Feature Request: Add to next month's budget

waystonewaystone Posts: 20Member
edited July 2012 in YNAB 4
Regarding the "Subtract from next month's budget" or 'Subtract from next month's category balance" options for overspending -

It would be really great to have the same option for positive balances, for situations where, when one over-budgets, one wants the remainder to roll back into the pot rather than accumulate in that category.

For example - I save monthly towards my car insurance. This works great as is, rolling forward to accumulate towards a goal. On the other hand, I also have a cellphone with a bit of unpredictability... one month it's $41.32, the next $39, and so forth. I budget $42 to be on the safe side, and the fraction remains. Another example - I have a family member who doesn't want to participate in the budget, so I can't predict their expenses. I have a budget line that I toss $200 into, knowing through past experience that that will pretty much account for the charges I don't know about that will show up when the credit card arrives. If they come in at $180, I don't really need that extra $20 to roll over into the next month.

If I could select 'Add to next month's budget', or its equivalent, to have it added back into my total available for the next month, that would be well near perfect.

At the moment, I deal with this by going back and changing the budgeted amount, but that makes invisible in reporting, all those wonderful times we came in under-budget in a certain category (if I backdate the budgeting), or make it look like my cellphone costs less than it does (if I diminish next month's to compensate) :D
Post edited by Unknown User on
«1

Comments

  • MalisaMalisa Posts: 6,136Member, Moderator, YNAB Team, Beta Tester
    You can use the quick budget feature Balance to 0.00. It can be done by individual cell (click the handle) or for the whole column (click the lightning bolt in the header).
  • PatzerPatzer Posts: 3,793Member, Beta Tester
    malisab wrote:
    You can use the quick budget feature Balance to 0.00. It can be done by individual cell (click the handle) or for the whole column (click the lightning bolt in the header).

    I hadn't been aware of that function till I saw it mentioned on the forum. In the context of this thread, it makes sense now! I need to do this every third month with my trash service and water utility, where I budget a third of the maximum bill each month then salvage the excess after I see the actual bill . . . except I'll want to redeploy the excess in the current month. But it should still work.

    Patzer
  • spinningwomanspinningwoman Posts: 231Member
    I'd second this request. I have had it explained to me on another thread how to work round it, but I still think this would be a very intuitive and Ynabby way to go, and not affect anyone who prefered not to use it.

    Thanks
  • los lobos marinoslos lobos marinos Posts: 567Member, Beta Tester
    I'd second this request. I have had it explained to me on another thread how to work round it, but I still think this would be a very intuitive and Ynabby way to go, and not affect anyone who prefered not to use it.

    Thanks
    Yup, the 'Balance to 0.00' function works fine for me when I want to return leftover balances to the budget (used it in a couple of categories at the end of June). And I agree, it is a very intuitive and Ynabby way to go!! A nice little shortcut that doesn't effect anyone who prefers not to use it! :wink:
  • waystonewaystone Posts: 20Member
    You can use the quick budget feature Balance to 0.00. It can be done by individual cell (click the handle) or for the whole column (click the lightning bolt in the header).

    Very cool! Just one question... what do you mean by 'handle' for the individual cell? I get the lightning bolt for the whole column, but I've been staring and clicking for ten minutes and can't for the life of me figure out how to do it for a single cell. Probably right in front of me, I know...
  • Turf_HackerTurf_Hacker Posts: 5,277Member, Moderator, YNAB Team, Beta Tester
    waystone wrote:
    You can use the quick budget feature Balance to 0.00. It can be done by individual cell (click the handle) or for the whole column (click the lightning bolt in the header).

    Very cool! Just one question... what do you mean by 'handle' for the individual cell? I get the lightning bolt for the whole column, but I've been staring and clicking for ten minutes and can't for the life of me figure out how to do it for a single cell. Probably right in front of me, I know...

    Click in the cell in the Budgeted column that you want to change. A box with a black triangle will appear to the right of the cell. Click the triangle (sometimes referred to as the handle), and you can access the Quick Budget options for that category only.
  • waystonewaystone Posts: 20Member
    Ohhhh.... very cool!

