Author Topic: YNAB  (Read 2113 times)

dcamnc

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YNAB
« on: September 20, 2017, 12:24:35 AM »
I guess it's just me since lots of folks seem to love it, but ynab seems overly convoluted. I've watched/read the tutorials, but I just can't get it set up right. I've tried zero-based budgeting in the past (everydollar), and it didn't work for me then either; it just seems backward to my way of thinking. My current budgeting method is basically in my head. I get paid into checking, pay my bills out of checking, and transfer the balance to my investments. I generally try to spend very little in each expense category. I don't quite get the "pay your bills from your month old money" approach. I understand it in concept, but in practice, it just seems overly complex and tedious. I'm not a noob to finance, I have no debt (including paid off mortgage), very low expenses, and put about 60% of my paycheck into investments; I can't wrap my head around some of this budgeting software though (I love mint and personal capital btw). Any thoughts?

Dave1442397

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Re: YNAB
« Reply #1 on: September 20, 2017, 05:47:25 AM »
I tried it and gave up on it too. I found it easier to stick with my Excel spreadsheet.


ixtap

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Re: YNAB
« Reply #2 on: September 20, 2017, 07:42:53 AM »
It sounds like it doesn't make sense for you because you have things under control without jumping through the hoops.

What was your purpose in attempting to use YNAB? That might help you identify the best tool for you.

dcamnc

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Re: YNAB
« Reply #3 on: September 20, 2017, 11:06:56 AM »
It sounds like it doesn't make sense for you because you have things under control without jumping through the hoops.

What was your purpose in attempting to use YNAB? That might help you identify the best tool for you.

I was trying to dial in the budget even more. YNAB is too much of a pain, I'll just stick with what I've been doing. I don't see too much advantage over reviewing my mint & personal capital accounts daily.
« Last Edit: September 20, 2017, 11:44:48 AM by dcamnc »

macasa

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Re: YNAB
« Reply #4 on: September 20, 2017, 11:42:58 AM »
I friggen love YNAB. I didn't understand it at first but I did take an hour or two to sit down and learn it, actually listen to/read tutorials (they have actual live classes available also, I didn't need that but would have done it if needed). Once you do that, it is likely that you will L-O-V-E it

BiochemicalDJ

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Re: YNAB
« Reply #5 on: September 20, 2017, 11:49:36 AM »
It sounds like you have a grasp on the program, but the philosophy seems to be lost on you. It's just meant that you'll have more 'buffer' to deal with unexpected crap if you're a month ahead, is all.

I don't really like how they're tracking 'age of money' or whatever in the newest version- I shelled out for YNAB 4 to avoid the monthly fee and couldn't be happier.

1) Save a month's entire spending, including investments. Leave it in chequing for now.
2) Sit on that little hoard of cash, and collect all income for an entire month, set to 'Income for Next Month' rather than 'Income for This Month'
3) After you've finished earning, look at your next month's budget and allocate stuff as you think it's going to go down. If it changes, you've got the money *in hand* to deal with the unexpected.
4) Continue ad nauseum.

Basically, all it is is being a month ahead on everything and always having that much in hand, just in case. If you've already got everything on point, then the only thing you'd really use YNAB for is the sweet, sweet charts and graphs and auto-categorization. I absolutely spend WAY too much time clicking the little pie graphs for ever-more-detailed breakdowns...

I have a problem :p

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dcamnc

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Re: YNAB
« Reply #6 on: September 20, 2017, 01:19:03 PM »
It sounds like you have a grasp on the program, but the philosophy seems to be lost on you. It's just meant that you'll have more 'buffer' to deal with unexpected crap if you're a month ahead, is all.

I don't really like how they're tracking 'age of money' or whatever in the newest version- I shelled out for YNAB 4 to avoid the monthly fee and couldn't be happier.

1) Save a month's entire spending, including investments. Leave it in chequing for now.
2) Sit on that little hoard of cash, and collect all income for an entire month, set to 'Income for Next Month' rather than 'Income for This Month'
3) After you've finished earning, look at your next month's budget and allocate stuff as you think it's going to go down. If it changes, you've got the money *in hand* to deal with the unexpected.
4) Continue ad nauseum.

Basically, all it is is being a month ahead on everything and always having that much in hand, just in case. If you've already got everything on point, then the only thing you'd really use YNAB for is the sweet, sweet charts and graphs and auto-categorization. I absolutely spend WAY too much time clicking the little pie graphs for ever-more-detailed breakdowns...

