Needing Guidance

I've been using YNAB for almost or right at a year now... and while it's helped me keep better track of my finances and see where our money is going and keep track of our upcoming bills, I'm not quite sure I'm following the philosophy the correct way.  I still look ahead (not as much as early on in my YNAB days) at future bills and paydays.  We aren't really saving money  ( Have about $800 put aside from income tax refund) and I'm not struggling with if this is the right budgeting tool / philosophy for us.   

 

I need guidance on how I should proceed to get a better grasp of the YNAB life and make sure it's the right track for us.   

 

I've been contemplating whether YNAB or the Dave Ramsey stuff would be better for us. 

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  • Are you budgeting to zero? 

    Are you budgeting only money you have, with no red anywhere? 

    Are you referring to your budget before you spend and recording transactions? 

    If those things aren't happening yet, you haven't given YNAB a full fair shake. If you aren't doing them, we can help you think through how to do them better. 

    YNAB and DR aren't two different things--lots of people use YNAB to execute Dave Ramsey's debt paydown method. YNAB's method is different, but the two are compatible if you wish them to be. 

    Like 7
  • I am budgeting to Zero.   

    There are times when there is red towards the end of a pay cycle. 

    We mostly refer to the budget before spending and I record every transaction either right after it happens or within a day of it happening. 

    Yea, I knew there were a lot of similarities with YNAB and DR so my thoughts on all of that are probably off base. 

    I think we just still struggle with staying in the guidelines of the budget or maybe with how I have the budget setup. 

    Like
      • WordTenor
      • I have the honor to be your obedient servant
      • WordTenor
      • 2 wk ago
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      Jason Standiford You don't want to have red at the end of a pay cycle; you want to have moved money to cover your overspending, preferably before it happens. This, in conjunction with referring to your categories before you spend, will help make YNAB more useful/cause you to save more. 

      Also:

      Jason Standiford said:
      still look ahead (not as much as early on in my YNAB days) at future bills and paydays

       you of course do need to look ahead at what's coming. There's no way to use Rule 2 if you don't predict things which are going to happen. The key is that you need to not budget money you don't have. As long as you aren't doing that, you are following the method. 

      I would suggest spending some time really dedicating yourself to Rule 3. Budget to your savings and then use Rule 3 to keep it there. Refer to your category first, move the money first, and then spend. This will help you see things you need to execute differently and plan. It will also help you see if your plans for debt paydown and savings are realistic (if you have to keep taking from debt paydown and savings, they aren't). 

      Like 4
  • We don't have red at the end of every pay cycle, just some but that's usually due to me being stubborn and not wanting to move money out of the Emergency Fund.  

    You're right, I do need to look ahead for that, I was more referring to looking ahead at what our account balance is going to be right before the next paycheck (s) after all of the recurring bills are paid to determine what money we'll have available to spend or use to cover other things.  

    You're probably right that I need to reevaluate if some of the goals I have set for some of the categories (living expenses categories, quality of life categories, savings)  are realistic or if we need to be putting less or more money in some of those areas then I think we do. 

    Like
  • YNAB can't make you spend less money or magically create more money in your budget. YNAB can provide you with clarity on whether your spending is reflecting your values or information on where you are coming up short.

    No matter whether you use YNAB or not, at the end of the day, the only way to get ahead is to spend less than you make. That can mean bringing in more income, cutting expenses, or a combination of the two. Here on the forum we can provide suggestions on where to look on trimming expenses or finding sources of extra cash - from minor tweaks like shopping around for car insurance or selling those unused craft supplies on Facebook marketplace, to life altering changes like getting rid of car rather than carrying payments plus running costs or moving to a new city for a better paying job in a lower cost of living area.

    Like 3
    • jenmas You're right.  I may be ultimately asking too much of the service, haha.    

      I'm just looking for guidance to make sure I'm on the right path and doing things the right way.  I guess I just feel overwhelmed sometimes and need guidance, you know.   

      Like
  • Jason Standiford said:
    looking ahead at what our account balance is going to be right before the next paycheck (s)

     With YNAB, the only reason to look at an account balance is to determine if you need to move to/from savings to support your cash flow. 

    You should be using categories for guidance on where to put that extra money. You do this by budgeting to zero, then looking at categories before deciding to spend money. 

    You don't get that guidance from the account balance. There is no "extra money" in the account. It should all be in categories.

