How Ready to assign money works?

I'm just starting to use YNAB but I noticed a problem (or something I dont understand correctly) in my budget.

Here's what i did:

  1. imported my last 2 years of transaction from my bank into YNAB and categorized all of them
  2. I started to budget this month, and poured all the remaning money into a Savings Category. I know rule 4, but I find that by implementing that, it's very easy to overbudget, instead i prefer to use the montly income + the left overs from the previous months to pay for that month, and then "spill" the remaining into a Savings category. That way I feel I have perfect control over earnings.
  3. That way, after point 2 I have 0 money left over to budget for october.

What I'm expecting is that the first dollar I input in october, will put myself at 1$ of overbudget... but it doesn't. It seems that I have another 200$ of buffer after YNAB starts to warn me of overbudget.

So for example:

  1. I start budgeting at September 2021 with 5000$
  2. I budget all 5000$ into September, so I have 0$ to assign
  3. I budget 200$ into any category in October, still 0$ to assign
  4. I budget another 100$ into any category in October, now I have 100$ of overbudget.

Why is like that? Is it a bug or something i'm not understanding?

 

Thanks a lot

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  • Ok. Since you decided to start YNAB by importing two years' worth of history, this is what you need to do:

    1. In the current month, assign money such that

    A) no category is negative

    B) any categories that will need to be spent from this month show an available amount that will support your spending, including any credit card payments*

    If you have leftover money, you get to make choices according to your priorities. Here's what I would consider:

    Being Buffered - you can fund the entire next month with money earned this month. Do this by making a category called Income for Next Month (INM) and place the total of what you need for Oct (bills and variable spending is the ideal minimum, though if you can get some True Expense contributions in there as well, great) in that category. There's more instructions for how to deal with October's paychecks when you get them, but we'll come back to that after get on the right footing at the beginning here.

    PIF on Credit Cards - this is how you indicate that you have no credit card debt in YNAB. Assign money so that your CC Payment category's available amount is equal (but positive) to your negative cc account's working balance. You only need to pay the statement balance on the due date, but you have the money sitting there to pay off the whole balance at any time. No debt.

    Savings Categories. Make them specific. What are you saving for? Income Replacement? Vacation? Medical expenses? Maintenance? Down payment? True Expenses? You can seed these so that you can contribute nominal amounts sooner. Make separate categories for them and assign accordingly.

     

    After you do things things, you're set at the moment. Learn the first three YNAB rules (Rule 4 is unactionable, thus a little silly) and apply those when you assign October's money. I'll come back later today with some links if no one else gets there first.

    Like 1
    • P.S. I didn't answer your question directly about RTA because you really don't need to learn how to use YNAB in the past. It's quite complicated for a new user. Learn the method and the software in the present.

      If, after you get comfortable using YNAB in the present, and you want to fiddle with making past budgets pretty, you can go backwards (though it's a waste of time - everything will already show up in reports). I promise that trying to start budgeting in the past is a fruitless, confusing process. And I don't often promise things online.

      Like
  • I've sent you an email so that we can work through this together in your budget. :)

    In the meantime, do you possibly have money assigned in November? 

    Like 1
  • Since this got bumped:

    while Move Light Sound Life has provided extremely good instructions, in case anyone else stumbles on this via google, no one said the important thing here which is, don’t import two years of transactions. Start from today, making assignments for the money you have today. 

    While there are a handful of things you can do to import old history, if you then can’t figure out on your own how to handle the budget after you’ve imported the history, it’s a sign you are one of the vast majority of YNABers who need to follow the instructions and start from today. 

    Like 5
  • WordTenor said:
    no one said the important thing here which is, don’t import two years of transactions

     Thanks for spelling it out more directly?

     

    Move Light Sound Life said:
    I promise that trying to start budgeting in the past is a fruitless, confusing process

     

    Move Light Sound Life said:
    it's a waste of time

    Also from that comment, though not quoting properly, "you really don't need to learn how to use YNAB in the past"

    Move Light Sound Life said:
    Learn the method and the software in the present.

     But it's a good thing to reiterate.

