Why I don't use the imported transactions feature

I know others will disagree with me, however, I wanted to write a quick post and give another perspective.  I started on YNAB4 which did not have the feature to import transactions, so maybe I am just old school. I have used Mint and other budget programs that auto-imported your transactions with no success ever. YNAB was the first to make me input all my transactions manually. Those of you who remember checkbooks it was the same way. Because of the processing time, it was very important to log each check in your register. 

By manually inputting all of your transactions it makes you so much more aware of your actual spending habits. Sure you could import them all for the month and then look at your Reports, but I don't think that has as lasting of an effect as importing each individual transaction and re-budgeting if you overspent. I will compare this to counting calories. Every once in a while I use MyFitnessPal and will log every single calorie for a week. I travel a lot so usually when I am in a new place for an extended time and on a new meal plan is when I do this. Some people really have no idea what they are putting in their body. Even if you don't restrict what you eat by simply becoming aware of what you are will tend to alter your eating habits. The same is true for spending habits. 

This is just food for thought. I know that YNAB was probably overwhelmed with requests for this feature. If you truly want to understand and control your budget don't import your transactions. Take the time and pride that your budget deserves and input transactions when you spend them. Reconcile twice a week. Watch as your spending habits improve and your budget grows.

Good luck to everyone and I hope that this helps some of you out there on your quest.

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  • Really, whether someone is using DI or not, manual entry should still be the primary protocol. DI was meant to be used the same way that downloading QIFs was meant to be—to reconcile accounts. 

    I admit that these days I do let DI deal with the $1.30 I spend most days at the campus coffee shop. It’s also really great for dealing with my entire checking account—the only things that cross that account are scheduled transactions, so the scheduler inputs them, DI clears them, and I basically never look at that account. But most other transactions I enter manually for exactly the reasons you discuss. That the importance of manual entry  is not being emphasized by support except when someone’s DI connection doesn’t work bothers me a lot. 

    Like 7
  • Is it possible to direct import from time to time (such as when initially setting up, or from time to time), but the rest of the time do it manually?  I have used YNAB 4 before (two years ago), and I'm thinking about trying the new YNAB.  'm starting fresh because our situation has changed since then.  I have a LOT of accounts, and entering the startup information for all of them is going to be a pain.

     

    Thanks

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      • mamster
      • mamster
      • 2 yrs ago
      • Reported - view

      Maroon Cyborg Sure, you can connect your accounts and then unlink them by clicking the "edit account" icon next to the account name in the left sidebar. You can always relink them again later.

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  • I do manual entry and use direct import to speed reconciliation and capture missed transactions.

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  • Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but I think it's insane to have to manually enter transactions. I have hundreds transactions per month...it would take me many hours of mind-numbing work and be totally error prone. Auto import is the only way to go for me. I have way better things to do then be a data entry clerk during my valuable spare time. 

    I'm new to YNAB, but I have used Mvelopes for the past 5 years so I've very familiar with the whole process.   So far NONE of my accounts in YNAB are auto importing. Very disappointing. If it does not get sorted out soon, I'll cancel before my trial is over and go back to Mvelopes. I thought I'd try YNAB, because I like that they have an API. I wanted MORE automation, not less!

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      • Herman
      • herman
      • 11 mths ago
      • 6
      • Reported - view

      Greg hours?  Let's stay 200 transactions. Less than 15 seconds per transaction.  Max 50 minutes spread over 30 days ) But to each their own

      Like 6
      • KaraBoo
      • A goal without a plan is just a wish
      • KaraBoo
      • 11 mths ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      It really does only take seconds. I take maybe five minutes at the end of the day to add/check all my transactions, and that's about all it takes. I've never even tried to link my bank accounts because I like to be 100% hands on with my budget. I understand that's not for everyone. But it's definitely not something that takes many hours to do.

      Like 2
      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 11 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Herman +1. Normally I enter while waiting in the checkout line doing absolutely nothing.

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    • Hi Greg !

