Is there a way to see category transfers?

I know I moved money into my clothing category mid-month, but I don't remember where I moved it FROM, and can't figure out how to find that.  I am sure there's a reason why it "doesn't matter" in terms of budgeting the YNAB way, but I like to be able to see where I've "stolen" money from, whether it is another spending category or a savings category, etc.  I find it odd that my savings category (which I know I moved money out of this month to cover a couple overspending episodes in other categories) shows no activity for the month (I guess because I didn't spend DIRECTLY from there, but I still moved money out and that should show).  

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  • It doesn't get tracked anywhere, because the moving of money is considered "rolling with the punches". YNAB only concerns itself with transactions where money enters or exits the budget or transfers between accounts.

    If that information is important to you, you will have to track it yourself. I know some users do, maybe someone who does will have some suggestions for you.

    Reply Like 2
  • Thanks.  That’s frustrating. Maybe I’ll put it in as a feature request, though it sounds unlikely that they’d implement it. 

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    • Cornflower Blue Jackal Consider this feature request received! I'll pass along a note to our development team letting them know you'd like to see those changes! :)

      They're currently not tracked because Budgeting is prioritizing. When you're moving money around, it's because something came up that made one category more important (at that moment) than another. You can include notes in the category section to help keep track, but I see why being able to reference those changes may be helpful!

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    • Faness at YNAB Thank you!  Can you explain what you mean by including notes in the category section?  

      I definitely think it would be helpful for being able to have transparency to where your money is going.  For example, if I start taking money from savings every month to fund groceries, it would be useful to see how much I've drawn down my savings category over the past few months.  Or if I consistently take money from groceries to fill dining out, it would be good to see the amounts so that I can adjust my monthly budget so that I'm funding dining out more and groceries less going forward.  

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    • Cornflower Blue Jackal Absolutely! If you're in the YNAB web app, you can select a category and a Notes section will appear at the bottom of the right hand side of the screen. Those notes carry over from month to month so you can create a list there for that category - "January - Moved $40 from Dining Out. February - Moved $20 to Savings" etc.

      We want you to hold on to that philosophy! Currently, instead of "I keep moving money from Groceries to Dining Out, maybe I should change the amounts" we're focused on, "I keep spending $xx.xx on Dining Out, so that's what I'll budget this month" (cue Quick Budget options!) or something along those lines. :)

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      • kapamalo
      • kapamalo
      • 1 mth ago
      • Reported - view

      Faness I'd like to add my vote to this feature request. I've just had a bad spending month, where I had to move about $400 from various Savings budget categories to cover various overspent other budget categories. However, YNAB doesn't really highlight anywhere that its been a rough month. The top of the screen still says my incoming matches my outgoing, where, in reality, I've spent $400 more than I actually had available to budget (by dipping into my savings categories). This can be deceiving, and can promote using Savings as a crutch if YNAB doesn't highlight that you've "reduced" a bunch of categories in that month. When you are moving money around that you earned in the current month, it's no big deal--you're just re-prioritizing the money that's coming in. But when you're using money that you earmarked four months ago to cover other expenses in the current month, that should be a red flag, and it would be helpful if YNAB could red flag that for us in some way.

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      • RaptorX
      • RaptorX
      • 1 mth ago
      • Reported - view

      kapamalo you just explained perfectly what i was feeling.

      I like the idea of rolling with the punches but it leads to this false sense of security because you just  "gave every dollar a job" but hey, i just had to move 25% of my categorized income from next month to this month due to unforseen expenses.

      Next month i am 25% off my mark but i dont even notice because everything is green.

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    • Hi kapamalo !

      The only problem I see with that is red-flagging every instance where money is moved. An Emergency Fund is a common savings category in YNAB, used for a wide range of emergencies. When those emergencies happen, we don't think it's a bad thing to move those funds for the jobs you intended. However, I understand wanting a record or log of those changes so you can see which months had those emergencies. You can request that by submitting a Feature Request. :)

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    • Faness  My question is how would you track this situation. Let's say I have $20 in my gas fund and I have $30 in my dining out fund. I get gas and the cost is $25. I move the $5 from my dining out fund into my gas fund. I then get a paycheck and I want to put that $5 back into the original fund. If my paycheck is a couple of weeks later, I am sure I won't remember that I moved that $5 and from which fund. 

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    • Hi Spring Green Grizzly ! I hope you don't mind me jumping in for Faness.

      I'd apply Rule Three and Roll With The Punches. We change our schedules all the time—it's normal! Your finances work the same way. When the details change, and they definitely will, change your budget by moving money.

      Your budget is flexible because life happens! To keep track, you can add a note to your category, and you can remove the note when you add those funds back.

