Underfunded

Maybe you’ve been budgeting for a while and realized you’ve got some repetitive monthly spending amounts in your budget—rent, insurance, pizza…

Or perhaps you’re budgeting on the fly (pizza slice in hand), and are eager to give your dollars a job faster

Enter Underfunded (called Auto-Assign in the mobile app)

Clicking Underfunded is the quickest and easiest way to assign funds to your categories. With one click, you can Give Every Dollar a Job, and possibly fund your entire month! 

You can find Underfunded with your other Auto-Assign options in the Inspector on the right-hand side of your budget:

The Auto-Assign button will also appear to the right of the amount in Ready to Assign when there is money available to assign:

Underfunded considers your Targets, Scheduled Transactions, and any overspending, and applies dollars to those categories from  Ready to Assign.

How it Works (no categories selected)

If no categories are selected, Underfunded will evaluate all of the categories in your budget, and assign dollars to your categories in the order that they are needed until either:

  1. Ready to Assign is at $0.00.
  2. The current month has been fully funded.

Wait, you ask, how does Underfunded know when my expenses are due? Answer: Targets.

By setting targets in your categories, you’re letting Underfunded know which order to assign funds to categories. Once targets are set, Underfunded will assign dollars to your categories based on the target's end date.

How it Works (with categories selected)

If certain categories or category groups are selected, Underfunded will only affect those selected categories.

If a single category is selected, Underfunded will only apply to that category. If you don't see the Underfunded button, it means there isn't any underfunding! The button likes to take a rest after a hard day's budgeting work.

If multiple categories are selected, Underfunded will fully fund all of the selected categories.

⚠️ Warning: IF you have specific categories selected, Underfunded will fund them in full, even if there isn't enough in  Ready to Assign  to cover the underfunding. This may cause your Ready to Assign to turn negative, so you'll want to either use Underfunded with no categories selected, or make sure you have enough to cover find all the categories that are selected.

The Order Logic: Quick Summary

Here’s a quick summary of how Underfunded prioritizes which categories to fund (when none are selected). Scroll down for a more detailed explanation.

Underfunded will fund categories in the following order:

  1. Categories with overspending (this will not only cover overspending but fund the target)
  2. Scheduled Transactions, Weekly spending targets, and Monthly spending targets (with a specific date selected)
  3. Monthly Spending targets with "End of Month" selected and Monthly Savings Builder targets
  4. By Date Spending targets and By Date Savings Balance targets (prioritized in order of due date)
  5. Credit Card targets

If two or more categories are considered equal, Underfunded will apply in a top-to-bottom order of your categories.

The Order Logic: A Deeper Dive

Underfunded will evaluate all of the categories in your budget in the current month. If certain categories or category groups are selected, they will only affect those selected. Here’s a closer look at how it prioritizes which categories to fund when none are selected:

  1. Categories with overspending will be funded first. Even Underfunded follows Rule 3!
  2. Pro Tip: Underfunded will also prioritize satisfying the respective target in an overspent category. So, if you have a category with overspending and an underfunded target, YNAB will not only cover the overspending but it will also fully fund the target amount before moving on to the next category.
  3. Scheduled Transactions and Needed For Spending targets with a specific Every date will be funded next. This also includes any "by Date" targets with an end date on a specific day in the current month.

    For example: Your Weekly Groceries target due Saturday, the 17th, will be funded before your Monthly Netflix subscription due the 23rd. Then, the next instance of your Weekly Groceries target due Saturday, the 24th, will be funded before your Monthly Hulu subscription due the 28th. (no judgement, they each have good shows!)
  4. Any “End of Month” targets will be funded next. This includes:
    1. Needed For Spending Monthly targets set for every “End of Month”.
    2. Needed For Spending By Date targets, set for a future month.
    3. Monthly Savings Builder targets.
    4. Savings Balance by Date targets.


    These targets are prioritized based on their due date, so a target with an end date of July 2022 will always be funded before a target with an end date of August 2022, and monthly targets will be funded before "by Date" targets with an end date in a future month.

  5. If all Monthly and Weekly targets have been funded for the entire month, and there are still funds available in Ready to Assign, Credit Card targets will be funded.
  6. If all of the previous criteria has been met and there are two or more categories considered equal, Underfunded will apply in a top-to-bottom order. This doesn't mean that all categories will be funded top to bottom, just that if two categories both meet exactly the same criteria (ie. there are two Monthly Savings Builder targets in your budget), the one higher in your budget will be funded before the one lower in your budget.

If  Ready to Assign reaches $0.00 at any point in this order, the funding will automatically stop. You can then choose to leave your categories as they are, or you can move money as you prefer (like to the Pizza category 🍕).

On the other hand, if the above sequence is completed and there are still funds left over in  Ready to Assign, you can choose to fund categories that are omitted from the logic (more on that in a moment), or you can choose to move forward into the following month and continue giving your dollars jobs there.

The First Month of the Budget

The very first month the budget is active, any targets with due dates set prior to the starting date of the budget itself will be funded after targets with a due date coming up. This only applies to the very first month of the budget itself. Any subsequent months will be funded according to the logic above from the first of the month. 

Categories that don't get to play

There are some categories that are not invited to the funding party. *cue sad trombone*

  • Categories in which a Savings Balance (without a date) goal is set. 
  • Categories in which no target is set at all, unless there is a scheduled transaction.
  • Categories with no upcoming Scheduled Transactions, unless there is an unmet target.

Since there are no specific dates affiliated with these categories, you'll need to assign funds to these categories yourself.

Bonus Round!

Enough about my categories being underfunded—what if I’m overfunded?

Without any categories selected, you’ll also have the option to Reduce Overfunding. When clicked, any excess funds above what are needed based on your Targets and Scheduled Transactions will be moved up to Ready to Assign. Give those dollars a new job!

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