Future-dated transactions?

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?

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  • My #1 item on my wishlist for YNAB ... Fingers crossed that some day we have this.

    Reply Like 2
  • 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. 

    Reply Like
      • Joel
      • Joel
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view

      waterkip  I have many scheduled transactions, most of which are automatic pay with amounts that fluctuate. When I receive the bill (approx 30 days early), I enter to register the transaction and record the exact date and amount I have committed to the transaction. That way my accounts and budget reflect that the money is already spent (because it is, even if it’s just scheduled to come out of my account at a date in the future). It is a committed transaction.

      Reply Like 3
      • waterkip
      • waterkip
      • 2 yrs ago
      • Reported - view

      Joel  have a look at the inspector it tells you how much money is left after the pending transaction. When you go below 0 after a pending transaction the budget item becomes orange. Eg 50 outflow and only 40 in the category and you have an orange budget item. Which you can ignore and then becomes red on the date of the transaction

      Reply Like
  • 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! :)

    Reply Like
      • nkull
      • nkull
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 10
      • Reported - view

      Faness at YNAB 

      I have to admit that it blows my mind that “check the inspector” and “if you over extend it will turn yellow” is the answer YNAB somehow finds acceptable here.   The whole point is that it should be an OPTION to make it a future dated transaction that impacts your category and account balances NOW.   I don’t want to overspend in the first place, turning it yellow after the fact does not help prevent the overspending.  I want a quick glance at what is available, not to have to dig into it to figure it out.  

      Reply Like 10
      • Patzer
      • Retired at age 60. Thank you, YNAB!
      • Patzer
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 4
      • Reported - view

      Faness at YNAB

      Just starting a trial with YNAB.  I understand that the Official Party Line is that future dated transactions should not be recognized.  I would prefer to recognize future dated outflows as I schedule them, but not recognize future dated inflows until they happen.  YNAB 4's distinction between scheduled transactions and future dated transactions allowed me to take this conservative approach.  So, the first thing I notice is that future dated transactions show up in the register in gray, and that the toolkit supplies the running balance.  So far, so good; though I do wish the category were affected on the budget page.

       

      So here's my problem:  I have a scheduled inflow for December 1, and a future dated outflow for December 6.  The running balance does not reflect what I want to see between now and November 30.  Okay, the outflow needs to come out of the December budget.  Move to December, and it shows nothing spent in that category.  It faithfully shows the negative amount I budgeted to bring the category balance to zero; but that happened in YNAB 4.  I don't know how I would see that in web YNAB in order to properly work my December budget.  (If you care, the category is Utilities:Water, it gets paid every 3 months, and when I pay it I true the category up to zero before accruing my monthly estimate the next month.)

       

      While it appears that I will be able to achieve what I did in YNAB 4, for the most part, it is disappointing to see how much extra work is involved.

       

      I have also failed to find how to look at the scheduled transaction to *see* what frequency is scheduled.  I see how to enter it on a new transaction; but how do I look at an existing transaction to examine and possibly edit the frequency that it will occur?

      Reply Like 4
      • JoeDid
      • Remember: It is To Laugh
      • Purple_rain
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Faness I can't figure out how to remove a flag, as you have suggested. Can you explain how? Thanks.

      Reply Like
    • JoeDid Thank you for tagging me - I somehow missed the comments here! To remove a flag in the web app, click on the color of the current flag. If you click Red once, it will add a red flag, if you click Red again, it will remove the flag.

      nkull Sorry I missed your comment! We want you to plan ahead for those transactions, but "spending" those funds before they're spent teeters on the line of forecasting - which we don't want. YNAB is meant to focus on the present, but scheduling those transactions allows you to keep them in mind. I'm not saying you should depend on the category going yellow so that you know you've overspent, you should plan for those transactions and the category will turn yellow as a safety net if you haven't budgeted enough.

      Patzer I know it's been a while, but would you mind sharing what you've been doing to work around this situation? I read back through the thread and we have the 'Enter Now' option, but I understand this is a preference to see those transactions affect the budget without affecting the account, correct?

      Reply Like
      • Patzer
      • Retired at age 60. Thank you, YNAB!
      • Patzer
      • 1 yr ago
      • 7
      • Reported - view

      Faness 

      Faness said:
      Patzer I know it's been a while, but would you mind sharing what you've been doing to work around this situation? I read back through the thread and we have the 'Enter Now' option, but I understand this is a preference to see those transactions affect the budget without affecting the account, correct?

      Incorrect.  The transactions should affect both the account and the budget.  "Enter Now" is incorrect, because it changes the date to today.  That is wrong.  The date should be the future date the transaction will occur, and the funds should be gone from the account as of that date (and as of the ending balance of the account).  The funds should be spent from the budget in the month of the actual transaction date, whether that is this month or next month.

      This remains my biggest frustration with web-based YNAB, because I have not found a good workaround.  I can work around the lack of Income for Next Month.  I can manually create walled months.  I can avoid all the insane things web-based YNAB does with credit cards by simply telling it my credit cards are really checking accounts.  But I have no good workaround for future dated committed transactions.

      To recap, I am a fiscal conservative.  If it's May 24 and I receive a water bill due on June 15, I will schedule a payment to be made three business days prior to June 15 (most often June 10, because most often "3 business days" crosses a weekend.)  That transaction will happen for the scheduled amount on the scheduled date unless I affirmatively intervene to change it.  The money should show as gone from my account, and spent from my June budget.

      Using the Toolkit, I get a running balance.  (This is something else that really ought to be part of the base YNAB offering.)  The Toolkit running balance shows the balance after the next instance of each scheduled transaction.  As long as I have no true scheduled transaction (example:  my pension payment) happening before my future committed transaction (example: my water bill payment), I see what I need to see.  If in the real world, I have a scheduled pension payment on June 1,  which is 9 days before the committed water bill payment on June 10, and I am not seeing the conservative "what it looks like when all the committed spending catches up" balance in my account.  The only workarounds I have for the account are, look at it in YNAB 4 (which will only work until Microsoft breaks YNAB 4 or I stop keeping my budget in parallel on both platforms); or look at my parallel records in Quicken (which is not a solution for most YNAB users.)

