Nested Categories

I want YNAB to allow nested categories. 

Am I correct in concluding that these are not allowed? Has anyone figured out a way to do this?

For Example

1. True Expenses / Intermittent or Irregular expenses

1.a. Dining Out

1.a.1. Lunch at Work

1.a.2. Dinners out with Wife

1.a.3. Family dinner at restaurant

1.b. Clothes

1.b.1. Me

1.b.2. Wife

1.b.3. Kids

I know that YNAB aims to keep things simple. But that doesn't always suit me.

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  • I end up with multiple related categories, but I don't think I could group them with a middle tier as you have. For example, I have my regular clothing budget, and I also have some money set aside in case I need to buy a suit or similar professional clothes instead of the more casual clothes I can wear currently. That money has a category grouped with my other professional expenses, not the rest of my clothing.

    I would like to be able to see my categories grouped one way on the budget screen (probably roughly time-based: immediate, monthly, annual bills, future savings, etc) and one way on most of the reports (probably the traditional groupings of housing, auto, food, entertainment, etc). That's probably even more complicated to build into the app though!

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  • If you are having trouble with all of these spending areas and you do need to break them out rather than as a single category, then do as adriana01 said and just have a category group for Dining, a category group for Clothing, etc. There's no reason that Dining or Clothing need to have their own parent.

    Alternatively, you can filter your reports on specific categories if you need aggregate totals of multiple categories. They do not even need to be in the same category group.

    Like 2
  • It's not exactly what you want, but instead of having the category group be True Expenses and the subcategory Dining Out, you could make Dining Out be its own category group, and then add the different scenarios as categories. At least that way you could see the total spent on eating out, plus see the breakdown for the different ways in which you spend money on dining.

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  • It's not perfect, but you could do master categories called

    "True Expenses / Intermittent or Irregular expenses - Dining Out"

    and its categories

    "True Expenses / Intermittent or Irregular expenses - Clothes"

    and its categories

    etc.

    Like 1
  • Are you an accountant? I'm just curious. What do you hooe to gain from the middle tier? How will this help you budget? 

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      • bevocat
      • Sometimes, It Just Sucks to Be You
      • bevocat
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Ben Khaki Storm From my own perspective (not an accountant), I use Elizabeth Warren's balanced money formula of divvying up your after-tax income into 50% needs, 30% wants, and 20% savings. So I would like an easy way to total those up by examining master categories.

      Since I can't do three levels, I do what I posted before Needs - House, Needs - Car, Needs - Health, etc. and then all of the actual categories within those, so it looks like Needs - Car\Gas, Needs - Car\Insurance, Needs -  Health\Vision, Needs - Health\Medical, Needs - Health\Dental, etc.

      Like 1
      • nolesrule
      • Stealing From the Future fix is an improvement but is incomplete....
      • nolesrule
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 5
      • Reported - view

      bevocat YNAB needs to allow multiple views for categories and grouping, because what's useful for a functioning budget isn't always helpful for reporting.

      Like 5
  • I just wanted to point out that Dining Out isn't really a True Expense. True Expenses are the ones that happen with a frequency less than once per month where you should be saving up for them monthly.

    I tend to call the categories that can happen at any time throughout the month but not on a regular schedule "Everyday Expenses". Personally, I consider clothing an everyday expense, but YMMV.

    If you are hanging out here, it's best to understand the terminology.

    Like 2
      • Elle Jay
      • Ellejay
      • 2 yrs ago
      • Reported - view

      nolesrule Surely true expense is a large, less frequent expense and if you don't dine out regularly then that is exactly the correct category no?

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      • nolesrule
      • Stealing From the Future fix is an improvement but is incomplete....
      • nolesrule
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Elle Jay Sure, but if you aren't dining out frequently, you probably don't need to track it to the level of detail in the OP. There wouldn't be enough transactions to justify it.

      Like 1
      • Elle Jay
      • Ellejay
      • 2 yrs ago
      • Reported - view

      nolesrule True - just wondering. You seem to be very set on what goes into what category and I was just intrigued how you looked at it.

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      • nolesrule
      • Stealing From the Future fix is an improvement but is incomplete....
      • nolesrule
      • 2 yrs ago
      • Reported - view

      Elle Jay I just classify any kind of spending that may not happen at all in a month but may also happen multiple times, as Everyday Expenses, no different from groceries or gas. Other categories I have that fall in this category would be Household Goods, School costs, haircuts, spending money, scouts costs.

      True Expenses are going to be the ones that tend to happen with frequency, but that frequency period is at least 2 months long.

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      • lindsay_g
      • Beige_Banjo.3
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Elle Jay The True Expenses categories is one of Jesse Meecham's explanations of why people think they are living within their means, but still go into debt on a fairly frequent basis.

      Dining out would more likely be something you counted in your mind when you thought you were living within your means.

      The True Expense that catches you out is the car maintenance bill, Christmas, the summer holidays. It's a standard concept in budgeting which Jesse explains in detail on one of the Whiteboard Wednesdays and which is called that here because that's what he calls them.

