicking it and then going to check my recent moves to see the breakdown or hunting through my budget to find which category I've forgotten to adjust! 

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  • Sky Blue Crab said:
    If that is true, am I supposed to wait until the next month starts before assigning dollars to categories with goals? If I assign them before the month starts, I might rollover dollars from the previous month and end up over-funding a category.

     And now we come to the crux of the how YNAB walls/doesn't wall off months is weird. As I understand it, Needed for Spending does not take into account previous month's available amount. Target Spending by <Date> does. 

    E.g., my Needed for Spending for groceries is $50 weekly. YNAB doesn't count that as fully funded in August unless I put in the full amount, even though I still have two weeks left of money in July. However, my Target Spending by <Date> for my Prime account is counting as fully funded in August, even though it was due and the available is now empty in July. (I'm assuming the latter will reset on Aug 1 - there seem to be a number of issues with the repeating version of that target.)

    Many people do wait until the month rolls over to assign dollars to categories (both with and without targets). They create a category called "income for next month" and park the money they will use for the future month there until the month rolls over. That creates an artificial wall, and avoids the weirdness of YNAB targets.

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  • Fuzzball Meows said:
    Needed for Spending does not take into account previous month's available amount. Target Spending by <Date> does. 

     So actually, they both do. The difference is that the Target by Date calculates any changes in real time, like the rest of the software. The Needed for Spending waits to calculate anything until the month turns over. 

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    • Move Light Sound Life You're correct, that should say *current* month's available amount when assigning money in future months. (My brain seems to think we're currently in August today, despite me staring at the calendar that says July...)

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    • Fuzzball Meows Either way works, from whatever perspective of the month. Target by Date always calculates. Needed for Spending waits to calculate.

      They both use the same data, it's just at different times. I think it's confusing and for little benefit. 

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    • Move Light Sound Life said:

      They both use the same data, it's just at different times. I think it's confusing and for little benefit. 

       That was, in fact, my point. If they're going to wall off months, then they should wall off months. If they're not going to wall off months, then nothing should wall off months, and Needed for Spending should be dynamic in future months based on current available.

      (Bold font is my addition)

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