Auto Assign Preview

Here's an interesting scenario with this new update. Note: I never budget/assign money on the mobile app, but I wanted to see the preview in action. I think it needs to be tweaked.

I got paid. I split my paycheck into three (ish, you'll see) categories - INM for the net, paycheck deductions (I especially like tracking taxes and medical premiums), and RTA/TBB (total amount of deductions).

My normal workflow is on web where I then simply select the category group and hit set to zero. Paychecks coffee multiple times and show up as scheduled. There is no need to preemptively fund paycheck deductions before the paycheck hits. This category group sits at the bottom of my budget because I hardly interact with it.

The auto-assign was really annoying.

Here's what got funded:

Groceries (I had moved some to another food group that is intended to be fluidly connected, so YNAB thought I hadn't fully funded my target).

A category for separate transaction that I had accidentally put in the wrong category. 

A couple other categories that had been WAMmed from already this month.

A category with a reimbursable purchase (yes, we float these, even if they're cash-based).

A category we decided to not fund this month, but I hadn't removed the target because we will make that long-term determination later.

A category in my annual subscription/bills roll-up group whose target balance (in the old meaning of that goal) hadn't been met, but it wasn't its turn in the cash-flow. I fund a calculated amount for the annual bills in a separate category and then redistribute as things come up. I usually deselected the specific categories when I budgeted to keep things clean.

The full, upcoming amount (double) of the first paycheck deduction.

The full, upcoming amount (double) of the second paycheck deduction.

The full, upcoming amount (double) of the third paycheck deduction.

A partial amount of the next deduction, leaving it still overspent.

All other paycheck deductions were left overspent.

 

A big problem with this is that I was expecting overspent categories to get priority. However, there were random other categories getting funding. What's more, all the numbers were blue. I had to look very, very carefully as I scrolled through many, many categories to ensure that the $0.00 wasn't actually another number. Sure, the bar of being funded or not (don't really know why it's there as I saw no progress) changed colors from grey to blue, but those colors were very, very similar and still nearly indistinguishable, and I didn't think I had eye issues.

When I spotted a hidden, undesirable funding amount, I was annoyed I couldn't just delete the entry or click an X or something. I had to delete all place values, which multiplied the taps by a few. 

Also annoyingly, that money wasn't redirected to the next category on the Auto-Assign list, but was placed in RTA.  I believe I was able to eventually just individually type to fix all those deductions entries.

EXCEPT, $60 worth of deductions still didn't get funded. 

It took me about four tries before I could figure that out. 

What had happened was that I was playing with the new SFTF warning the day before, and left $30 over assigned in each of August and September. When the paycheck populated in YNAB's RTA, that SFTF warning went away and I had forgotten. 

YNAB would not let me take care of current, cash overspending without tracking down my mislaid, fake $60 in the future. Plus, there was no SFTF warning anymore, since YNAB thought the paycheck deductions total sitting in RTA would be better served in the future. 

While I understand why YNAB thinks that, the fact that it would not let my RTA go negative is a complete dealbreaker for me ever using the mobile app again. 

Have you never had, say, an auto repair that was $400 more than you'd saved in auto maintenance so far? And you don't have a single category that can spare $400? Here's how I deal with that: 1) cover overspending so TBB is red. 2) cull through my other categories to make some trims 3) keep looking at my negative TBB to see how much more is needed to get back to $0.

I don't care whether this is done retroactively or sitting in the car repair shop before giving the go-ahead on the work. That workflow helps make decisions about where to get money from in the cleanest way. Moving directly to an overspend auto repair category makes the money moves tool happy, but it requires more scrolling to see how much left to fund.

In this case, it was even more of a pain because I had to stop what I was doing (always dangerous - what's to remind me to come back?) and flip budget pages before I could finish covering overspending. And yes, I know I could have used the usually handy cover overspending view, but I had to cover overspending for each individual category separately, and that was nearly as much as an annoyance.

The upshot: this experience really sells me on walled months. Income just arriving in the budget can mask things that need to be taken care of, which then requires hunting. When I was new, I'm sure this happened to me, but I didn't know what to hunt for.

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  • I really appreciate all of the details you've included here! Have you had a chance to look over the logic used by Underfunded/Auto-assign? It sounds like it worked its way through those steps, but got lost when it came to those deduction splits that are offsetting each other- do I have that right? 

    I also admit to being a bit wary of auto-assign - it certainly doesn't have the same logic I do. 馃

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    • Marisa That's interesting. I had thought overspending got the first priority, and it seems to be presented that way in the doc you linked.

      However, that wasn't the case for me. I expected all overspending to be set to 0 because that's the first step of auto-assign, and that would have been what I needed.

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    • Move Light Sound Life I'll see what I can find out about this. Let me know if you end up trying again! 

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  • Also - thanks for giving it a try. That was brave. 馃槄I've been doing the same and paying extra attention on mobile so I can adjust before I hit the button.

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  • To clarify: were all the of the categories that were funded overspent before you tried auto-assign? 

    I tried to reproduce weird behavior with those offset deduction splits and auto-assign, and I couldn't get anything weird to happen. 馃

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    • Marisa Nope! Only #2 and #4 properly covered overspending, though I did not want them to have priority from this money. #1, #3, #5, and #6 were all just underfunded targets. #7, #8, and #9 funded the full, scheduled transaction amount, which puts extra money in the category. It seems to have been based solely on order within the category list. Which, as I have pointed out before, is a bit silly IMO. My highest priority categories are at the top (spending) and bottom (saving) of my budget. The lowest priorities sit in the middle. This is because savings categories aren't immediately visible, but I can really easily scroll to check on them. It takes a bit more effort to get to the categories in the middle.

      Anyways, here's what got funded:

      1. Groceries (I had moved some to another food group that is intended to be fluidly connected, so YNAB thought I hadn't fully funded my target).

      2. A category for separate transaction that I had accidentally put in the wrong category. 

      3. A couple other categories that had been WAMmed from already this month.

      4. A category with a reimbursable purchase (yes, we float these, even if they're cash-based).

      5. A category we decided to not fund this month, but I hadn't removed the target because we will make that long-term determination later.

      6. A category in my annual subscription/bills roll-up group whose target balance (in the old meaning of that goal) hadn't been met, but it wasn't its turn in the cash-flow. I fund a calculated amount for the annual bills in a separate category and then redistribute as things come up. I usually deselected the specific categories when I budgeted to keep things clean.

      7. The full, upcoming amount (double what was overspent) of the first paycheck deduction.

      8. The full, upcoming amount (double what was overspent) of the second paycheck deduction.

      9. The full, upcoming amount (double what was overspent) of the third paycheck deduction.

      10. A partial amount of the next deduction, leaving it still overspent.

      11. All other paycheck deductions were left overspent

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    • Move Light Sound Life Oh goodness - that's so odd. I wonder if you might be interested in enabling support access so we could get a closer look? I know you primarily tried this to better understand the new update, so if you'd rather not dig in, I completely understand. 

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    • Marisa We'll think about it, thanks. I already set it to rights, though - would that even be helpful?

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    • Move Light Sound Life Maybe the next time you get paid, go ahead and click auto-assign in the web app, grab a screenshot, and then undo? We can then look closely at what goes down.

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