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Messages - RPNnerd

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Please define "Zero Sum Budget".....  I am still new to the lingo     

Zero sum budget is when you categorize or give jobs to every dollar-- you are completely aware of the financial situation. 

It's the picture of money comes in and you have envelopes for the different categories (in the old envelope/physical world) and you put the money into the envelopes until there is zero money left to put into the envelopes.  You can move money between them but you have assigned where each dollar goes for any income that has come in or any money sitting in any of your accounts. 

It's also what Dave Ramsey recommends-- I was nervous at one time about knowing exactly where the money is/was going but now I've found there is a whole lot of new knowledge and freedom with a zero sum budget in action.   You may have an idea in your head of where your money is going but until it is laid out the likelihood of double counting (assigning more than one job for the dollars) is very high.

If only new users could adopt it.... I have no idea what to recommend at this  point for folks looking for a zero sum budget.

Feedback / Re: Definition of "Walled" Months !!!!!!!!
« on: April 02, 2017, 02:59:22 PM »
Walled months mean you can see and budget each month separately.   When you can see more than one month at a time you immediately see that unbudgeted or overbudgeted items impact the next month. So get each month sorted out and then the whole picture looks good.  One definition of being buffered means you're pushing income from the current month to the next month-- live in the current month and set up the budget for the next month as the money comes in.

The boundary of the month works well-- are your monthly bills paid?  Are you saving like you thought during that one month?  Are you paying down the debt toward your target in that month?  If you pay in full your cards, did you pay them off by the end of the month?   I like to keep the debts cleared by the end of the month and new items come in for the next month for the credit cards.  I pay them early-- as much as 20 days early, etc. but there is no red showing up on the net worth budget for "on budget" accounts as I keep the paperwork up to date.

Feedback / Re: Why did I pick "Financier" over "nYNAB" ?
« on: February 10, 2017, 08:25:15 AM »
Walled months, walled months, walled months.  Red Arrow.  Scheduled transactions.  Feature rich/feature friendly for various work ........What nYNAB did is practically equivalent to having locked pre-set categories.  Can you make your budget work with categories that you can't customize? Probably.  Would it feel like "your budget"?  No... it would feel like you're a part of their budget and robotted into it.  BOX ME IN?  No thank you.

I'm full time Financier since 1 Feb. In fairness to nYNAB though I found the Catrgories to be completely customisable - and I could override their treatment of credit cards if I wanted to.

Hi Paul, thanks for the comment.

I wasn't trying to say that nYNAB was boxed in with category choices.  I was trying to provide an analogy of how the features are more limited than financier and YNAB4 such that if one only had used nYNAB they may not be aware of the lack of features.  So I took an extreme example to give an idea of how "boxed in" or "handcuffed" nYNAB can feel--  I used the idea of limited categories and inflexibility.  That's how it feels to me without walled months once I've gotten used to them and the lack of a red arrow and the lack of future transactions being in the budget immediately.  These features have become such a part of my usage that taking them away makes  me feel like I've also been boxed in without customization of categories.  Taking away that option would have just piled on more of a sense of "this isn't for me... what else is there?"

And I already have a large sense of that-- as soon as I beta tried nYNAB I felt that way and wrote that note "when will we get the multimonth view?".  That's ancient history as it became evident they were headed in a very different view and restricted feature/use model.

I'm not just wailing against nYNAB here.  I'm expressing how the change was so contrary to the features I had expected and the view that I have become so used to. 

It may seem like a small thing but it's pretty huge--- to be trapped into the current month and sloppy work arounds to get to give the next month or beyond but still only one month at a time just feels so crippling after being able to scope out and begin to see how actions today impact the future.  I can now plan for the future in ways my pre zero sum budget never allowed.  I'm making financial plans and have made and met goals.  It's going so well I want to keep working the features that have gotten me into this mindset and capability.

It's a pretty big thing for me.  But I didn't go around the YNAB forums excessively complaining-- I made a voice when it was asked.

Here we've got a new question on a new forum and it's a great one for someone who only has known nYNAB--- "welcome to features!"   :parrot:

Feedback / Re: Why did I pick "Financier" over "nYNAB" ?
« on: February 09, 2017, 06:56:19 PM »
Walled months, walled months, walled months.  Red Arrow.  Scheduled transactions.  Feature rich/feature friendly for various work flows.

I have a big screen at home and I'm not seeing 2 months -- I'm seeing 7 or 8.  Do I need to see that many?  No.  But seeing 3-4 is extremely helpful.

