Funds Setup Help. Please. Help.

Hi there,

I'm new to YNAB after using Every dollar on and off for the past few years and mainly budgeting by hand.  I'm trying to set up some of my different savings funds (like emergency) and I'm finding myself in a never-ending circle of "no".  

For these funds, I already have money saved up and I'm trying to do a savings balance target with a date (like I have $500 currently and trying to get to $1000 by June, as an example).  How do I change my current amount available???

I started off by assigning the money for each fund and wound up with a negative amount to assign.

I've tried simply just adding a transaction to account for the "extra" money on a previous month.  My amount left to assign is now at $0, but the account I used for the transaction is including the transaction in the overall account amount (there's too much).

I tried to counteract that by including a transaction going from the account to the fund, but then the amount I have in the fund is twice what it is.  I removed the amount assigned for the fund, but then I have more to assign.

So, I tried doing one transaction in and one transaction out of the account.  The amount to assign is at $0, the account is where it needs to be, the fund is where it needs to be, but I've now over spent in the account and it is underfunded.

I assigned money to the account to counteract the overspending, and I'm back to square one of having a negative amount to assign.

These are for funds that I have as cash, not an account.  So linking an account won't work for this, even though it would be significantly easier.

Please help.  I'm thinking about going back to my old budget methods, but I'm really wanting to give YNAB a try.  I have everything else down, but this is really frustrating me!

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  • In Everydollar, you set up hoped-for money, and the funds in your budget do not necessarily need to equal the funds in your accounts. In YNAB, they must, and always do. 

    So before you can assign $500 to your emergency savings category, you must *have* at least $500 in your accounts that does not need to be used for some other purpose . You’ll know this is the case because you’ll have at least $500 in ready to assign. Then you assign those funds to that category either by clicking on “ready to assign” or by adjusting the amount in “assigned” for that category. Do not use transactions for this purpose. 

    Once you have assigned $500, how you add to it is up to you. Simplest is to just add $100 to “assigned” for the category  each month between now and June (again you’ll need at least $100 ready to assign in order to do that). You can also set a target. Targets do not do anything other than remind you that you need to add $100 each month between now and June: they aren’t magical and getting them perfect out of the gate isn’t nearly as important as it might seem. 

    If you haven’t done one of the video on boarding materials or taken a webinar, you will find those helpful. YNAB is devastatingly easy to do, but ironically isn’t a method you can learn easily just by clicking around the software. If you can imagine the analogy it will be easier: YNAB is just a digital representation of a cash envelope budget. When you have RTA, it’s like having money in a pile on your table. When you assign money, it’s like adding it to a paper envelope. When you have new money on your table, you can choose to add it an envelope that already has money in it, and that envelope will have more money. And when you spend, the envelope has less money. That’s the whole ballgame. 

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  • If you keep coming up with a negative RTA then you're probably trying to assign (budget) money you don't actually have yet.

    If, when you start using YNAB, you have $700 in cash and $800 in your bank account then you set these as the beginning balances in those accounts in YNAB and $1,500 will be in RTA. If you assign $500 to "Savings" you'll have $1,000 left to assign. You assign this to categories (expenses) which need to be funded before your next income arrives. When you receive new income you just repeat the process. 

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  • Powder Blue Trumpet said:
    These are for funds that I have as cash, not an account.  So linking an account won't work for this, even though it would be significantly easier.

     This part is where I think you are finding trouble. You can set up a "cash" account as well, to keep track of the cash you have. It obviously won't link with everything, but if you have a pile of cash all earmarked for different things, then you just create a cash budget account, add a starting balance of what you have, and that will make it available to assign to the various categories that you are trying to fund.

    YNAB only lets you assign the money you've told it you have, so it has no way of knowing you have that cash unless you give it an account to sit in. Then the budget categories tell you what you plan on using that money for.

    As for getting to a target, that's exactly what goals are for. Set your target of $1000 by date June 2022, budget $500 from your cash account into it, and it will tell you every month the amount you need to budget to stay on track to meet your goal date.

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    • Tif_Ann 

      So, I create the cash account, transfer the money to it, then assign from that account?  Or am I over complicating the process?

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    • Powder Blue Trumpet If you have the money as actual, physical cash, then you create a cash account and enter how much cash you have as the starting balance for that account - no transfer needed. The starting balance will put that money in Ready to Assign (RTA), and then you can assign it to the savings categories from there without going negative.

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      • Tif_Ann
      • Tif_Ann
      • 2 wk ago
      • Reported - view

      Powder Blue Trumpet when you say these are savings you have in cash, I understood that to mean you have paper money/cash sitting in your house, not in a bank account. If that's the case, in YNAB you need to tell it that you  have cash, by setting up a YNAB account just for cash. Set your starting balance as the amount of physical cash you have then you can budget it into your savings areas.

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    • Tif_Ann 

      It is physical cash in my house, not an account.  What you suggested did work.  But in the future, if I was to put more money in the fund, I would transfer the money from the account that gets my paycheck to the YNAB account, and then assign?

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      • WordTenor
      • Can we agree that goals are dumb and immature? Sure.
      • WordTenor
      • 2 wk ago
      • Reported - view

      Powder Blue Trumpet Correct. You follow exactly what happened in the real world. So if you withdraw cash from your checking account and put it in a safe in your house, you make a transfer with one side a withdrawal from checking and one side a deposit in “cash.”

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      • Tif_Ann
      • Tif_Ann
      • 2 wk ago
      • Reported - view

      Powder Blue Trumpet Right, yes, if you are withdrawing it from your bank account you'd just do a transfer. If you sold something and got paid in cash, for example, then you'd just add it to the cash account. I like to keep a cash stash on hand but still budget that cash so I know what I have and what it's meant for, so that's how I handle it.

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  • Also - YNAB doesn't care where you keep your money.  Your category balances will be the amount you have available.  If you're trying to tie specific categories to specific accounts you are creating more work for yourself.

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  • Welcome Powder Blue Trumpet ! In addition to the answers you've been given, here are two videos that I think will give you a good overview:
    Creating Your Budget in YNAB
    How to Level Up Your Savings

    Let us know what else you're wondering about!

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      • MXMOM
      • MXMOM
      • 2 wk ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Marisa Possibly useful also is the explanation of relationship between categories and accounts. Maybe you can shortcut that here for OP. I find that savings are the biggest mind challenge in YNAB for this because most people have a savings "account" and that is how they manage their savings. 

      Like 1
    • MXMOM Jumping in with that link re: the independence of your categories vs. your accounts 👍🏻 It's a good one for sure!

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  • Powder Blue Trumpet said:
    But in the future, if I was to put more money in the fund, I would transfer the money from the account that gets my paycheck to the YNAB account, and then assign?

     Sort of.  The assign should not need to be done if the cash account is an "on budget" account in YNAB. So I have a cash account and the balance is included in the To Be Assigned amount already. So if I have paperboy budgeted but I pay them in cash I would make the payment from the cash account. If I don't have enough cash on hand, then I would withdraw cash from the bank and record that in YNAB as a transfer from bank to cash account.  I highly recommend having all accounts on budget. I started with some tracking accounts and it was so confusing. The only accounts I have as tracking accounts are retirement savings and a deferred payment program for our furnace purchase. 

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