      One category at a time, I can look at the inspector and see the category balance when things catch up.  That is sub-optimal, but I grudgingly admit I can work with it.  I just have to look at account or category detail to see if I remembered to schedule the gas & electric bill payment, instead of just looking at the category outflow on the budget page.  I need to look in the specific account registers to see whether I have scheduled my credit card payments, instead of simply looking at the balances in the sidebar.  This is clumsier, but possible.

      For now, I am distinguishing future committed outflows with a purple flag (everything is done, in my workflow) while true scheduled transactions have a red flag (further user action is required, in my work flow.)  So at least I get the minor benefit that when the money I've *already spent* shows up as a transaction asking to be approved (when it ought to require no further action from me), I can just see that the flag is purple and approve it.

      I am particularly offended by the lack of future committed transactions because I'm pretty sure that extra programming work was required to forbid them.  Every other financial package I've seen, including every prior version of YNAB, every version of Quicken since Quicken 2.0 for DOS, and Microsoft Money before that was retired, had future dated transactions.  I conclude that programming resources were expended to create the value-subtracted feature of forbidding future committed transactions in web-based YNAB. 

      TL/DR; I don't have a good workaround, and that remains a sore spot.  I have come to the conclusion that this is the way things are, and clumsily looking in many different places with significantly more manual effort than YNAB 4 required is the best I will get.

      Reply Like 7
    • Patzer Sorry about that but thank you for taking the time to explain! I read the whole thing to make sure I understood the purpose of what exactly it is you're looking for with that feature. In YNAB, we want to prepare for the future without pretending we're already there - that's why we schedule future transactions, but they don't affect your accounts or Available amounts until the day they take place. 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. It would also cause issues with Moving Money between your categories and cast doubt on priorities (if you schedule a $20 transaction in Fun Money, but something comes up and you need funds for Groceries, that $20 would no longer show as Available even if you want to buy groceries now and worry about leisure activities later). When those emergency situations pop up, we want your budget to be there to tell you what you Can do - take money from the categories where you have it, and YNAB will prompt you to put it back before those bills come due.

      I understand the extra clicks to check the inspector isn't as convenient, but putting that amount in the Available column isn't the truth we want your budget to portray. If I'm still missing something, or if you've thought of another workaround, I'm more than happy to listen or you can submit a Feature Request for it! :)

      Reply Like
      • WordTenor
      • Arranged the menu, the venue, the seating.
      • WordTenor
      • 1 yr ago
      • 4
      • Reported - view

      Faness Uh...you don't need to explain the YNAB method to Patzer. Patzer all but explained the YNAB method to Jesse. 

      "Letting money sit?" Patzer.

      "Whack a mole?" Patzer.

      The equation which matches account balances to categories? Patzer. 

      Most of us who really *get* this method, and can debate it at a theoretical level, have the level of understanding we have of it because at some point in time, someone passed on something to us that started with Patzer. If future dated transactions aren't something the team wants to do, that's fine. But it's not that he doesn't understand what you're trying to do. 

      I, too, get what the new software is trying to do by barring future dated transactions. I happen to think it's probably better in the long run for more users. But it's not the case that people who agree with the choice to do this understand YNAB and the people who disagree somehow don't. It's a disagreement on whether the execution actually matches the goal of allowing users to rely solely on their categories, not a misunderstanding of the need to rely on categories. 

      Reply Like 4
      • WordTenor
      • Arranged the menu, the venue, the seating.
      • WordTenor
      • 1 yr ago
      • 5
      • Reported - view

      And for the record, while I think barring a commit of a transaction in the register makes sense for most new users who don't understand that YNAB is not an accrual budget, or who are trying to match a program like Every Dollar or Mint, having no insight whatsoever on the budget screen that a given category has scheduled transactions strikes me as a pretty grave oversight. It means that users have to memorize which categories might have scheduled transactions in order to even know to check the inspector, and it makes it exponentially more difficult for a couple to use the budget effectively that way. 

      Reply Like 5
    • WordTenor I, in no way, meant to discredit Patzer. I initially asked for further explanation because I know Patzer has been using the new YNAB and wanted an opinion on making this scenario work further in the program. It's also why I asked if I was missing anything or if he had already thought of another work around.

      Thank you for jumping in here and sorry if my explanation came off in such a way. I follow Patzer's activity on the forum and truly wanted his opinion for another option here. :)

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      • WordTenor
      • Arranged the menu, the venue, the seating.
      • WordTenor
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Faness To be fair, Patzer doesn't need me to white knight him (sorry Patzer), and I totally am doing that out of respect for all I've learned from him directly and indirectly over the last five years. But I hope my point is clear that this disagreement about execution is not about misunderstanding the nature of reliance on categories. It's about two different definitions of what relying on categories looks like, and while the official stance is an excellent case for one side, there is an equally excellent case to be made that it runs a very real risk of causing someone ultimately to overspend a category they didn't intend to overspend. How big that risk is, well I think it varies, as my comments below show. But I think we can all agree that people using their categories correctly and overspending anyway because the budget's information is not clear is not the goal for anyone.

      Reply Like
      • budgetlover
      • Real Estate Broker
      • Forest_Green_Keyboard.1
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Faness really, no need to apologize here at all. I always appreciate your clear and concise explanations and how quickly you jump in. I often have no idea what people are trying to say here, but your explanations are always on point and a welcome relief.  

      Reply Like
      • Patzer
      • Retired at age 60. Thank you, YNAB!
      • Patzer
      • 1 yr ago
      • 6
      • Reported - view

      Faness I disagree with the YNAB philosophy on this point, but I understand why it is the way it is.  I just have to be a good enough budgeter to deal with it, in spite of the fact that it is the way it is.

      I happen to believe that the YNAB organization is in denial on this point, and should focus on teaching people to be conservative instead of implementing features that prevent them from being conservative in the hope of preventing clueless people from hurting themselves.  I believe a better focus would be on educating clueless people so that they cease being clueless.

