Some Thoughts on Time Management with YNAB

ChewbaklavaChewbaklava Posts: 7Member
edited April 2013 in Desktop
Bought YNAB last month and I'm loving it so far.

Not only does it help keep track of my finances and reminds me of recurring expenses,
the report function outputs very interesting statistics about my spending behaviour over time.

For that reason I am right now in the process of entering the last 10 years of my account movements and purchases.
It is not that long ago that I decided to activate online banking for my account,
therefore I have to enter most of the data manually into YNAB (good times, good times).
It is a lot of tedious work but already worth it.

While "being forced" to reflect on these past 10 years I thought about how I used my time for different activities.
The saying "Time is Money" came to mind, thinking how interesting it would be,
to enter time in YNAB and budget for it.

I know, there are quite a few time management tools out there, but here is a thought:

It would already be possible to use YNAB "not as intended" and manage your time (using the decimal system).
So far in a quite limited manner with a confusing time balance view and reports and budgeting on a monthly only basis.
But some small adjustments here and there might make it a powerful time management tool.
(maybe as a totally new program called YNATB or something like that ^^)

My ideas so far:
  • Currency: Time in hh:mm - with hours(base24) and minutes(base60)
  • Income: Daily income of 24h (disregarding time relativity and leap seconds )
  • Categories: a set of predefined, but editable categories like family, friends, work, hobby, sleep and so on
    which can be classified as productive / unproductive / work / leisure, whatever fits best
  • Accounts: Budget Accounts might look like this (no off budget :wink: )
    1.) Overview (something like account activity in general, only transfers and income of 24h/day on this one)
    2.) Sleep (low maintenance account with fixed recurring amounts: no further editing needed but possible)
    3.) Work (fixed recurring amounts + overtime or manually entered amounts with export to PDF/Sheet for the employer)
    4.) School/Education (instead of or in addition to "Work")
    5.) Spare Time (activity account)
    6.) ... other user defined accounts
    Overview and Sleep could be mandatory, others optional.
    Columns and functions would depend on account types.
    For instance "Work" could have the columns:
    Checkbox; Flag; Date; Work: Employer; Project; Memo; Time (automatically calculated if entered time in "From-To" field in "Date").
    (the amount of time actively using YNATB might even be captured and added to account)
  • Budgeting: Like in a calendar with different levels of detail:
    Zoom to day, week or month and the budgeted amounts scale down or sum up automatically.
    Manage your time like you would manage your money. Give every minute a job.
    Think about, what is important to you and what you want to do with your spare time.
    Time budgeting might turn killing time into spending quality time.

A common time management problem is losing too much time tracking time spent and therefore achieving the opposite of what it should do.
But imagine using YNATB as a flexible calendar or having a calendar interface.
The only difference to a calendar: You don't want to have any empty spaces in between your appointments.

What do you think?

P.S.: Soooooo.. where can I preorder YNATB?
Post edited by Unknown User on


  • KaitelanKaitelan Posts: 145Member
    WoW! 10 years of old records? And I thought I was daring just putting in 2 months of old data. Good luck with that. :|

    As for the Time Management, well to each his own. I'm sure you could find a good time management program somewhere out there. It sounds like you want to track every second of every minute of every hour of every day of every week of every month of every year. That's a lot of seconds. Kind of like trying to track the pennies in a cash account. Good luck with that too. :roll:
  • blackdiamondblackdiamond Posts: 2,462Member, Beta Tester
    I think a time management expert would agree with YNAB in their recommendation to ignore tba past and focus on the future. You can't change the past so what is the value of your spending habits that far in the past? Where do you even get data that far back?
  • INAB26INAB26 Posts: 1,722Member, Beta Tester
    edited December 2013
    FWIW it's really not recommended to enter *any* past data into YNAB, much less 10 years of it. For YNAB to work properly, you're going to have to categorize and budget for *all* of those transactions. Since you seem interested in managing your time, thought I'd throw that out there because doing it is really going to be a waste of it as far as your budget is concerned.

