What workarounds do you use in YNAB?
Some examples of the way I've been tweaking YNAB to suit my situation, in case they help others. If any of these have pitfalls down the road I'm not seeing, I'd like to know.
Problem: A lot of ordinary expenses get deducted from my gross pay, including my train pass, my home and car insurance and prepaid parking fees. This is an advantage because some of these items and paid pre-tax or discounted through my employer. However, I want to track these deductions because they are part of my living expenses; it has always bothered me that with the previous tracking software I used, I had no system for doing so.
Solution: I set up an account called "Net pay". Of course it doesn't really exist. But I record my gross pay as income to that account, make each deduction a budget item, and 'transfer' the net pay to the actual checking and savings account to which they go.
Issues: Kind of a time-consuming operation, but since the deductions are usually the same each paycheck, I've automated them as much as possible with repeating transactions. I also like doing this because it forces me to look over my paycheck, and reconsider the deductions every two weeks, which is probably a good practice to get into.
CHECKING ACCOUNT BUFFERS
Problem: I have a few checking accounts. One of them has a minimum, and if the account dips below that I get charged a fee. Another account, which is specific for travel, has an ATM card that works around the world. I like to keep a set amount of money in it, so that no matter where I travel, I know I can tap into it should there be a need.
Solution: I set up budget items that are buffers or minimums for each of these accounts. Under YNAB, it theoretically doesn't matter where the money "lives", but for my purposes it does. Each budget item lists the account and recommended amount in the title so I won't forget/make any mistakes.
I am going to chew on #1, though it looks totally fine and rational to me. In fact, it is maybe just more representative of the whole truth. Are you budgeting for taxes and everything? What a great way to track something that is often rather hidden. I am not sure it's even a workaround, really, since you do earn all that money -- it just gets portioned and allocated before a net-income payment gets transferred to your bank. Which is what your account reflects.
For #2, I would argue that it's not a workaround at all, but a good and proper use of the system: the buffer amounts have been assigned jobs, namely, holding the line against withrawals below a certain point. Good job!
You can do paycheck deductions in a split transaction. No need for an extra account. You then will have to go back into your budget screen and use the additional income above net to cover the overspent categories.
I don't do all payroll deductions, but I do include 401k, HSA, (categorized transfers to off-budget), pre-tax commuter benefit (transfer to on-budget), and Mrs. nolesrule's at-employer gym membership (expense).
For the account minimums, I would think that the emergency fund would suffice to cover all of them, unless you have some very large account minimums. I don't see the need for an extra category.
#1 - I do a recurring Income Transaction - gross goes to "to be budgeted" and the splits will be payments to each deduction. Total will be the net pay. so you will have total trans as net pay, one line for gross pay in incoming and all deductions in outgoing applied to their category. Set these as what they normally are and if any changes then you only need to change the amounts.
#2 - create a budget category for my minimum balance and name it "Minimum Balance - DO NOT TOUCH" - lol
I have several workarounds, but they are for totally different issues than described in this thread. When I was working, I always budgeted net pay and lived with all the withholding stuff being pre-budget.
But the discussion has me thinking. Now that I'm retired, I control both withholding and estimated tax payments. Remembering what payments have been made while I'm figuring how much I need to budget has been an issue at times. Perhaps I should create tracking accounts for FIT and SIT withheld/paid?
I realize I am really late to this party but it is the first time I have seen it. For the account minimums I have a Minimums category that has the total for all accounts. The in each account I have a transaction to the bank for the minimum for that account as an outflow. This shows up in the account and the category. Never clear it and so it doesn't reconcile.
I do this because some of my accounts run lean. So if I or other half looks to see how much is in the category and then spends when there is enough, we can just look to see how much is in the account and spend from the right account and not have to think about minimums.
My two biggest workarounds:
1. Making my credit card accounts checking accounts. Since I am a PIF user and don’t need it, it eliminates the babysitting required to make the credit card category balance stay in lock step with my credit card balance. It cuts out the middle man and makes my CC handling much more streamlined.
2. All income each month is categorized to my Buffer category. Then after all monthly income has come in (I don’t sweat bank interest at the end of each month), I release it back to TBB and budget next month all at once with this month’s income. This allows me to continue to follow previous YNABs’ Rule 4.
I've begun to asterisk budget categories that have a tax import so I can you on them at end of year. The gross paycheck function is right up my alley but I'm not sure I fully visualize how to effectively perform this. The other challenge I have is the way YNAB sums up the net monthly categories instead of detailing reach transaction out. Bring able to print an Excel sheet of each category transaction would be really powerful to present end of year to the accountant.