      Reply Like 6
    • WordTenor Agreed. The yellow available amount is meant to prevent that overspending, but, if I'm understanding correctly, that seems to be too late of a warning - correct? I'm not saying either definition is incorrect, but since YNAB is meant to handle one of those definitions, I'm having a hard time finding a workaround for the other that isn't compromising.

      budgetlover Thank you for your kind words! I'm always happy to help but worry it doesn't come across that way. If you ever need anything, please don't hesitate to tag me! :)

      Patzer It's definitely okay to disagree. While we know the YNAB method is effective (and I know you know), we don't expect every aspect to work 100% for everyone. However, we Want it to work - that's why I often pry for more feedback, to see if there's a possibility for a workaround that wouldn't compromise the method. We don't want those categories to be underfunded, and that's why they turn yellow if there isn't enough for the upcoming transactions, but I understand that isn't a conservative frame of mind. 

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      • WordTenor
      • Arranged the menu, the venue, the seating.
      • WordTenor
      • 1 yr ago
      • 12
      • Reported - view

      Faness The thing many of us find baffling as long time users of the software is that suddenly there seems to be an almost aversion to putting the information someone needs to make a good decision on the budget screen. This is true with both this problem and with Stealing From the Future. 

      Case in point—I pumped 23 cents more gas than I intended yesterday. My entertainment subscriptions category has $16.37. But I can’t actually move that money or that category will be overspent as soon as Audible charges me. There is nothing on the budget screen itself that gives me this information. I just have to have it memorized. I’m quite good with money and have a good memory so it’s not a huge issue, but it does mean that the budget screen doesn’t give me all the info I need to make a good decision about what to do. I actually can’t rely on that category, because if I do, it will become overspent later. It is baffling to me why it seems that there is a preference to have this obscured. That seems entirely counter to the method, not part of it. 

      Reply Like 12
    • WordTenor First off, I'm happy to report we're taking a closer look at Stealing From The Future. We've discussed that thread and all of the feedback a number of time (support and the development team alike). I can't make any promises time wise, but we're looking into the best way to make that a clearer point in the future. :)

      As for the scenario you painted, as soon as you move that 23 cents, the category will turn yellow. That's YNAB's way of telling you those funds need to be put back as soon as possible, or the overspent category needs to be covered with a different category. If you know you have more income coming before Audible is scheduled to charge you, leaving the category yellow and covering the gas transaction isn't a bad idea. However, if you don't have more income, you should put the 23 cents back and choose another category.

      I don't mean to explain how the program works (I know you know that part), but the yellow category amount before the amount is budgeted (and after, if the amount is moved) is meant to be that 'in the budget logic' to make that decision.

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      • WordTenor
      • Arranged the menu, the venue, the seating.
      • WordTenor
      • 1 yr ago
      • 5
      • Reported - view

      Faness I glad the team is taking a closer look at SFTF but the problem is actually very straightforward. There needs to be a notification on the current month's budget screen that a future month is overbudget. The toolkit already figured out how to do this. 

      Again to my point below; one shouldn't be using YNAB reactively very long. The move to proactive budgeting should happen quite quickly, and the software needs to support that.  

      Reply Like 5
      • TheTabby
      • Just a common cat trying to budget uncommonly well.
      • TheTabby
      • 1 yr ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Faness I know there's an official "feature requests" place, and I guess I'll put this in there as soon as I get done typing it here and reading the rest of the thread, but would it be possible to just add a column to the budget screen of "available after upcoming"?  The software is already parsing that data for the inspector.  Could we put in in a place where we don't have to click each category to see it?

      Reply Like 1
    • TheTabby Thank you for adding in here! The Feature request form goes directly to our development team, to share your ideas and suggestions with them, so they can give them further consideration. By all means, please submit that idea! :)

      Reply Like 1
    • TheTabby I like the idea of having another column to show amount available after upcoming.  

      Reply Like 1
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 1 yr ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view

      Faness 

      Faness said:
      I don't mean to explain how the program works (I know you know that part), but the yellow category amount before the amount is budgeted (and after, if the amount is moved) is meant to be that 'in the budget logic' to make that decision.

       The "after" part is where the logic falls apart. There are use cases where you need to have the information before you make a budget or spending decision, not after. Particularly a spending decision, which are a bit less easy to reverse.

      Reply Like 3
    • WordTenor Sorry if I’m necroposting.

      I’m unbelievably new here (2 days) but while planning my first months budget I had to consider this problem.

      I decided to create one or two Category Groups for Categories that contain any of those recurring subscription costs. For these—YNAB, phone bill, auto payment, etcetera—I always know they have subscriptions by virtue of being within that Category Group. If the typical renewal date is helpful info you can put it in the item title 

      Using YNAB terms, these are Immediate Obligations, and you should always look elsewhere before moving funds from those Categories. You can create separate “True Expenses”-type Category/Group items for non-monthly subscriptions.

      I decided on  a gradient of several Category Groups organized top-to-bottom, priority: Immediate Obligation>True Expenses>Long Term Goals. Any Category/Group items aligning most with Long Term Goals are at the bottom and pilfered from first. Only move up as the circumstances require it.

      I’m just starting, but I believe this will keep everything organized so I don’t misallocate funds I *know* I’m going to spend.

      Reply Like 1
  • I give up.

    Reply Like 4
      • Patzer
      • Retired at age 60. Thank you, YNAB!
      • Patzer
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      Joel You're very persistent.  I gave up months ago, concluding that my concerns (including future dated transactions) would be deemed immaterial because they don't matter to the target market for nYNAB.

      Reply Like 2
      • Joel
      • Joel
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Patzer it's funny reading your response here now that you are using nYNAB. ha. Good luck, my friend.

      Reply Like
  • 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.

    Reply Like
  • The solution I think would satisfy both the concern of being able to see category balances and YNAB's concern about people entering transactions early would be for the "balance after upcoming" to be at least selectable as the default balance view, if not made the default balance view. 

