Who has goals for everything?

I am trying to establish  goals for every item. I can't be bothered to think after every paycheck what to  put where. I just need to know that  a pre-defined budget should always be applied. And then as expenses  change, I can  adjust.

But things get messy quick when i start moving funds around to cover overspending.

Anyone else having similar experiences? 

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  • Yes, that's how goals work and why you might not wish to  use goals for everything. 

    Scheduled transactions can take the place of goals in many categories. But you will still have some you'll want to budget by hand. I budget all of my discretionary categories by hand so that I can move money however I want. It still takes less than a minute. 

    Like 2
    • WordTenor I actually find that I like the manual budgeting I do on the last day of the month for the following month. I just budgeted all of July by hand in under 5 minutes. I guess I like seeing where my money is going every month rather than having it done automatically. 

      I do have some goals set up for things that are the same month in and month out but I still like doing them individually. 

      Like 2
    • WordTenor I hadn't thought of using scheduled expenses in certain categories in place of goals. I was one that was trying to have a goal in every category. Like Green Mixer  is alluding to, I may be overdoing it a bit on goals myself.

      Like 2
  • No. Some of my categories are full. Some of them I don’t contribute to every month. Some are filled with the Underfunded option since it uses the repeating transactions.

    Like 1
  • I don't use any goals at all. I greatly dislike the fact they don't play nicely with the methodology (Rule 3). I am a month ahead, so I just store my nominal budget values (i.e., my template) in next month's area.

    When I still had to budget new income in the current month, I just put the nominal value in the category name for reference. It was under 2 minutes just to run down the list of categories.

    Like 1
    • dakinemaui I am a month ahead as well and use a deferred income category instead of budgeting into the next month. Would your method work for me as well, utilizing next month's budget as a kind of template?

      Like
    • Sky Blue Tugboat NM... you answered my question further in the discussion.

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      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 3 days ago
      • Reported - view

      Sky Blue Tugboat Using next month's budget as the template rather requires that you defer income to next month. 🙂 More details are here.

      Like
  • It depends on the type of goal.  Some goals like the new Spending goals that go over a month don't play well with rule 3 like dakinemaui pointed out.  Monthly and weekly ones do better but still need to be watched closely.

    Savings goals however work great for long term goals.  If I'm due for glasses next summer I'd set a goal for $600 in that category for next summer.  Spending between now and then won't change that.

    Putting aside a fixed amount a month is also super useful.  A little trick I use is setting a minimal amount as a monthly goal, say $20, then adding a repeating transaction to my register with a red flag to remind me to delete it which represents the minimum I might need to spend in any given month.  Say $100.  Every month it with either suggest $20 or however much more I need to reach $100 if I'm below that.  It's simple and I've been doing it for years now.

    For everything else I make sure to schedule transactions then I can simply click underfunded for the whole budget and I'm pretty much done.  Then I adjust things if I'm short or apply the remainder to next month if I'm not.  Glad to say the latter has become more common these days.

    Like 1
  • dakinemaui said:
    I just store my nominal budget values (i.e., my template) in next month's area.

     The TBB then is negative in the next month's area?

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      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 12 days ago
      • Reported - view

      Owlette yes, next month's TBB is negative.

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  • Yes, similar experience. I have goals for almost every category. The categories without goals get funded with "extra" income. If I WAM and a category turns yellow (or blue) I'll go to the next month and re-save the goal, turning the current month's bubble green again. The categories I've done this to no longer have check marks next to the available number, making it easy to see at a glance which categories I've wammed (wam-ed? wam'd?) from, which gives me some insight. Open to other workflows. Good topic.

    Like 3
  • I don't use Goals at all. Since I budget the same amount every month to the majority of my categories, I just use the Quick Budget option to budget the same as last month. Because all money received this month is used to fund next month, I only budget at the end of the month when my last paycheck is deposited. It takes 10 minutes/month tops to budget the same as last month and make any tweaks.

    Like 3
      • Mx Emmin
      • Orchid_Banjo.5
      • 8 days ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      jenmas  this wouldnt work for me... I have goals, but I always end up WAMing (rarely in the same direction twice, else I'd adjust my goals) so my "budgeted last month" changes from month to month

      Like 1
    • Mx Emmin If you're WAMing often, then it is worth exploring why you are constantly needing to move money around. I used to do this, too, until I started working with the reports and examining the average spending for various categories. It was to total game changer when I began working from the averages instead of attempting to covering things month to month. My power bill is always fully funded now, regardless of the time of year, and my grocery and gas categories almost never need WAMing, either.
      Once you have longevity under your belt with YNAB and have the history of transactions, it is really useful to explore the information that YNAB contains to see what is really going on.