    Like 2
  • As for the links I was thinking of, I'm sure that would have been the getting started materials from the YNAB website - mainly the 4 rules. 

    Once you get a handle on those basic rules and how the software represents things, Navy Blue Gazelle , come back to the forum and find out how to get Buffered.

    Like
      • WordTenor
      • Can we agree that goals are dumb and immature? Sure.
      • WordTenor
      • 2 wk ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      Move Light Sound Life I'm actually picking on the official support person more than you. That the official answer has become "sure yeah, you do you, we'll help!" instead of immediately,  "Do not do this" is one of the worst developments of the new support hierarchy. 

      But yes, if you'd like it to be about you,  I recommend you start with that, don't bury the lede. It is much kinder to say "Don't Do This" rather than to give the expert instructions on how to do it up first. There's lots of things those of us who've used the software awhile know how to do, but it's not often helpful to true newbies to go, "Oh hey you can actually work around this constraint in this way." Sometimes we are less nice in order to be more kind.

      Like 2
    • WordTenor Doesn't need to be about me, thanks. I'd rather it be about the information in the discussion.

      However, the instructions were how to neutralize all that data in the past (by acting in the present) so they could immediately start fresh with the proper method from the present. Perhaps you'll notice that PIF and Savings categories are more specific considerations for getting going with rules 1 and 2, and I wish YNAB materials brought them up at the beginning. Then the other idea presented was the Buffer, which, as you know, used to be a rule. Again, I wish YNAB brought that up for new users.

      It's got the same effect as saying "delete that budget and start fresh; here are some things to think about as you start this time" without trashing the categorization they'd already done. 

      There were no expert instructions on how to actually recreate RTA in the past or interact with the past in any way.

      Like
      • WordTenor
      • Can we agree that goals are dumb and immature? Sure.
      • WordTenor
      • 2 wk ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Move Light Sound Life A new user should have no past to neutralize, however,  and that's usually the most helpful thing to tell them. 

      Like 1
    • WordTenor "Sometimes we are less nice in order to be more kind." - This is the sentence I've been searching for most of my life. Thank you!

      Like 1
    • Periwinkle Flute That, balanced with what I heard ad nauseum, "Sometimes, it's better to be kind than right." However, I wonder if that plays out as well with the internet. 

      Anyways, both-ands are the bread and butter of reality!

      Like
    • WordTenor You know, I think this is going to be another one of those interactions where are going to have to agree to disagree.

      If I, a new user, had spent time categorizing past transactions (days before a month turn), then asked what came next, I would feel patronized at least, possibly insulted, if someone told me that I should scrap those hours of work because I wouldn't understand these instructions:

       

      Move Light Sound Life said:
      In the current month, assign money such that
      A) no category is negative
      B) any categories that will need to be spent from this month show an available amount that will support your spending, including any credit card payments

       Maybe that would be too difficult for some people, but thankfully, I'm not required to assume the lowest common denominator here! 

      I only assume that someone would ask for clarification if needed, and we can go from there. 

      Anyways, have a good week!

      Like
      • WordTenor
      • Can we agree that goals are dumb and immature? Sure.
      • WordTenor
      • 8 days ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Move Light Sound Life 

      Move Light Sound Life said:
      I would feel patronized at least, possibly insulted, if someone told me that I should scrap those hours of work

       And that is an excellent articulation of the difference between being nice and being kind. 

      Like 1
    • WordTenor I see no kindness nor other benefit in trashing the work instead of moving forward with what they had. 

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      • MXMOM
      • MXMOM
      • 8 days ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view

      WordTenor In my career I always do this (question whether or not something SHOULD be done) rather than just jump in on how to do it.  I am an accountant with an IT focus and people are always wanting some strange thing automated. And I always ask WHY. Why do you want this? What does it achieve? How will you use it? It bugs people who are used to just getting what they ask for. 

      To quote the Rolling Stones - 

      You can't always get what you want
      You can't always get what you want
      You can't always get what you want
      But if you try sometimes you just might find
      You get what you need

      Like 3
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