Setting up YNAB

Do I have to wait until the 1st of the month to start?

No! Those new to budgeting are often confused about when to start. The answer is now! If you are feeling motivated to get your Budget started then jump in and seize the moment.

There are just a few things to keep in mind:

  1. The past is the past! You don’t need to budget for things that already happened before you started your YNAB Budget.
  2. Enter things in real time! Don’t try to enter transactions that happened a week ago or that will happen next week. Work in real time as things happen.
  3. Follow our simple three-step process and repeat!

If you are just starting out and don't have one month's income saved, you won't be able to budget the entire month at once. That's okay - just prioritize your budgeting and ask yourself this question:

What does this money need to do before I am paid again?


Budget for those expenses and then track your spending. When you are paid again - Repeat. Enter your income, budget it, and record spending.

Although you can import all of your old Money or Quicken data into YNAB, we do not recommend importing historical data. YNAB works as a forward looking, spending and savings management plan for your money. As such, it is not concerned with vast amounts of imported history. Having access to that history as a matter of record may have value, but it's more important to fully understand how YNAB works before loading in that much data. If you suddenly import years of data, you will have to go back to the earliest date of the imported data and budget each and every dollar for each month. Depending on the amount of historical data, that could be a daunting and tedious task.

How do I budget without one month’s income saved?

Begin by budgeting what you have on hand right now toward the bills and other needs that you have that will occur before you get paid again. Then, when you get paid again, simply repeat the steps.

Learn how to make a fresh start.