Best to start at the beginning of the month?

I'm a new-ish user though I have tried (unsuccessfully) to get into the YNAB budget habit a few years in a row.

I set up my budget and linked my accounts but since it is close to the end of the month and many of my monthly obligations/bills have already come and gone, things look wonky when I start putting in old transactions.

Should I wait and start to really track things on the 1st of January? Might be less frustrating to just watch some videos and look through the forum than try to make things even out for December.



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  • I am a firm advocate for starting from today. I actually think it’s easier to get how it works when you start mid-cycle. 

    The key is that you don’t put in anything old. Just budget what you have on hand right now, and enter in only transactions you make from today going forward. (And technically, also any transactions you’ve made which have not yet cleared the bank.)

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  • Another vote for starting today and NOT trying to pull in old transactions. Simply put, the budget is your spending plan. What does the money you have right now need to do before you get more?

    Also realize that saving is merely delayed spending. Some of what you have now may need to be ear-marked for some savings-like purpose (e.g., vacation, annual car insurance, etc.), so create categories as needed.

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  • Also recommend starting from today and only adding in transactions that have not cleared the bank. This REALLY confused me up front, but I found this video helped me understand how to do it:

  • Peripherie : definitely start today! Enter the money you have now as starting balance, and work from there. No need to import old transactions, that money is gone (unless you want to import those transactions)

    Welcome to the forum :)

  • Welcome to You Need A Budget, Peripherie !

    Your budget will start with the money in your accounts today. It's easier to work from today forward, and not worry about transactions from before! Check out Ashley's 7 Tips for Starting Your First Budget, then follow these steps:

    1. Add your accounts. Add checking, savings, and credit cards to get a full look at your financial picture.
    2. Customize your categories. Your budget starts with the basics—make it your own!
    3. Add goals. Goals are a plan for your money. Your priorities should show in your budget.
    4. Budget your dollars. Ask yourself, "What does this money need to do before I get paid again?" Then, add funds to your categories. Remember: Once To be Budgeted is $0.00, stop.
    5. Add transactions. It's best to enter transactions yourself, so you can always trust your budget, or you can set up direct import from your bank.

    If you prefer video, the YNAB Video Course is a good place to start. If you have questions along the way, just let us know!

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