    Reply Like 5
      • nkull
      • nkull
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      WordTenor 

      While still not perfect,  it is close, and it would be a HUGE improvement.  

      Reply Like 1
  • 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. 

    Reply Like 3
      • WordTenor
      • Arranged the menu, the venue, the seating.
      • WordTenor
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      kevman479 I would offer that for most users, the odds are quite slim that so many categories have mixed scheduled and discretionary spending that the need to see the updated category balance is in fact a major hardship. I used YNAB 4 happily for years without ever inputting a scheduled transaction early, and that was before even having this extra info about what the category balance will be. 

      Having gotten a little frustrated with the discussions on the old forum, I've spent most of the last year heavily involved in other YNAB communities which are mostly populated with new users. Very few new users care about this at all, which makes me think it's not really a "Wow, you are *so* likely to mess up your budget!" kind of thing and more of a "I had this workflow going and now it's broken" kind of thing.  As opposed to credit cards or even stealing from the future, both of which new users occasionally have issues with, which indicates more of an actual problem with the way the software works. The only people I've seen upset about future transactions not affecting the budget are YNAB 4 users. Well, them, and the occasional newbie who is just upset that YNAB doesn't work the way they expect a budget to work with inputting expected income--they usually either cotton on or decide YNAB isn't for them. 

      I think they could make a small change to make the existing functionality even better. But I think the population who actually need this info, and who need it so often that they can't manage to remember to check the inspector, is a very small population. 

      Reply Like 2
  • Faness said:
    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.

    Reply Like 13
    • LarryinLA Thanks for adding in here!

      I know a number of users have referred to YNAB as an envelope system and it works the same way here - the funds aren't removed from the envelope until they're spent. This isn't for those stop check situations, but those planning ahead and dealing with emergencies scenarios.

      For instance, let's say you plan to pay your water bill June 15th. Something happens and you don't get your paycheck on June 1st, or there's an emergency and you have to spend an unexpected amount - you now have the money budgeted for the water bill but no money for food. 

      In this case, you can take the money from your water bill category. When you do, the Available amount will turn yellow because you need to put those funds back before the 15th - you know those funds need to be put back, this is just YNAB's way of reminding you. 

      I understand the commitment is made when the decision is made, but we don't believe your budget should show incorrectly to reinforce that. Things change, priorities shift, and while that may sound flippant in reference to bills, it's still true. If there's an emergency, those funds are still there to use (note: I personally handle checks like cash and enter them as spent the day I hand them over).

      Reply Like
      • bret
      • bret
      • 1 yr ago
      • 14
      • Reported - view

      Faness 

      we don't believe your budget should show incorrectly

      I think it's incorrect for my budget to show money that I've already committed to spend as "available".  It's not helpful and undermines YNAB's value as a planning tool.

      If I wanted an app that merely showed the reality of my current account balances, I'd use Mint.com . The value of YNAB is that it helps you see your money in ways that may not match reality, but help you make smarter decisions:

      • My money isn't actually sorted into 30 envelopes, but imagining that it is helps me realize how much I can afford to spend on various things.
      • could immediately spend the money I earn today, but imagining that it's not available until next month helps age my money and improve my financial situation.  (This was much easier to do in YNAB4, btw.)
      • The purchases I've made on my credit card haven't actually been paid for yet, but choosing not to pay my credit card is a really poor financial choice (I don't like 25% interest rates.)  So I imagine that the money is gone the moment I make a purchase.  (Again, handled better in YNAB4).

      In short, I disagree with a lot of what YNAB considers 'correct' in the new version.

      Reply Like 14
    • Hi bret !

      YNAB is a realistic portrayal of your accounts, outside of what you imagine to be different - just like you mentioned above.

      bret said:
      The purchases I've made on my credit card haven't actually been paid for yet, but choosing not to pay my credit card is a really poor financial choice (I don't like 25% interest rates.)  So I imagine that the money is gone the moment I make a purchase.

      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).

      If you have a Utilities category, and you're afraid there won't be enough to cover all bills, you can try separating that category into individual categories (maybe Gas, Water, Electric?) so that you always know what's available for those specific upcoming expenses.

      Reply Like
      • JoeDid
      • Remember: It is To Laugh
      • Purple_rain
      • 1 yr ago
      • 5
      • Reported - view

      Faness I belong to the "future-dated transactions are a must" school of thought, which is one very big reason I am forced to run YNAB4 along with nYNAB. When I commit to a future payment, I *want* my budget to show that, same as when I write and mail a check. Being able to see my Cleared balance, the amount of uncleared but expected transactions, and my cleared balance is the *truest* information I can hope for.

      I have an automatic transfer from checking to savings scheduled for tomorrow. It happens every month. Right now my nYNAB account is showing incorrect information because I won't allow me to post that on tomorrow's date. I have to resort to the same kinds of tedious workarounds that Patzer mentioned: Flagging a transaction as having posted on the wrong date, and remembering to correct the actual transaction when when that date passes. It's annoying and time-consuming. YNAB4 allows that transfer to show as of tomorrow's date.

      I sincerely don't understand your insistence that having future-dated transactions reflected in my register is a bad thing. It is not. It's what I would do with a check. I should be able to do so with an e-payment. Makes no sense to me.

      Reply Like 5
    • Hi JoeDid !

      When considering future dated transactions, I hadn't thought about transfers at all. Is it just the account balance that's off (until the transfer goes through tomorrow to bring things up to date), or is there an issue with your category balances as well (if that account is off-budget)?

      If those funds are moved in YNAB, before the transfer goes through tomorrow, the account balance would be incorrect- right? If I'm understanding things correctly, this seems to be more of an issue with funds that are more immediate (transfer for tomorrow vs. scheduled payment for next week). In those cases, since you know the funds are needed now, and YNAB will warn you if those funds are moved, is it just the possible step of moving those funds and then having to move them back because you receive the yellow Available amount Afterwards?