      I took a look and I'm seeing transactions available to import in your accounts. If you click on the name of the account on the left hand side of your budget, then click the "Import" button at the top, those transactions will appear in your accounts.

      When you have a moment, give that a try and let me know if you still aren't seeing transactions import. :)

      Like
      • Greg
      • gregas
      • 11 mths ago
      • Reported - view

        Faness , thanks for checking. I just went in and clicked "import"  on every account that I have. Every single one says "no transactions to import". Not sure what the issue is. I'm eager to get this going, but need the transactions.

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    • Greg I sent you an email so we can get to the bottom of what's going on here! Unrelated, I see that you mentioned wanting to build auto-classification using the API and our Payee Management may cover that for you. :)

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      • Greg
      • gregas
      • 11 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Faness I do have one  transaction to import now, so maybe it's just a delay...hopefully it all just starts working. I will follow up by email.  Thanks for pointing out the classification / payee management features. I dont want to reinvent the wheel!

      Like 1
  • You folks are much better data entry clerks than I am...there is no way that I can do it it 15 seconds per transaction and get it all correct. Kudos to you. I definitely do not want to do this every day. Once per week is plenty.

    Like
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 11 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Greg You get faster over time by getting used to doing it.

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      • WordTenor
      • I have the honor to be your obedient servant
      • WordTenor
      • 11 mths ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view

      Greg Since a lot of us care about people's financial health as well as their use of the software, I will point out only that YNAB is an extremely expensive choice for that kind of "look at what happened" budgeting, even if direct import is working perfectly. Mint is a far better option and it's free. 

      Like 3
      • Greg
      • gregas
      • 11 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      WordTenor I think that you misunderstand me. I don't use mint because I DO want to use the forward budgeting approach the both Mvelopes and YNAB use. I do want to use it to know what I can spend, in advance. It's not just a rear view mirror. I just don't need to know on a daily basis. I have plenty of money  month-to-month and have no worries about now having enough (I'm very grateful for that). I mostly use it for budgeting for savings and longer term spending items. So looking at the budgets weekly is plenty for me. Also, I do not consider $7/month extremely expensive. It's one lunch an my work cafeteria.

      Everyone has a different approach to life. Mine is well planned and automated. I try to automate or delegate anything that I don't enjoy. I can always get more money, but I can't get more time. Time is of the highest value to me. I can see how some people may really enjoy the budgeting process. For me it's a necessary evil. I do it be cause it DOES help keep me on track financially. But in order to keep it up, I need it to be as friction free as possible.

      When I was using Mvelopes, not only did the transactions import automatically, but you could set rules so that the would be all assigned to a budget item automatically. All I had to know how much money to spend was to pull out my phone and look at the app. No typing transactions, no classifying transactions. But Mvelopes went and broke that in their new release (big downgrade). So I'm here trying YNAB.

      I have not seen a feature to auto-classify transactions, but I can easily write a Python script to do that over the API. After I do that, all I have to do is look at the app to see how much I have to spend. Zero grunt work. Then once per month, I quickly review the automatically filed transactions, just to make sure there is no fraud.

      I have operated like that for the last five years with Mvelopes, I'm not at all new to the process and I know how it should work (for me). I'd still be with Mvelopes but they broke it so badly, it sent me on a hunt for alternatives. There is a lot that I like about YNAB (the UI is way better than Mvelopes, for instance). I also really like that it has API access. But I'm still not sure that it will meet my needs.  But I'm learning and giving it a chance (for at least 29 more days!).

      Like
      • Superbone
      • YNAB convert since 2008
      • Superbone
      • 11 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Greg YNAB should be able to do what you need although I'm not sure why you're struggling so much with all your direct imports. I have 10 accounts on budget and I only have issues with two of them. The Apple Card just doesn't do DI or even manual downloads for that matter. Not YNAB's fault. Also, my Capital One credit CC has to be validated every time I want to do an import. Apparently, that has to do with Capital One's increased security on their cards. So I only update that account a couple times a week. The other accounts work rather flawlessly.

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