Getting the hang of things
Today I received my first paycheck since starting to use YNAB last week. Naturally there are a few things I am still uncertain about. First off, after noticing that it was taking my bank a day or 2 extra to post transactions, I decided to unlink and manually do it. I figured (at least at the beginning) that it will help me stay on top of things...
-My first hang up is involving my natural gas utility. I averaged out the last year and decided $80 would be my goal. For November I only owe $45, so I cant figure out how I should handle the difference.
-My second hang up involves my mortgage and car payments (my 2 highest payments), which I always set $ half aside biweekly, because it helped me ensure I saved enough. If the first half of the payment is rolling over from my last check, this paycheck makes the payment whole, so to speak. However, when I try to budget it in YNAB, its showing me that I'm actually short that amount because it doesn't know that half was carrying over. Hope this makes sense.
For November I only owe $45, so I cant figure out how I should handle the difference.
Budget $80. There will be money left in reserve after the $45 payment. As long as bills are below average, a surplus builds in the category. When bills are above average, the surplus dwindles.
The main issue is that you might need to budget more than $80 to prevent overspending for a bill that exceeds the Available at that time.
Summary: budget the average at a minimum, preventing overspending when necessary.
Natural gas - This is a great one to use the spending goal. You can set the goal for $80 every month. You then start the first time with giving it $80. Then you pay the bill. In this case, $45. You will have a balance available of $35. When the month rolls over, you will only need to put $35 in to get you to the full $80 goal. It enables you to have enough money over time.
Mortgage - it should roll over any amount that was already budgeted into it. You would add that amount required in the next month.
Re: the large payments... you actually are short for the month. It's irrelevant that you happen to have enough to cover the outflow in that month.
If it really bothers you, you could budget your last check in next month's area. Personally, I dislike splitting up my budgeting across multiple screens, but some people do it.
The option I like best is to put anything meant for next month's budget in a holding category (in this month's area). When next month arrives, I release those funds and budget in the (new) current month.
The cool part about this is that you can grow that Next Month category like any category, by putting in more than you take out. At some point, it will cover the entirety of the (new) current month upon release, opening the door to more efficient workflows.
Aha, this sounds like my cue to speak up for the underappreciated Monthly Savings Builder goal type. I think it's the perfect goal for variable bills like gas, heating oil, and electricity, because it's the one that lets you convert a variable bill into a steady monthly bill in the way dakinemaui described.
Here's another wall I've run into -- I decided to start manually posting transactions with my paycheck yesterday. I logged into my bank today to post the transactions made up until now. My statement online is showing purchases that were pending from the weekend as posted yesterday. Should I be creating transactions/activity for those in this paychecks budget?