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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.