A methodical approach please.

I've been bashing away on the YNAB all afternoon and it's starting to feel like some Rube Goldberg machine but with a set of manically amusingly supportive people in videos to describe it.


Help! Can I just have some factual, miserable every day descriptions of the structure and function of the site. I bought into all the prioritisation, make every dollar work, it's worth it. I get all that. Could someone just point me at a description of how it works, free of cheery light hearted propaganda.  Because if I waste another few hours no amount of cheery souls are going to convince me this is the tool I need.

I'm over 60, I have a degree and I can read and understand a page of the Unix manual or of EU GDPR regulations . They might be tough but they explain what they need to as a mechanistic, logical  approach. Could we have a bit more Stephen Hawking and a bit less Mrs Doubtfire please?

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    • HappyDance Yep. Not entertained indeed. However I'm more a grumpy old man; Staedler and Waldorf from the Muppets rather than a ripplingly muscled actor. Could I set up an envelope for personal trainers if this all works well.


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      • WordTenor
      • A polymath, a pain in the ....
      • WordTenor
      • 1 yr ago
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      • Reported - view

      HappyDance I liked this when you posted it but I just want to like it agin. A+. 

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  • I haven't taken any of the classes for this version of YNAB but I took all the YNAB 4 classes. Don't know if it is still the same, but it used to be that if you signed up for a class, even if you didn't actually take it, you would get a link to a recording of the class. They were webinar style so you would see the instructor's screen as they walked through the steps and (if you were actually taking the live webinar and not just watching the recording) you could type in questions as the class was going on.

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    • jenmas Thanks for the simple encouragement.

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    • briefcase
    • A rack of ties, a travel mug, telephone, briefcase filled with papers
    • briefcase
    • 1 yr ago
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    First, basically, when you launch YNAB what you are looking at is a table full of envelopes.  Like real envelopes, you can't put anything into them that you don't physically have.  I couldn't, for example, put unicorn saliva into an envelope, because I don't have any.  You also can't put the same dollar into two different envelopes at the same time.  Understand that concept before you go any further.


    Next, take what you currently have and divvy it up into whatever jobs you want/need it to do.  It may be best to start with a notepad and pen, write down what you think your budget is, and start taking care of your next upcoming priorities with what you have.  Then, repeat the process every time you get more income, always taking care of the most important jobs/categories first.


    As you can, start sending money to cover next month's priorities, as much as you can, every time you can, until you have gotten to where you are sending 100% of every income event (or every applicable income event) to the following month.  Once you're there, it's just fine tuning and planning from there on out.

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    • briefcase Thanks for the comments. I'm impressed with the enthusiasm of every one who has taken the time to respond.

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  • You might try this link to a copy of the original nYNAB user handbook.


    It has since been replaced with short searchable entertaining docs here:  http://docs.youneedabudget.com/

    I admit to disliking the heavy entertainment aspect of the materials. It has the unfortunate effect of setting my teeth on edge because I feel like I'm being treated in a condescending manner and my time is being wasted with jocular superficiality.  No complaint intended against the company. It's just how I'm wired and not how I learn. Luckily for me, I found the program at YNAB4, and at that time there were a series of brief but very succinct business-like videos to guide one through both the concepts of YNAB (which were revolutionary game-changers for me) and the practical steps of using the software.   Those videos are still availble on the website here: ttps://classic.youneedabudget.com/support  Although they are specific to YNAB4, much of the practical applications of the software is similar or can be intuited with that basis.

    I can highly recommend the webinars. You won't find them a waste of time. The ones I took four years ago were delivered by some excellent facilitators and very definitely business-like, less sizzle and more steak.  The two user forums are fairly active 24/7, so newbies who run into a complication or conundrum, can generally get a response to a posted question fairly quickly.  A large number of hardcore YNAB enthusiasts still hang out in the old forum here  and are generous with time and patience to walk newbies through issues with the web version and older versions.

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  • For me, #1 is to ask myself "What do these dollars need to do for me before I get paid again" and "Give every dollar a job".  Then spend according to my category balances, not my bank balance.  That is what budgeting with YNAB means to me.

    Then you get into all the other stuff.  WAMing, annual expenses, true expenses, things like that.  Another few questions I like to ask myself are "Can I do this for less?"  If the answer is yes, and it doesn't hurt too much, do it.  And "Does this get me closer to my goal?" If it doesn't, don't spend any more money here.

    My answers to the questions in the second paragraph have changed over time.  Things I used to think were important, aren't as important today, my goals have become more important.  I have gone from spending more than I bring in to having a fair amount in savings.    As my spending choices have changed, the balance in some categories and my bank account have built up, and the end result is savings.  Savings which can go to other jobs, like my goals. Goals include things like being able to pay cash for a replacement car when my current one dies.  Savings to replace my phone, computer and printer when they die.  Savings to repair my car when it needs service, Savings for other things might be important to you.  These are things I used to go into debt for.  Today I have savings to take care of them, thanks to budgeting with YNAB. I might only be able to put a few dollars into each category each month, and they add up over time.  

    Have also found it's important to keep some fun money, to spend on anything I want, without having to "find" it in the budget.  I started with $5 per month and today it is up to $25 per month.  That is enough for me.  Your needs might be different and it's important, to help with the fear of not having enough on an ongoing basis.  As of today, I have just over $200 in this category.  I have enough money in most categories I spend from regularly and haven't found a need for this money in a while.  

    Your mileage may vary.  Every budget is different because everyone has different priorities.  Would suggest you find something you have wanted and put a few dollars toward it every month.  That helped me a lot.  

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    • TryingToGetAhead Wow! That is great. I really like ideas of improving things one step at a time through care and attention. Thanks.

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  • A heartfelt thanks to everyone for their understanding.  

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  • You. Complete. Me! This post says everything I've been thinking . . . but better, and funnier. :)

    I've been budgeting for years, dragged myself out of debt, am quite familiar with the concept of prioritizing money within a scarcity mindset. Just started exploring YNAB because of rave reviews from other users, and I'm enjoying the tool but still need help to understand how it works, and what the calculations are based on.  I've watched/read everything that the YNAB site and the internet has to offer, but like you, I feel like it's 90% pep talk.  I'm sure that's helpful for people who have never budgeted, but it's off-putting for me.

    I had avoided watching the webinar for "The New YNAB" thinking that I didn't need it because I wasn't a user of the "old" YNAB, but was glad when I finally watched it because it answered a few of my questions in a better way than anything else I had seen/read. It's not a user manual, but it might be worth checking out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hBQ2LWPX9_w&index=4&list=PLq0_N-XTl2yA1ri8utJ125P90yl5nxPbl

    Bonus: the facilitator isn't overly cheery! :)

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