I have a problem :p
See, doing all of that seems needlessly complex to me. I have plenty to cover expenses (for a long time, to be honest), so the idea was moreso to use it to tighten up spending a little more in the different categories. I'll keep playing with it.

BiochemicalDJ

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Re: YNAB
« Reply #7 on: September 21, 2017, 07:31:00 AM »
It's fair. Like you said, you already pay all the bills then toss the rest into investments; all YNAB's 'Month Ahead' strategy would do would be to slow you down by a month, in effect. It sounds like you've got things dialed in.

As for the charts and breakdowns, I'm loving the fact that you can drag sub categories from main-to-main super easily- so I was curious what proportion of discretionary spending was entirely related to my car, for example, so with 4 clicks I had a new main category called 'Car' and all previous transactions were sorted under it, slicing the pie differently than before.

Mint probably does all this relatively automatically; I just didn't go with it because I found YNAB4 first on a Steam sale for $15 and bought it on a whim (THAT'S a sale you'll never see again) and I didn't want anyone else seeing my banking data. Mint probably has a respectable privacy policy, but god DAMN that's some personal information...
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Ananas

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Re: YNAB
« Reply #8 on: September 28, 2017, 03:34:03 AM »
I've been using YNAB for almost a year now. I don't really need the month-to-month keep money for the future part, since I have plenty enough for that in my accounts. I do think that its the nicest way I've found to budget monthly and know my limits for my own spending categories. Since I hadn't really been paying attention to my spending before YNAB, other than noticing that I had about 1/3 of my net salary left over monthly after everything, I noticed with YNAB that I spend a lot of money on stupid shit like eating out and have been cutting down slowly. I find it easier to cut down restaurant spending by 20-30 % every few months rather than take it down by 60-80 % at once. I also like how the nYNAB handles credit card purchases, since they don't become debt, unless you don't pay them off in full the next month and the money is deducted from the category at once.

I guess you could do most of this with budget programs. YNAB happens to have a good app and a nice interface, with a few interesting ideas.


Slow&Steady

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Re: YNAB
« Reply #9 on: October 02, 2017, 02:00:49 PM »
I use and really like YNAB but I do not follow the budget from last months money rule, I guess in the YNAB world that means I live paycheck to paycheck.  I just ignore that rule and budget my money, including what is going into savings for the month.  This might be easier for me since I only get paid once a month and it is at the end of the month, so I am able to budget for all of my bills/expenses on the 1st of every month. 

I think of YNAB like almost everything else in life (including MMM), take what is useful to you and leave the rest.

caracarn

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Re: YNAB
« Reply #10 on: October 02, 2017, 02:54:21 PM »
It sounds like you have a grasp on the program, but the philosophy seems to be lost on you. It's just meant that you'll have more 'buffer' to deal with unexpected crap if you're a month ahead, is all.

I don't really like how they're tracking 'age of money' or whatever in the newest version- I shelled out for YNAB 4 to avoid the monthly fee and couldn't be happier.

1) Save a month's entire spending, including investments. Leave it in chequing for now.
2) Sit on that little hoard of cash, and collect all income for an entire month, set to 'Income for Next Month' rather than 'Income for This Month'
3) After you've finished earning, look at your next month's budget and allocate stuff as you think it's going to go down. If it changes, you've got the money *in hand* to deal with the unexpected.
4) Continue ad nauseum.

Basically, all it is is being a month ahead on everything and always having that much in hand, just in case. If you've already got everything on point, then the only thing you'd really use YNAB for is the sweet, sweet charts and graphs and auto-categorization. I absolutely spend WAY too much time clicking the little pie graphs for ever-more-detailed breakdowns...

I have a problem :p
See, doing all of that seems needlessly complex to me. I have plenty to cover expenses (for a long time, to be honest), so the idea was moreso to use it to tighten up spending a little more in the different categories. I'll keep playing with it.
So coming up on 2 years using YNAB, I thought I'd hop in here.

I am in a similar situation to you, where I have budgeted all over in the past, including "in my head".  I have more than enough to pay the bills, but wanted to drive every ounce of savings I could and compile data to analyze as needed to find those opportunities to optimize.  I've used Mint, Quicken, spreadsheets and nearly everything else you can think of including EveryDollar.  YNAB far and away was the most useful tool and required less work than all the other options, so is it interesting that you found it needlessly complex.  I do think it has to do with how you set it up and use it, but my process with each paycheck is literally about 10 seconds unless I want to make some tweaks (this is for me where YNAB shines because all other tools require a lot more work to move money between categories than YNAB does).

