Categorizing Splitwise transactions
Does anyone have an automated solution to import transactions from Splitwise? Getting all the transactions in as separate expenses is important so that the activity in YNAB and therefore budget is accurately reported.
I use Splitwise, too -- what a lifesaver.
It looks like you can export transactions from a single group or person as a .CSV file. You could then use File-Based Import to bring those transactions into YNAB. I tried this on my own budget, and used this CSV converter described in this YNAB Classic article. It sounds like a few steps, but it goes quickly!
I tend to recommend not adding a Splitwise account in YNAB, though. Here's a quick video about the method I use.
I'd love to hear how it goes for you, either as an account or not!
I have been struggling this past week with the very same thing! I found a solution that works better for me than Jen 's method. I made a line of credit account called "Splitwise." I only use Splitwise with my two roommates and boyfriend and we use the simplify debts feature.
So, they each get named a separate payee. When a new splitwise "bill" gets added to Splitwise, I enter it into this YNAB account.
If I lent money to Stephen (ie, I payed for cider), then the amount they owe me goes in "Inflow."
If Stephen lent me money (ie, he payed for dinner), then the amount I owe goes into the "Outflow."
Be sure to select the budget category that matches how you logged credit/debit transaction originally, if you paid.
The result is that everything gets added or subtracted from your budget categories and the "working balance" of the YNAB "splitwise" account will match the total amount you owe in Splitwise.
I have Splitwise set up as an account in YNAB (I only use Splitwise with my bf), and it's been working great so far with one exception: it skews my "Visa available" category. Say I spend $50 on groceries (paid with visa) and split that with my bf. In my Visa account, I split that transaction and $25 is categorized as "groceries" and the other $25 is a transfer from Visa to splitwise. That means that my "Visa available" only increases by $25 when really I've spent $50, and so it shows as $25 overspent. We don't usually settle up frequently, so that overspending just sits there. Anyone have any advice? Should I just be budgeting the Splitwise $25 manually directly in my Visa category to avoid the $25 overspending? I feel like there must be a simple way to deal with this that I'm just not getting...
Thank you all so much for this wonderful information!
How does all this work with the "Payment" aspect of the Splitwise credit account? Right now I'm owed money in Splitwise, and I don't owe anybody else money, but I'm still being told by YNAB that I need to allocate money to make a payment to the Splitwise account.
I'm looking for budgeting software and evaluating YNAB for my needs, and this functionality is essential for me. As I navigate a complex set of polyamorous relationships, a lot of my spending happens in splitwise, in all kinds of categories. Splitting them out in my budget is important, as lumping, for example, couples therapy, pizza, airfare, and my phone bill into one splitwise category doesn't make sense. I'd be happy to treat splitwise as an account, because, in my case, it's just as easy to get money from the people who owe me in splitwise than it is to get it from my bank (sometimes easier, as when my partner has extra cash on hand and can serve as my atm.) I want to treat money owed me on splitwise as money I "really, actually" have, and money I owe in splitwise as money I "really, actually" don't have. (If I'm borrowing from my partners because I need cash, that requires a different conversation between us than if I'm just conveniently not paying for stuff this time.) So, here's how I want it to work, in three examples:
I buy $100 worth of pizza with my credit card and splitwise it with my polycule:
$20 of my restaurant budget gets spent.
$100 goes towards paying my next credit card bill.
My splitwise balance goes up by $80.
My partner pays $180 for couples therapy and splitwises it with me:
$90 of my therapy budget gets spent.
My splitwise balance goes down by $90.
My partner venmos me $325 on splitwise:
my splitwise balance goes down by $325.
my venmo balance goes up by $325.
(Basically, it works like a transfer between accounts.)
How do I set up YNAB so splitwise stuff works this way?
I have slightly different method.
If you want Splitwise to work....drumroll please...
you need a budget!
Outflows (money you owe):
If you roommate pays for the internet, and your share is 50$, that should just come out of your "Internet" budget once you send your roommate the money.
Inflows (money owed to you):
I needed a way to track my true expenses, while not having to scavenge off of my other budgets in order to "lend money".
For this, we need a "Lend money" budget!
I determined I never go above 300$ (owed to me) in splitwise. So I created a budget Category called "Reimbursables 300". If my splitwise was at 0$, this budget would have 300$ available.
If I split groceries with a friend, I split the categories for that transaction between my "Groceries" and "Reimbursables 300" budget.
When the friend pays me back for the groceries, it's an inflow into my "Reimbursables 300" budget, which goes back to having 300$ available.
This is it! I hope it helps!
My problem with the above setups is that they assume that settling up will happen relatively often.
However, I use Splitwise with close friends and family exactly to avoid having to settle up.
