Credit Card Payment Amount Goes Negative

I have a recurring issue in YNAB with my Credit Card payment amount showing as negative right after the bill is paid, and I can't figure out why. That line should purely be for tracking - every transaction on that card should accrue money toward the payment, and then flow out to pay the bill, and all along accruing each transaction. 

We carry no balance on any credit card, and pay in full every month. It's just a  payment mechanism, all transactions are synched to the appropriate budget category with every purchase. So why would there ever be a negative payment amount available?? 

Within a week or two, the balance goes green again as transactions accrue. I have been trying unsuccessfully to figure this out for a while, but had decided to let it go. However, now I'm getting ready to close that credit card to move to a better mileage rewards card - so I can't have a negative balance hanging around when I stop using the card. 

Help!

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  • When you started YNAB, did you have a balance on the card? If so, did you budget to the Credit card payment category to tell YNAB you intended to use that amount of cash to pay your debt on your card? Since that spending was before YNAB, it was not budgeted from the point of view of YNAB and you need to reserve the money to pay for it.

    If you don't care about finding the why (and it's not the reason above), the solution to the issue (no matter where the issue comes from) is to directly budget to the credit card payment category to bring it inline with the credit card account balance. The payment category, in your case, should be equal but opposite sign to the credit card account balance. Move money within your budget until you can get there. It's fine to do so in the current month, it doesn't matter in what month the problem started to occur. Then you can pay off the balance and close the account.

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  • If the available column on the credit card budget line does not equal the balance of the credit card all the time then you either have too much or too little budgeted for the credit card payment. Like Ceeses says, fix this discrepancy now, ignore the past, and it won't happen again.

    Caveat to it not happening again. there are plenty of reasons for it to happen, cashback, refunds etc. but the one you are experiencing is from underbudgeting, probably a long time ago. 

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  • When I converted to this version of YNAB in 2018 (moved from YNAB4 desktop version), we did have a balance, and I did put it in there - after much pain to get the number right. We've been on YNAB since 2014, and credit card payments were not in the prior version, so we always immediately counted each transaction to ensure we were on a "cash basis" even when using the credit card as a payment mechanism. 

    The issue is that everything else in our budget is correct, so I don't have a place that I can re-budget money from without throwing off something like our emergency fund - which I don't want to do either. 

    I don't budget money for a credit card payment because we don't have an outstanding balance to pay off - only current transaction volume, so if all the transactions are recorded, I should never have to budget actual funds for a credit card payment - it should balance out. SOOOOO frustrating!!!

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      • SgtBatten
      • "YNAB broke" since 2013
      • SgtBatten
      • 2 wk ago
      • Reported - view

      ColoradoGirl Yep exactly like we have said though, if the available amount is not equal to the credit card balance right now, you are riding some credit card float.

       

      The only reason it has not affected you is because you continue to spend more on the card than the float amount so you always have enough budgeted when the payment is due, but not enough if you wanted to pay the balance to 0.

       

      You do not have a choice but to take money from some other category and fix this issue now. Fix it once and it will go away and end your frustration.

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  • ColoradoGirl said:
    we did have a balance, and I did put it in there - after much pain to get the number right.

     Did you budget to the credit card payment category to pay off that balance? If not, then your budget has been inflated by that amount ever since. You may think everything else is where it should be but it isn't. I'm sorry for the bad news.

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    • Ceeses I will find some way to fix this, but still don’t entirely understand, because before we converted to the new version we were always counting the money as spent as soon as the transaction occurred, not when the bill is paid - in the desktop version we accounted for it like a debit transaction, not a credit transaction. I have been very intentional in NOT using any credit card float. So it was very difficult to figure out the transition to counting as credit transactions, and apparently after working at it, I still didn’t get the transition right. 

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    • ColoradoGirl When you switched to nYNAB from YNAB4, you changed the method of handling credit card payments.  You available number of dollars in nYNAB would have been higher than in YNAB4 by the amount of the credit card balance (based on how you described it working - I've not used YNAB4, so don't know for sure).  If you didn't budget those dollars to the credit card when you first entered it in nYNAB, then you have dollars doing double duty.

      As others have said, the fix to this is to budget to the credit card category until the absolute value of the account balance equals the absolute value of the Payment in your budget. Yes, it's frustrating. But better an accurate budget than overspending because you gave dollars two jobs, no?

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    • Fuzzball Meows Holy moly - that's it! When we made the transition, we had the dollars available already, but didn't budget it to the payment category. So the starting balance at time of transition from YNAB 4 to YNAB online  (transactions in the 2nd half of the prior month since it was in the middle of a statement cycle) needed to be budgeted to the payment category (money was already set aside). I think that's the root of my solution, to match that number and then assess what else that impacts downstream. Thank you!

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  • Do you pay your card balance to zero? Or just pay the monthly statement balance?

    If you pay for zero and it is dated for the same day as a transaction that is included in the amount you pay off, this can cause the problem to because YNAB order of operations applies the payment before handling the charge so it takes the card balance positive and thinks you are overpaying. The overpaid amount goes to TBB and needs to be budgeted back to the payment category.

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    • nolesrule Thankfully that is one problem we do not have! The statement balance is paid in full each month. 

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      • satcook
      • satcook
      • 2 wk ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      ColoradoGirl do you ever glance back at previous months to make sure no overspending snuck through??

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    • satcook Yes. Any category overspend is always solved in the week of a transaction to ensure no budget line items are exceeded.  Then I have a "monthly close" process to review that all transactions have been processed and assigned and all budget lines are updated to have a minimal positive balance remaining unless in a sinking fund. (And since there's transaction processing time and weekends, that is also the time that I'm making sure transactions on the 29th-31st are allocated to the correct date of the transaction, not when it is imported into YNAB)

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