For my regular categories I include a weekly amount to add to it in the name of the category, for example "Groceries ($150)".  So when i get my check, I go to all the categories that have that trailer and enter the amount.  Then I simply go down the monthly variable items to use up the rest and when that is done extra goes as extra savings.  My wife's paycheck funds the college savings for the kids and then again anything extra goes to savings.  In a situation similar to yours it still helped me find additional areas to clamp down on because trying to "spend very little in each expense category" can still get away from you more  than you think when you are tracking.  The one difference that you do not cover is if you are single and therefore you control all your "family's" spending or if you are married.  This might be why it seems like a lot of work for you, however with my wife and I each spending throughout the month, having the app with one set of data accessible anywhere is incredibly awesome.  It literally changed the way we manged and handled out household finances because before that it was a sheet on the fridge that we updated when we got home.  If we had $100 left for groceries and we both stopped at the store to pick up "a few things" and spend "very little", those two very littles, ended up being more than we wanted more often than not.  That's where YNAB provides a super easy process to avoid that.  I estimate it decreased out grocery spending alone by $400-600 per month.


thorbjorn88

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Re: YNAB
« Reply #11 on: October 02, 2017, 05:04:27 PM »
I used YNAB a little bit when I was single but almost always did a "fresh start" at the start of each month because I'd get off and not want to bother balancing the accounts and budget categories when I knew that overall I was under budget. After I was married my wife and I took a few months to get the hang of using YNAB together but it's awesome now that we have it figured out.

As for the budgeting last month's money I really like that because it means that once a month my wife and I sit down and decide what we want to do with our money. We do make small changes through the month as needed but we've already agreed on where the money goes.

dogboyslim

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Re: YNAB
« Reply #12 on: October 02, 2017, 05:26:00 PM »
I have used it for a year.  I was good at the budget in my head thing too, but then I was always behind in months I had to pay the RE tax or other large expenses.  With YNAB, I can explicitly accrue for the larger expenses so I don't have to play the catch-up game.  My investments are now the same amount each month and the total over a year is greater than they were pre-YNAB.  For me its similar to the Ramsey envelope approach, but the envelopes are digital.  I get paid $x.  I need that money to cover all these expenses.  I prioritize how things get paid.  When I'm out of money, YNAB forces me to move the dollars around so that my priority of spending matches my pre-determined priorities, and I don't get behind on savings goals.

The only thing I don't like about YNAB is that it forces all the accounts to zero each month.  Just let the account stay negative until I bring it positive!  Reimbursements from work are a PITA because of this.

sparkytheop

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Re: YNAB
« Reply #13 on: October 02, 2017, 09:46:56 PM »
I have used it for a year.  I was good at the budget in my head thing too, but then I was always behind in months I had to pay the RE tax or other large expenses.  With YNAB, I can explicitly accrue for the larger expenses so I don't have to play the catch-up game.  My investments are now the same amount each month and the total over a year is greater than they were pre-YNAB.  For me its similar to the Ramsey envelope approach, but the envelopes are digital.  I get paid $x.  I need that money to cover all these expenses.  I prioritize how things get paid.  When I'm out of money, YNAB forces me to move the dollars around so that my priority of spending matches my pre-determined priorities, and I don't get behind on savings goals.

The only thing I don't like about YNAB is that it forces all the accounts to zero each month.  Just let the account stay negative until I bring it positive!  Reimbursements from work are a PITA because of this.

Click on the negative balance and select "subtract from next month's available balance".  It will carry over that negative for you.

I've been using YNAB a few years, but I don't do the whole "use last month's income for this month" thing, so I pretty much ignore the balance at the top.  I started using it when I knew I had some big expenses coming up that I'd need to save for as much as possible... Helping my son with college, building a house, and eventual car replacement.  It's also helped me to not go too crazy on some new hobbies.  I have always saved money, but doing it on YNAB helps me keep track of what I've got where.  I wouldn't do the subscription based program though (not worth the money to me, I'd just go back to an excel spreadsheet). 

elaine amj

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Re: YNAB
« Reply #14 on: October 02, 2017, 10:24:44 PM »
I liked YNAB4 but then was "forced" to upgrade to be able to use the app properly. Before I upgraded, I tried hunting for another program that would let me do everything I wanted - but YNAB was the only one that checked off the boxes. So I final subscribed.

