Awhile back, I stumbled upon an interesting article that made the case for creating out of the...
With the Super Bowl just behind us, those of us NFL fans find ourselves not only yearning for more football, but mulling over the stats from the Super Bowl or our favorite team’s star player. We live in a world of constant measuring: How tall are you? How many hours a day do you exercise (that’s easy: not enough)? How much of your paycheck is actually left at the end of the day? While the NFL might have its own version of sultry or startling statistics to consider, YNAB’s Reports are the answer to the need for measuring financial performance.
It’s kickoff time!
To get started with reporting in YNAB, click on the Reports link in the upper-left hand corner. YNAB has three built-in reports: Spending, Net Worth, and Income v Expense. All of the reports have filters at the top for Categories, date range, and Accounts. This allows you to customize the reports however you see fit. Let’s dive into each report type.
Spending Totals and Trends
The Spending Totals report will show you how much you spent on your master categories as a percentage of the whole. This is helpful to achieve that “a-ha!” moment when you realize how much you spend on things like groceries or the power bill. The Spending Trends report is useful for looking at the same data to see which months were better or worse for spending (I need to stop buying things off of Amazon.com…).
Net Worth – What’s (still) in your wallet?
The Net Worth report takes into account (pun intended) all of your Budget and Tracking accounts and shows you, over time, your debts vs. assets. This is useful if you track things like your 401(k) or other investments, among other items like your mortgage and savings accounts. There is a trend line running through each month’s data that lets you easily visualize your performance over time.
Income v Expense – Show me the Money! (or at least where it all went)
This report is the most detailed of all. It shows you—in remarkable Excel-ish styling—your income and expenses by master category and payee over the selected date range, complete with sub-totals and grand totals. This is the report for any truly statistically-minded person. Want to know how much income you received from Craigslist sales? This is your report. Want to know month-by-month how much you spent on groceries? This report can tell you that. Want to know how much you bought off of Amazon.com? Not really, actually…
For even more reports, download the free Google Chrome Toolkit Extension for YNAB. Some of these reports are effectively the same as the built-in ones, but you also get the Spending By Payee report, which helps you see exactly where your money went in a pie chart. The Toolkit Extension has many other great features as well.
Wins vs. Losses
Like so many wild and crazy NFL stats (“The quarterback is 4 for 11 on 3rd downs in October whenever there’s a harvest moon that lands on a Saturday!”), what do all of these reports mean? It is great to look at the past and see where you’ve been, but what about the future? The reports are designed to help you see just how much you’ve spent, where you’ve spent it at, and how you’re trending. The old adage about “those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it” rings true here. These reports can help you solidify your financial plans for the future by helping you learn from your spending history. This will help you to see what’s truly important to you (your priorities) and will help you own your true expenses (mortgage, food, gas, etc.). While the YNAB philosophy is to constantly be looking ahead and budgeting for the future, it is quite useful to see how the past 3 months, 6 months, or 12 months fared. And those stats aren’t so wild and crazy.
For more info, see the YNAB Reports Support page. I’m off to get the scoop on this year’s NFL Draft…