Planning around big changes

My wife and I have moved around a fair bit, and each time we do, we end up needing to make major changes to our usual budget.  For example, last year we moved across town, which resulted in a much higher mortgage payment combined with one salary going up and a few other major categories (mainly daycare) going down.  I didn't want to commit to it until I knew the numbers worked, so I fiddled with my homegrown budget spreadsheet and got it to where it could show me the results of all those kinds of changes as different scenarios.

Of course I've come to hate my homegrown budget spreadsheet now that I'm using YNAB, and that's mostly a good thing.  But I'm left wondering what long-term YNABers typically do when planning ahead for these kinds of major changes.  YNAB isn't a forecasting tool, but can I use all the good data I have in YNAB to help streamline my forecasting processes in these situations?

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  • It's hit or miss.  The last really major change I had to my budget was when I retired.  I thought about how I wanted to live, made some estimates about what categories would change (increases, decreases, elimination, and even new categories), and came up with an overall desired monthly budget amount before I pulled the trigger to retire.

    I imagine that moving would be similar; you'd start with a working budget at a given level per month, estimate how much your various categories are going to change due to the move, and think about what else must be cut or can be added, depending on the direction of the overall changes associated with the move.

    Most of this will happen external to YNAB, but having a working YNAB budget helps to inform the external estimates and make the process more accurate.  For example, you might know that cutting dining out just isn't something you'll be happy with.  Or you might know that you have slack in some category, and it won't bother you to cut that one. 

    If there are a lot of moving pieces involve, you will likely still need a homegrown spreadsheet to make the estimates; but it will probably be a better spreadsheet, since it only needs to do the forward looking estimate and you can draw much of the expense category input from YNAB.

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