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    • Nicole at YNAB thanks for the information. is there a way to track or report on the notes for that month's transactions? 

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    • Spring Green Grizzly To find your notes, you'd click on the category. They will carry over from month to month! Currently, there is not a way to track or report those—they're just for reference.

      However, if you'd like to see that handled differently would you mind sending over a Feature Request to let our development team know? I don't really see that changing, since the category notes are for your reference and how they are used will vary from person to person—but it doesn't hurt to ask!

      Reply Like
      • RaptorX
      • RaptorX
      • 1 mth ago
      • Reported - view

      Nicole at YNAB 

      I have been doing ynab for a bit now and i understand the concept of rolling with the punches.

      The problem comes when we want to restore our finances to how they were before the blue eye we just received from life.

      Ynab doesn't seem to help with that little part.

      For example, I just moved  $800 worth of cash from *several categories* due to an unforseen event.

      In the next few months i would like to leave those categories as they were.

      Notes don't help much when you have 60+ categories.

      So yeah i rolled with the punches and all is fine, but now i want to "get back on track" and that's a bit difficult with ynab atm.

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    • RaptorX The system doesn't currently do what you would like. It may never do because for as many instances as this where it would be useful to you now, it would give horrendously messy, fairly useless reports for many. So if wish to put things back to where you should be then you're going to need a workaround. 

      People have already talked about how YNAB changed their thinking on this over time and how to use notes so I won't labour that point. If you're trying to quick budget then with 60 categories notes may be inefficient. However, if you are working down your list being mindful about the variable/discretionary categories then it really doesn't take long to read the top note which says what you are aiming to get the balance back to.

      You could use goals. If you already have a target balance by date goal then YNAB will do the maths so that you still reach the goal by the required date. It will, however, spread the catch up amount over the remaining time period. If you want to pay it back quicker, then you can either budget more than the required amount and let it recalculate. Or you need to do some maths. If you don't already have a goal on the category then it would work exactly as you wish. Set the balance and the time you want to 'pay it back' over.

      You can also just write the amount you owe the category in the category name and then manually change it as you pay it back.

      All of these solutions require extra work but so would adding split transactions and then searching for them so you can see how much you need to pay back.

      It's easier to accept the mindset that your priorities changed, you had to rearrange your budget so at this point in time, with what you have available how do you now get to where you need to be.

      Reply Like
      • kapamalo
      • kapamalo
      • 1 mth ago
      • Reported - view

      Faness Considering that I may have put a lot of money away over the years, but now experience a smaller income and can use my savings as backup, is there any way in YNAB to quickly answer the question, “Am I, on average, spending more than I earn, and if so, how much more?”

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    • kapamalo When you have a moment, take a look at the Income v. Expense report. There's an average spent, a total spent and other figures, but at the bottom there's an overall net for each month and a total net. That compares how much you're spending to how much you're receiving, so you can find that number. Let me know what you think! :)

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      • kapamalo
      • kapamalo
      • 1 mth ago
      • Reported - view

      Faness Perfect, that's what I'm looking for. That helps me keep a bird's eye view of how much I'm reaching into savings to cover my expenses. Thank you.

      Reply Like
  • I've solved this by creating a on-budget account called Transfers Categories, Then a create a transaction of $0, then split it between  2 categories I'm moving money to. For example $200 output from Home Projects Fund and $200 input into Bathroom Home Improvement make a total of $0.   I only do this when moving money from one of my saving fund or If need to move more then $200 from the buffer.

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      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 11 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      rswartzmiller Just be aware that this method will skew expense reporting.

      Reply Like 1
      • RaptorX
      • RaptorX
      • 2 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      rswartzmiller Maybe a Tracking account is better for this purpose, which is an account that dont affect your budged but you can keep record of the money movement.

      Maybe someone more experienced might chime in on this idea because Im looking for a way to keep a journal when moving money between categories.

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      • Til Debt Do Us Part
      • Divorcing Debt - Not Each Other
      • debt_do_us_part
      • 2 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      RaptorX Do you mean a tracking account where you enter fake transactions to represent the movement of money? Since Tracking accounts don't require categories, it might get tricky and I don't like the idea of a fake account. I wouldn't suggest it.

      Reply Like 1
      • RaptorX
      • RaptorX
      • 2 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Til Debt Do Us Part yeah that's true.

      But there should be a special kind of account for this then. A Journal account that its only purpose is to record category money moving around.