For example, if my sister buys the catfood ($60) then she'll put it on the splitwise and I will owe her $30. I want to track this on my budget under the category budgeted for the cat.
However, I won't ever withdraw $30 to settle up with her.
Instead, maybe later I will pay for the internet ($80) and put it on the splitwise so she will owe me $40. Now our balance is that she still owes me $10. Again, this will never be settled, if it gets too large then it is her turn to pay for the things we're sharing from her account.
For YNAB to work for me, I need it to handle this use. In particular, I need to be able to correctly associate the money that was split into the categories I budgeted for.
i.e. Even though $80 came out of my credit card, only $40 of that needs to be associated with my budget for the internet. Oppositely, I need to be able to indicate that $30 were spent from my cat budget, even though none of my linked accounts will actually have that transaction listed.
Alex 's method almost seemed to work, so I made an account with the free trial, except I now realize that this is not working. Outflows happening once you "send the money" doesn't work in my usage of splitwise, because the debt is never settled.
I am very interested in making ynab work for me but I do not know how to achieve this critical aspect of the way I manage money with my friends and family.
Hi Faness Thanks again for your reply. However, I am quite disappointed by this solution after trying it out a bit.
After thinking more about why I dislike these options I have a solution that I would like to run by you and you can let me know what you think about how it aligns with the ynab philosophy.
This is very similar, maybe identical, to the solutions detailed above. Kat mentioned above that they were convinced away from this method by Jacob from YNAB support, because it doesn't reflect the reality, but I think I disagree so am interested in hearing the objection to this method explained more clearly.
The central point of this proposal is to treat Splitwise as a line of credit. I think this is consistent with reality because I really am taking on a debt, but instead of a bank the debt is held by, for instance, my sister. If she spends $50 on catfood, then my budget SHOULD reflect that I have $25 fewer dollars in the form of a debt owed. If I spend $100 on internet, $50 of that is debt I own from my sister. I don't see why this asset shouldn't be considered money I own. Like any asset, an investment for instance, we could suddenly stop talking and I'd suddenly lose this money. But by issuing this debt, taking it on as an asset, I am accepting that risk.
So I create a line of credit called splitwise. Everytime my sister spends something we're sharing, I log my share of that transaction as an expense. This is great because the expenses are itemized individually, and can be applied directly to their appropriate budget categories! I can also get a sense of how much debt I've taken on, or am holding.
When I spend money on a shared expense, this should look like paying down the debt that I've taken on in splitwise line of credit. That is, my portion of the expense should go to the budget category, my sisters portion of the expense looks like a transfer to that line of credit.
I believe this system is consistent with reality, relatively easy to maintain, and clear about what money is going where.
Let me give the example:
Initial balance of a splitwise line of credit is $0
My sister pays for the cat food, $50, my portion is half so I record that as a transaction from the line of credit into the "cat" category.
Balance of splitwise line of credit is now $-25
Now, when I pay for the internet, there is a credit card transaction of $100.
I split that transaction:
$50 goes to my internet budgeted category.
$50 is Payee Transfer:Splitwise
Balance of splitwise line of credit is now $25
If I ever do settle up with my sister, I just record that as a usual transfer from chequing to the splitwise.
I believe this is a solution to my scenario, and how to this thread. Please let me know if you can anticipate any problems with this.
One thing I will say is that, while this works on the desktop browser, this does not work on the mobile app. The reason for this is that the split mechanism is different. On browser I am able to list one split category as a budget category, while the other split category can be the transfer. On mobile only budget categories are available during splits, not transfers. If that could be fixed then as far as I can tell this is a sustainable solution.
Let me know what you're thoughts are on this.
I renamed my main bank account "Vancity + Splitwise" and just pretend they are the same account. If their balances add up to what YNAB says I should have in that "single" account, then I move on. When I add a transaction to Splitwise I just enter my portion of the bill, same when my partner adds a transaction - I just add transactions as if they were happening perfectly split already. Then the two accounts together reconcile against the "single" YNAB account.
@kat_302 @zoom_zoom @farness_ynab @nabla_keeper
For those of you working on this still, I have been tinkering around for a while and have another potential solution that I have been using with some success: make a Splitwise account in ynab, but make it a "tracking" ("off budget") account rather than "on budget" account. This solution helps fix some--but not all--of the issues that have been raised with various approaches suggested above.
How this works is that you can still track expenses and categorize them when it is your "actual" money being spent, but not when your Splitwise partners are spending their money.
For instance, let's say you go out to dinner with your roommate and spend $100, which you want to split two ways in Splitwise. You charge the $100 on your visa and enter the transaction as a split transaction in your Visa account with $50 coming from your "eating out" category and the second $50 you enter the payee as a transfer to Splitwise and the category as "eating out."
