"Needed for Spending" goal not working for groceries

I'm not quite understanding the "Needed for Spending" goal type, which YNAB suggests using for something like groceries. Let's say our goal for groceries is $1,000/mo max, meaning each month we want that to be the max we spend. If we only spend $900 of that in a given month, $100 carries over to the next month. But the goal doesn't turn green unless we ADD $1,000 each month, no matter what we're starting with. Isn't that kind of the functionality of the Monthly Savings Builder, which says "Contribute this amount every month, no matter what, until you disable this goal"? The current setup doesn't seem to work well for something like groceries when you want to set a max amount per month.

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  • Isn't it silly and unintuitive that the goal doesn't work until March 1st?

    That's why I don't use the Needed for Spending goal type. 

    Instead, I sweep leftovers (only in categories where I want it to act like this and not build up) at the end of the month. That way, I can happily budget the normal amount whenever I'm ready to budget the next month. 

    The weekend before the 1st is a common budgeting time, and I hate having to go back and fix things once the 1st really hits.

    This is the only part of YNAB that doesn't calculate immediately. They thought it would be less confusing this way. I disagree.

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  • Thanks for sharing this workaround. That is indeed the issue I'm hitting - we've got a busy week ahead so I was hoping to do the March budget today using our buffer.

    As you say, it would seem that this should calculate immediately as other features do. And it would seem that budgeting in the future should be an acceptable and expected approach, as "Budgeted in Future" is shown right at the top of the budget page. So if we do our March budget on February 28th, it shouldn't cause certain goal types to not behave as expected. Maybe at the very least we could get to choose, i.e. a checkbox for "Calculate Immediately" or something like it.

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    • Silver Guitar 🤣 You're welcome. Put in a feature request for the goal to calculate immediately like everything else. You won't be the only one.

      Also, the issue with budgeting in the future comes from a little "feature" called Stealing From The Future. To get around this, I'd recommend using the Income For Next Month workflow. 

      Look them up. They will change your budgeting life for the better.

      Good luck. 

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  • I definitely will. And I recently started an "Income for Next Month" category - game changer! I missed the Buffer from classic YNAB and this has done a decent job replacing it, where we just release the funds from the category at the end of the previous month when starting the new month's budget.

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  • Silver Guitar said:
    it would seem that budgeting in the future should be an acceptable and expected approach, as "Budgeted in Future" is shown right at the top of the budget page

     Well, what they really need to show is "Future TBB" to make sure you don't accidentally overbudget and come up short as a result. That lack of notification is SFTF.

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