Vacation Expenses Prior to Vacation

Hi all - I have followed most of the advice for vacation budgeting by creating a sub-category and savings goal for each vacation. Prior to each vacation, I plan on moving the money from the specific sub-category to a general Vacation category, where I will also record expenses against.

My question is what to do PRIOR to the vacation. For example, if I book an AirBnB for the vacation, I will be charged prior to the trip, and most likely prior to moving the funds to the Vacation category.

For my most recent vacation, I ended up recording these expenses against the Vacation category, and would transfer money from the vacation-specific category for that expense. The problem was that every time I did that, I would also have to subtract the expense amount from the goal, and that changed the way I saved every month. 

Is there a better way to budget and categorize these vacations without having to constantly move and adjust goals?

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  • If you use a monthly goal you could manage it a bit easier. In the month you make your airbnb payment you YNAB will say you did not meet your goal however you know it is because you transferred money elsewhere and hopefully can live with that orange category for that month. 


    Alternatively don't use a generic holiday category and you won't have this issue assuming you use a needed for spending or monthly savings type goal

  • For my Christmas savings I put a "spendings goal by [date]." Then, it tells me how much to fund each month, and when I spend money from that category, the goal automatically updates. For instance, I put a goal for $150 by December 1 for my son's christmas presents. I've been funding it since Jan 1. Even though I'm almost done funding the goal, I have far less than $150 actually available in my funds, because I bought him $70 of presents already . I think that might be what you are looking for.

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  • However, I don't know how that would work in terms of eventually combining them into just one category. that adds a wrinkle I think.

  • Hi Pink Transistor !

    Is the issue that you're saving those funds in a "Vacation Specific" category but want to spend from the "Vacation" category? If so, you'd move the money to the Vacation category and then pay for the AirBnB from the Vacation category. After that, you can adjust the goal in the "Vacation Specific" category to be for the amount needed minus the AirBnB. 

    If you're only saving for a single vacation, it might be easier to use the Vacation category for the currently planned vacation and have a Spending Goal in place. You could then use "Vacation Specific" categories for future vacations that aren't likely to have any spending before the current trip.

    • Faness Yes, I am currently spending from "Vacation", and transferring from "Vacation X" for each expense along the way. This method requires moving the money and adjusting the goal amount like you said.

      I would prefer if I could spend from and fund "Vacation X" along the way, and then when it comes time for the vacation, convert all transactions related to "Vacation X" to "Vacation" and delete the "Vacation X" category.

      Maybe I'm overthinking it, it just becomes difficult to budget for multiple vacations (I like planning in advance) and then having to move funds, change transactions, and adjust goals.

    • Pink Transistor Deleting that category might be an easier option for you.

      When you delete a category with previous transactions, two things happen:

      1) You're asked to recategorize (or uncategorize) past transactions in the category (you'd select the "Vacation" category, so all of your "Vacation X" transactions are moved over).

      2) All the money budgeted to the original category (in all months) is sent back To be Budgeted, (so you'd then need to move money to the "Vacation" category to cover the spending).

      However, if you delete a category with any credit card spending, this action not only impacts To be Budgeted, the category you're deleting, and the one where you're recategorizing the transactions—but your credit card payment categories as well.

      I know this isn't a perfect workflow for your use case, but I hope it's a workable medium for the time being! As dakinemaui mentioned, you can submit a Feature Request to let our Product Team know how you'd like to see this function behave in the future. :)

  • Or, if you take a lot of vacations, then maybe you could have a generic Vacation fund for each season, renaming them each season to whatever your new destination is. (I am enjoying imagining this!) Then that would let you spend from more than one fund simultaneously, use the self-updating goals, & still save for different trips separately. 

  • It sure would be nice if YNAB would transfer budget entries when categories are merged. (You would simply charge everything to the specific category and merge after returning.) Sadly, it just does transactions, which is only half the job. You might make a feature request for them to finish the implementation.

    In the meantime, I think the best option is to use a monthly goal and either ignore the warning, or reset it in the following month (which cancels the warning).

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