    Like 6
    • Move Light Sound Life  See, I think this part of the YNAB method is where I struggle the most.  I think this part of it is what is holding me back.   I think my struggle with it is worrying that I'm gonna end up shorting us somewhere or getting us behind if I'm not checking the balance .  It's a fear based struggle. 

      Like
    • Jason Standiford 

      Jason Standiford said:
      worrying that I'm gonna end up shorting us somewhere

       Make a category called "Undecided" or "Stuff I Forgot to Budget for" and put the money in there until you're happy with that amount. If you don't need it one month, it will roll over. You can then add to it or leave it alone.  You'll also know right away how much can go to fun things while also maintaining peace of mind.

       

      Jason Standiford said:
      getting us behind if I'm not checking the balance

       You do need to check your account balance (so you don't overdraft or max your account), but that should be secondary to checking your category balances.

      The process of making a purchase is as follows:

      1. Check category. If there's not enough money, identify the category that is less important to move money from.

      2. Check the payment method to ensure it has enough of your money in the same place to give to the vendor.

      Here's a tip to feel a bit more secure for not overdrafting:

      Use scheduled transactions for monthly/annual bills and even paychecks, if they're regular. Turn on the Running Balance in your YNAB register. If you have something that repeats twice a month, make two transactions that repeat monthly, offset by two weeks (ish).

      I schedule credit card payments as soon as I get the statement so I can see the effect on my checking account in a few weeks.  All purchases were already budgeted for, so this has nothing to do with the budget.  If most spending happens on a credit card, you'll be insulated from daily movement in the checking account. 

      Many people calculate a number that they don't want their checking to dip below. Some options:

      1. Regular monthly spending + any large expenses coming up + $1000 at the beginning/end of the month

      2. Right before a paycheck (lowest anticipated Running Balance - works well for the scenario without daily checking activity) = $X.

      Then, you'll just scan ahead and know if you need to move money from savings or if you can earn better interest by moving excess to savings. 

      Like 3
    • Jason Standiford I also don't know what you mean by "getting us behind." I guessed it was overdraft because I couldn't think of anything else right away. 

      On the contrary, you can know you're getting ahead by having true expenses funded ahead of time, being able to contribute to savings priorities, and I would recommend you look into the Classic YNAB Buffer, which is a workflow that allows you to budget the entire month at a time using last month's money. 

      It requires a bit of saving, but you can simulate the process on paper/spreadsheet as well to provide clarity.

      Perhaps you are feeling unsettled because you're budgeting piecemeal instead of looking at the whole picture? Being buffered can help.  Then you'll KNOW exactly what your month can support. 

      Depending on when you get paid, it can also buy you time to make decisions with a clear head if your income situation changes suddenly. 

      Like 1
      • Dave
      • Slate_Gray_Deer.9
      • 2 wk ago
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      Jason Standiford

      First, read https://www.youneedabudget.com/the-relationship-between-your-budget-your-accounts-its-complicated/ Then reread it.

      The way I take care of that is to make sure I have as much accurate data in YNAB, and keep it accurate. Some ways that I do that

      1. manually every transaction as they happen. Also, if you over spend, deal with it on the spot.
      2. use automatic importing to know when something clears. YNAB will link the transactions if they are the same amount, same account and within 10 days of each other
      3. One and two together means I should not have any surprises. The only transactions that i don't schedule or manually input is interest accruals.
      4. put in as many of your bills as reoccurring transactions as possible, with as much accuracy as possible.
      5. also have your paycheck as scheduled transactions. Since I get paid every two weeks, I use two repeating transactions, each one repeats every 4 weeks, and the two are 2 weeks apart. Paycheck A hits weeks 1 and 5, Paycheck B hits weeks 3 and 7. This helps with step 8.
      6. for things like the power bill, i use what i paid last month, and once i get the bill, I update the future transaction. All my credit card payments are entered as well.
      7. reconcile often. Reconciling is simply confirming what YNAB thinks is your account balances is correct. Once thats done, transactions at that point will have a Lock icon next to them. If there is something awry, you have fewer things to check. Plus, step 3 helps keep mistakes and surprises at bay
      8. Turn on running balances in the account view. This will give you a look ahead. If you're not comfortable with the balance before your next pay;  you're going to have to move money between accounts or make the transactions smaller
      9. I have one checking account, and one saving account, and they're at the same bank, so i can move money quickly between the two.
      10. I use a paid in full credit card that put as much I can, and when my payment is due, I just pay off the full account balance that day.  Been doing that since August, and racked up $120 in rewards and paid $0.00 in interest on that card.