      Reply Like
    •  JoeDid bret LarryinLA Patzer WordTenor

      I asked below, but wanted to ask each of you as well - would an alert be helpful here? For instance, the Available amount shows what's available (as it does now), but if you try to move money or change the Budgeted amount, a pop up that says 'Don't do that' or 'These funds are already earmarked' - would that help your current workflows?

      Reply Like
      • Patzer
      • Retired at age 60. Thank you, YNAB!
      • Patzer
      • 1 yr ago
      • 6
      • Reported - view

      Faness 

      Faness said:
      I asked below, but wanted to ask each of you as well - would an alert be helpful here? For instance, the Available amount shows what's available (as it does now), but if you try to move money or change the Budgeted amount, a pop up that says 'Don't do that' or 'These funds are already earmarked' - would that help your current workflows?

      No.  My current YNAB 4 workflow relies on easily seen information so I never get to the point of *trying* to move money that isn't really there.  My current web-YNAB workflow relies on clumsily looking in lots of different places for the same information, so I never get to the point of trying to move money that isn't there.

      The hypothetical popup would be a reactive thing, warning me when YNAB thinks I've done something inappropriate.   It would only be triggered if my current workflow broke.   And to be  honest, my first reaction to any warning YNAB might pop up about inappropriate action would be to think the program has some stupid bias requiring something unnecessary or forbidding something normal.  The program's record with income for next month, walled months, stealing from the future, and credit card payment categories diverging from credit card balances for paid in full credit cards does not encourage me to trust the program to tell me what to do or not to do.  (No, you don't need to fix any of those things.  I have functional workarounds for them.  I will not be routinely pestering you with commentary on the lack of intelligence in how any of that stuff is handled.)

      In a world where I might pay attention to such a warning, it's still a reactive thing.  It doesn't help me size my water budget next month without looking at the inspector.  It doesn't help me see on the budget screen whether I've remembered to schedule to schedule the gas & electric bill payment.  It doesn't help me see at a glance on the sidebar whether I've scheduled a credit card payment.  It would be just one more detail of a clumsy workaround requiring manual intervention if I happen to trigger it.  I already have enough clumsy workarounds and manual interventions to function, and I wouldn't have posted here again this week if you hadn't tagged me.

      But since you asked, I'll reiterate:  I have no good workaround.  That remains a sore spot.  I continue to be offended that programming resources were expended to create the value-subtracted feature of forbidding future committed transactions.  I understand that this is the way it is, and that future committed transactions will not be coming back.  I understand that Customer Support personnel are not allowed to explicitly say that what I want won't happen.  That's okay, I got the message.  Future committed transactions aren't coming back.  I simply need to clumsily look in a lot of different places to get the same information that would be easily seen if future committed transactions existed, and in fact was easily seen in YNAB 4.  That's progress.

      Reply Like 6
      • WordTenor
      • Arranged the menu, the venue, the seating.
      • WordTenor
      • 1 yr ago
      • 4
      • Reported - view

       Faness That might have been a bad example because that category does contain only scheduled spending. The only reason the category would turn yellow is because it contains only the scheduled transaction. What about my "shopping" category, which has a $4 NYT subscription? I have $30 in there. But technically, I can only move $26.  If I move $27, yes it turns yellow. But maybe,  if I knew,  I would chose not to touch that category at all. Maybe I am thinking, "Okay, great, I can move $20 and I'll still have $10 left" but in reality there's only $6 in that category that isn't commmitted. There's no information about that on the budget screen. 

      The point is, you don't know how much you can move until you do it. There isn't any information on the budget screen that tells you that you even need to check the inspector. So basically, the current implementation makes it impossible to actually use your category balance to make decisions if there are scheduled transactions in that category. As Patzer points out, everything you are explaining is how to use the budget reactively. But a good budgeter isn't reactive, she's proactive. We're asking for YNAB the company to stop hamstringing processes that are proactive. I moved beyond reactive budgeting within two weeks of starting to use YNAB. That should be the goal. Yes, YNAB should work if you're broke. But if you use YNAB, you shouldn't stay broke very long. 

      Reply Like 4
      • LarryinLA
      • Larryinla.1
      • 1 yr ago
      • 4
      • Reported - view

      Faness 

      Faness said:
      I asked below, but wanted to ask each of you as well - would an alert be helpful here?

       The simplicity of YNAB is captured in the idea that spending decisions are made by checking category balances, not account balances.  Period.  So, no, a warning would not work nearly as well as the category balances reflecting the reality that the money has been spent, and I do not want to be tempted to spend it again.  The category balance does that work in YNAB.  That's what needs to be a 100% accurate reflection of the jobs my money has been assigned and the jobs my money has already left to go do.

      Reply Like 4
    • Patzer I don't mean to irritate sore spots, but was hoping for insight to hopefully find a middle ground here. It's not that I can't say something won't happen, it's that I don't want to bite my own tongue. We're always looking for ways to improve and the online program makes that possible, so I don't want to say anything is impossible. I will say it's highly unlikely the formula for the Available amounts will be changed, so I was hoping to find another area that would help improve these scenarios. TheTabby mentioned an 'After Upcoming' column so that the information is in the budget instead of in the inspector. Suggestions aren't a requirement of any nature, I just like being able to tell our development team 'Here's the issue, here's why and here's a possible solution'. I appreciate you taking the time to share your opinions on this topic, even though it's a sore one. :)

      WordTenor I understand why you'd find this information helpful - even though it's in the inspector, that isn't available at a quick glance. We want the Available amounts to represent current day balances - in case of changes, last minute occurrences, shift in priorities, etc. This isn't meant to be reactive - having those scheduled transactions and being prompted to budget for them ahead of time is proactive - but I understand the issue comes in after those categories are fully funded. If you have any suggestions or ideas, or even a second to the suggestion TheTabby made, I hope you'll submit them for further consideration! 

