July 10, 2019 at 9:53pm

A Guide to Using YNAB to Support NDIS Self-Managed Budgeting

As a self-managed user of Australia’s National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) it is necessary to budget, account for, and forecast expenditure over the 12-month period of the funding agreement.

The typical way to do this budgeting would be with a spreadsheet, laid out in the typical fashion with columns of months and rows of accounts. This is how I assumed I would do it. Yet as I got stuck into the job of building my spreadsheet I realised how much I no longer enjoy working in spreadsheets.

My feelings for ExcelMy feelings for Excel

For a period of my early career, Excel was life. But that was a different time, and a different me. I ain’t got no time for Excel now. I’m over it.

Leveraging YNAB

What I do have is a subscription to YNAB which happens to be the most effective personal budgeting tool I have ever used.

I thought it would be worthwhile to see if I could extract more value from my YNAB subscription by creating a budget specifically for managing NDIS expenditure.

My Venn DiagramMy Venn Diagram

This is a niche solution for a niche problem. The Venn Diagram of people who are self-managed participants of the NDIS and use YNAB must be vanishingly small. But perhaps, one of those people might stumble across this post and find it helpful.

Build the framework

The following is a guide explaining how YNAB can be configured to support the budgeting and accounting tasks associated with a self-managed NDIS plan.

  1. Create a new YNAB budget file specifically for NDIS budgeting and expenditure.
  2. Within that budget, create Category Groups to match relevant NDIS funding descriptors.
  3. Within the Category Groups built at Step 2, create Categories for each service provider expected to be used through the life of the NDIS Plan.[^Remember that more providers can be added later, if necessary, so no pressure to get this completely accurate at the start.]
  4. Create On-Budget Accounts for each of the relevant NDIS support budgets.[^There are three potential budgets: core budget, capacity building budget, and capital budget.] The NDIS requires that funding be expended for the purpose it is granted, so the creation of specific accounts prevents leakage across allocations.
  5. Inflow the funding received from the NDIS for each support budget into its associated YNAB account. This will become the starting balance from which to budget for the year.

Well done, your YNAB framework is ready!

Establish and run the budget

Now, you can build your budget using the standard YNAB approach of giving each dollar a job, but in the context of NDIS expenditure.

Based on quotes, service agreements and your own preference, allocate your total NDIS budget value across your service providers. Ensure that the subtotal for each Category Group matches the sum allocated to its YNAB account.

As services are delivered and invoices paid, input them as expenses within the relevant account (Core Supports/Capacity Building/Capital), assigning the supplier as the YNAB Payee, and the Category as the relevant provider you created as a Category. This is hard to explain, but easy to do.

For bonus points, you can choose to highlight the cleared icon once a rebate is received from the NDIS back into your transaction account.

The result

Following these steps will leave you in the enviable position of having up-to-date figures that can readily display:

  • overall expenditure
  • expenditure per NDIS budget group
  • funds remaining per NDIS budget group
  • budget allocations per service provider, but with the added ability to dynamically rebalance your budget using YNABs built-in move money feature - as long as you only move it within YNABs Category Groups to maintain the integrity of the NDIS support budget allocations.

You also gain full access to the YNAB reports to more deeply analyse your expenditure should you wish.


  • Remember, this is not a budget for your bank account. If you make payments and/or receive reimbursements the bank accounts transactions are not specifically recorded in this YNAB budget. Use your everyday YNAB budget for that.
  • The YNAB system relies on maintaining the To Be Budgeted figure at $0.00. Keep it at this and you will not go over budget.
NDIS tutorial YNAB
July 1, 2019 at 1:44pm

Kerry O’Brien’s powerful Logies speech 2019 - YouTube

June 24, 2019 at 9:06pm

Nobody Wants to Buy Vocus

Vocus’ share performance over 3 yearsVocus’ share performance over 3 years

Poor Vocus, it must be in bad shape.

From Bill Bennett:

Last week Australian energy company AGL withdrew its A$3 billion takeover offer for Vocus. This came only two weeks after Swedish private equity firm EQT halted its $3.3 billion transaction.

Bill goes on to reflect that as currently structured, Australia’s broadband market may not enable companies to make a reasonable profit:

All of which says bad things about the state of retail telecommunications. The private equity investors have looked and seen there is no quick path to profit.

More patient, longer-term investors like AGL, who have access to the magic formula of adding power sales to a broadband subscription don’t think it looks viable either.

The Australian telecommunications industry reminds me of how our aviation industry was in the 1980s and 1990s. Carriers would arrive, make losses, destroy shareholder value, and disappear. Now, instead of aeroplanes, it’s communication networks.