To be honest, I am really BAD at using it to budget. It's basically a way to track expenses for me (I don't like giving all my bank account info to Mint and Mint doesn't allow me to import my bank records like YNAB does).

I do find nYNAB a bit confusing. Right now all my CC numbers are a mess - some red, some green and I have no clue why it says I don't have enough money to cover those bills. All the rest of my budget is fully reconciled and my age of money is 134 days. I really understood YNAB4 but although I have tried, I don't understand how nYNAB handles credit cards or Age of Money. So I have started ignoring those columns and just plug away at my budget.

All I'm really hoping (and wanting) is that it gets my income and expenses correct. That's all I really use at this point. I would happily switch to a different software - but so far, I haven't found anything that provides me what I need along with an app that both DH and I can use to keep track of our spending.
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BiochemicalDJ

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Re: YNAB
« Reply #15 on: October 03, 2017, 06:48:14 AM »
I liked YNAB4 but then was "forced" to upgrade to be able to use the app properly....

Do you have Android, or iOS? I know when they upgraded on Android, they changed the YNAB app to reflect 'New YNAB', but they kept the old app alive- they just renamed it 'YNAB Classic'. So I had to download 'YNAB Classic' and then it started interfacting well with YNAB4. This is all on android, mind you, so YMMV.
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elaine amj

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Re: YNAB
« Reply #16 on: October 03, 2017, 07:25:50 AM »
Iphone, Android, and BlackBerry :) and needed all to sync.

Oh well...we made the switch now and after almost a year of data, it would take a big reason to get me to switch. I do like some functions of new YNAB. Just wish I could wrap my head around CCs and Age of Money. For now, I am not too concerned since it really doesn't affect my spending decisions. Just don't like seeing red numbers haha!

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fluffmuffin

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Re: YNAB
« Reply #17 on: October 03, 2017, 07:47:50 AM »
I liked YNAB4 but then was "forced" to upgrade to be able to use the app properly. Before I upgraded, I tried hunting for another program that would let me do everything I wanted - but YNAB was the only one that checked off the boxes. So I final subscribed.

To be honest, I am really BAD at using it to budget. It's basically a way to track expenses for me (I don't like giving all my bank account info to Mint and Mint doesn't allow me to import my bank records like YNAB does).

I do find nYNAB a bit confusing. Right now all my CC numbers are a mess - some red, some green and I have no clue why it says I don't have enough money to cover those bills. All the rest of my budget is fully reconciled and my age of money is 134 days. I really understood YNAB4 but although I have tried, I don't understand how nYNAB handles credit cards or Age of Money. So I have started ignoring those columns and just plug away at my budget.

All I'm really hoping (and wanting) is that it gets my income and expenses correct. That's all I really use at this point. I would happily switch to a different software - but so far, I haven't found anything that provides me what I need along with an app that both DH and I can use to keep track of our spending.

Elaine, send me a PM if you want some help with the nYNAB credit cards! I had issues when I first switched but I spent a ton of time going back and forth with their support team, and got it all figured out. Now that I know what I'm doing I think they're a lot easier than credit cards in the OG YNAB and would be happy to share some tips about how we got them from red/green/"but I DO have enough money you stupid app!" to functional.

I love YNAB. I've tried Mint, an excel sheet, a notebook, and my brain, and it beats every single one of them. It takes more time to get set up and to learn the system, but I honestly don't think anything else out there comes close. I love that it's forward-looking, I love that it's easy to adjust on the fly, and I love that it makes me think about how every single stupid little purchase affects my bottom line. Obviously different people have different needs, but for someone who's looking for a way to clamp down on stupid fluff, YNAB is the best because it makes you look at things in real time.

caracarn

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Re: YNAB
« Reply #18 on: October 03, 2017, 07:53:21 AM »
Iphone, Android, and BlackBerry :) and needed all to sync.

Oh well...we made the switch now and after almost a year of data, it would take a big reason to get me to switch. I do like some functions of new YNAB. Just wish I could wrap my head around CCs and Age of Money. For now, I am not too concerned since it really doesn't affect my spending decisions. Just don't like seeing red numbers haha!

