Unclear about how goals are calculated

Hi, I was messing around with goals on my long-term savings account, getting a feel for what is a new thing for me.

Currently I have £3417 and some pennies in the account. I entered a small goal, £3450, into the goal thing in the sub-category relating to the put-aside for that particular saving, and was baffled when YNAB told me I needed to put £822 into the account when it is actually £33.

I'd migrated a whole year's worth of transactions so I assumed it would take the latest reconciled total as its starting point for the calculations.

It didn't, clearly. So how do they work?

If I knew I needed to save to pay for a holiday costing £500 and I'd got £220 already saved, why would I have to work out I'd need £280 to get to my total? Surely YNAB has the data at its digital fingertips?

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  • Most of your post talks about account balances, but goals are about category balances. You say you have 3417 and some pennies in the account... but you don't say what the category balance is that you set the goal on.

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      • Helen1958
      • All At Sea!
      • Maroon_Admiral
      • 4 yrs ago
      • Reported - view

      nolesrule - sorry,  you've lost me ------ which is an indicator of my lack of understanding of this feature.  

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      • nolesrule
      • Stealing From the Future fix is an improvement but is incomplete....
      • nolesrule
      • 4 yrs ago
      • Reported - view

      Maroon Admiral Helen The Goal feature in YNAB is about setting and tracking goals for funding your category balances on the budget screen.

      Your entire OP was talking about bank account balances, except for one mention of the word "category".

       

      What is that category balance for that particular savings account? Is it also "£3417 and some pennies"? Or some other number?

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      • Helen1958
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      • Maroon_Admiral
      • 4 yrs ago
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      nolesrule Um, it looks as though I need to go and work out a coherent question before I ask any more questions on this thread. Sorry to have wasted your time. 🙂

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    • Maroon Admiral Helen 

      In another post you mentioned that you might be keeping your savings accounts as tracking accounts, is that right? Is the savings you've mentioned here in a tracking account? 

      Maroon Admiral Helen said:
      I entered a small goal, £3450, into the goal thing in the sub-category relating to the put-aside for that particular saving,

       If you can provide a little more detail about this "sub-category" I think we can work this out! Would love to help :) 

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      • Helen1958
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      • Maroon_Admiral
      • 4 yrs ago
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      Janelle at YNAB Yes, I need to keep savings off-budget, to use the Y4 term for tracking. I would/have done allocate EVERYTHING that is in my on-budget accounts regardless of whether they were in my budget or savings.

      My limited experience of the online version of YNAB, today actually, is that if there's spare pennies YNAB almost nags you to allocate it. My savings can't be on budget because I'm absolutely terrified that I'd spend them without a second glance and I need them so desperately that I've had to categorise them as Other Asset because a Savings Account cannot be a tracked account. This  is, in my opinion, a flaw in terms of folk like me.

      So I use pockets. Un-YNAB, I know, but it works for me. My usage of YNAB is to keep my cheque account in the black, to put aside money for subscriptions, things I know will need money but not right now, my two types of actual savings - short to medium term and long term. Any other way of budgeting wouldn't last long.

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      • Helen1958
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      • Maroon_Admiral
      • 4 yrs ago
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      YNAB has given me control over my money,  and for that I'm eternally grateful, but anything involving combining my cheque account and any savings pockets terrifies me.

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      • nolesrule
      • Stealing From the Future fix is an improvement but is incomplete....
      • nolesrule
      • 4 yrs ago
      • 1
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      Maroon Admiral Helen You are missing the forest for the trees (or maybe it's the other way around) and I think you have the logic behind having savings accounts on budget completely backward. You just need to learn how to use YNAB with your savings accounts on budget. Trust the software instead of playing mind games with yourself. You'll find that your finances will be a lot simpler if you do that.

      But it also means you need to consult your categories before you spend, not afterwards.

      As for the different types of savings... I guarantee if you break it up into different categories and put actual specific named goals to your savings money, it will make it more difficult to touch because it has a named purpose.  A pile of money sitting in an account that has no written purposes assigned to each individual currency unit but in your mind has many purposes usually isn't large enough to meet the goals of all those purposes... which is the whole reason people start using YNAB in the first place.... they've been spending by account balance.

      It's a mental shift, but that mental shift to carving up your money into specific purposes helps you with both spending and saving. Un-assigned piles aren't a source of savings... they are a source of money that will give you the mental OK to spend it, and you don't want to do that.

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  • nolesrule said:
    I guarantee if you break it up into different categories and put actual specific named goals to your savings money, it will make it more difficult to touch because it has a named purpose.  A pile of money sitting in an account that has no written purposes assigned to each individual currency unit but in your mind has many purposes usually isn't large enough to meet the goals of all those purposes... which is the whole reason people start using YNAB in the first place.... they've been spending by account balance.

     My money (savings) is not in one pile, it is allocated -- see the * entries below. My point is that If I had, for example, £3000 still left to be allocated to a task after I'd filled all the month's outgoings, that is when I'd start freaking. Yes, I'd carry it forward to months in the future but that act would transform the savings money into budget money and I'd feel that I didn't have any savings.