      Like 1
      • Elle Jay
      • Ellejay
      • 2 yrs ago
      • Reported - view

      lindsay_g Yeah I don't need the explanation thanks. If you read the comment thread, you'd see I was responding to someone specifically about their definition.

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  • bevocat said:
    Warren's balanced money formula of

     I've not heard of that, but Larry Burkett had a similar view. YNAB book speaks against this view, just FYI. I think those are good checks and balances, but I don't budget by them. I mean, like I can look over my spending for six months, and check to see if it's in a range, like 30% of income. 

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      • nolesrule
      • Stealing From the Future fix is an improvement but is incomplete....
      • nolesrule
      • 2 yrs ago
      • Reported - view

      Ben Khaki Storm Why would YNAB do that? Warren's 50/30/20 is a way to determine if you are in a reasonable balance between spending and savings and I think it's a good guideline in general.

      It's like the DTI ratio when getting a mortgage. It's a reasonable guideline of affordability that can be stress-tested.

      Like
      • Khaki Storm
      • YNAB book topics online: https://support.youneedabudget.com/r/q5w48j
      • Khaki_Storm.1
      • 2 yrs ago
      • Reported - view

      nolesrule I don't know. It's in the book, something like be leary of anyone who claims you should have x% of spending in any category. I can find it when I'm closer to the book. 

      Like
      • nolesrule
      • Stealing From the Future fix is an improvement but is incomplete....
      • nolesrule
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      Ben Khaki Storm Well, it's meant as a guideline for balance, stability and stress  (so that unemployment benefits can cover most of your needs). Need, Want and Savings have specific definitions that aren't always intuitive. But generally speaking, it's a good idea to keep your expenses that can't be cut to no more than 50% of your income. And it's a good idea to be saving 20% of your income, whether for retirement or for something a little less long-term. A want becomes a Need when you have a non-cancellable contract or high early termination fee. Minimum payments toward debt are needs, but extra payments are savings.

      The lower you keep your needs, the higher you can keep your savings, or wants. It's a three-way pull where all are dependent on the other.

      I highly suggest reading Warren's book. Best 25-cents I ever spent.

      Like 2
      • Khaki Storm
      • YNAB book topics online: https://support.youneedabudget.com/r/q5w48j
      • Khaki_Storm.1
      • 2 yrs ago
      • Reported - view

      nolesrule thanks. I agree with the usefulness and fully understand. I was just pointing out guidelines like that are not the favorite of the Jesse. 

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      • Khaki Storm
      • YNAB book topics online: https://support.youneedabudget.com/r/q5w48j
      • Khaki_Storm.1
      • 2 yrs ago
      • Reported - view

      Ben Khaki Storm Page 45 and 46, starts with "This is the point in most personal finance books where the author tells you what to do with your money....but I can't do it...You're the one that knows what's right for your situations and priorities...I'm especially wary of financial advice based on percentages..." I skipped a lot, but it gets down to "the Four Rules are universal to any financial situation." That's all I was saying. However, I agree with those in this post that looking at general guidelines is helpful to see how you're doing. In business, we'd call it bench marking. That doesn't mean that I'm going to copy or follow other people's standards, it just means I want to compare and see where I fit. Maybe I'm spending way too much on advertising for companies my size. If I'm planning on growing/expanding in the near future, then it's fine. However, if I'm not looking at any expansion plans, then maybe I cut back on advertising after looking at the benchmark.

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  • There are flash colors that I don't use. Maybe you could color code like categories.

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  • I would also love this feature. The lack of hierarchy may be somewhat of an aesthetic issue for some, but I find having a way to visually differentiate and demonstrate correlation helps my brain organize and process information. It would be a very practical feature to help me organize temp categories for saving that I then roll into a larger category for tracking. 

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  • nolesrule said:
    YNAB needs to allow multiple views for categories and grouping

     THIS! has been on my mind a lot lately.

    You've said something in the past that drives at this point too - something about software not being 2-dimensional.

    I'm holding off trying to formulate a wonderful Feature Request for something that addresses this, while I figure out if my needs are true or just a product of my early-stages of YNAB'ing.

    Like 2
  • I use the flags for this. Green is subcategory a blue is subcategory b etc. Then you can filter the transactions by category and flag colour. This keeps the category list manageable. I find less is better when it comes to categories. I think in the chrome toolkit (which I don’t use) you can give the flags names so you don’t have to remember the colour meaning. 

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  • I want this so bad! I have a "Replacements" main category with almost everything I can think of that needs to be replaced. When I get a thing I expect and need to last (phone, rug, wig, TI-89 graphing calculator), I create a category for it with the replacement value as a goal for how long I think it will reasonably last. 

    I love the clarity this brings, both with my actual expenses and the actual cost of bringing a new thing into my life. However, it gets very cluttered on the budget. If I could just sub-budget/sub-goal things under the main category, and have the main category budget goal update to reflect sub-categories, it would be life-changingly awesome!

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