    But, doesn't quite do what I described above - because it changes the budgeted amount. To quote...
    At the moment, I deal with this by going back and changing the budgeted amount, but that makes invisible in reporting, all those wonderful times we came in under-budget in a certain category (if I backdate the budgeting), or make it look like my cellphone costs less than it does (if I diminish next month's to compensate)

    It definitely makes changing the budgeted amount faster and more accurate, but what I wish I could do is add the amount in the balance column to next month's 'Available to Budget', not tweak the budget itself.

    Thanks for explaining, Turf_Hacker... not seeing that was driving me cross-eyed! :D
  • DeguelloTexDeguelloTex Posts: 2,516Member, Beta Tester
    I'm missing how this could work. How can it be part of next month's "Available to Budget" if it is still held in the category by not zeroing out the balance in that category? The category has to be zeroed (or reduced) or the money is spoken for and not available.
  • los lobos marinoslos lobos marinos Posts: 567Member, Beta Tester
    Yes, please someone explain how budgeting to 0.00 doesn't work as I don't understand what the issue is and reckon I must be missing the point somehow. As far as I understand it, if you budget to 0.00 this month then the 'available to budget' for this month rises. If you choose to not re-allocate that extra available this month then it rolls over to next months 'available to budget'. Am I correct? Why does this not work? What is the scenario where it doesn't apply?
  • Turf_HackerTurf_Hacker Posts: 5,277Member, Moderator, YNAB Team, Beta Tester
    waystone wrote:
    Ohhhh.... very cool!

    But, doesn't quite do what I described above - because it changes the budgeted amount. To quote...
    At the moment, I deal with this by going back and changing the budgeted amount, but that makes invisible in reporting, all those wonderful times we came in under-budget in a certain category (if I backdate the budgeting), or make it look like my cellphone costs less than it does (if I diminish next month's to compensate)

    It definitely makes changing the budgeted amount faster and more accurate, but what I wish I could do is add the amount in the balance column to next month's 'Available to Budget', not tweak the budget itself.

    Thanks for explaining, Turf_Hacker... not seeing that was driving me cross-eyed! :D

    Changing the budgeted amount is the only way to do what you want and maintain your budget in balance.
  • waystonewaystone Posts: 20Member
    Changing the budgeted amount is the only way to do what you want and maintain your budget in balance.

    It's the only way right now... hence the feature request. :D

    (If you mean the only financially sound way, then I'd have to disagree - although perhaps I'm just not communicating clearly what I have in mind.)
  • DeguelloTexDeguelloTex Posts: 2,516Member, Beta Tester
    Even with your feature request, how, as a matter of accounting, do you make money available next month while simultaneously not reducing the balance from this or a previous month so as to free up the money?
  • kevman479kevman479 Posts: 295Member, Beta Tester
    no commit just clarification. Are wanting to look back to last month and see that you budgeted $250.00 to groceries but only spent $225.00 and instead of having that $25.00 carry over to the next month in the grocery colum, have it go to availible next month, thus making the catagory zero in the current month?
  • PatzerPatzer Posts: 3,793Member, Beta Tester
    Even with your feature request, how, as a matter of accounting, do you make money available next month while simultaneously not reducing the balance from this or a previous month so as to free up the money?

    If you want to make the accounting explicit, you'd need a between-months column to make everything clear.

    Existing columns are Budgeted, Outflows (that ought to be labeled "Activity"), and Balance. The way the system was designed,

    Balance = Prior Months Positive Balance + Budgeted + Activity (where outflows are negtative activity and inflows are positive activity).

    With the red arrow, we get

    Balance = Prior Months Positive or Negative Balance + Budgeted + Activity

    With the proposed green arrow, we get

    Balance = 0 + Budgeted + Activity


    The display issue is that we could have all these equations working on different categories in the same budget. It would be easier to see and explain with a between-months column, call it "Adjustment":

    Balance = Prior Months Balance + Adjustment + Budgeted + Activity

    and,

    Adjustment = 0 (for no arrow and positive prior month balance, or red arrow and negative prior month balance)
    Adjustment = - Prior Months Balance (for no arrow and negative prior month balance, or green arrow and positive prior month balance)

    I'm not clear on what the proponents of the green arrow want to happen with a green arrow and a negative prior month balance, but whatever is supposed to happen can be reflected in the Adjustment.