    It is at that point that I'd spend, spend, spend until I'd made that the case. I fear your brain and mine are polar opposites. 

     

    PS The * categories all go into ONE account - not many different ones, so I am actually doing that bit already.

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  • Maroon Admiral Helen said:
    My point is that If I had, for example, £3000 still left to be allocated to a task after I'd filled all the month's outgoings, that is when I'd start freaking. Yes, I'd carry it forward to months in the future but that act would transform the savings money into budget money and I'd feel that I didn't have any savings.

     You save money in YNAB by budgeting it to a category and then not spending from the category.

    To be honest, there really is no such thing as savings. It's just money intended to be spent later. if it's a big amount, you "save" up for it by budgeting from your income month after month until you reach your goal.

     

    If you have a pile of money that you want to put toward that kind of spending, then you budget it to that category and then don't spend it until it's time to spend it.

    If on the other hand, you're talking about adding money to your everyday spending categories now intended for use next month, or the month after (like say, for instance, groceries) but you're worried you'll spend it now because it's sitting in the spending category now, then just flip to next month and budget it in next month instead of the current month. After all, you aren't going to look at February's balances to make spending decisions in January.

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  • nolesrule said:
    .. . if it's a big amount, you "save" up for it by budgeting from your income month after month until you reach your goal.

    If you have a pile of money that you want to put toward that kind of spending, then you budget it to that category and then don't spend it until it's time to spend it.

    Which is exactly what I do!!!!!!!! It's feeling as though we are using different vocabularies to cover much of the same things.

    I'd love to know how goals are  calculated though.

    Assuming I had £50 "saved" towards a holiday costing £350, do I basically say ''OK, I've got £50 already, YNAB knows about that, so I'll tell it that I just need £300 and it will tell me how many payments of £25 I'll need to reach the target?''

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      • starlady09
      • starlady09
      • 4 yrs ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      Maroon Admiral Helen There is definitely a learning curve to YNAB, which I'm still on! I think I get  your question though. The "Goals" are specific to on budget categories, and they can be used in a few different ways.

      (as far as I know) 1: Category by DATE - you enter an amount, and a date that you want that amount by, and then it is calculated by how much to add to the category (NOT the account!) each month until your target date. It adjusts the goal amount if you add more/less each month until you get to the target month.

      2: Category balance generally. You set a goal, and it tells you how far you have to go until you reach it, but doesn't give you a monthly goal.

      3: Monthly funding goal - different from 1 because the goal amount doesn't change if you under/over fund one month.

      All of these apply to Categories though, and do NOT apply to Account balances. If you have a saving account that is "Off Budget" you can't set goals for it in YNAB. You can only set goals for "On Budget" money.

      Last - I'll say that I budget all of my savings, and I do it a bit differently than some people. So my Emergency Fund isn't just a "general" EF category - its broken down into subcategories: 1. Auto deductible; 2. Home owners deductible; 3. Income replacement (current goal of 1 month not met - working on it!); 4. Appliance replacement (for when the 27 year old furnace goes kaput finally).

      Those are all UNTOUCHABLE savings. I will NOT use them unless I have an emergency that falls into the category - but it means that I have my home owners deductible set aside for any event in which I need to file a claim (can we PLEASE have a damaging hail storm?? PLEASE??) and then I don't have to scrounge up the money cause I know I have enough.

      Does that all make sense? (if not, take ALL the webinars. I took them every day, multiple times until I got it, and then I take them occasionally now to remind myself)

      Like 2
  • Maroon Admiral Helen said:
    I'd love to know how goals are  calculated though.

    Assuming I had £50 "saved" towards a holiday costing £350, do I basically say ''OK, I've got £50 already, YNAB knows about that, so I'll tell it that I just need £300 and it will tell me how many payments of £25 I'll need to reach the target?''

    You're getting there! If you're using the Category Balance by Date option YNAB would let you know how much you need to budget each month in order to have the total 350 available. 

    starlady09 is also totally right when she mentioned that goals are for categories and not accounts, and the dollars in an off-budget savings account are not included in your budget. So unless you've set up a completely separate budget for your savings account, you're actually budgeting checking or other on-budget account dollars in those savings categories you created. Does that make sense? 

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  • 1) YNAB can only account for - and calculate off of - money it can see (i.e. "on budget"). If you have savings in an off-budget account, that money is invisible to YNAB.

    2) Goals are tied to BUDGET CATEGORIES, not ACCOUNTS.

    3) You simply CAN'T tell the software "Start calculating this goal from $200." There has to be $200 of actual, on-budget dollars budgeted to that category first.

    What I did - what I think folks are trying to explain is - I put my Savings Account on-budget (not a tracking account). The balance (let's say $300) shows up in To Be Budgeted. I budget $300 to a category called "Don't Touch!" That money is now gone from To Be Budgeted so it can't be "accidentally" spent. Now I can set a Goal for that category of $1500 by December 2018, and the software will calculate $1500 (goal) -$300 (category balance) = 1200/12 = $100 per month. 

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      • Helen1958
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      • Maroon_Admiral
      • 4 yrs ago
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      Vibrant Thanks - that is all I wanted confirming.

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