Alright, here I am giving nYNAB another try so that I can hopefully avoid the insane price increase if we do eventually decide to make the change.
Almost immediately, I am stuck on how to deal with upcoming transactions. I use scheduled transactions in YNAB4 as a bill pay reminder for myself. I try to setup automatic payments whenever possible, but I still have certain transactions I must pay manually. As such, I move the transaction into my register once the transaction is committed/scheduled. I can then scan the upcoming scheduled transactions for anything I need to manually pay.
With nYNAB, all of these future-dated transactions are mixed into one bucket. I can't see a clear way to differentiate these transactions.
What are your workarounds?
I'm not sure I follow. You have scheduled transactions for bills that aren't on auto pay and you want to distinguish them from payments with autopay? Use a flag. Auto pay doesn't have a flag and manual transactions have some color.
Fwiw all my "you must pay attention to this" (somewhat of a pun) transactions are marked red.
Hey Joel ,
I'm piggybacking off of waterkip here, but a combination of the Flag feature and the Quick Budget/Inspector should allow you to stay on top of everything. To keep your scheduled transactions with autopay separate from scheduled transactions without autopay, use a certain flag color to indicate which bills still need to be manually paid. Once paid, you can either remove the flag or change it to a different color for confirmation (for instance, marking it Red if it still needs to be paid and then green once you've made the payment).
Once a scheduled transaction is entered, the Available amount for that category will show in yellow if there isn't enough money budgeted there to cover the upcoming expense. The Inspector will tell you just how much you're short and the Quick Budget option will allow you to auto-fill your categories with the amount needed to cover those upcoming expenses.
Hope that helps! :)
With current functionality, the best solution that fits your concern is to segregate your bill categories from any discretionary spending categories. Once the "bill" category is funded, that money is gone and you don't consider it for any spending decisions during the month. This doesn't provide the cash flow feedback that some are looking for but it solves the problem of spending funds that are already spoken for. For a more "hacky" solution, you can refer to my answer in the old forum.
WordTenor I think that is part of the point of Joel and everyone's concern. It was only a year so before nYNAB that Jesse Mecham made a White Board Wen. and blog about getting too granular. I believe the phrase was something like "Don't budget toothpaste." Now we have to go split all that out again for future dated transactions.
Even if I could date everything for the first would be ok (for me at least) if the import would match up to the last 30 days or so.
I understand wanting those funds to appear as already spent, because they're earmarked for something else, but the reality is that they're still there. It's possible for you to spend those funds on other expenses, so showing that they've already been spent would cause your budget to be incorrect - something we want to avoid.Your Available balances and account balances would be wrong - showing what you should spend instead of what's actually available to spend
Faness This seems crazy to me. This is like saying that, while you've written a check, you could still stop payment on it, so the money isn't really spent, and you should leave it in the budget. If the electric bill comes, and I set the bill pay to pay it, I'm not sure in what world I'm in a position to change my mind and spend it on fast food instead.
More to the point, it's like saying that while you've charged it on a credit card, the money hasn't left your checking account, so it shouldn't be removed from the budget yet. Committing to spend money is when the decision is made, and when the budget should be impacted, and that's a huge and powerful realization that YNAB brings to the table. I'm not sure why nYNAB seems to be walking back to an "only when the money leaves your checking account is it really spent" philosophy.
In general, I think I agree with WordTenor that if these kinds of transactions are restricted to categories with no discretionary spending this can be reduced to adding a little extra work to manage cash-flow, which YNAB will probably never be perfect for. With interest rates where they are, precise cash-flow management of my checking and savings accounts isn't that big a deal anyway. That said, philosophically, committing to spending the money is the decision point, and the budget ought to reflect all the decisions you've made.
Any transactions that I input to serve as a reminder to myself, I just tag them with a red flag and add a memo if I need one. Once I handle whatever needs to be handled, I remove the flag and memo and turn it into a normal transaction. I only ever use the red flag for things that are super important.
Things that I don't need such an in-your-face reminder for, I don't add any future transactions - just fund the category with whatever I think I'll need. Then, I pay it when the bill arrives. The best example that I have for that is our monthly water/gas bill and sewer bill. I can't put either of them on auto pay, so I just pay them and cover any resulting overspending or move any excess funds from those categories after I add the transaction.
