Frustration with forecasting drives a YNABer to drink?


Interesting post in the YNAB forum this weekend titled “About to abandon YNAB.” Here’s a summary:

“[S]ince YNAB is only about budgeting, it means I have to use other software to keep an almost complete set of parallel accounts to make any sense.

YNAB does not want you to enter income until it arrives… [which] means we have to behave as if every paycheck is like some sweet surprise from the tooth fairy. This is crazy. And so we keep a separate system of spreadsheets to forecast income, and spreadsheets to enter all payables as they become known, as well as regular budget items as in YNAB. But to not put the mortgage payment into the budget, because I don’t have the money to pay it yet, even though I KNOW I shall have to pay it, and I have a good idea where and when the money will be there, but am not allowed to even hint at it in YNAB until after the event, leads to levels of anxiety that hugely increase what I have to budget for whisky.

[T]he philosophy of YNAB…is only Half of the picture. There has to be a whole other dimension and layer, in which you PLAN finances.”

In another part of his post he mentions that he and his wife enjoy stable income with occasional one-off jobs that add some variance. He also mentions being fully “buffered”living on last month’s income.

As a non-forecaster, I’m wondering what’s gained by forecasting. If your income is stable and your expenses are stable, what need is there to project income and payables into the future?

That’s the question I put to all you forecasters out there:

What problems does forecasting solve in your financial management?

Because tone can be easily mis-read in a blog post, I want to be clear that I’m not saying it’s wrong to forecast. I even confirmed with Jesse (YNAB CEO) that YNAB isn’t “anti-forecasting,” per se (although you’d want to make sure your dollars-in-hand were clearly distinguished from dollars-NOT-in-hand). He did say “If people want to forecast, they’d probably need a separate spreadsheet, because YNAB isn’t really built for it.”