Any other YNABers out there?
April 3, 2011 1:22 PM   Subscribe

I'm a newbie to YNAB software and need some input from fellow users: What is the best way to learn how to use this software? There are so many forums, tutorials, videos, and the manual (which is a nightmare to use) that I am lost! Help! I just want a step-by-step guide that goes in some kind of sequential order and shows me how to use all aspects of the program.

I've used the software since November, started over twice. Issues that keep coming up are: 1. Transfers from savings to checking account (which category should I assign these to?) 2. How to deal with savings accounts (How does YNAB use "savings" as a category?) 3. How to deal with separate savings for something like "Travel"
posted by luciddream928 to Work & Money (5 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: 1. If they are both budgeted accounts then you don't need to assign a category as YNAB considers all money in your budgeted accounts as fair game for spending/budgeting. If your savings is a non-budgeted account then you'll need a category depending on what the money is for. For my emergency fund my category is "Savings:Emergency Fund".

2. For something like Travel you create a "travel" category in your budget.. Then you can keep the money wherever (in savings or checking - assuming they're both budgeted accounts) until you use it. If you don't use the money in that category one month then your budget will keep adding up the amounts until you do use the money in that category. I find it best to keep things like vacation savings in a budgeted account because I know I plan on using that money sometime soon.

I had the same problem when I was beginning. The distinction lies in budgeted & non-budgeted accounts. In my case, I plan to pull the money for things like vacation savings, savings for toys, etc out of my budgeted accounts. On the other hand, I use my non-budgeted accounts for things like emergency fund, Roth IRA savings, etc. Things I have no real intention of touching. It is a bit of a shift in thinking from how I was budgeting before but I really like the flexibility now.

If that doesn't help I'd take a look at their help files & the forums. That's how I figured most if it out. Read the section on the 4 rules and that should help some with the philosophy behind the software.
posted by newsomz at 3:03 PM on April 3, 2011

Response by poster: Thank you Newsomz! That helps a lot. How do you "tell" YNAB what is budgeted and not-budgeted? I have one for checking, one for Emergency Savings, and one for Vacation Savings. I think I'm confused, with my "vacation" savings account, I've also created a category within my budget to keep track. I'd rather have the money in another place besides checking so I'm not tempted to spend it, however, I want YNAB to keep track of what's happening with that money. I guess I don't understand how to work with multiple accounts and move money back and forth. Money from my checking goes into the "Vacation" fund but then I get confused - I guess YNAB is counting all of my accounts as fair game for spending.

You said: "If your savings is a non-budgeted account then you'll need a category depending on what the money is for."

Don't you need a category for a budgeted account - for categories of spending within that account? If it's non-budgeted, why do you need a category? Silly question, sorry - newbie here.
posted by luciddream928 at 4:30 PM on April 3, 2011

Best answer: I think one of the main points of YNAB is that your money is budgeted then you won't be tempted to spend it on things you haven't budgeted for. Hence having everything in the same account is totally okay in the system. The point of YNAB is to stop looking at your checking account balance at all, really (apart from checking for mistaken charges), because once you've built up a buffer, you'll never have to worry about not having enough money to cover a budgeted purchase.

When you add an account there is a setting for on/off budget at the bottom. Also if you go into the account's register, there is a button at the top "Account Actions" where you can set a pre-existing account to off-budget.

When you transfer from one on-budget account to another on-budget account you don't need/aren't supposed to have a category, because YNAB thinks of all on-budget items as one big bucket. You do have categories for money within that big bucket, like food, rent etc. Whenever something goes out of your "money to spend" on-budget bucket, it needs a category. So if you have savings off-budget, you need a "savings" category of some sort. You can also have a "vacation savings" category and any other things you'd like.
posted by that girl at 5:10 PM on April 3, 2011

Yep, that girl is absolutely correct. YNAB treats all your on-budget money as being in one big bucket. Thus you need a category when you spend from that bucket but not when you transfer money between whatever accounts you've designated as on-budget. It's a change from how you're doing things now because your budget keeps track of how much you have available for vacation spending - not the actual account.

You won't be tempted to spend everything in your checking if you're using the budget screen as your main view of your money instead of looking at your checking account. Luckily, YNAB is set up so the budget screen is the screen you see when you open the program!
posted by newsomz at 7:59 AM on April 4, 2011

Response by poster: Ahhh... that clarifies it. My problem has been that ALL of my accounts are "on-budget" - so I'm spending money where I shouldn't be (because it's counting savings as "fair game.") Because my savings are included in my buffer, I've been really confused.

Thank you so much to both Newsomz and That Girl - big help!!
posted by luciddream928 at 6:00 PM on April 5, 2011

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