      Like 2
      • Mx Emmin
      • Orchid_Banjo.5
      • 7 days ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      farfromtheusual  I am working on it but I've been with YNAB less than a year so I dont have much history to work from and the last few months have done a real number on my spending patterns 

      Like 1
    • Mx Emmin If you're getting close to a year then you can begin to use the averages. Every little bit helps, and you can double check it each month just to see if it has shifted, too. Be patient with yourself, the longer you use it the easier it gets, and the more knowledge you have about how to work your money to your advantage so that you don't need to WAM anymore.

      Like 1
      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 7 days ago
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      farfromtheusual The less obvious, negative aspect about funding discretionary categories at levels that avoid WAMing is that you spend more. It's human nature to "spend to the line", so I intentionally set my nominal values low. Toward the end of the month, it's somewhat of a "first-come, first-serve" among the pool of discretionary categories. There's just not a lot of difference in priority at that stage for me. We tend to dig through the freezer as well, which is another good thing.

      Like 1
    • dakinemaui I think that depends on your approach. I've kept my grocery budget at the average for a long time (more than a year, and even though the pandemic "stocking up" phase), so nothing has changed. And periodically I won't spend all of the money in the category, I leave it there, and then buy some things to bulk up. So I don't necessarily think that line of thinking is absolute. If you want to trim a category, then yes, you need to do something different, but using the reports for an average (especially if you are looking at a long term year + average number) shouldn't cause you to spend any more than what you have already been spending.

      Like 1
      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 7 days ago
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      farfromtheusual I would then guess that you are not a procrastinator, as that's the same phenomenon at work. 🙂 

      Like 1
    • dakinemaui well, not with this situation anyway... I'm not sure why procrastination would lead you to not work within the averages, anyway.

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      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 7 days ago
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      farfromtheusual Thinking about this further... We do the average+rollover in many categories (e.g., gas, kids activities, or utility bills), but we don't really rely on the category balance for spending guidance for those things. If the Grocery budget were set at the average, there would naturally be a surplus toward the end of the month from time to time. Unfortunately, we would see those available funds and go buy crab legs. 😆 

      So for us, it's not really cutting spending, but avoiding growth. I suppose, though, after a year of end-of-month crab legs, the funding would be increased to where we could have crab legs *and* have a surplus. Then we'd probably just add scallops, LOL.

      Like 4
      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 7 days ago
      • Reported - view
      farfromtheusual said:
      I'm not sure why procrastination would lead you to not work within the averages

      Procrastination is essentially using the full amount of planned time. IMO, using the full amount of planned spending seems like a very similar thing. Thus, I was hypothesizing that you may have a personality that doesn't feel the need to take the full amount of time (or money).

      Also related, almost no one stops their car with their bumper at the stop sign -- they invariably go past it, as that line is the target. Not to mention, have you ever seen a ticking time bomb stop with 2 minutes to spare?? "Going to the line" is nearly a universal truth. 😉

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      • Superbone
      • YNAB convert since 2008
      • Superbone
      • 7 days ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      dakinemaui I'm not buying your procrastination/spending to the line theory, dak. I've been a master procrastinator at times in my life but I never have an issue where I feel like I have to spend to the line. OTOH, I'm not making oft used categories like Groceries/Restaurants super tight either but if they are tight, there's nothing wrong with spending to the line. I often have left over groceries or restaurant funds. I'm also not afraid to WAM between these two categories either so that makes it an even bigger pool between the two. I don't know. I just never have the urge to spend to the line in ANY category. The whole thing is a balancing act as we all know.

      Like 2
      • Superbone
      • YNAB convert since 2008
      • Superbone
      • 7 days ago
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      Due to the pandemic, my Auto:Gas category is piling up. I've even had to reduce my monthly funding. In fact, just looked at it and it's huge! I either need to move funds from it or quit funding it at all until it starts getting significant use again.

      ETA: Speaking of which, I wish there was a Pause you could do on goals. Instead, I had to delete my Gas goal and then I'll have to re-add at a later date when things get back to normal.

      Like 1
    • dakinemaui I see your point, but by the same token, I don't have any problem with my power bill and working with the averages. If what you say is true, then I would find a way to use more power so that I went "to the line" as well. If I had leftover restaurant funds, then maybe I would splurge, but by the same token, if I know my BF's birthday is coming up, I'd save so that we could go somewhere fancier next month with the extra funds.

      You can validate almost anything in your head, so if "spending to the line" is something that you choose to validate, then you'll do it, and push your averages up over time. But you can also exercise self control where you wish to do so. That's all a choice.

      And to me, procrastination is different than this. Procrastination is using up the allotted amount of time - yes, but it is also avoiding doing anything until the last minute. So zero usage for 29 days, 100% usage in the last day. Per that theory I wouldn't grocery shop at all for the first 3 weeks of the month and do all my purchases the last day. There's really no connection between the two.