      Reply Like
      • JoeDid
      • Remember: It is To Laugh
      • Purple_rain
      • 1 yr ago
      • 4
      • Reported - view

      Faness The crux of it for me is that between now and June 23, one month away, I have a dozen scheduled ,committed, automatic transactions that are for essentials: payouts that will *not* be changed or deleted. During that same four weeks I will incur other charges, other payments needing to be made, for variable expenses over which I have control. I want to see the committed transactions as just that: committed and out of my budget, so that when it comes to deciding, say, whether to go to the fancy French place to celebrate something or to order takeout burgers, I know where I stand with those committed transactions: they are like checks I've written and mailed: they will be paid. If  still used a checkbook register, the amounts would be deducted when the check is written, no matter when it's actually paid.

      The current workaround for me: entering them now on today's date, having to flag them purple so I know I have to adjust them to the real date when that passes (which I have to note in the memo field in ALL CAPS so it's visible) is absurdly inconvenient, considering the old way in YNAB4. I could and can still do this in YNAB4, which tells me it's better suited to my needs than nYNAB.

      ETA: I just saw your comment about 'shift in priorities' and I need to emphasize that the transactions I need in my register are *NOT* those that will be 'shifted.' They *need* to be paid. It's payments that arise after those committed payments where I can shift priorities, based on what my budget tells me I am committed to spending.

      Reply Like 4
      • WordTenor
      • Arranged the menu, the venue, the seating.
      • WordTenor
      • 1 yr ago
      • 5
      • Reported - view

      Faness I made my suggestion four months ago. Actually, I made it about two and a half years ago. Either allow the available after upcoming to be toggled as the default, or at a minimum, provide some sort of notification (a color, italics, god knows) that there is information in the inspector that needs to be consulted. 

      Do you understand that good budgeters move money *before* they spend in  another category? It seems like the only scenario in which you are able to imagine anyone ever moving money is after they've overspent. That's what we mean when we say reactive vs proactive.  Most of us now make a decision before we spend, not after.  And the information we need to make that decision isn't in the budget. 

      Reply Like 5
    • WordTenor Thank you for those suggestions! I believe what's throwing me off on the second portion, is the reactive part. If you move money before overspending, and the category doesn't have enough to cover the upcoming transactions, then it turns yellow - prompting you to put those funds back. While this causes a few extra clicks, you're still able to fix things before spending, which I'd consider proactive. I consider moving things after (over)spending to be reactive. 

      For instance, your shopping category. If you spend that $10 and then realize you're now short for your subscription, I'd consider that reactive (because you have to cover things after spending those funds). However, if you moved funds before spending, realized you shouldn't spend that $10, so put it back, I'd consider that proactive (because you didn't spend those funds, so there's nothing to cover). 

      If I'm mincing the words here, please let me know!

      Reply Like
      • Patzer
      • Retired at age 60. Thank you, YNAB!
      • Patzer
      • 1 yr ago
      • 6
      • Reported - view

      Faness You're mincing words.  Available balances changing colors is reactive.  Proactive budgeters manage things so the Available balance never turns orange or yellow or red or whatever color the warning is.  I never see that in my budget, because the important rules are:

      1.  Give Every Dollar a  Job

      2.  Only  budget dollars you already have

      3.  Only spend dollars you have already budgeted

      It can be hard to do all of these when you're broke; but I've been using YNAB for a decade and I'm not broke.  The whole discourse of color changes warning me to budget something is foreign to how I budget.  Having a color change or a popup telling me to budget something when I enter a spending transaction would feel like having an alarm go off when I try to open a door, with no sign above the door saying "Emergency Exit Only."

      I want to know that the door is for emergency exit only, and not try to open it in the first place unless the building is on fire.  And if my budget is on fire, I already know I'm going to need to look at lots of details and move money around in unusual ways.

      Reply Like 6
      • WordTenor
      • Arranged the menu, the venue, the seating.
      • WordTenor
      • 1 yr ago
      • 8
      • Reported - view

      Faness What I need to know is “Can I move $20 from this category because I want to buy a $20 gizmo.”  So I start searching my categories for a category from which I can remove $20 and which is a lower priority than the $20 gizmo. 

       I look at my shopping category, I see that there’s $30 in there.  I think ahead, I go “hmm it’s the last week of May.  $10 ought to be enough in there to see me through to the end of the month.”  So I move the 20 bucks and I buy the gizmo.  The budget is perfectly happy, because it still has plenty of money in that category to pay for the four dollar charge that’s coming up.  So it doesn’t give me any sort of warning about that lurking transaction. 

       But then Friday rolls around, the New York Times charges my card, and suddenly I only have six dollars left in my shopping category.  That wasn’t what I wanted at all, and had I known that I was only going to have six dollars in that category, not only would I not have moved the $20, I might’ve decided not to buy the gizmo at all. 

      Suddenly, I’m pushed into situation in which I have to react to a bad decision that the budget helped me make.  That is not how anybody should be using YNAB. 

      Reply Like 8
  • Changing your computer date works. 

    Reply Like
    • Herman I hadn't thought of this at all! Do you date your computer for the future so that all transactions are already taken into account? I rely on my computer settings for that information, so the idea of changing it makes me nervous. Have you found this to be the best workaround for entering your transactions?

      Reply Like
      • Herman
      • herman
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Faness I'm hesitant to tell you, lol.   I change the date of the computer forward to cover the transactions I want to enter.  Enter the transactions,  update the amounts and change the date back.  The future dated transactions remain in the register and impact account and category balances.  If you need to edit them  before the date arrives you have to change the date again.  But works well.  And only takes about 5 minutes a month. 

      Reply Like
    • Herman I am anti-judgment when it comes to budgeting, so your method is safe with me. :)

      While I'm happy you've found a workaround, I'd love for there to be an easier option. I'll ask those who posted above as well, but would it help if there was an alert when dealing with categories that had upcoming transactions? For instance, the Available amount shows what's available, but if you try to move money or change the Budgeted amount, an alert to say 'Don't do that' or 'These funds are already earmarked' - would that change your current workflow?

      Reply Like
      • Herman
      • herman
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Faness this functionality isn't as important to me as some others.  Your suggestion would be an improvement. I believe the suggestion I've heard that I like best if the option to enter them is off the table is the toggle to have the category balance reflect scheduled transactions.  I believe WordTenor suggested it.  