      I know it sounds like a bit much, but once its set up, it takes me 5 to 10 minutes a day to maintain... usually during the first conference call I mentally check out on. But, as a result of the effort, I have a crystal clear picture of the my money, and complete confidence that I'm working with the best possible data.

      Remember, future transactions are not set in stone. Everything is about them can be changed.

      Like 1
    • Move Light Sound Life I have a Stuff I Forgot to budget for  category (don't really fund it ahead of time though) and an Emergency Fund category that I try to keep at $1000 and move money in and out of depending whether I need to cover deficiencies on other categories.   

      You're right,  some times I just think I shouldn't be looking ahead at all and if I do then that means I'm doing it wrong.   I need to get that out of my head and realize that looking ahead is normal as long as I'm not forecasting.  

       

      Yea, I have all of my monthly / periodic bills and my paychecks entered as scheduled transactions. That's how I end up looking forward and seeing what my balance will be in say 2 weeks and sometimes making decisions based off of that.. 

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      • Vibrant
      • No more counting dollars, we'll be counting stars
      • vibrant
      • 2 wk ago
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      Jason Standiford if you are "not funding the Things I Forgot to Budget For category ahead of time," then you are misunderstanding its purpose. You shouldn't be categorizing any transactions to that category, it's for holding a little extra money that you then move to the category where it's needed.  

      Like 4
      • MXMOM
      • MXMOM
      • 2 wk ago
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      Vibrant Jason Standiford i am anti “stuff I forgot to budget for” category. Obviously in the beginning there will be more of these things but that’s what roll with the punches is for. If I forget to budget something then I need to reprioritize my spending.

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    • MXMOM That's funny, I'm the opposite!  We started without it because there just wasn't enough to put there.  When something came up, we'd pull from another savings category. :(

      However, now it's useful because we can maintain our savings goals.  It's like a cushion for the unexpected future.  We only take from it if discretionary categories are empty.  Otherwise, we try to minimize its use.

      So far, we haven't had money sit there too long, but we can always cap it and treat the extra like a windfall if we ever get to that point.

      Like 2
      • Annieland
      • YNABbing every day since 2009!
      • Annieland
      • 2 wk ago
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      MXMOM It wasn't the type of category I used from the start, plus I hate that name.  I don't think I ever totally "forget" to budget for something because my categories reflect my spending.  But when I set up very generous and realistic goals for all my spending categories, and still have money undecided from the last month's income, I hesitate to make an immediate plan for it.  Knowing from experience, purchases get made that might have happened before the savings goal was reached (big sale!) or I *thought* I had a good car repair cushion but holy &@*#! this one really did it in.  I've punished (and sometimes still punish) myself enough, so I now let myself just move unmarked money from that current month so that I don't have to dig down and start taking money from vacation, etc. again.  

      I was mulling over a new TV purchase for the bedroom, and did a little research.  I asked my husband when he was at Costco today to do a price check for me, in case it was lower than online.  Well, he brought home the damn TV.  Shoulda seen that one coming, right??  Considering we also finally bought a new fridge and range this month (11 yr old fridge has broken more times than I care to repair anymore, and 20 yr old stove just won't freaken die so I gave in and traded up), appliances is a big gray $0.00.  Holding category will come to the rescue for that $300 TV, whew!

      Like 1
      • Vibrant
      • No more counting dollars, we'll be counting stars
      • vibrant
      • 2 wk ago
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      MXMOM I don't use it myself but I wanted to make sure Jason understood how it is intended to be used, if he uses it. 

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      • Yes I can
      • yesican2020
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      I have renamed my Stuff I forgot to Budget for as Budget Wiggle Room.  I keep put just a little bit there if the amount of something is a few dollars higher. Sometimes, I also put small amounts over from other categories there. 

      Like 2
  • I think it all comes down to me just needing to use my categories and my goals for realistically.  

    Like 2
    • Jason Standiford Yeah, but goals are really just there to save typing.  I think "Goal" is a bit of a misnomer, because it's not really how much you're shooting for - it's just a mechanism to pretend to be a template.  It helps you remember what you'd already worked out and saves you the trouble of typing the numbers all the time.