    Then, we get Available = Not Budgeted in Prior Month - Adjustments + Income for Current Month - Budgeted in Current Month

    It all hangs together, but it would be a bit of a chore to explain it to a new user. And that's pretty much where making exceptions in the software leads us to, more complicated formulas to express what's going on. And the more we automate stuff like this, the less the new user has to actually *think* about what's going on. That cuts both ways; it saves labor, but the labor and thought is what changes spending habits and helps improve the financial situation.

    Patzer
  • kevman479kevman479 Posts: 295Member, Beta Tester
    Okay then how is that different then what is happening now?

    Groceries Budgeted $250.00
    Outflows (yes should be activities) -$225.00
    Balance $25.00

    Next month
    Groceries Budget >click down arrow> click Outflow last month giving you $225.00
    outflows Blank
    Balance $250.00

    Or next month
    Groceries Budget >click down arrow>balance to zero giving you -$25.00
    Outflows Blank
    balance Blank.

    either way you have $25.00 more in available to budget.

    And if they just want it to be automatic then yes I agree with you
    Patzer wrote:
    And the more we automate stuff like this, the less the new user has to actually *think* about what's going on. That cuts both ways; it saves labor, but the labor and thought is what changes spending habits and helps improve the financial situation.

    I am sorry if I am beating this to the ground I am just trying to undestand. The more the program is put on autopilot the more it would loose it's (for lack of a better word) Appeal. (edited to say) or usefullness.
  • los lobos marinoslos lobos marinos Posts: 567Member, Beta Tester
    I'm with you Kevin. It really seems to arrive at the same thing at the end of the day. Every suggestion is an alternative method of arriving at the same figure.

    Having additional columns displaying adjustments etc might be a good thing from an accounting perspective but ynab is not accounting software and I don't think it is necessary for a budgeting package.
  • DeguelloTexDeguelloTex Posts: 2,516Member, Beta Tester
    I also agree that Outflows should be Activity.

    The idea of adding more columns to the UI -- when I already see fewer months in 4 than in 3 -- to massage balances to keep from changing budgeted amounts for historical purposes while having the available to budget (which, it seems to me, is the sine qua non of YNAB in the first place) be exactly the same number as can be accomplished easily now seems like a black hole of development time and a big step backwards in simplicity and presentation.
  • los lobos marinoslos lobos marinos Posts: 567Member, Beta Tester
    I would also prefer the word 'activity' instead of 'outflows' as it's far more accurate terminology imo. If that was implemented then they'd also have to change the corresponding register column headers to reflect this and avoid confusion.

    So in the register:
    Instead of outflows, "Activity Out"
    Instead of inflows, "Activity In"
  • waystonewaystone Posts: 20Member
    kevman479 wrote:
    no commit just clarification. Are wanting to look back to last month and see that you budgeted $250.00 to groceries but only spent $225.00 and instead of having that $25.00 carry over to the next month in the grocery colum, have it go to availible next month, thus making the catagory zero in the current month?

    Kevin,

    You got it in one. :D
  • PatzerPatzer Posts: 3,793Member, Beta Tester
    kevman479 wrote:
    Okay then how is that different then what is happening now?

    Groceries Budgeted $250.00
    Outflows (yes should be activities) -$225.00
    Balance $25.00

    Next month
    Groceries Budget >click down arrow> click Outflow last month giving you $225.00
    outflows Blank
    Balance $250.00

    Or next month
    Groceries Budget >click down arrow>balance to zero giving you -$25.00
    Outflows Blank
    balance Blank.

    either way you have $25.00 more in available to budget.

    It's not substantively different, which is why I can't work up any enthusiasm for the green arrow concept. I understand that there are a lot of posts asking for it, but I don't see that it would particularly help me.
    kevman479 wrote:
    I am sorry if I am beating this to the ground I am just trying to undestand. The more the program is put on autopilot the more it would loose it's (for lack of a better word) Appeal. (edited to say) or usefullness.