      How you work your budget works for you, and that's what's awesome about YNAB. It's flexible enough that we can each make it work for how our brain thinks and processes things (for the most part....).

      Like 1
      • WordTenor
      • I have the honor to be your obedient servant
      • WordTenor
      • 7 days ago
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      Superbone I used the surplus to finally put a $100 cushion in that category and now have one of the new spending goals set on it for $100 + usual monthly amount. It's resulting in me quickbudgeting what I spent last month. 

      Like 2
      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 7 days ago
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      farfromtheusual said:
      by the same token, I don't have any problem with my power bill and working with the averages.

      Different token. You don't make spending decisions based on the Power category balance.

      I appreciate everyone's take on the matter, and I totally agree it's going to vary. In fact, I may try increasing Groceries to the average. Upon further reflection, the main reason it goes over is because my spouse doesn't look at it. 🤔

      Like 4
      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 7 days ago
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      • Reported - view
      Superbone said:
      Due to the pandemic, my Auto:Gas category is piling up.

      I tend to just reallocate when I see a surplus and change the contribution then and there. After all, if you knew back in Feb that you'd be driving less, you would have put it elsewhere anyway.

      A pause on a goal seems like an unnecessary complication. It's also what WordTenor has effectively implemented.

      Like 2
    • dakinemaui Sort of. It's almost the opposite action each month. I keep an eye on the power bill when it comes in, and make sure that the amount I set aside covers it. Generally it's covered at least one pay check prior to the bill being due.

      But I do the same thing for the grocery budget. I keep an eye on the balance, and go shop for what I need. Generally, the pay check comes in ahead of when I've maxed out the category. Very rarely I go over. I don't have to think about it or fret about it, I just shop for what I need.

      If you're working off the actual average, then it should even out in the wash, especially if your spouse isn't looking at category balance because spending habits are habits, and that's where you get the average from. (my partner doesn't look at YNAB at all... so I have to roll with the punches with him constantly.)

      Like 1
  • I have about 50 categories, and I use goals for all but a handful of them. The new goals have made this even more practical, so I love them. After using Quick Budget, I do go down the categories and review each at the start of each month, to be sure they match my intentions for the month. But having the numbers filled in helps speed this process. 

    I also use Scheduled Transactions for everything I can, and I know these feed into Quick Budget also. Between Goals and Scheduled, my workload is reduced at the beginning of the month, and all the way through the month.

    Like 5
  • I have a fully-realized budget template going on.  There is either a recurring transaction, a goal, or in a small number of categories, both, on every single category in my budget.  My budget higher-order categories are temporally arranged, rather than the YNAB defaults, so I have Weekly Spending, Monthly Bills, Quarterly Bills, Yearly Bills, Other Spending, and Saving Goals, and then my categories use informational naming schemes such as the date and amount relevant to that category.  

    I was super excited about the new goal types.  

    Like 4
  • If you're new to YNAB this can be an issue because you don't have many categories with money to cover overspending.  Once you build up more you won't have this issue so bad.  

    I only cover overspending with categories that are flexible, since I know I'll have to put extra in next month if I take out some money this month from my car insurance category, for example.  But that's because I have other categories with money in them.  Be patient and you'll get there.

    Also, you don't have to always meet your goal...sometimes we make audacious goals just to push ourselves, knowing we may not reach them but will get stronger from the attempt.  Just ignore the complaining color in YNAB and know that you moved the money to follow your priorities.  For example, my "stuff I forgot to budget for" category is always underfunded at the end of the month, since I usually use it for unexpected expenses, but I move the money to the appropriate category.  I just ignore it.  It's not as pretty, but that's really ok.  I could remove the goal and do it manually, but I like the quick "underfunded" budgeting option in YNAB.

    Like 2
      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 8 days ago
      • Reported - view
      PhysicsGal said:
      I just ignore [the complaining color].  It's not as pretty, but that's really ok.

      For anyone who really dislikes the complaining color, one trick is to re-establish the goal in next month's area. However, do not do this with a Spend By Date goal, as it resets the beginning of the spend window.

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      • monkeyhanger
      • No animals were harmed
      • monkeyhanger.1
      • 7 days ago
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      I use the Toolkit option to turn any underfunded goals to blue. That way any orange goals are credit overspending.

      Not technically necessary because it's really clear which orange cells are underfunded and which are overspent - there's a minus sign in the latter. I do understand why orange for deliberate decisions bothers people though.

      Like 2
      • ynaber2613
      • ynaber2613
      • 7 days ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      monkeyhanger dakinemaui  I changed my credit card accounts to checking accounts which results in all overspending being red and under funding being orange.  I did not like the way YNAB handled credit cards anyway.  At the beginning of the month I fund all categories and everything is green.  The orange lets me know which categories I WAM'ed from.