It's not just seeing them but working with them.  I am over 1.5 months buffered.  On the 15th I'll have March's budget completely filled.  The numbers for filling the categories are already there-- I'm making decisions with unexpected income (a bonus, etc.) in the present in anticipation of the future.  I have fairly regular income currently and have filled in the majority of the walled months for the year.  Yes, April and beyon have big ugly red numbers in them-- the only big pain is that my cable bill shifted and I had to reenter the majority of the months (or at least a few ahead to keep my eye on the estimated budgets for the next few months with expected bills and dole out).

I can keep the zero sum budget on the current month and make decisions this month.  I can complete the budget next month and be ready to spend from it when the date rolls over-- but I'm kept honest with the spending on the categories this month.

Seeing the future helps me look to the future with the walled months.  I avoid spending future money but having the visibility for "expected" and "accumulated" categories to see if I'm hitting my targets is hugely valuable-- perhaps the goals in nYNAB would work-- they weren't there when I was exposed to a single month nYNAB early product (or they were in infancy but I was so blown away by lack of walled months my first reaction was "where's my stuff!?").

nYNAB is not focused on features-- it is focused on a specific usage.  And it isn't mine. 

I used to be pretty sloppy on reimbursements.  But now I can handle them in a timely matter and as I look at my budget daily it shouts at me that I haven't sent or received reimbursement-- the category is red.  Since I'm buffered and accounts are healthy I'm not bothered by it being red or feel I'm dishonest on actual money.  It's red because I need to do something for that specific category and that doesn't affect the rest of my plans nor spending.

I'm all in for adoption of financier-- it seems faster and I too like the customizations (not there yet with trying them out but I will be).  Features and options for viewing and work flow are signfiicant.  Each budget is different.  What nYNAB did is practically equivalent to having locked pre-set categories.  Can you make your budget work with predefined categories that you can't customize? Probably.  Would it feel like "your budget"?  No... it would feel like you're a part of their budget and robotted into it.  BOX ME IN?  No thank you.

I think I covered the bulk of the key reasons :)   

My workflow is not your workflow-- but we can share ideas and approaches and learn from each other and modify each our own (without workarounds the tool may require).

I've become a huge fan of zero sum budget.  I was a huge fan of YNAB4.  I'm still using it until features are available with financier. 

Off-topic / Re: How are you feeling today?
« on: January 09, 2017, 10:58:42 AM »
I'm feeling poorly today.

SCUBA? no, but I have done SCBA training.

General Discussion / Re: Calculation of Months 'Buffered'?
« on: January 07, 2017, 08:28:38 AM »
Patzer has a way with words.  I would like to say that's what I was intending to say.... but I don't know if I even covered it partially as well.

I was introducing concepts of buffering the other night to a young millennial.  I said the intent is to use your cash flow (that's an important concept) to be spending from what has been budgeted this month while pushing income into next month so you have time to make decisions.

Previously I wasn't too far off on this approach except I wasn't on a zero sum budget.  I would do an eye ball estimate of what was coming and then assess my account so the lowest point of the month the checking account would be about one month of total expenses.

I had thought the original question in this thread was "how do you calculate months of emergency fund/expenses saved up (in a buffer)?" which is more nuanced than "how do I know I'm buffered?"

General Discussion / Re: Calculation of Months 'Buffered'?
« on: January 06, 2017, 09:33:48 AM »
I think it varies for people, but for me:

[Balance of e-fund] / [$ Unavoidable outflows per month]

( + 1 if assigning all income to next month)

For example, if I lose my job I would stop adding to my investments and rainy day/vacation savings, but I would still have to pay rent, groceries, insurance, etc.

This the type of thinking I do.  Balance of emergency fund-- it's set aside to be a goal for number of months emergency fund.   How many months?  Well, take a look at the necessary expenses (monthly requirements + usual monthly expenses -- grocery, fuel, etc.).  Then you can divide.

Number of months "buffered"... one.

Number of months "prepared for" ... goal is 6-9 months reserved.  Reserved can be savings, investments that are cash accessible (or CDs that are out a little bit but available in the time period), etc. 

Yet, I assign dollars each month to lots of categories that are not toward being buffered nor toward the emergency fund.  Things like appliance build up, yard maintenance, car repairs, etc.   These would not get assigned dollars in an emergency and may even have dollars taken from them.

Then again, a new appliance could become an emergency -- so you know which category to pull the funds from.

A lot depends upon how you think of the jobs assigned for your dollars and about how you think of the savings you have and associated categories.  100 different categories each getting 5 dollars a month still contributes up to 1000 in 2 months.   Not that one would want 100 different categories nor would necessarily put 5 in each one each month.  But the idea is there- not all of your 100 categories are "buffered" as you think upon next things in life that will impact you or could impact you.   And you can always WAM -- but you're having a plan in either case.  And each person's plan is unique.