    I tend to agree with you there. However, I'm a Neanderthal who thought that spending a lot of programming time on the fine points of importing was a waste. But a lot of people wanted downloads/imports, so they happened. If enough people want that green arrow, it will happen.

    Philosophically, I *don't care* that I budgeted $250 and spent $225. That budget amount will change as my priorities change, and that's OK. But it appears that there are people who do care about monitoring actual against budget. So, like downloads, something like this could make it into the software at some point. If it does, we'll have longer and more complex discussions about how the software arrives at the important category balance number. Even if we don't add an Adjustment column between months, we will need the concept to explain all the cases of what's going on.

    Or we could be hard cases and tell the people asking for this to suck it up and just change the budgeted amount. Which works, and is in keeping with the YNAB philosophy, and seems to be unacceptable to some users.

    Patzer
  • zettazetta Posts: 158Member
    I'm not clear on what the proponents of the green arrow want to happen with a green arrow and a negative prior month balance, but whatever is supposed to happen can be reflected in the Adjustment.

    The previous month's balance should determine whether the arrow is red or green. The behavior is the same -- money (positive or negative) flows the direction of the arrow.
  • kevman479kevman479 Posts: 295Member, Beta Tester
    zetta wrote:
    The previous month's balance should determine whether the arrow is red or green. The behavior is the same -- money (positive or negative) flows the direction of the arrow.

    Okay but why? What would that do that you cannot do now?

    I have a catagory that I don't budget to or use every month. So if last month I only spent $9.32 while I budgeted $15.00 I have $5.68 carry over. You want an arrow that can be turned to get that $5.68 back to $0.00 and but it in the buffer. I get that part.

    What I don't get is Why??

    I really don't care if it is in there or not if I don't have to look at them. I wack a mole now keep from getting the red arrows so I don't have to look at them. I just don't see the benifit.
  • DeguelloTexDeguelloTex Posts: 2,516Member, Beta Tester
    As far as I can tell, the benefit, such as it is, is to see what the originally budgeted amount was while still returning the balance to be available to budget and not changing the originally budgeted amount.. However, I'm not sure why that would be a benefit, so I must be completely misunderstanding the goal.
  • los lobos marinoslos lobos marinos Posts: 567Member, Beta Tester
    For categories that are variable amounts I just set the budget each month for the average over the the previous year. If I haven't spent all of the budgeted amount then it carries forward to next month as I know that sometime soon the category outflow will exceed the amount budgeted (based on average outflows for the previous 12 months). I just don't understand at all why people want this functionality, but I am curious. I'm sorry if I'm slow to get the the drift. The only time I want to move a category balance back into the budget is when I am deleting a category.

    (If the category is for a fixed amount as the outflow will always be the same (some monthly or quarterly budget plans) then obviously would never be any underspend to worry about.)
  • zettazetta Posts: 158Member
    The reason I would like to have it is to semi-automate all those catagories that are about the same amount each month (but not exactly the same), so that I don't have to fiddle with them most of the time. This would allow me to concentrate on the catagories I really need to be watching and making decisions about. Playing whack-a-mole with small sums is just annoying. I'd rather put those "extra" dollars to work each month than have them accumulate in 10 different places.
  • JoelJoel Posts: 9,541Member, Beta Tester, Beta Moderator
    Maybe its because im quick with a ten key. But would the extra screen clutter and development time really even save much time? As it is, I make an adjustment at the end of the month to zero out my categories like this that really only takes 1-2 minutes. I enjoy freeing up that money and would still want.to open ynab to just look at it even if that was done automatically!
  • PatzerPatzer Posts: 3,793Member, Beta Tester
    zetta wrote:
    The reason I would like to have it is to semi-automate all those catagories that are about the same amount each month (but not exactly the same), so that I don't have to fiddle with them most of the time. This would allow me to concentrate on the catagories I really need to be watching and making decisions about. Playing whack-a-mole with small sums is just annoying. I'd rather put those "extra" dollars to work each month than have them accumulate in 10 different places.