    Before you get too much farther, you may want to sign up for a live class and check out all the videos on the support page.

    Post edited by INAB26 on
  • ChewbaklavaChewbaklava Posts: 7Member
    Hey! Thanks for your feedback, folks =)

    Almost done with that. ^^
    And nah, just approximated times.. no need for micro time management.
    The main idea is to raise awareness for time and what one does with it.
    For example I tend spend too little time with family and friends in comparison to time spent working.
    That's something I'd easily forget, if not for small check lists and there might be more things I forget.

    Yeah, sure. If the past involves unpleasant feelings or problems regarding finances it would be bad to think about that all the time.
    YNAB's fresh start policy bears great merrit and I'm all for it.
    However just generally speaking (not financially):
    Past, present and future all have their importance. Like for instance the past for learning, present for enjoying and future for planning.

    But regarding my past spending habits: I'm just crazy about statistics and enjoy looking at the reports in YNAB.
    Got loads of stuff in excel and some folders. Was able to automate some processes and cheated a bit using scripts.

    Thanks for the warning, but all is lost, I'm almost done!

    There are mainly 2 functions of YNAB I am really interested in:
    1.) Budgeting and managing my finances
    2.) Looking at bars, pie charts and old invoice references, yay!

    #1 Works quite well so far and I'm really glad to have YNAB.
    As you wrote, I'll have to budget it all out so I don't get strange balances.
    But it's not that hard:
    - I set all categories from in the beginning year to subtract overspending from next month's category balance (until Dec 2012).
    - Levelled out budget just for December 2012 for each category to make the overspent amount "disappear"
    - Put all remaining account balance into a hidden budget category within a hidden master category for a clean 2013 start

    This results in a really ugly Dec 2012 budget, that does not bother me much.
    That was before YNAB and 2013 looks nice and clean, as it should be.
    Budgeting for every month these last years would really be a waste of time, just like you wrote. :)

    #2 I like to have a way to quickly search for past purchases and stuff.
    It happened to me quite often that I was looking for "this one shop I bought my printer cartridge from"
    or had to keep track of money lent to or borrowed from friends, resulting in lot's of bookmarks and tables.
    With YNAB I can have it all in one program with a powerful search filter.
    I know, 10 years is a bit extreme and 1 or 2 years would've been enough for above mentioned functions.
    But as I wanted to enter data anyways, I wanted to throw everything I got at it. ^^
    And like I said, I like statistics: who knows, maybe I will discover some interesting pattern in my "financial development".

    Regarding live classes: are there some kind of recorded classes available somewhere?
    Not really my timezone but might squeeze some lessons in next month.
  • KleonikeKleonike Posts: 950Member, Beta Tester
    You can find presentation materials and recorded sessions for YNAB live classes here:


    Keep in mind that the YNAB team is in the process of updating the training and replacing the Jump Start series of live classes with two new classes that are listed here:


    I'm pretty new to YNAB myself -- started in mid-February. I've avoided a lot of pitfalls and accelerated the learning curve by watching the videos, reading the articles and attending as many of the live classes as I could. Of course, the best support has come through participation in the forums!
  • ChewbaklavaChewbaklava Posts: 7Member
    Nice, thanks a lot :)
  • patrick24601patrick24601 Posts: 43Member
    Ironically I'd say that putting in the past 10 years of financial transactions is less than stellar time management :)

    Regarding using it for a time management tool.
  • ChewbaklavaChewbaklava Posts: 7Member
    See? That's exactly why I need time management! ;-)
  • AtmikaAtmika Posts: 1Member
    Good time management is more essential to overcome the pressures of modern life without experiencing too much stress. Our common mistake is trying to remember too many tasks and details.

    A better to stay organized and take control of our projects and tasks is to use a task management and time recording software. Keeping a list will helps to manage our priorities and timings.

    For time management, I prefer to use Replicon Software! I'm using this software for making instant payments and generating invoices. It is also efficient at making time sheets and tracking our performance over a defined period of time.
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