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I use it regularly and we have a PIF credit card that we run everything through to get the cash back bonus.  I came on board as they were introducing nYNAB but I did do the trial of YNAB4 to learn it as that was when the forums were full of complaints about how the world was ending because of the new version.. There are not major differences (at least in how my mind understood both programs) in how they handled credit cards.  Cleaning it up from a mess will be a challenge, but you may want to do a fresh start and then if you'd like you can PM me to talk through the CC issues.  Just offering.

A big reason for me to use the new version was the cleaner mobile apps.  The syncing was a major PITA for me and no way that would have worked. 

elaine amj

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Re: YNAB
« Reply #19 on: October 03, 2017, 10:52:02 AM »
You guys rock and I"ll definitely take the offers to help. I always got YNAB4 to completely reconcile - so these red credit card numbers in nYNAB irritate me. Especially since there IS money to cover it all haha!
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ash7962

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Re: YNAB
« Reply #20 on: October 08, 2017, 01:12:56 PM »
I decided to check out YNAB, did the trial, and wasn't gonna go through with it.  Then they did the whole "have a new longer trial to try out new things" deal, so did that and kinda fell in love with the program.  It matches my budget style much better than mint does.  In my day to day I don't really do the whole "do I still have budget for this?" dance so my mint categories were either completely overspent or completely underspent.  Then I had to spend months "catching up" to the point where the budget didn't really reflect what I wanted my actual spending to be. 

Really love how YNAB just lets me cover overspending in 1 category with money from another.  My current strategy is to budget this month's paychecks to next month's expenses with whatever is leftover floating in the investments category.  If I overspend any category I cover it with other categories, then the investment fund, then emergency fund.  It's never been dire enough to dip into the EFund, but I'm forced to feel the loss of dipping into investments.  Anything left in investment at the end of the month is transferred into investments for real.  The only downside is that I started paying attention to when my paycheck comes in so I can categorize the funds..

dcamnc

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Re: YNAB
« Reply #21 on: October 16, 2017, 04:56:51 PM »
OP here. I finally ditched ynab. I'm going to spend what I spend on groceries with or without ynab; I didn't see the point. Also, mint and personal capital have some tracking features, which is good enough for me. I could see ynab's benefit in a marriage/partnership situation, but me being single, I didn't see any real advantage.

Finances_With_Purpose

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Re: YNAB
« Reply #22 on: November 22, 2017, 09:59:42 PM »
I left Excel for YNAB, and wow, do I miss Excel.  It was simple, it did things properly, and it was easy to understand.

YNAB is for the true, hardcore believers.  And it changes over time.  I thought I could run a negative balance in some things (some small, temporal categories), but no, you cannot do that anymore.  Instead, I have to try and remember how much to move around through savings and whatnot, which makes things tedious.  (E.g., travel reimbursements: I spend, but I do so knowing it will inevitably show up in a deposit within a month or two; all I need is a place to track it until it is back to zero again, to ensure I don't forget to send something in.) 

I may eventually change my mind - I am still adjusting to it - but so far, I would personally prefer Excel.  YNAB is unduly complicated and non-customizable. 

dcamnc

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Re: YNAB
« Reply #23 on: November 23, 2017, 05:35:27 AM »
Plus they just raised the price quite a bit! I didn't feel it was worth $50, much less $85 or whatever it is now.

SilveradoBojangles

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Re: YNAB
« Reply #24 on: November 23, 2017, 09:28:55 AM »
YNAB was a game changer for my husband and I when we first merged our finances because it forced us to actually make a shared budget that aligned with both our priorities and our income, and to see what the other had spend in each category. It did take a while to learn, but it was worth it. Note that previously I had used a spreadsheet to track my own spending, and sort of have a "spend as little as possible" approach to life, so I could just track it all at the end of the month and it was fine. But when we merged finances we were going over our budget in every category every month. We weren't going in to debt, but we weren't saving anything either, or prepping for unexpected large expenses. 3 years later we were able to buy a house, despite having lived on grad student salaries during that time.

I think the main way that YNAB helped was by making it all visible. Our savings goals weren't ethereal, they were a line item that required the same attention as all the other lines. If we went over in one category and had a big red negative number looking at us, we would have to pull the money from another category. It just all became more tangible. I know it's not for everyone, but it taught valuable budgeting and communication skills a few months before we got married, and they have made our relationship much smoother.