Faness - Have you ever reconciled a check book before? Money is spent when it is committed, not when it posts to the bank. That's the whole point of allowing future-dated transactions in the register. Sure, technology allows us to commit transactions in a future date. For example, if I write a check today for my water bill due on the 15th. It is an outstanding check today. It doesn't matter if I stick it in the mail today, or wait until the 10th. It's still an outstanding check. Same concept for the electronic payment I've committed to be paid on 6/10.
Faness Here is the crux of the disconnect I am seeing. The team wants the budget to show the amount currently in the category because in an emergency, you might need it. But most day-to-day budget use is not around emergencies. Yes, some, maybe many, new users really are broke and the bulk of their Rule 3 usage is around chasing overspends in their budget. However, the goal of budgeting is to move to a point where your spending is aligned with your priorities. That means that the "chasing overspends" part of the budget life should be short. For me personally, it was three weeks.
The thing that happens often to an experienced budgeter is "Can I change my priority here?" not "Oh crap I can't afford to pay this bill any longer." The budget is designed for the latter scenario, but it should be designed for the former. The information that it should take effort to retrieve is the "If I cancel some of my obligations, can I manage to move this money to cover an emergency?" because an emergency should be rare. The information that should be easy to find is, "If I want to take advantage of this opportunity, which other priority can I most easily change?"
I understand wanting those funds to appear as already spent, because they're earmarked for something else, but the reality is that they're still there. It's possible for you to spend those funds on other expenses, so showing that they've already been spent would cause your budget to be incorrect - something we want to avoid.
Fundamentally, the budget is the spending/money plan. YNAB taught me long ago to check the plan (i.e., category balance) before spending. So while it's possible for me to spend those funds on other expenses, I want the budget to tell me -- IN ADVANCE -- that there will be ramifications if I do.
Showing me a notice (it's not really a warning) after I spend those funds elsewhere is too late -- that's what life was like without YNAB! Historically, I often received an after-the-fact notice that I had made poor spending decisions -- you may know it by it's traditional description of "Credit Card Statement".
Taking what you wrote to the extreme, it's possible that I run off to Mexico, ignore my obligations, and spend every last dime in the budget on tacos and beer -- obviously, catering to what is possible is not the right thing to do.
The right thing is for the budget to capture your financial intentions -- i.e., the current plan. At present, the simple fact is that's not being done within categories with nonzero scheduled outflows.
I understand you're parroting YNAB's new viewpoint, so PLEASE, elevate this to someone in authority. I need the budget to guide me in the here and now. Does YNAB agree that the budget should reflect my CURRENT plan or not?
Your other categories, should be treated the same as your credit card categories. Those funds have been put aside for your credit card payment, just like your Water Bill funds are put aside for the water bill. You know those funds have a job and you shouldn't move them unless you absolutely have to (temporarily).
I don't want to hijack this conversation about future-dated transactions and rat hole on credit card mechanics. But I do think the issues share an important similarity: In both cases, YNAB is inviting me to continue budgeting money that I consider already spent.
That money might still be available in my accounts, but I no longer need or want it in my plans (i.e. the budget.) YNAB has separate views for "Accounts" and "Budget" and they have a different purposes.
What I find most baffling about the new design is that it seems to encourage, or at least enable, bad financial choices. As Patzer has repeatedly stated, subtracting future-dated outflows from your working balance is the more conservative approach. More generally, anything that a user does to make money unavailable to their budget -- so they're discouraged from spending it -- is a good thing! It's a great way to "age your money," to borrow the new slogan.
It's a shame that it's harder to operate the budget that way in the new version: I now have to resort to workarounds to hide money from my budget that I don't consider to be "available." YNAB used to work with me on that stuff, and now it's working against me.
I enter checks the day I write them. I used a check to pay my rent once and the condo association didn't cash it for two weeks - this wasn't an issue because I had dated the check in YNAB for the 5th (the day I turned it into the office). I consider checks a form of cash (spent the day I write them) and leave them uncleared in my register until they clear the bank.
This is exactly what YNAB should allow in our "check register." I don't get why this is so hard to understand.
Considering your money to be unavailable -- because it's associated with a future-dated transaction, or a credit card purchase, or because you marked it as "income for next month" -- is an unfamiliar concept to someone who has only ever looked at their account balances to inform their spending decisions. It's probably a barrier-to-entry for many new users
So is considering your money unavailable for beers because it's budgeted in the Rent category even though the money is in your account. The whole concept of YNAB is making money that is in your account conceptually unavailable.