      I mean, I'd like to save $2000/month for something and also have $100 fun money, but even though those could be eventual goals, I don't put them as YNAB "Goals" because I'm not ready to fund my categories at that level yet.

      Like 1
  • Jason Standiford said:
    Stuff I Forgot to budget for  category (don't really fund it ahead of time though)

     The whole point of a SIFTBF category is that you fund it ahead of time, but don't use it for transactions.  Then, when your computer dies unexpectedly, you pull money from the SIFTBF category into the Technology Replacement category.  Then start funding Tech.

    Or, when Amazon Prime comes due and you forgot about it, you've got $ in SIFTBF that you can move into the Subscriptions category.  Then start funding more into Subscriptions.

    Upshot: Don't categorize transactions to SIFTBF.  It obscures your true spending and makes it harder to plan.

    Like 1
      • Annieland
      • YNABbing every day since 2009!
      • Annieland
      • 2 wk ago
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      Move Light Sound Life I'm probably totally overcomplicating things, so I'm not offering this as advice, but I have a category called "Holding" which is my SIFTBF category.  Since I'm finally freaken fully buffered (only took 10 years and a new job and raise), I put this month's income into the Next Month category.  And then I still have a "Buffer" category from the olden days.  All 3 are currently in use (not to categorize of course).  After I hit all my categories for the month, anything left over I put in the "Holding" and grab from it when something comes up.  About 4 months ago I actually started ending up with money left in it at the end of the month, so I started sweeping it into the Buffer.  Then doing the INM release rigamarole and repeat.

      Does this sound nuts? 

      Like
    • Annieland Everything makes sense, except the purpose of your Buffer.  I thought that the Buffer and INM were the same thing?  Is yours like a cash cushion?  That's what I would expect from the Holding category.

      I have had a few Holding categories in the past.  Usually if I get some unexpected money (gift, gift cards) until I decide what to do with them.

      I only recently started using an Unexpected category (because I don't actually like the SIFTBF name).

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      • Annieland
      • YNABbing every day since 2009!
      • Annieland
      • 2 wk ago
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      Move Light Sound Life Bingo, no purpose for the buffer.  That's probably my problem, including the name heh.  Over a year ago I put some inherited cash into YNAB and very specifically put it into important YNAB categories, and what was left over went into that Buffer.  Then I had a plan (I make lots of weird/arbitrary plans/challenges with YNAB, do not judge) to move from that Buffer every month the average spent to the Vacations category.  And I also pulled for a couple of large-ish one-off expenses and a vet emergency.  It eventually went to zero and I attempted to continue my little average spent on vacation experiment from regular income.  Now the average spent on vacation is.... about $147 bahahah.  Thanks, Covid.  And money is back in the Buffer.

      Although I have LOTS of Wishes, I've never been able to mentally embrace the Wish Farm strategy.  Basically, while I cannot say I have "too much money" as I will cop to being little Miss Lifestyle Creep extraordinaire, I am no longer "YNAB broke" which is something I'm still trying to wrap my head around.  Perhaps right now I just like seeing that I actually have money I'm not spending which gives me a sense of accomplishment.  

       I expected the inherited cash (the obvious jump last year) to be spent down, hopefully slowly, but I actually managed to reverse that!  The larger debt is because I started paying CC's on due dates instead of closing dates so balances are all doubled now.  Our cash flow was just so pathetic for so long, even with religious YNAB use, that I just don't want to wreck it, ya know? I dunno. Sigh.  

      Like 2
      • Superbone
      • YNAB convert since 2008
      • Superbone
      • 2 wk ago
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      Annieland Sounds to me like you have one two many. I would combine it with your Holding category and then change the name. Sounds similar to my Freedom Fund. I continue to grow it but I take from it as needed/wanted.

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      • Annieland
      • YNABbing every day since 2009!
      • Annieland
      • 2 wk ago
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      Superbone I probably do, but I like that the Holding category shows me that for the current month, I'm not being forced to WAM like I did so much in the past, and still am adhering to my category goals.  Holding is just for the current month.  If I was lucky, a year ago it used to have about $86 in it after I budgeted to zero and then commence WAMming from gifts, vacation, recreation, etc.  I literally only started being able to have a balance in it at the end of the month this past June.  So I guess it's just a new thing that I will work out going forward...

