When you set goals, you stay in the game, you keep budgeting. It's that simple. It doesn't matter if your ambition is to finally pay your electric bill on time, or pay for your next car in cash. It's your budget, and reaching goals always feels good.
There are six types of goals: four for spending categories and two for your Credit Card Payment categories.
Plan Your Spending
- A Monthly goal allows you to set 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, the remaining amount will contribute to the next month's goal when the month rolls over.
- A By Date goal allows you to set aside money until you have budgeted a certain amount by a set date. YNAB will give you a Goal Target each month and tell you how much more you need to budget to stay on track. As you continue to budget for this goal, you can spend from the category, and not go off track. For example, set a goal to budget $1000 for Christmas gifts by December and spend from those budgeted funds each time you purchase a gift leading up to that date.
Build Your Savings
- A Monthly Contribution goal sets a target amount to budget each month to build towards your savings! Each month, your budgeted amount will reset to $0.00, and the accumulated available amount will carry forward. For example, set a goal to budget $400 each month towards a new car, so that down the road (pun intended), you have funds ready for it should you need them.
- A Target Balance goal sets a target amount to have set aside in a category, with or without a date associated with it. If you choose to set a date, YNAB will prompt you to budget so that you will have that amount available in that category by the given date. If you choose not to set a date, there isn't a way to be off track, so there won't be an alert if you're short of your goal. You will, in both scenarios (date or no date), see your goal progress when you select the category. For example, set a goal to have $20,000 budgeted for a house down payment and YNAB will help you track your progress. If you choose to have that available by a certain month, YNAB will prompt you to budget a specific amount each month to stay on track.
*The key difference between a By Date goal and a Target Balance (with Date selected) is that a By Date goal is based on how much you have budgeted, so you can spend from this amount while staying on track. The Target Balance (with Date selected) will expect to have the full target amount available by your set date.
With both the By Date and the Target Balance (with Date selected) goals, the set month will be included in the monthly calculation; YNAB will expect you to budget towards that goal in the set month. If you'd like the have those dollars set aside by a given month, you may prefer to set the target month as the month prior to when the funds are needed.
Credit Card Payment Categories
- Pay Off Balance by Date goals calculate a monthly amount to budget in order to pay off your credit card debt by a certain date. The amount will adjust if you are making slower or faster progress than your original plan!
- Pay Specific Amount Each Month goals help you budget a certain amount toward your debt each month, without having a target payoff date in mind.
Once you’ve set your goal, you’ll notice that the goal will have an icon letting you know your progress for completing that goal, and whether or not you’re on track.
The progress icon will appear in yellow if you’re off-track this month and it will appear as a green check once you’ve reached your goal!
Try using goals to create a budget template. Budget faster—while keeping your priorities in mind!
Creating a Goal
- Select the category for your goal.
- In the right sidebar, click Create a Goal.
- Select the type of goal.
- Fill in the details of your goal.
- You’re done! Click OK.