Budget Smarter with Smarter Goals

Written by Janelle Whitaker  |  on


We’re slowly ramping this feature to all accounts, so if you don’t see these new options in your budget yet, they’re on their way!

At YNAB, we understand the importance of reaching your goals—paying off debt, saving up for a vacation, being able to cover an unexpected bill stress-free. As budgeters ourselves, we get it. You’re in it to win it, financially speaking.

If you’ve been budgeting with YNAB for a while, you’re most likely a pro at setting goals in the app. Now, we’re supercharging this feature, adding some new options to make goals even more powerful and useful. 

Have you ever wanted to spend some of the money you’ve saved towards a goal without being prompted to budget more money afterwards? Have you heaved countless heavy sighs at having to update your vacation goal after buying plane tickets a few months ahead? Well, sigh no more.

What’s New

We added a new category of goal options which help you Plan Your Spending. In this new category, you will find goals for Monthly spending as well as spending By Date.

With a By Date spending goal, you can specify the amount of money you plan to spend by a certain month, and then spend the money while you’re saving up to that amount. 

For instance, let’s say you’re planning a vacation which will cost a total of $5000. You’d like to have the full amount one year from today. When you set a By Date goal for $5000, you’ll be budgeting roughly $416 per month. 

This means that in two months you can purchase your $800 airline tickets and your goal will adjust automatically—no promptings to budget more and no adjusting the goal total yourself. Bingo. 

A Monthly spending goal sets an amount to budget and spend up to each month. For example: set a goal to budget $500 for groceries each month, and spend up to $500 in a month.

If you don’t spend all of your budgeted funds in the current month (let’s say you only spent $480 on groceries), the remaining amount will contribute to the next month’s goal, but only once the month rolls over in real life.

This means if you move forward and budget in a future month, the goal target will be your full amount until the month rolls over in real life. This makes budgeting in the future easier because you won’t have to continually increase that future-month’s budgeted amount each time you spend in the current month. (And let’s face it, you’ll probably need it all for groceries…)

If you ever end up with more money than your goal needs, you can also use Quick Budget: Goal Target once the month rolls over to send the extra money to To be Budgeted and then budget it elsewhere. It’s like a month-rollover reward for all your hard work. 😊

What about all my current goals?

Don’t worry, all the original goal options are still around. Your existing Monthly Funding goals have been renamed to Monthly Contribution goals, since these goals will always prompt for the same amount, every month, no matter what. Just like your landlord always asks for the same amount, every month, no matter what. The nerve!

Your existing Target Balance goals will still behave the same as they always have. When you spend money in a category with a Target Balance goal that has a date specified, the goal will automatically ask you to budget more money—that way, you’ll still reach your target balance by the date specified. And whether or not you want to specify a date is now an option for each Target Balance goal.

How do I update my goals?

Ah, you’re excited. Wonderful! You can click into the goals editor under any category and switch the goal type. 

In the mobile app.
In the web app.

Here’s some examples of situations where you may want to make a switch:

Groceries

You may be using a Monthly Contribution (previously called Monthly Funding) goal for this category. This allows you to quickly budget the same amount each month. But if you have grocery money left over at the end of the month, it means you’ll have more money than you need for food in the next month. It also means you are amazing because staying under budget when it comes to food is friggin’ hard and therefore worthy of all praise.

With a Monthly spending goal, any left over money when the month rolls over will automatically be applied to next month’s goal, but only when the month rolls over in real life. And remember, if you end up with more money than you need, just use Quick Budget: Goal Target to move that money back to To be Budgeted.

Vacation

You may be using a Target Balance by Date goal for your vacation. But as we mentioned earlier, if you end up buying tickets or any other expenses before your target date, you will have to manually adjust your goal amount to account for that. Otherwise, the goal will prompt you to start budgeting more in order to hit that Target Balance in time.

With a By Date spending goal, you won’t have to adjust your goals at all. This new option expects you to spend money along the way, while you are saving. This way, you can be sure not to spend more than a specified amount by your specified date. Whew! 

Want to see what else we’re up to? 

We know you love a good update. We highlight what’s coming next on our Up Next page. Check it out, try the new goal options, and budget on! 

Your Next Step

Budgeting is not restrictive. You won’t be spending less, you’ll be spending right. So what do you have to lose? Except all that debt and stress?