Quick Start Step 3: Assign Your Money

You have expenses that you've set a target for. You have money in accounts. You’re ready to budget. All that money in your accounts from Step 2? It's sitting in  Ready to Assign at the top of your budget. 

The next step is to give all of your dollars jobs until Ready to Assign is zero. Auto-Assign can help you automatically assign the money you have based on the due dates you set in your categories. Click the Auto-Assign button to get a preview of where YNAB will assign you money. 

If you don't like what you see, you can hit cancel and make changes to your category targets, or you can just assign money manually by changing the amount in the Assigned columm. If you decide to assign manually, work your way down your categories until  Ready to Assign is zero. Not more, not less. Zero

Stay out of the red!

Ready to Assign turns red when the number is negative. That means you have overassigned, or assigned more money than you have. You're missing out on the power of prioritizing when you assign dollars you don't actually have yet! (Which means you can't trust your budget.) 

Reduce the amount assigned in your categories until  Ready to Assign is green again.

Once all your money is assigned, click the "Finish Your Budget" button at the bottom for some additional tips. Congratulations! You've made your first YNAB budget!

Three Ways to Budget

You have three ways to get your dollars where they need to be. Try them all! You may have a favorite (don't worry, we won’t tell the other ones if you do).

( You'll notice some visual changes since this video was created, but the method remains the same!)

In the Category 

You can type right in the Assigned column. Need $90.00 for that Cat Toys category you just created? (No judgment here!) Just type 90 and move to the next category. (Yup, those little math symbols mean you can do in-line calculations in your budget.)

Moving Money 

You can also click on  Ready to Assign, making sure the tab is on "Manually", and enter the amount you want to move, select the category, and boom! Dollars are assigned.


Remember the targets you created and how they made categories yellow? Yellow means you’re underfunded, and you can fund underfunded categories with a single click using our Auto-Assign feature. 

Find that Underfunded button in the Inspector on the right, or click the Assign button at the top and tab to "Auto"—and click away. You can do this for your whole budget, or one category group at a time, or by selecting categories. (You won't see it when you have only one category selected - you'll see the Target option instead - but it will reappear with multiple categories.)

This Targets + Auto-Assign combo is how you can create a budget template, but that’s jumping ahead a bit. 😉Let's move on to Step 4 and schedule some transactions!

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