I just purchased YNAB 4 and am looking to set up the software and get our financial life aligned to the YNAB methodology. I guess I'm a bit confused about where/how to start. We're actually doing fairly well financially, just not getting the most out of our money. My goal is to have everything set up so we can start the next month (August) on the YNAB system. I started, but I think I've made enough mistakes that I should scrap my current file and start over. When thinking in terms of a budget, I didn't fully grasp the system, and created entries for July for everything we will spend this month. When I checked August, I realized that nothing was carried forward, and that's when it hit me, I'm probably doing this wrong. So, I'll probably start over, moving all the budgeted info to a spreadsheet for reference. So, on to the questions:
first, I pretty much have enough already in my checking account for the buffer, but I do owe about $2K on my credit card. Should I fund the buffer first and then pay down the credit card? I should be able to do that within a couple of months.
My next question is about timing. For example, If I start the month with $0.00, get paid $1,000 on the 5th, have a $750 house payment on the 8th, another paycheck on the 19th, and $200 car payment on the 21st, should I not enter anything for the house payment until after I get the first paycheck (since I don't yet have the money)? I guess I'm just a bit confused about budgeting into the future. Or do I enter these as being budgeted, and then mark them as outflow (is that the right term) when I actually make the payment?
I also noticed that the all my budget categories don't automatically carry forward to the next month. is there a way to auto-populate the following month, and then adjust as needed?
Finally, for irregularly scheduled what is the best way to account for those? For example, birthday gifts for the kids. Let's say I want to spend $120 each on my two kids' birthdays, one in June and one in November. What is the best way to account for this?
Finally, let's say I want to spend $200 a month on eating out. do I just enter that at the beginning of each month, and then track my expenses against that?
I'm sure I'll have other questions, but my hope is to get things off to a good start. I imagine once I have real data flowing through YNAB, things will make a lot more sense.