      Like 2
      • Superbone
      • YNAB convert since 2008
      • Superbone
      • 2 wk ago
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      Annieland Congrats on your newfound big positive net worth. It has to feel good after all those years of things being so tight. I would want to keep that margin too. Do you have a full 6 month income fund? I never embraced the Wish Farm strategy either.

      Like 1
      • Annieland
      • YNABbing every day since 2009!
      • Annieland
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      Superbone Yeah, with the Wish Farm, it's like, either I buy the damn thing or I don't.  One decision. 

      When I got the inheritance I filled the Emergency Fund to my modest goal (Yes, poorly named, but I know it's Inc. Replacement) to roughly 3 months.  But being like, 260-280 days buffered and knowing I have some cash and investments off budget that I can tap, I leave it alone.  But sure, I can just beef up that category for S&G.

      Like 1
      • Superbone
      • YNAB convert since 2008
      • Superbone
      • 2 wk ago
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      Annieland On the Wish Farm, right?! And it's not like I have a ton of things I want or need.

      Your Emergency Fund is poorly named? Hey, thanks a lot. 😉That's what mine is called too. 

      Like 1
  • Jason Standiford And to you, the OP, in addition to everyone's excellent advice, I will just say that you need to quit thinking of YNAB as a tracker and instead, a planner.  I've seen friends I've tutored with YNAB get into this trap.  They're either constantly looking back or too far forward.  Both have their place, but what is important is your plan for NOW, and how well you can stick to it or adapt moving ahead.

    Like 3
  • Jason Standiford said:
    You're right, I do need to look ahead for that, I was more referring to looking ahead at what our account balance is going to be right before the next paycheck (s) after all of the recurring bills are paid to determine what money we'll have available to spend or use to cover other things.  

     This is where I think you are a bit off track. If you fully embrace YNAB and true expenses then you should never have to look at your account balance to make sure there is enough (this is assuming a very simple 1 account setup if you are stashing money in a higher interest savings account then obviously you will have to move some money). 

    recurring bills should be set up in YNAB as scheduled transactions. This will then prompt you to cover those when you budget. Also any future known expenses should have a category with a goal. Again this will help you budget. Once you have the total cash you have all allocated to the budget then the next step is to budget your income WHEN IT HAPPENS.   This is the main difference between Dave Ramsey and YNAB. DR would have you budget money you haven’t received yet (budget the whole month before the month begins) whereas YNAB is budget only money you really have. We budget each payday because we are not yet a month ahead. 

    One other difference that YNAB emphasizes that I find DR misses is True Expenses. For example, DR will say “Christmas is the same day every year” but doesn’t really talk about how to save for that. Followers will talk about sinking funds but he doesn’t really talk much about it. DR is a watch the road right in front of you philosophy vs a look ahead philosophy. If you use the goals feature in YNAB,  the future will take care of itself as long as you commit to those goals. 

    Like 2
  • Jason Standiford said:
    We don't have red at the end of every pay cycle, just some but that's usually due to me being stubborn and not wanting to move money out of the Emergency Fund.  

     You should NEVER be red. You are fooling yourself thinking you have emergency funds if you are overspent in the month. That number is fake and not moving the money to reflect reality is contributing to your stress. It’s similar to the concept of riding the credit card float. You are not seeing the real picture. 

    Like 1
  • Would any of you be willing to share your categories with me?  

     

    Should I have an emergency fund category or a buffer category?  Are they the same thing?  

    Or should I just have a stuff I forgot to budget for category?  

    What's this next month category mentioned?

     

    I can share my categories too in order to compare 

    Like
      • WordTenor
      • I have the honor to be your obedient servant
      • WordTenor
      • 2 wk ago
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      Jason Standiford 

      Emergency fund category(ies): where you store money for emergencies. Some YNABers just getting started have one generic emergency fund category as they are building their budgets. Most longterm YNABers have instead categories  for specific kinds of emergencies, e.g. home maintenance, insurance deductibles, health emergency, vet emergency, job loss/income replacement. I suggest that ultimately be your goal. 

      Income Next Month: where you store income earned this month to be used next month. This helps prevent Stealing from the Future. The ability to budget next month with this month's money is what YNABers refer to as "being buffered." "Buffer" in YNAB parlance is not a cash cushion for emergencies although depending on when you're paid, you'll have a cash cushion in order to be buffered. 

