Catching Up after 5 months?
Hello, I started using YNAB in January 2020 and right when quarantine started I paused and have not touched it for 5 months. I have 2 kids under 5 home full time so my 'computer work' time is limited.
I'm wondering what the best way to catch up and continue is? Do I need to somehow backtrack and do the work of the past 5 missing months? Do I do a 'fresh start'? Or is there something in between to do?
I suggest you simply reconcile accounts and make a plan for the money you have moving forward. (Do this in the current and/or future months as appropriate.) I agree it's rather pointless to worry about the past, but that is not synonymous with a fresh start.
In my view, this is better than a fresh start because that is basically a best practice that you should be doing at least monthly. You might as well learn how to do it!
Another advantage is it keeps past transactions in the working budget. Seeing the Net Worth graph from when you started YNAB sure is motivating.
I would go for a fresh start but make life easier in the future by doing two things. Firstly use YNAB to enter regular payments. This means that you only need to approve these each month rather than enter them. Secondly use a mobile app on your phone as well and enter each transaction as you make it; do the groceries and enter the transaction in the car park before you drive home. The mobile app is also easy for approving transactions and takes less than a minute each day and your phone notifications will let you know if there are any transactions to approve.
If you have put a lot of work and planning into your goals that have dates attached to them, you might want to rethink the fresh start idea. When I get behind, as I am now, here's what I do:
- Enter and categorize bank and credit card transactions through today.
- Reconcile accounts.
- Go back to the first month you didn't do the rollover. Move money to cover overspending and fund your goals-by-date.
- Repeat for the following month, until you are all caught up.
It is a tedious process, but you will be glad when you are completely up-to-date and your goals are properly funded. It will also motivate you to get in the habit of daily transaction entry, which makes the monthly rollover easy.