Goals just got better (Summer 2020 edition)
Do you have goals? You know, like seeing the Galápagos someday, or ordering that 70s-style extra long shag carpet?
So do we. In fact, we’ve overhauled Goals in YNAB to make them simpler and more powerful at the same time… and there’s more to come!
We’ve reorganized Goals into three categories. All of your favorites are still in there, along with some new friends.
Needed for Spending
Formerly “Monthly” or “Spending by Date,” this goal lets you set a budget and spend from it along the way. It’s perfect for your holiday budget, or for a monthly bill that you’d like to replenish up to $50 at the beginning of each month.
What’s new? A lot! Needed for Spending goals can now repeat. Let’s look at that holiday gift category again. That’s not a once-a-year event, unless you’re pretty Scroogey. So let’s set a repeating goal, like this:
You can also set a goal with a specific date, and YNAB won’t turn the goal yellow if it’s unmet until after that date has passed.
Oh, and we now have Weekly goals. Right now, a Weekly goal is sort of a Monthly goal with special powers. For example, if you set a Weekly goal for $50 on Friday, the category will ask you to budget $200 in months with four Fridays, and $250 in months with five Fridays.
What if you’re not ready to budget the whole month at once? Yeah, we’re thinking about that too. I can’t announce anything today, but stay tuned.
Target Savings Balance
This is the old Target Balance/Target Balance by Date goal. It’s for when you want to save up a certain amount in a category, optionally by a certain date. If you spend from the category along the way, YNAB will ask you to budget more so that you’ll still hit the goal.
This is the goal type you’d use for a down payment, for example.
Monthly Savings Builder
This is the old Monthly Contribution goal. It asks for the same amount every month, no matter what. Simple.
The new goal features are available on the web and mobile (be sure to update your app to the latest version). We’re definitely not finished refining and improving goals, so if you’ve been longing for a particular feature and it didn’t make the cut this time, that doesn’t mean we’ve forgotten about it.
Please give the new goals a try and let us know what you think! (Oh, and if you're not seeing them in your budget yet, they should be available by the end of today.)
Needed for spending monthly by the 1st (and maybe also end of month) seems to replicate what I have been doing so far with a cumbersome manual method for several of my categories. 👍
I used to set available to 0, then add my goal number manually and subtract any already occurred spending (if I didn't get to budget in time). Now a simple click on 'underfunded' or 'goal target' seems to perform just what I need.
But it only seems to work this way in the current month.
If I go ahead to next month then it just adds the spending goal total to the budget column while disregarding the available category amount. Did I just encounter a bug? I have tended to make next month's budget on the last day of the current month.
I've changed many of my goals over to more flexible spending goals the moment this was available to me. Since I was invited to the beta that's been a few weeks ago, and weekly spending goals work wonders for things like groceries. My big grocery expense is usually near the weekend for example, so it works out pretty well.
I appreciate the additional Goal options! The current "weekly" implementation is great for things like groceries as others have mentioned. However, I think I'm now also wishing for a weekly version of the "monthly savings builder" goal type. :-) My use-case for this is: I have a recurring biweekly expense (e.g., biweekly session with a personal trainer), every-other Thursday. Let's say each session costs $300. It *almost* works to make a Weekly goal of $150...except that as I understand it, if there's a floating $150 still sitting in the category at the end of the month, that will offset $150 from the amount the Goal asks me to budget when the month rolls over. :-/
For this case, what I'd want is something like Weekly Savings Builder. I just always want to set aside $150 each week, no matter how much is already budgeted in the category. My workaround before the new goal types has been just to have a Monthly Needed For Spending goal of $900. This means I have enough budgeted for those annoying months with 5 Thursdays [and thus sometimes bringing 3x$300 of this expense], but it also means that most months my budget template is over-budgeting for this.