      Stuff I Forgot to Budget For: is a temporary category you eventually want to get rid of. The idea is that for the first while you're using your budget diligently, odds on you'll forget something--a yearly membership you have to pay for, a quarterly bill, etc. So you essentially treat these as a true expense: you know you'll have forgotten something, more than likely, so each month you budget a little bit to cover whatever the heck that might end up being. When you have to pay for the thing, you move the money to that category, creating a new category if need be, and spend from there. It's not a miscellaneous category; it was never intended for "Oh look the ice cream parlor is open! hahaha I forgot to budget for ice cream so I guess it's Stuff I Forgot to Budget" but rather the, "D'oh! Amazon Prime! I pay that every October. Forgot all about it." Then you make a category and a scheduled transaction for next year's Prime membership and go on. Eventually, you shouldn't need SIFTBF because you'll have captured all those one-offs in your budget. 

      Like 3
      • WordTenor
      • I have the honor to be your obedient servant
      • WordTenor
      • 2 wk ago
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       Of these categories, I personally fund several emergency categories: insurance deductibles, vet emergency, emergency travel, home maintenance, auto maintenance, and income replacement. Health is covered by my HSA which is a tracking account. 

      I don't have an INM category because I'm paid the last day of the month which obviates the need to collect income for the next month. This however means I have no cash cushion helping me budget a month at a time; I keep that in mind as I plan my income replacement category funding. 

      I no longer have SIFTBF because I've been using YNAB for 7 years. These days, as soon as a transaction is made which will have a far-out recurrence, a category is made for it and a future transaction is scheduled. 

      Like 2
    • Jason Standiford I was doing the same as you with my Emergency Fund, putting money in and pulling it out as needed . . which is not the point of an emergency fund.

      My job is extremely secure, and I have good insurance , so I think "emergency" was just too abstract. I needed to bring into focus something truly terrifying. I decided to rename it to be more specific. Now it's my "Fleeing Fascism" category. I have one category for the getaway, one category to help others flee with me, one category to re-establish housing for my family elsewhere, one category for income to start a new life. Even though, truth be told, if fascism were to consolidate in my country, I know I wouldn't go anywhere . .  I still never take money from that category anymore.

      Maybe if you give your EF a name for something that truly scares the bejeezus out of you, you will treat it more like a true emergency fund. It's not supposed to be just another account. It's supposed to be your backup for when everything else fails.

      I also have a Keep the House Standing EF (in the event of extreme weather event, fire, etc.) and a Save Our Lives medical EF (for expenses insurance would not cover). For me, making the horrifying possible scenarios very specific in my mind is helpful for not 'rolling with the punches' with certain parts of my budget. 

      Like 1
      • Annieland
      • YNABbing every day since 2009!
      • Annieland
      • 2 wk ago
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      Ivory Storm That's pretty cool!  Now you got me considering a Zombie Apocalypse category for my wayward Buffer.  🧟‍♀️

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      • Annieland
      • YNABbing every day since 2009!
      • Annieland
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    • Annieland it's a category which is half living, half dead . . . (((spooky music)))))

      Like 1
    • WordTenor Just curious, how much do you typically keep in home maintenance, auto maintenance and vet emergency categories? We don't yet have enough to set aside amounts that I would consider necessary to "fully fund" these (we have a couple of thousand in each). So we have a Large/Unexpected category that I use to supplement those categories when needed. ( For example, we have a vet emergency coming up shortly and it will cost about $3,500. Do you keep more than that in the vet emergency category?)

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      • WordTenor
      • I have the honor to be your obedient servant
      • WordTenor
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      Periwinkle Flute Home will be funded without a cap at a rate of 1% of the house value per year. Auto is a similar deal; it gets $50 per month. If I get into the thousands and thousands there, it will probably be because I'm in the realm of a new car and I'll start to think about using the money toward the car. Right now, since it gets used for regularly scheduled maintenance, it usually slowly creeps up to about $1500 over a few years and then I need new tires. So I keep funding it. 

      Vet emergency gets a cap of $3000 because most things I'm willing to do for my pets are below that number or close enough to it that I can WAM a few hundred. Past that and we get into the realm of surgical techniques and long term treatments that I just don't think are appropriate for a being who can't understand what is happening to it. YMMV wildly on this one, of course! But the cap both serves as a financial cushion and a check on emotions for me. 

