Auto-Assign on Mobile

Note: This article refers to the Auto-Assign button at the top of the Budget Tab in the Mobile app

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 Auto-Assign

Tapping Auto-Assign is the quickest and easiest way to assign funds to your categories. With one tap, you can Give Every Dollar a Job, and possibly fund your entire month! 

The Auto-Assign button will appear to the right of the amount in Ready to Assign, when there is money that needs to be given a job. 

On the budget tab, Auto-Assign is directly to the right of the amount in Ready to Assign at the top of the screen

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

How it Works

Auto-Assign will 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 Auto-Assign know when my expenses are due? Answer: Targets.

By setting Targets in your categories, you’re telling your budget which order to assign funds to categories. Once Targets are set, tapping Auto-Assign will assign dollars to your categories based on the target’s end date. 

Want a bit more manual control?

After tapping Auto-Assign, YNAB will show you a preview of where your money will go. You'll also see the amount still needed this month to fund the budget, including targets and scheduled transactions. Tap directly on categories to make changes as you'd like! Amounts that will be assigned are shown in blue. You can move money around between categories, assign more to certain categories or less to others, but be sure not to assign more than you have (YNAB will warn you with a red Ready to Assign if you do). Once you are happy with where each of your dollars is going, tap Apply at the top and YNAB will assign those dollars!

At the top 637 more is needed this month and the preview shows the amounts that will be added to each category in blue

The Order Logic: Quick Summary

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

Auto-Assign 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, Auto-Assign will apply in a top-to-bottom order of your categories.

The Order Logic: A Deeper Dive

Auto-Assign will evaluate all of the categories in your budget in the current month. Here’s a closer look at how it prioritizes which categories to fund:

  1. Categories with overspending will be funded first. Even Auto-Assign follows Rule 3!
  2. Pro Tip: Auto-Assign 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, the logic will apply in a top-to-bottom order of your categories. 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.

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.

One last thing!

If you select an individual category and tap the Auto-Assign button within (the lightning bolt icon), you'll see an Underfunded option. This applies the above logic to only that individual category. You'll also notice the Underfunded button when assigning dollars on the web app. These buttons follow the same logic regardless of which app you're budgeting from. 

Go forth and assign those funds!

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