Goals: Combining Monthly, Quarterly & Annual Expenses Using Goals

I'm the original poster of the suggestion that we should be allowed to enter multiple goals within the same category name. However, in the absence of that being available in YNAB, does anyone have a good way of using the new goals in YNAB that would allow us to use a single category to capture expenses where some occur monthly, others occur quarterly and others perhaps annually?

For example, I have one category in particular where 2 of my expenses occur monthly and the 3rd expense occurs quarterly. I want them all in same category because they are all related to the same type of expense. I really have no interest in tracking the 3rd expense in its own category.

I know we can prefund the category, but I'm more specifically asking whether anything in the new goals features would allow me to track this better each month.

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  • It’s one of a number of things in YNAB where I have to get out the calculator and keep separate notes.

    I have a category for “news and magazines” from which I buy the local newspaper roughly once a week, pay a quarterly and an annual magazine subscription and like to have a little for the occasional impulse buy when I visit the local store. I have another category called “memberships” which has a number of different monthly, quarterly and annual payments. 

    The first thing for me is to schedule all the known payments into the appropriate account (cash or checking or credit card). I use the toolkit, so that gives me a immediate heads up of what is scheduled in the month I am budgeting and has to be covered, with any additional for impulse buys.

    I also like to try to set a “monthly contribution goal” which reminds me to pre-budget for the quarterly and annual payments. That’s a simple spreadsheet job to make sure I have enough built up on top of an average monthly spend, for when the bills come in. I keep a (digital) notebook where I write down what I have assumed whenever I change budget or goals, then if a particular budget seems to be going off track, I can quickly see why and amend my plan.  

    I’d love something like Moneywell, where the planned or scheduled payments feed directly into the goal setting process, and translate back to what you need to budget month by month, but YNAB’s narrow focus would probably make that impossible. The way YNAB is set up in its bones is monthly. If reality is not, you still have to find a way to turn it into a monthly budget and spending item and I’m OK with doing that manually. It means I have understood the problem and made the decisions.

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  • I do the drawdown analysis outside of YNAB.

    Separate categories, OTOH, is easy. Clutter and tying up excess funds is the price you pay for that simplicity.

    Pick your poison.

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