Feature Requests / Re: Household/Sharing Budgets
« on: December 27, 2016, 06:33:02 PM »
Something to add here. It would be cool to have multiple logins that access the same budget but have different security. For example, I manage the finances and give my wife her budget category updates weekly via email or something. If she could log in and only see the categories the "administrator" accounts let her that would be awesome. Even more, something like a child's allowance categories where your kid can see their balance and transactions etc.

Then again, it could be time for a budget summit with your wife.  ;) 

General Discussion / Re: Financier Budgeting Strategy
« on: December 20, 2016, 12:24:18 PM »
I see the mechanism in three parts:

1) Accounts
2) Budgeting
3) Reconciling

You start with the accounts.  What do you have on dollars and debts?  These get entered into each account.  There's not thinking yet.  It's gathering of information.

Next step is to create the categories.  What types of things do you spend upon?  This won't be the final view but dealing in the budget, make the categories and look at it toward "having fun".  We're not quite there with assigning dollars yet... categories come first.  It's not the final draft-- you will realize further categories or other ways to organize.  But don't think about the money yet, think about areas of spending that exist in your life.

Step three... time to assign the existing dollars into the categories.  It's all "new money" so the first month is "funky" and is expected to be odd-- it assigns the dollars (and/or debt) that are in all the accounts.  The plan begins but there is a lot of uncertainty.  The first month will be sloppy.

This is the "reconcile the budget" idea-- looking at needs and assigning dollars. This is also where taking a separate piece of paper and making goals and plans come into the picture.  And this is when you can figure out how close you are to next bills due and consider the 1/6 or 1/12 regular dollar assignment (and initially how much you should have).  Also this planning period should be the beginning of priorities.  Compare the categories, the amounts assigned and the priorities.

Step four... assign spending to the categories; review category amounts when spending.  WAM when needed...

Step five... reconcile the bank/credit reports against the accounts.

Step 6 get into a regular groove as one repeats the steps and after some time check out the reports.  Learn what the spending patterns can tell you.... shift the goals and longer term plans-- make new ones.

And keep having fun.  Zero sum seems scary.... but once in the groove it's fantastic knowledge and feedback.  My wife is not that into budgeting but picked up the process (except letting me reconcile and assign the dollars-- it's been up to me to figure out her spending and she gives a heads up on the category needs).  She knows the red is bad (and needs adjustments)... but she's had more saved up with the zero sum than she's had before and she's gotten to the buffer stage.  She heard someone bemoaning how there's never enough money and she started proselytizing... "you know, a zero sum budget is really helpful...".

I said "whoa.... really?"   

She adopted because she saw my excitement and figured I would expect her to join in.  I think the value proposition didn't occur to her.  She did it because she loved me.   But there are more blessings that have come out.

Off-topic / Re: The last thing you bought on
« on: December 16, 2016, 11:33:53 AM »
Last thing I bought was actually a decoy gift because my rotten husband guessed his Christmas gift.

 :parrot: I already figured out what my wife got me too! She is not too happy.

I'm trying to be good.

We did receive an Amazon box with my wife's name on it.  I opened it and glanced at the gift receipt.  We didn't recognize the giver-- and there were two of the gift receipts in there.  One with my wife's name and one for a Gavin from a whole slew of people.

I do not know if the gift was for Gavin... and now I feel bad that Gavin may not receive his gift.  :'(

Introductions / Re: Hello from NY's Hudson River Valley
« on: December 13, 2016, 12:02:56 PM »
I have noticed the YNAB forums are very testy over this last year.  Is the demise official as far as a plan to close them down?

Other / Re: How do you handle insurance excess?
« on: December 09, 2016, 05:46:58 PM »
Yes, the emergency fund is for emergencies.  Unplanned things can "be" emergencies on the short term for finding where to make new categories or to fill back up the emergency fund because of it.

Feedback / Re: Scheduled transactions
« on: December 08, 2016, 09:12:04 AM »
I use the monthly and the one time on for the most part.

My monthly is sometimes a reminder.

One of my monthly repeating ones is really "deliver on or by" a certain date and I use the ACH delivery method so I manually correct the regularly repeating monthly each month. It takes 3 business days for ACH to take place. I haven't seen a method yet that would make that easier.  If there happens to be a method that'd be great but it is not a deal breaker once scheduling works.

Introductions / Re: Greetings from New Jersey
« on: December 05, 2016, 03:24:02 PM »
I about spit coffee at the mention of AoM.

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