Now, it's true the money isn't ACTUALLY unavailable. And Rule 3 does allow you to change the availability. But the idea is to create sufficient friction to reduce the ability to deviate from the plan, minimize the acquisition of debt (and promote reducing it) and, most importantly, completely eliminate the possibility of overdrawing your accounts.
Treating the electric bill, which you have already scheduled to be paid as available money under this scheme is anarchy.
I actually agree that there is a point where the barrier-to-entry is counterproductive. And that's why I'm fine with the elimination of the red arrow, and ok with the concept behind the new CC system, though I wish it were better at forcing you to avoid creating CC debt when overspending. This is not the place to draw that line though.
Faness I just wanted to say that I support TheTabby's suggestion for the available after upcoming column (or option) on the budget screen. I would add that the ability to make available after upcoming the default view in the mobile apps (somewhere in the budget settings) would also be extremely useful. I'm thinking of the standard example that comes up in this discussion: groceries with an upcoming, scheduled transaction like Amazon Pantry. If someone (or their partner) is at the store and is wondering how much they have available to spend (or if they have enough to get some sale items that weren't on their list or whatever), they need to make that decision at that moment at the store based on what's available after upcoming, preferably with just a glance at the category (I don't think the available after upcoming is shown in the mobile apps, is it? I haven't seen it, but admittedly, I don't use the mobile app that often).
I'm with you on this Joel and Patzer the inability to consider future transactions in the new YNAB is a fatal flaw, and is a feature I've seen in several other software and spreadsheets (see picture). You would think it would be simple enough for YNAB to incorporate and that they would want encourage the planning/forecasting.
Currently as is, YNAB will show funded categories with future/planned transactions having money available in "green", however it's not until that money is spent will the category go to "orange" showing it's unfunded for a future transaction. What an awful workflow, seems a little too late for the heads up after I've spent the money . Now I've got to go adjust my budget to cover the overspending hoping I'll have the money do so. By contrast if I had seen there was no money available in my budget, because it had considered the upcoming transaction, prior to spending that money I wouldn't have spent it in the first place and avoided all these issues. It's such a "reactive" method for budgeting and feels unplanned. It honestly reminds me of the days before I budgeted and planned for expenses. The only tool YNAB give us at the moment is to look at each category 1 by 1 using the inspector to see if there are any future transaction expected.
Converted from ynab4 over the holidays and the challenge of preventing future dated transactions had me scratching my head. Here’s my plan to handle this—hoping you all can point out if I’m not thinking this through.
1. Budget this month’s paychecks to future month like usual.
2. Create my routine bills as recurring scheduled transactions that each have unique categories. Hence never a worry about overspending a category.
A) any scheduled bill that is autopayed the same amount each month gets a green flag.
B) any scheduled transaction that I manually pay gets a red flag initially while they “wait” to get paid.
3. Towards the middle to end of the month I’ll find a hour on the weekend to manually pay scheduled bills. This often includes paying some scheduled bills that are scheduled for payment up to a week of the NEXT month. Since the money is already earned and budgeted for next month, I feel comfortable paying these scheduled bills today. So, I go to my bank website and pay some of these bills due early next month. But, the big surprise is I can’t change the date in YNAB or it overcharges the current month budget. So my trick in YNAB is to simply keep the date set for next month but change the flag from red to green. The green flag is my indicator that I’ve paid the bill.
4. Later next month when I have transactions that need approval, I feel confident that I’ve paid the green flagged transactions and can approve them.
thoughts?? I’m not crazy fond of this approach, but think it will work to keep things organized. I do find it unfortunate that I’m forced to post date a transaction that I’m paying today. Since I manually reconcile my accounts I’m not too concerned about dates not exactly lining up though.
Try 2Be Kind said:
I feel confident that I’ve paid the green flagged transactions and can approve them.
Need a different color than green, because you have to change the flag back to red on the next instance of the scheduled transaction. Alternatively, leave the auto paid transactions without a flag, but you still have to flip the manual paid flag back to red.
I dislike the need to revisit transactions (as is required with flags), so I put the month in the memo when I've scheduled it in the real world. When the scheduled version advances to the next month, that transaction month will not match the memo month, indicating it's not handled.