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      • Til Debt Do Us Part
      • Divorcing Debt - Not Each Other
      • debt_do_us_part
      • 1 mth ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      RaptorX 

      I think I found a way to do exactly what you're looking for.. Try entering a zero dollar split transaction. Put an outflow amount categorized to the category you're moving funds from, and an inflow for the exact same amount to the category you're moving funds to. That's a $0 net, so it won't affect your account. It also handles the move through the activity so you can leave the budgeted amounts as is.

      This still creates a transaction that didn't happen, but for zero dollars.. which isn't as bad but I'm still not really a fan (of my own idea here 😅).

      Reply Like 1
    • Til Debt Do Us Part RaptorX My budget rather complicatedly involves my personal budget and a joint budget (or at least the parts of the joint budget that I am responsible for). I wouldn't particularly recommend this way of doing joint finances but it's turned out to be the best solution for us (for now).

      I have an on-budget account called JiggeryPokery which I purely use to record items in my budget where my husband has paid for something that should have come out of one of the categories I manage. All transactions are split transactions (net £0) with an outflow to the appropriate category and an inflow to a 'should come out in the wash category'. We don't pay each other back for every tiny little thing but just keep an eye on the balance in that category.

      This could do what you want but it is way more work than is necessary. I certainly don't do the same thing for any other movement between category transactions as after working with YNAB for a while I've realised that I generally no longer need that information (particularly now I'm not trying to explain the budget to someone who only engages with it once a month). When I had to explain the budget to someone I simplified it to:

      (1) Putting a category note if it wasn't fully funded in a month - no note and I knew it had been fully funded and we'd WAM'd
      (2) If there was significant movements of money from certain categories, then I'd put a note.

      Interestingly, my husband also complained that this functionality wasn't there. Now that we've done a rather controversial split of budgeting (we still discuss finances and planning - we're not acting like 2 separate people) and he is much more engaged in YNAB, he no longer needs it.

      Reply Like 1
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 1 mth ago
      • Reported - view

      Til Debt Do Us Part See my comment from 10 months ago. It messes up the category spending history.

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      • Til Debt Do Us Part
      • Divorcing Debt - Not Each Other
      • debt_do_us_part
      • 1 mth ago
      • Reported - view

      nolesrule I just realized my suggestion was mentioned quite a while ago - whoops. Would you mind sharing how this messes up reports? Is it the spending report in particular? 

      Reply Like
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 1 mth ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Til Debt Do Us Part It affects both reports and calculated monthly averages in the app. A transaction where money is removed from a category is seen as spending. A transaction where money is added to a category is seen as a refund/return. A zero sum split transaction as you suggest would change the record of amount spent in that category, so reporting will be skewed and your averages calculated for Quick Budget purposes will be incorrect.

      As an example. Let's say you are toward the end of the month. You have spent $50 in gas and still have $50 left in the category. You spent $200 in groceries and you have nothing left. But you need to do some grocery shopping. So you do the zero-sum transfer of the $50 from gas to groceries and spend the $50.

      At this point after the zero-sum transfer your report will show that you have spent $100 from gas and $200 from groceries. But the reality is you spent $50 from gas and $250 from groceries. In this example, if you've been using YNAB for at least a year, your averages in each category will be skewed by $4.17 for the next year, one to high, one too low. (50 / 12). If under a year, it'll depend on how many months you've been using YNAB.

      Reply Like 1
      • bevocat
      • Sometimes, It Just Sucks to Be You
      • bevocat
      • 1 mth ago
      • Reported - view

      nolesrule I agree with you, of course, but for those people who want a visual indicator of which category(ies) they robbed so they can easily see which ones to pay back, if they're disciplined enough to delete the zero-sum transaction when they pay the categories back, they'd get the benefits of the temporary visual reminder without throwing off the long-term averages, right?

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      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 1 mth ago
      • Reported - view

      bevocat Sure, in the long run the reports will revert to being correct (though if you are constantly doing the zero sum split, something will always be off). And if you are using averages to budget while the zero sum split still exists, it's going to affect your budgeting accuracy.

      Reply Like
      • bevocat
      • Sometimes, It Just Sucks to Be You
      • bevocat
      • 1 mth ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      nolesrule I agree, but the error would be smaller. Heck, for that matter, if you're going to go to the trouble, make it a zero-sum transaction with zero in the amounts and then just put the amounts in the memo (e.g. category is Gas, memo is -40 , category is Dining Out, memo is 15, category is Groceries, memo is 25). But that's a whole lotta busywork when by that point you may as well just make a note in the categories. I dunno, I'm just rolling ideas around in my head...

      Reply Like 1
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 1 mth ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      bevocat If you're going to do a non-transactional log like that, you might as well do it externally. I use Google Sheets to track a ton of things that YNAB is not suited for tracking.

      Reply Like 2
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