Thanks again for the new Goal types. I do not envy YNAB the balance you must always be trying to find between approachability/simplicity on one hand vs. all the knobs and dials and combinations of options that power users inevitably want on the other hand. Good luck! :-)
I'd also love some more details on how the "repeat" function will work for annual-type goals (e.g. Christmas). Since some of YNAB's functionality requires an actual month to roll over in real life, it's hard for me to play "what-if" and try things out in a sandbox budget, etc. But I have questions like:
- If I start a goal in July to save $500 by December, and then I set that to repeat every 1 year, will the next instance start in January (running January -> December), or will it start in July and run July -> December as my original goal did? [FWIW I would probably prefer the former -- always start the new goal in the month after the old was finished. But the latter way gives the user another axis of control I suppose, which might be important to some people?] I can roll with it either way, but I'd just like to understand how it works so I can prepare properly without waiting for actual December to roll around. :-)
I started using YNAB last month (May 2020). I am still figuring out what goal type to use. For now, I'm using the following for my budget:
Monthly Bills (Rent/Phone Bills) - Needed for Spending (Monthly)
Monthly Irregular Expenses (Groceries, Eating out) - Needed for Spending (Monthly)
Insurance (Quarterly) - Needed for Spending (By Date, Every 3 Months)
Special Occasions (Birthday, Holidays) - Needed for Spending (By Date, Every Year)
True Expenses (Donating, Maintenance, Non-Monthly Spending) - Monthly Budgeting Goal
Medical Emergency - Target Savings Balance
Other Big Purchase Goals (Gaming Console) - Target Savings Balance
New Car/Buy House - Monthly Budgeting Goal
THERE! Let me know what else I can improve! And if anyone can help me out, I want to be able to move my True Expenses in future months if I need it elsewhere. It's currently on Monthly Budgeting Goal. How else can I contribute monthly but move it any time in the future too? After month, do you just disregard the Available column since the month is already done?
A perfect real-time example I could provide is the HOA fees from my budget. I have $ 325 every 6 months and because I started YNAB recently, I had to budget all the amount of $ 325. However, I had two different HOA Categories and goals previously for Jan payment and Jun payment. With this new feature, I budgeted $ 325 this month and had a goal that repeats every 6 months and have only one category. The same category shows $ 325 as "Underfunded" shows $ 54.17 in July. I love this new addition !
Lets say I have to pay for parking for the train downtown (Remember when we used to do that?). The parking is $2 a day so $10 a week. If I changed that to a Weekly Spending Goal, would I want the rollover day be Monday or Friday? I want $10 in there by that Monday to be used for that week. But I would plan to spend $10 by that Friday. So which day should I use?
Same as the last major change in goal types - I am completely confused and frustrated. I'm not so sure it is dementia LOL
For example: "Monthly Savings Builder" is also for spending on variable bills, such as the electric bill. That's because you need the leftover available amount to roll over and accumulate for months with higher bills. Accumulating doesn't happen at the monthly rollover of categories with "Needed for Spending" goals.
I had to make my own document to explain each new goal type, how it works, and what YNAB does behind the scenes. It reminds me of Nick True's flow chart for the last time goals were revised. We shouldn't have to be working so hard to figure out the goals.
Once I saw nolesrule say that he doesn't use goals. Instead he moves available money into TBB at the end of each month and budgets amounts according to their custom budget template (if I understood him right). I think I'm going to stick with that. It is so much simpler. In fact, I think it is the classic YNAB approach that worked so well. Too bad, because I love the idea of YNAB automating my rollover.
However, consider this: If you have to do the rollover manually (Jesse's favorite word) every month, it forces you to review your budget once a month. That's great for Rule #3!
Granny Bogle said:
I love the idea of YNAB automating my rollover.
If you proactively budget before the month ends -- as probably everyone is striving to do -- it doesn't automate the rollover. It will want you to budget the entirety of the goal. Barring any additional spending, you're going to be OVER your target balance with no eye-catching indicator that you need to circle back and decrease it... manually. 😉
If things are going to be manual, there's no benefit over the original monthly contribution goal.
It would be nice if you could "end" a month early so goals could reflect next month before it begins.
Or if goals respected the Available amount shown. Every category rolls over immediate when you scroll forward. The fact this goal has a different assumption -- that nothing will roll over -- was a bad choice, IMHO.
These new goals have already had a positive impact on my budget. At least a few of my categories were ahead of schedule due to manual calculations being a little off. It frees up some funds to be used elsewhere. So, kudos to YNAB for this addition to the software. Keep these kinds of improvements coming. Thanks.
Unfortunately, that warning would be at odds with Rule 3 if you had to legitimately add funds to avoid overspending, and the user would then have to ignore the warning for the rest of the month. Having to ignore warnings is typically indicative of a poor design.
dakinemaui Great point! I already get annoyed with months where I have a category that is technically underfunded, but actually where I want it to be for whatever reason and there is enough to cover the months transactions. I'm excited to see the future updates to the goals.