      Like 5
      • Annieland
      • YNABbing every day since 2009!
      • Annieland
      • 2 wk ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      Periwinkle Flute I’m gonna chime in on the vet stuff, because I agree, it’s hard. Between the end of 2018 and 2019 I spent about $12k in emergency vet expenses. The larger portion in 2018 gave him another happy year, but a relapse and complications in Nov. 2019 ended his nearly 16 yr life. I don’t regret anything, but holy cow, did those two incidents kill all my savings progress those years. I was kicking myself for not self-insuring since puppyhood. Looking at my category notes, this is what I came up with:

      11/1/19  Starting with (and keeping) base of $500. Adding Mushu's age x 100. Repeat each year. 
      3/21/20 - Updating for Marvin :).  Extending to Dec., as an annual. $500 per dog, plus age ($100 for Marvin this year and next?).  500+500+100+700=1800.
      ***  I think for Jan. 2021 add $1900 to current balance at that time and keep as spending goal.
      4/25/20 - Signed up for Figo. Might change budget in future, but leaving premium to come out of category keeping goal the same.  Will need to re-evaluate in Jan and if/WHEN premium increases.

      We adopted a 4 month old mutt last March (just in time as our stay-at-home order was announced 2 days later).  After some research I opted to try a year of catastrophic pet insurance, just in case something was terribly wrong with him that we were unaware of.  I expect premiums to ridiculously increase so this will probably not be a permanent thing. 
       

      So, according to my notes, I’m saving $500 per dog each year (assuming routine care and insurance premiums) plus their age x $100. I have no idea how this will work going forward, as I only have a little over $1k in there right now.  But, if there’s a very expensive emergency, between the insurance I have in effect plus the willingness to pull from other emergency type savings, I’d hopefully be okay. 
       

      It’s a tough one, and definitely a YMMV thing. I just wish I started self-insuring 16 years earlier so that my beloved Aussie wouldn’t have taken such a bite out of the holidays (in more ways than one 😢).

      Like 2
    • Annieland WordTenor Thanks! I, too, have paid more than my share of vet bills, most notably over $7,000 on a 4 year old dog for a week's stay in the doggie ICU with numerous blood transfusions. Last one did the trick, cured him and he lived another happy 13 years! I guess after we get past this hurdle with our young kitty I'll make sure to get that vet category filled higher.

      A question about home maintenance - I assume the recommendation is based on the value of the actual structure, not what you could sell for? Our (modest 1950's rambler) is valued at over $1,000,000, but $750,000 is "land" (about quarter of an acre) and the actual house is about $300,000.

      Like 1
    • Periwinkle Flute Something to consider regarding the home maintenance is to do an individual look at your house to determine what needs to be done, in what order, and find out what those costs are in your area. I found a great walkthrough of this idea in the link below. It is specific to Canada (Ontario) for costing but you can use it as a blueprint for your own home. 

      It is especially important to know if you have those big ticket items (roof, hot water heater, furnace, air conditioner) as they obviously have a big impact on $. 

      https://www.moneysense.ca/spend/real-estate/the-ultimate-home-maintenance-guide/

      Like 1
      • WordTenor
      • I have the honor to be your obedient servant
      • WordTenor
      • 13 days ago
      • Reported - view

      Periwinkle Flute said:
      I assume the recommendation is based on the value of the actual structure, not what you could sell for?

       I've seen an alternate recommendation of $1-2 per square foot per year to deal with this. Yes, when there's a big delta, you want to take into account the difference between the structure and the land. My house is insured for about 75% of what the whole house + lot would sell for, so for me, it makes sense to just save 1% of the valuation because they aren't very different. 

      Like
      • MXMOM
      • MXMOM
      • 13 days ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view
      • Annieland
      • YNABbing every day since 2009!
      • Annieland
      • 13 days ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Navy Blue Pegasus That was a really good article.  And now I'm convinced my house is about to crumble down around me.

      Like 1
    • MXMOM LOL. It is not that bad! Honest! 😉

      Like
    • Annieland Glad you found it helpful. Fingers crossed it is one of those panic reactions only on the crumbling. LOL

      Like
  • Regarding a Stuff I Forgot to Budget For catgory, I’ve never had one. If there’s something you forgot to budget for that you don’t have a category for, add it to your budget then and there. One down. Rinse and repeat. Eventually, you’ll have every necessary category. 

