A different way to look at YNAB (as a near term LMP)

If you're unfamiliar, the concept of a LMP or Liability Matching Portfolio, is a financial concept where a financial instrument is matched up with a particular liability due at some time in the future.  Ideally this would be an inflation protected maturing at known intervals. A TIPS laddered to match future retirement consumption and even Social Security is a LMP.

So then it occurred to me, zero-based budgeting in YNAB is also a form of LMP, except that instead of looking at an investment horizon from the future back to today as an investment does, it does it backwards, from the present to the future. Age of Money is a great indication of this.

So what happens when one tries to extend budgeting past the nether region (AOM) and into investing LMP? I've always considered YNAB as just a budgeting app separate from investments (although tracking net worth has utility).

For starters, some investments are intended to act as income producers (think real estate, dividends, human capital (job)). Other investments are intended to be fully consumed towards a specific goal. A 529 is not. Nor is a TIPS ladder. For those, I'd argue, they definitely deserve to be listed as at least tracking accounts (budget accounts if the securities they hold are not marketable). An example are Series I-Bonds at Treasury Direct which can easily act as an emergency fund.

My point of this post was to see if anybody else has thought about YNAB in this way? If one is constantly matching assets (cash) to liabilities (next months bill) then extending this to matching a 529 plan to next years college bill or a maturing rung in a TIPS ladder to next years To Be Budgeted is not that far fetched.

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  • The concept is interesting. I feel that I don't have enough time (interest?) to track investments in such detail. Like many others, my investments use the two-bucket style. One bucket holds the near-term investments in a rather conservative portfolio from which I draw my income, and the other bucket is for longer term investments and has a moderately aggressive portfolio. Some people use a three bucket approach.

  • Sure, you could think of it that way. But then you have to take into account that all different account types have different liquidity or volatility. For example, what's the first rule of I Bonds? You can't take the money out for a year (well, 11 months and a day if you are doing it right). So you have to have the ability to accumulate enough in advance so you can continue locking away money for a year before you can count it toward your budget.

    Heck, you can actually get to the point where your stock-only investment account can be used in emergencies if you have large enough taxable accounts and have room in your tax-deferred accounts for fixed income.

    So, let's just say I consider my budget as just part of my fixed income portion of my asset allocation, because that's what cash is. I'm probably not going to rebalance with it it, so in that sense it's a hard floor or ceiling and could be considered LMP.

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