      Reply Like
    • Herman Thank you for letting me know! We try to stay away from toggle functionality if we can, but I'll keep this in mind. You can also submit that in a Feature Request to let our development team know what you'd like to see going forward (that goes for any feature you'd like to see, not just a change to the Available amounts). :)

      Reply Like
      • Herman
      • herman
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Faness thinking about this more the problem with an alert is you make s spending decision based on the category balance and enter the transaction after the fact.  The alert will occur too late.

      Reply Like
    • Herman Hm.. Would a constant reminder on the category be better? 

      Reply Like
      • Herman
      • herman
      • 1 yr ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

       Faness I'd probably defer to some of those above that this is more critical for. I consider it a "nice to have". 

      Reply Like 1
      • Joel
      • Joel
      • 1 yr ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      Herman That only works if you want to push all scheduled transactions into the register. The method that I use with my scheduled transaction is to use it as a bill pay reminder. Once I receive the bill and schedule the payment, I enter to register. That way the scheduled transactions still require action and those in my register are "final".

      Reply Like 2
      • Herman
      • herman
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Joel  maybe you have way more transactions than I do but you can very quickly push those you don't want in the register back to scheduled by editing them after the date change back.  I'm well aware most don't like my work around but it is the only one that accomplishes what you are asking for.

      Reply Like
      • Herman
      • herman
      • 1 yr ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      Herman thinking about it a little more, the easiest improvement ynab could implement would be to expand the date range for matching imported transactions. In that case you could enter now when the funds are committed.  This doesn't help the people that want to use this for cash flow management but certainly reflects reality, stays in line with ynab philosophy and provides the necessary information to those using this for spending decisions.  

      Reply Like 2
    • briefcase
    • A rack of ties, a travel mug, telephone, briefcase filled with papers
    • briefcase
    • 1 yr ago
    • Reported - view

    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.

    Reply Like
  • 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.

    Reply Like 4
      • Herman
      • herman
      • 1 yr ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      Joel wouldn't most people date the check and enter it on the register the day they write it?  I haven't used a check register in 15 years but vaguely remember.  Lol

      Reply Like 2
    • Joel 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.

      I believe the mailing date does make a difference. You can change your mind about that check up until the point you mail it out. Maybe you were going to make an extra payment, so you wrote the check for $200, but something came up before the tenth so you rip up that check and write another one for $100, instead and mail that one off.

      Until that check is out of your hands, or until the automated payment goes through, things can be changed. We don't want your budget living in the future while we're still in the present.

      Reply Like
      • Patzer
      • Retired at age 60. Thank you, YNAB!
      • Patzer
      • 1 yr ago
      • 12
      • Reported - view

      Faness 

      Faness said:
      Until that check is out of your hands, or until the automated payment goes through, things can be changed. We don't want your budget living in the future while we're still in the present.

       You keep saying this, and it continues to be wrong-headed and inconsistent.  (Please pass this along to whoever writes the scripts for you.)

      If "you" don't want our budget living in the future, "you" should not be telling us to budget for future months.  Instead, you tell us to budget for future months with money we have *now*. 

      My future committed transactions are not making my budget live in the future.  They are spending money I have *now*; it simply does not leave my account until the scheduled date.  Yes, I could still change that.  I could also still change any dollars budgeted in a future month.  So what?   That doesn't help with my spending and cash flow management decisions that I make in the present.  Knowing what I've committed to spend does.

      By the same specious argument that "it could be changed," people could decide not to pay the rent next month.  People could choose not to make a payment on a credit card.  I could choose to not pay my electric bill.  These would be really, really poor financial choices. 

      Give us a break.  The software cannot tell whether a transaction in the future is something that would be reasonable to change, or something that would be really, really stupid to change.  I can.  Give me control of that.  Stuff that can still be changed, or that I don't know the true amount, or that depends on a third party to pay me or accurately pull money from my account is a scheduled transaction.  Stuff that I affirmatively push out of my account is a future committed transaction.  In the rare case where I might change a future committed transaction, that affects my budget no differently that correcting a data entry error in the past.  I would need to change the account, review the budget, and possibly change the budget.  It's a one-off that would have to be managed manually.

      TL/DR; The customer service script keeps spitting out really, really lame arguments and examples about why future committed transactions should not exist.  The customer service script is wrong.  The policy is wrong.  I don't expect the policy to change, but I keep getting offended by being told the policy is good for me.  It would be more palatable if you simply said, "This is the way it is and we won't change it.  Go away and stop complaining."

      Reply Like 12
      • WordTenor
      • Arranged the menu, the venue, the seating.
      • WordTenor
      • 1 yr ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      Patzer Future committed transactions don't exist because a sizeable portion of the YNAB using audience can't handle them and don't know the basic tenets of personal finance that would enable them to understand that outflows are conservative and inflows are risky. They also just don't understand YNAB, and so future dated transactions mean that it is possible to use YNAB as an accrual budget without ever learning the method. A lot of people who do understand PF perfectly well nevertheless did that. So they are forcing the method. As you know, I don't take much issue with that personally, and I even think they could figure out a way to say exactly that without insinuating that people are idiots instead of giving this party line that it is somehow helpful not to have the information you need to have on the budget screen. 

      Reply Like 2
      • Patzer
      • Retired at age 60. Thank you, YNAB!
      • Patzer
      • 1 yr ago
      • 6
      • Reported - view

      WordTenor I think you're using different words to describe the same thing I'm feeling.  I'm not bothered as much by the lack of functionality as by being told it's for my own good and better to not have that functionality.  I could accept being told, "You can't have this functionality because it's dangerous to some people and we can't figure out how to let you have it and protect them at the same time."  Which would still imply that some portion (possibly small) of the user base is idiots, but at least it wouldn't imply that the *entire* user base is comprised of idiots as the current party line does.

