Credit Card Setup in YNAB

I am new to YNAB and have had multiple issues with the setup process. 

I am going issue by issue and one that I seem to be stuck on is credit cards.

Can someone give me a guide to setting up credit cards in YNAB?  What is Cleared / Uncleared / Working balance mean?  If the working balance is a total of your cleared balance (what has cleared your card) + your uncleared balance (what is still being processed) then literally this is broken.  

Even after reconciling, it still is wrong.  It's wrong because you cant adjust the uncleared balance, only the cleared balance, and the Uncleared balance is what is not correct.  

How do you adjust this uncleared balance in order to make the working balance accurate?

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  • Your understanding of cleared/uncleared/working balances is correct.

    You can't adjust the uncleared balance via the reconcile feature. You can adjust it by going through the transactions and figuring out what is extra/missing/needs the amount updated and deleting/adding/updating the specific transactions.

    Personally, I recommend doing that with the cleared transactions as well, because the figures and transactions in YNAB and at your bank *should* match. The balance adjustment via reconciliation should only be used as a last ditch, "I really can't figure out why these figures aren't lining up and need to do other things with my life" effort (in my opinion).

    Like 1
  • Agree with Fuzzball Meows on what you need to do. If the uncleared balance is incorrect, then you have not matched all of the outstanding transactions to the ones in YNAB. However, there is one caveat. You may have entered transactions in YNAB that are not yet registered with your credit card company yet. Normally it is a quick turnaround but there are occasions when there is a delay. Also, some credit card websites have different rules on what they show for the working balance total. You may want to search the forum for those situations. 

    If your cleared balance matches, that is really quite important. The working balance should be close but like i mentioned there are a couple of reasons for it to be out of sync. 

    Like 2
  • I guess I dont understand INFLOW payments then.  

     

    For example:  I will post my Amazon Chase Credit Card Pictures to see if I am getting this right:

     

    Currently the cleared balance is -$19.29 as that is the balance.  I have an Uncleared balance of $70.88 which was a payment...  The payment actually happened prior to spending 19.29.  So the actual Working balance should be 19.29.

     

    Instead it looks like this:

    -19.29 + 70.88 = 51.59.

    If I manually clear the 70.88..  It makes my cleared balance 51.59.. Which is wrong.  It should be 19.29.  I can reconcile the working balance to 19.29.  But That doesnt really fix the issue going forward....

    My problem is that I dont know if the software is properly adding payments (Inflow) as it should be. 

     

    There is honestly no way I could ever manually enter every transaction across every credit card.  Between my wife and I it would be dozens of transactions weekly across multiple credit cards..

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      • Vibrant
      • No more counting dollars, we'll be counting stars
      • vibrant
      • 12 days ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      The "Starting Balance" transaction is blank - it should have SOME value, even if it was zero. Although I'm guessing your starting balance should not be zero, if you also just made a payment of $70.88. Amend your starting balance to -70.88 (put 70.88in the Outflow column) and clear it, and everything should line up as expected.

      Like 2
      • satcook
      • satcook
      • 11 days ago
      • Reported - view

      Hot Pink Robot It sounds like your starting balance should have a value of -70.88  Is that correct?

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      • Seabass
      • Seabass
      • 10 days ago
      • Reported - view

      Hot Pink Robot Vibrant is correct.   It looks as if you are trying to start your budget on January 1, right?  So your starting balance should be what the (cleared) balance of your credit card on January 1 was prior to the payment you made on January 1 from your checking account.  If you paid your credit card in full, then you should have set up a Starting Balance of $70.88 when you created the Chase Amazon account dated January 1.  Then when you transferred your payment from checking on January 1,  it would have zeroed out the account.   If your online or linked account shows the payment and the new charges, you would then clear them as you are in agreement with your account.  The charge on January 2 of -19.29 would then show as being both your cleared balance and your working balance.

      Like
  • Hot Pink Robot said:
    There is honestly no way I could ever manually enter every transaction across every credit card.  Between my wife and I it would be dozens of transactions weekly across multiple credit cards..