    That's the heart of why I can't work up any enthusiasm for this proposal. I have several categories like this, and once a month when I do my budget I deal with them by reducing the amount budgeted so that the beginning of month category balance doesn't exceed the cap. That takes under two minutes. It can take me longer to decide what my highest priority for the cumulative freed up dollars is.

    And here's the kicker: For most categories like that, I don't want to balance to zero. I may budget $90 to Dining and cap the category at $120. I budget 24 gallons to gasoline, translated to dollars at the current price; and cap the category at 1.5 times the current budget amount. Manual intervention is *still* required for the general case, even if the program can be made to mechanically allocate the special case of a category that you want to zero out.

    Yes, I understand what you're asking. I think it might make it into the software, at which point I'd ignore it. If I were allocating resources, I'd rather the programmer time were spent on fixing bugs. For example, the columns that don't stay at the width I want are far, far more annoying than spending a small dab of time once a month to salvage money from categories that don't need it.

    Patzer
  • rtrindrtrind Posts: 14Member
    I agree the benefit is small, but I don't agree with the justification of "over-complicating the software" that much. You have different defaults for overspending and under-spending (and that's fine btw).

    A single color change in a cell allowing you to change the behavior from under-spending to the same we have in overspending would help me track the categories I am doing good. Looking just at the Outflows I can't really recall if I'm doing good or not (since I don't remember the specifics of the past by heart). For example, if in 3 months in a row I see a "green cell" on the Groceries category (specially if I budgeted different amounts each month), I know I can be a little more aggressive on the next month budget to that category. If we manually do the same, we lose the visual reference and may lose some opportunity to gain extra dollars for other categories.

    It IS a small benefit (because in the worst case you will get the same money available to you to the next month). But would still be worth it to me.

    []'s
  • waystonewaystone Posts: 20Member
    You know... I get that it wouldn't be the top of everyone's wishlist. It just happens to be near the top of mine. :D

    My rationales are pretty simple. First, it would (for me... again, one can pretty much take as given that there are folks out there who feel differently) cut down on tedium of minutely managing small sums within certain categories that I consistently overbudget by small amounts. Second, it would allow my budget to maintain a historical consistency that I like, rather than seesawing around based on fractionals left from previous months.

    I want every dollar to have a job - and so, it would be awesome if every dollar that finds itself sitting on its hands as an unneeded fractional leftover at the end of the month to trot itself back into the pool so that I can reallocate it without manually re-skimming each row and doing mental math to see if it can or should be tweaked downward. If the mechanism didn't already exist in the software (for overspent lines) I'd be on board with the argument that it would overcomplicate things. But the mechanism is there. I just want the ability to use it consistently across rows.

    And so:

    If left with a negative balance in a given row, one can currently choose between the deficit rolling over (for situations, say, where a refund is on the way) or heading back into the pool.

    If left with a positive balance in a given row, it would be great if one could choose between the extra rolling over (for situations, say, when one is saving for an annual payment) or heading back into the pool.

    -N. :)
  • Turf_HackerTurf_Hacker Posts: 5,277Member, Moderator, YNAB Team, Beta Tester
    Some of the practical considerations include things like:

    When is the right time for YNAB to "sweep out" the remaining money in the selected categories?

    What happens if I enter a transaction from the previous month in this category after the money has been swept out? Am I now overspent (even though I would have had enough in the category if it hadn't been swept out)? Does that money come back to the category from the Available to Budget to cover this transaction? If so, I could be stuck correcting an overbudgeted situation that I wouldn't have had.

    These are some of the things that concern me about a feature like this. I realize others feel differently, but I don't really care if my budget has historical consistency. The history of the amount budgeted to my categories in the past is not something I care about. If I adjust it up or down a few dollars (or a few cents) during the month or at the end of the month, it doesn't bother me that the amounts are different. I do this every month for certain utility bills (yes, Comcast and Allied Waste I'm talking to you!), so they aren't truly consistent anyways. I only care about how much I have budgeted for this month and how I'm performing against the budget this month...
Sign In or Register to comment.