      Reply Like 6
    • Patzer My forum activity is unscripted, which makes me think I need to re-organize those lame arguments and examples. I didn't mean to explain why they Should not exist, but why they Do not exist. I expressed above that I understand why that information could be helpful, but it's not the information we want to provide in the Available column. There was a suggestion that mentioned a separate column for 'After Upcoming' that wouldn't compromise the Available column itself - we don't want you to go away, your feedback is important, and I don't mean to offend or upset you by trying to navigate it.

      Reply Like 1
  • 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?"

    Reply Like 8
  • Faness said:
    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?

    Reply Like 12
  • Faness said:
    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.

    Reply Like 7
  • bret said:
    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.

    Reply Like 1
      • bret
      • bret
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      LarryinLA  Patzer

      Pssst: I completely agree with both of you. I was just playing devils advocate and trying my best to defend (or at least) understand the new YNAB design.  

      However, when I was describing money being unavailable, I meant something more than just "it's budgeted in another category."  I meant that money isn't in any other category -- it's been subtracted from my budget entirely.  I.e. I have less overall money to budget with.

      That kind of unavailability is probably difficult for a new user to grok. "If the money is still in my (asset) accounts, why isn't it anywhere in my budget?"  That confusion has been eliminated in the new YNAB, because you simply can't do that anymore.  (Which is what this conversation is all about.)

      It then becomes an argument about whether the trade-off is worth it: Alleviating confusion for some users vs eliminating functionality that many felt was beneficial.  I think there's a legitimate argument that YNAB could make there, but I haven't seen them make it very convincingly.

      Reply Like
      • Patzer
      • Retired at age 60. Thank you, YNAB!
      • Patzer
      • 1 yr ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      bret 

      bret said:
      "If the money is still in my (asset) accounts, why isn't it anywhere in my budget?" That confusion has been eliminated in the new YNAB, because you simply can't do that anymore.

       After thinking about it from many different directions, I conclude that the theory isn't all that unreasonable, but the implementation is flawed.  Get rid of Income for Next Month being hidden, and you eliminate one part of the "where's the money" puzzle.  Make credit cards effectively not part of the budget, and budget for the payment, and you eliminate the other part.   I even worked out that, in theory, what nYNAB does with credit card purchases matches what I would have told someone using YNAB 3 to do manually if they had to use a card that was carrying a balance.  (To be fair, that's about 6 steps down the sound track.  Top of the sound track is, don't use a card that's carrying a balance.)

      The major implementation flaws, as I see them, are:

      1.  Lack of walled months.  Get rid of the invisible Income for Next Month, sure.  Promote understanding of where the money is.  Let money flow between months with no explicit user control, bad idea.  Better idea:  Instead of directly budgeting in future months, *budget* toward TBB-Future that is automatically released as TBB next month, but can't be stolen by subsequent action in this month's budget other than deliberately reducing the amount budgeted to TBB-Future.  Release unused current month TBB into the next month when the first of the month arrives.  Don't release TBB not explicitly budgeted to TBB-Future into next month before it gets here because, after all, *IT HASN'T HAPPENED YET AND IT ISN'T REAL UNTIL THIS MONTH IS OVER.*  (Note the incredible philosophical disconnect between encouraging users to budget future months and prohibiting future dated outflows.)  Better metaphor, possibly more programming work; but nYNAB did a lot of tough programming work for questionable benefit.

      2.  The collection of unexpected consequences of credit card transactions.  Overspending a category should just be overspending a category, regardless of whether a credit card or a checking account is used.  If you don't want the user to input TBB in a credit card, let the user record a direct inflow to the card categorized as the card payment category (e.g., for the cash back reward as a statement credit) that then automatically increases TBB.  Not everything is a return.  Starting balance should be automatically budgeted to the card payment category; make the user deliberately move it to recognize how much float is being used.  If my card is paid in full, the program should not let the card payment category diverge from the card balance unless I affirmatively move money out of the payment category to other categories.  *Ask* the user whether a transfer from the credit card to another account is new debt, or something to be paid with the next CC bill.  (*cough* gift card purchase *cough*)  If the user doesn't say it's new debt, put it all in the card payment category automatically.  Force the user to explicitly assume new debt, if that is what the user intends to do.

      Basically nYNAB does too many things behind the scenes that aren't what a reasonable person would expect, without asking the user what is intended.  Yes, experienced users can learn all of the cases that typically apply to their budgets and compensate for them; but we shouldn't be slapping new users with those WTF results, no rational explanation why they happen, and no option to change the effect at the time of transaction entry.

      Reply Like 2
      • WordTenor
      • Arranged the menu, the venue, the seating.
      • WordTenor
      • 1 yr ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Patzer The credit card functioning was rebuilt hastily right before release. It was tested for...8 days? Maybe? before soft launch happened. I remember doing a long reconcile of my budget while in Canada which means it was late October.  I’m sure if it had sat longer, many of these weird edge cases would’ve been seen and perhaps the code would’ve been rewritten. But now, it’s too little too late and the team is forced to pretend the gift card and returns behavior is purposeful. I suspect it isn’t but that fixing it would require acknowledging that. 

      Reply Like 1
      • Patzer
      • Retired at age 60. Thank you, YNAB!
      • Patzer
      • 1 yr ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      WordTenor 

      Okay, the gift cards may be a bug because that situation wasn't considered when the programming was done.  I get that the inability to have one transaction in a credit card account go to TBB is an oversight, from not considering a cash back reward or a payment on the card from an off-budget account.  I don't get why the organization can't admit those things are bugs and fix them.  Or at least say they're in a queue to be fixed, even if they're really going to sit forever with no action.

      But the creation of debt when a category is overspent has to be deliberate.  And that's beyond dumb, it facilitates poor financial results.  I totally get why the organization can't admit that one is a bad thing, because there's no way it would have happened without being a deliberately designed feature.

      Okay, I get why they can't admit any of them are bugs, now.  They could have admitted some of them were bugs if they had done so soon after the bugs were discovered; but once they say the bugs are purposeful, they can't back off that position.

      Scary thought:  Maybe fixing the credit card fringe cases would mess up historical budgets that fixed the cases manually?

      Reply Like 1
  • 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).  

    Reply Like 1
  • 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. 

    Reply Like 2
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