Same as it ever was.

equities infrastructure
June 18, 2019 at 10:48pm

OpenDNS & Dynamic IPs

I have changed my DNS provider to OpenDNS. I have been using CloudFlare DNS and have nothing but praise for its speed and stability. However, with kids in the house, I need the additional network filtering and site-blocking that OpenDNS can deliver.

For OpenDNS to work it needs to be kept abreast of my home’s IP address. My ISP doesn’t provide1 a static IP. While my dynamic IP doesn’t change often, any change that does occur prevents the OpenDNS filtering from working. What’s more, it’s a non-visible problem. There are no error messages that pop up alerting of a problem. The filtering just stops working.

OpenDNS know this. They offer an app that runs in the background to monitor and update the OpenDNS service with the current dynamic IP address. However, that app isn’t nice. What’s more, I don’t like the idea of the network filtering being dependent on a laptop device that might not always be available on the network to perform the update.

Enter Raspberry Pi

I have a Raspberry Pi that provides ad-blocking throughout my home network with the brilliant Pi-Hole. Given it’s already important role in my network configuration, I decided the Pi should also be responsible for monitoring any changes to my dynamic IP address.

A bit of research led me to discover that ddclient was the tool for the job. It’s not installed by default on the Pi, but can be installed through the GUI package manager or on the terminal with:

sudo apt-get install ddclient

Once installed, I progressed to follow this solid step-by-step guide on how to configure ddclient with OpenDNS.


The end result is that I now have ddclient running as a daemon process on the Raspberry Pi. It launches upon reboot and checks my IP address every 1 hour.

The best part is that I don’t have to run the very ordinary OpenDNS Updater app on my Mac.

  1. That is, I’m too cheap to pay for.

configuration networking
June 16, 2019 at 10:25am

So Many Markdown Editor Options

The search for the right Mac Markdown editor is like a quest for the Holy Grail. There are many options, but finding the ideal fit is a challenge.

It got to the point where I had to do an audit of the options that exist on my computer, and consider which one might be best for my needs.

The list I came up with is, in potential order of preference:

  • MultiMarkdown Composer (currently free version)
    • This offers live preview with synchronised scrolling, works with the file system directly and is designed specifically for Markdown writing. The downside is the editing environment just feels slightly off’. I do like the keyboard commands and the way it pastes in links.
    • $23.00 upgrade.
  • BBEdit (with Keyboard Maestro BBEdit Markdown additions) (currently free version)
    • Solid as a rock text editor. I’m not a programmer, so many of the features are lost on me. With the Keyboard Maestro additions it can deal with Markdown formatting with keyboard shortcuts elegantly.
    • No typewriter mode.
    • Doesn’t carry forward markdown lists, as I’m finding writing this post.
    • Has built-in git support.
    • $75.14
  • The Archive
    • A fork of nvAlt, this is an app I use for my zettelkasten notes, and other bits and pieces. The markdown editing is okay, but it doesn’t play well with links on the clipboard.
  • Drafts
    • Where text starts.
    • Also where text stays in a database which is not great for easy git management.
  • DEVONthink
    • The new version 3 has much better Markdown support, but it’s still rudimentary when it comes to editing. Limited keyboard support makes this better for looking at Markdown than writing in it.
    • I’m going to buy the new version anyway.
  • NotePlan
    • I’m using this for my daily notes.
    • While it has a section for generic notes, I’m not going to incorporate this into a wider writing workflow.
  • Byword
    • It’s really old, and while it still works, it’s starting to show its age.
    • I don’t like the way I need to switch views to preview the markdown.
  • Ulysses
    • Uses a custom variant of Markdown (Markdown XL) by default.
    • Keeps everything in it’s own library so not great for git management.
    • Every time I try to use this app for general Markdown editing I end up getting frustrated.
  • Curio Good for project-based Markdown notes, but not good for file-based writing and editing.
  • Notebooks (requires Dropbox)
    • The Notebooks editor is quite nice. Unfortunately, I’m in the process of ditching Dropbox, and it uses Dropbox as its fundamental sync engine, so it’s a non-starter.

A special mention:

  • iA Writer
    • I don’t have iA Writer on my Mac, but I do have it on iOS where it frustrates me by not having TextExpander integration.
    • Micro.blog feedback indicates that it is great on the Mac, though, so let’s add this as a strong contender.
    • $50.00

Picking a Winner

I thought I would end up choosing BBEdit. That’s why I typed this post in the app. But in usage, I think the winner might be MultiMarkdown Composer.

software markdown
June 14, 2019 at 8:13pm

This is a post written in 1Writer and to be published via Working Copy on iOS.

Files integration is great!

Now I’m editing this file in iA Writer as it is linked with Working Copy’s instance of my file through iCloud and Files app.

I wish iA Writer supported TextExpander.