    Like 1
  • These are the current Categories that I have:

     

    How do they look?  Should I change them up some? 

    MONTHLY BILLS: 👶Child Care
    MONTHLY BILLS: 🏠 Rent
    MONTHLY BILLS: 🔥 Gas- 6th
    MONTHLY BILLS: 🚗Auto Insurance - 6th
    MONTHLY BILLS: 📱 Cell Phone - 10th
    MONTHLY BILLS: Newegg Card - 25th
    MONTHLY BILLS: 🛋NFM - 27th
    MONTHLY BILLS: 💻 Internet - 28th
    MONTHLY BILLS: 💡 Electric - 30th
    LIVING EXPENSES: Health&Beauty
    LIVING EXPENSES: Snacks
    LIVING EXPENSES: 🚼Child
    LIVING EXPENSES: 🧻Household
    LIVING EXPENSES: 🔨Home Maintenance
    LIVING EXPENSES: 🍎Groceries
    LIVING EXPENSES: 👔Clothing
    LIVING EXPENSES: ⛽Fuel
    PETS: New Pets
    PETS: Supplies
    PETS: 💌 Vet/Health
    PETS: 🍖Food
    MONTHLY SUBSCRIPTIONS: 💅Health&Beauty Subscriptions - 1st
    MONTHLY SUBSCRIPTIONS: 🏈Fantasy Football Subscriptions
    MONTHLY SUBSCRIPTIONS: GSuite - 5th
    MONTHLY SUBSCRIPTIONS: Shopping - 30th
    MONTHLY SUBSCRIPTIONS: 📺Media Subscriptions
    MONTHLY SUBSCRIPTIONS: 💰YNAB - 30th
    MONTHLY SUBSCRIPTIONS: Usenet Subscriptions
    QUALITY OF LIFE: 💗Giving
    QUALITY OF LIFE: 🤑Fun Money - L
    QUALITY OF LIFE: 🤑Fun Money - J
    QUALITY OF LIFE: 👫Dates / Family Outings
    QUALITY OF LIFE: 🍽Dining Out
    FUND ME: 🏠 House
    FUND ME: 🏖 Vacation
    BANANA STAND: 🚨Income Replacement
    BANANA STAND: 😳Holding/Unexpected
    GIFT & EVENT SAVINGS: 🐰 Easter
    GIFT & EVENT SAVINGS: 🎂Mother's Day & Father's Day
    GIFT & EVENT SAVINGS: 🧨 4th of July
    GIFT & EVENT SAVINGS: 💍Anniversary
    GIFT & EVENT SAVINGS: 🏁Supernationals
    GIFT & EVENT SAVINGS: 🎅🏼Christmas
    GIFT & EVENT SAVINGS: 🎁Other
    GIFT & EVENT SAVINGS: 🎂Birthdays
    HEALTH: Eyecare
    HEALTH: 🦷Dental
    HEALTH: 🏥Medical
    PERIODIC BILLS & EXPENSES: Health/Wellness Subscriptions
    PERIODIC BILLS & EXPENSES: Fantasy Football Leagues
    PERIODIC BILLS & EXPENSES: Sam's Club
    PERIODIC BILLS & EXPENSES: Furnishing
    PERIODIC BILLS & EXPENSES: Usenet
    PERIODIC BILLS & EXPENSES: Auto Maintenance
    Credit Card Payments: L Secured Card
    DEBT: Collections
    DEBT: J Mom
    DEBT: Cash Advance
    DEBT: Personal Loan
    DEBT: Student Loan
    DEBT: Auto Loan
    Like
      • Bruce
      • Software Engineer
      • Bruce
      • 13 days ago
      • Reported - view

      Jason Standiford looks good. You might want to add PETS: Emergency category for unexpected expenses in that area. either that or extra into the vet category and just let it accumulate. 

      Like
      • Annieland
      • YNABbing every day since 2009!
      • Annieland
      • 13 days ago
      • Reported - view

      Jason Standiford Everyone does their categories so differently.  I consider everything a "bill," personally.  So my groupings are really boring and basic, like Utilities, Housing, Food, Clothes, Education, Recreation, Personal, Savings (not for spending but general financial buckets), etc.  That way I can see what my costs of living are in each area.  Go look at that thread where everyone posted their categories, it'll give you ideas.  I don't think you forgot anything!

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