      Like 2
      • monkeyhanger
      • No animals were harmed
      • monkeyhanger.1
      • 7 days ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      ynaber2613 Interesting how we're all different. I'm fine with the CC handling but I understand why some people want to change it. 

      Like 1
  • My income is lumpy since I don't get regular paychecks.  All the categories I plan to fund monthly have goals, mostly with a little extra to build a buffer.  I love filling them in as income arrives.  My goals are at the absolute maximum I could receive monthly so sometimes categories stay underfunded for the entire month.  I have no intention of ever leaving my categories without goals as it would be much more work than I want to put into my budget monthly.  Have a nice buffer in most categories so do minimal WAMing in a "normal" month.  Guess you could say I'm "buffered," after many years of doing this.   I don't understand why anyone would not use the goal function, or care to know.  They work like a dream for me.  

    It took quite some time to understand my spending habits, and check my category balance BEFORE spending. I never want to go back to not having a goal and checking category balance, before spending.  This has made a world of difference in my monthly net worth increases.  And it saves a bunch of time when income arrives. 

    Like 1
  • I don't use goals because I haven't found that they fit with what I like to work with. And I enter everything manually, including all transactions. I like my fingers right on the pulse of my money.

    After reading the thread thus far, here's a couple of thoughts that I have:

    - I don't have to think about how much goes in each category - I have it notated in the category name. I apply half of what is required for each category (or the average amount of spending until the next pay check) every time I get paid. So the Mortgage category reads "House - $1692/$846" and I know that I need to put $846 in that category at each pay check. It's very quick and efficient to apply it. I also happen to have next month's mortgage payment already waiting in that category, ready to go. So I mostly ignore the amount in the category, and just apply half of the payment that's due, and keep moving. It's quick and painless. I run down the categories in less than 5 minutes to apply what is needed each time one of us gets paid.

    - WAMing often was a problem I used to have. That is until I finally dug into the reports. Once you have some time in your belt with YNAB (3 months is a start, 6 months is good, but a year + is ideal), exploring the reports can yield some really valuable info that helps reduce WAMing. I looked at the water bill, power bill, groceries, gas, my pet supplies, and several other categories to figure out the average spending, and then made note in each category how much I needed to apply each pay check to keep it covered. So our power bill reads like this " Power - $65" because I need to put $65 per pay check into the category to keep the bill covered every month. I have not had to hunt for funds to cover the power bill since I made that shift. I have almost never needed to WAM gas, groceries, or most of the other really standard spending categories since then, either. It dramatically reduced how much I needed to fuss with my budget to keep things covered.

    Like dakinemaui I don't use the goals, they are cumbersome and don't fit with how my budget flows. But I rarely spend more than 5 minutes taking care of my budget when I have funds to apply.

    Like 1
  • I have a goal for I would say probably 85-90% of my categories. Especially since the recent goal feature update!! The categories that I don't have goals set for are some of the very discretionary expenses (ex. pampering, alcohol, wardrobe, etc.) - things I fund only if I have extra money in a particular month. 

    Like 1
  • dakinemaui said:
    In fact, I may try increasing Groceries to the average. Upon further reflection, the main reason it goes over is because my spouse doesn't look at it.

     I know this is kind of old but another take on the Groceries and averages. A lot of people would think that the best way to control groceries is a meal plan and shopping lists. If you don't do those and keep your groceries category tight, you may well need to WAM and for something more essential than crab legs. 

    And about your spouse. My spouse doesn't look at categories either and just look at the list. Which means we do well with the average. If we want to spend less, we better work on the shopping list rather than the budget category. We either have a surplus or not in the category. But this surplus never gets spent on scallops (not a big fan of crab here). It simply means less WAMing on a later month.

    Like 2
  • I mostly like goals for savings. I like the target by date goals there because that allows me to easily play with the target amount and/or date to get to a monthly contribution I like. And it allows for quick adjustments. For example, we bought a car in September 2015 so I put a goal for a car replacement in 2025. Then in January our new car was a write-off because of hail damage. We bought a new car, an bigger car with less kms for about $3000 after insurance payout, which was not a problem to cover. But that meant we didn't need to replace our car in 2025 so I simply changed the target date of the goal and I got my new monthly contribution calculated for me. 

    Same for the bike category. Since repairs on bikes are relatively cheap, I have only one category for repairs, replacements, accessories etc. So the monthly contribution is automatically recalculated each time we get something for a bike. With 5 bikes that happens quite often. 

    I have a category for trips to France (French living in Australia). For those, the date is very flexible so the goals are good to quickly adjust depending on circumstances. I was supposed to go this July with my daughter but finally, it will be the whole family in 2022. Different $ target and date.

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