This works because Splitwise is off budget, so you can both transfer money to it and assign that money to a budget category. This reflects the ynab philosophy that the budget should reflect what is actually happening with your money: you spent $100 on dinner and you owe Visa $100 for it at the end of the month. This method overcomes one of the big obstacles people were facing, which is a transfer to an on budget account dose not let you set a category, so your account balances were off.
Now I have $50 in my off budget Splitwise account:
And I owe Visa $100 (which came from my eating out budget):
This lets me keep track of it, but I don't have to budget it or give the money a job yet because it's "mine" but not yet one of my on budget accounts.
Now, let's say my roommate spends $50 on cat food, which we split evenly, meaning that my Splitwise balance is reduced by $25 to $25:
Now, this gets to the big thing raised above that this method does not do: because your roommate's Splitwise transaction is "off budget," it cannot be given a category, meaning that you are not tracking the $25 that your roommate spent on cat food that you now owe money for. (But, the thing is, you don't actually "owe" money for it because you had already lent your roommate $50, so you don't need to find any dollars to do the job of buying cat food.)
The last part of this method is when you would pay money into Splitwise or take it out, then you assign a job to those dollars. For instance, if your roommate settles up with you and sends you $25 from Venmo, which you transfer into your checking account. You enter this in your checking account as a transfer from Splitwise and assign it a category (like To be Budgeted, or eating out):
Important here: you have to start the transaction in your checking account, not Splitwise, because otherwise you cannot assign a task to the dollars. But the benefit is you only have to enter it once, by starting in your checking account, it automatically pulls it from Splitwise, and now you are back to a zero balance:
The same would go if you had never gone out to dinner with your roommate and so owed $25 for the cat food. You send your roommate $25 on Venmo to settle up, and enter it in your checking account as a transfer to Splitwise for $25 and assign it to the cat food category. Your Splitwise balance is $0 and you log that you spent $25 on cat food (which you did, by sending $25 from your checking account.)
Now, this method lets you track how you are spending your money and keeps your balances in line. But, as mentioned, it does not track the cat food expenditure, until you need to settle up. I'd argue that this reflects the ynab philosophy by making you assign jobs to dollars when they are actually doing things (or need to be), and not when they aren't. If you have an integrated household budget, you can put all the accounts on there. But for friends and family, what might matter most is tracking where you are spending your dollars, what you need to pay your credit cards, while still tracking that you have a "balance" so you can accurately see if you owe money through Splitwise. If you really wanted to track it, you could go back to the dinner out and have $50 transferred to Splitwise, and split the remaining $50 as $25 from eating out and $25 from cat food; but that seems like it would get overly complicated quickly.
Sorry, this turned into a much longer post than I was initially thinking, but hope it is helpful to folks!
I don't personally use Splitwise that much but was trying to suggest something for the users above ( Kat , Hannah Zoom , nabla_keeper ) given what they were requesting. As Faness said, the biggest point to me is to use ynab however works for you! Its versatility is one benefit.
That said, I respectfully don't think that the reimbursement function is the best for Splitwise. There are a lot of transactions coming into Splitwise that affect your Splitwise balance but do not affect any of your budget accounts. When your roommate spends $25 on cat food, you need to log it somewhere, but it's not money in your checking account OR your Visa account, which is why I think that Splitwise needs to be its own account so that you can log the balances without getting your other account balances off.
In addition, while I love ynab, I think its reimbursement functionality is tricky. It worked under the "old" system when you could carry a negative balance from one month to the next, but now it has its own complications. If you aren't reimbursed in the same month that you pay the money, then you need to budget for it or run up debt. When the reimbursement comes in, then, you need to put it as "to be budgeted" and apportion it to the accounts you used, or back-date the transaction to the previous month.But for people always reimbursed within 30 days, just not in the same calendar month, there is not really a reason to carry money in the reimbursement category. (Personally I like to see the money in a savings / rainy day line item.)
Either way isn't perfect for Splitwise, and if reimbursements work for you, great! For me, I think that Splitwise functions more as an actual account, because it carries a negative or positive balance between months, rather than as a budget category that resets to $0 every month (especially for those people above who seldom or never actually "settle up").
That's my two cents at least.
Silver Jackal said:
I think that Splitwise functions more as an actual account, because it carries a negative or positive balance between months
It's ironic that you say the reimbursement function doesn't really work for Splitwise when augmenting the temporary debt approach with transfers to a tracking account is a common reimbursement approach. One advantage over the category-only approach with temporary debt is that it conveniently shows you the pending total. The drawback is the data entry is a bit cumbersome.
FWIW, in the category-only debt approach, the pending total is easily seen after searching for the reimbursement category in all accounts -- an extra 5 seconds to bring it up.
On the whole, though, I think we can agree there's more than one way to skin this cat, with pros and cons to each.