     My YNAB budget has averaged 7 transactions a day for coming up on 8 years. That's 4 dozen per week. It's not difficult.

    Like 5
  • Part of your reconciliation process should be to process your uncleared transactions in YNAB - if your bank has cleared them, mark them as such, if they are pending at the bank or the bank doesn't yet know about them, they should be kept as uncleared.

    Another point of common confusion is which balance to use at the bank when you reconcile. Be sure you're looking at your cleared balance (often called current balance, but banks use different terms). 

    Reconciliation issues are most often because you're missing transactions, but in this case, as Vibrant pointed out, you're missing a starting balance, so that's the place to start!

    Like
  • Hot Pink Robot said:
    There is honestly no way I could ever manually enter every transaction across every credit card.  Between my wife and I it would be dozens of transactions weekly across multiple credit cards..

     First of all I recommend reducing the number of cards. Makes life so much easier in so many ways. 

    Second, any recurring charges (subscriptions for example) get set up as scheduled recurring transactions and they get entered automatically. One click to accept. 

    Third, entering transactions is actually pretty quick especially once you have done a few. If you have geo payees set up then even faster. For example, at the grocery store I pull up YNAB and it sees I am at the grocery store. The date is autofilled for today. Since I have entered transactions for this payee before, the category and the payment method are defaulted. So literally enter the amount plus 3 clicks to do.  You can even set up mobile shortcuts to launch YNAB and prefill most info.

     

    You will find the process of being in real time in your budget life changing. 

    Like
    • MXMOM If you have an automated budget..  It should be automated..  If not, you have a glorified spreadsheet you are spending 180$ a year for...  

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      • satcook
      • satcook
      • 10 days ago
      • Reported - view

      Hot Pink Robot Why $180 a year??

      Like
    • satcook is YNAB free?

      Like
    • Hot Pink Robot To be fair, it would be a set of spreadsheets that link account register sheets with budget sheets with report sheets in real time/across devices, sets aside your CC payment so that you're always prepared, with UI that clearly shows you what your plan is based on dynamic categories, UI that formats things for you, UI that provides clean reconciliation capability, UI that automates certain tasks like scheduled transactions/repetitive budget assignments, a wizard that imports transactions, and someone else to ensure the calculations/references are always up to date.  I wouldn't pay $180 for it, but it's worth more than $0 - especially as YNAB is one of the few budget apps that doesn't sell your financial data...

      Would I prefer a desktop app instead of renting software?  Sure, but this is what we've got.

      Like 1
      • Tif_Ann
      • Tif_Ann
      • 10 days ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Hot Pink Robot If you link your accounts it'll pull in the transactions. I have used YNAB for 10+ years and honestly rarely use the app, but I also check the budget daily and work on a computer so it's easy to do. 

      Like 1
    • Hot Pink Robot Even if you're in the U.S and your linked bank accounts work the vast majority of the time, it's helpful to enter as many transactions manually as you can. This helps keep your categories up to date, since there can be several days (weekends/holidays) when your bank balance isn't updated.

      I have my accounts linked (including 4 credit cards) which I, my husband and 3 teenaged/young adult children use. When the persons living at home provide me with a receipt I enter it into YNAB. I also review/reconcile each account (including downloaded transactions) daily. This takes about 10 minutes a day and is the only way the other members of my family will remember what they used their card for the day before.

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      • satcook
      • satcook
      • 10 days ago
      • Reported - view

      Hot Pink Robot No, but it doesn't cost $180 a year....

      Like
      • MadDog
      • Navy_Blue_Pegasus.2
      • 10 days ago
      • Reported - view

      satcook unfortunately it does if you are on the monthly subscription model......

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    • MadDog I really don't get why people get up in arms about YNAB's monthly price being such a bad deal compared to the annual price. 

      They used to not have a monthly option at all because they thought people would get more out of an annual commitment that actually allows for habits to develop and progress to be shown. 

      People complained that new users were turned off by having to commit to an annual subscription before being able to save money for said subscription with YNAB. One argument was that newbies are more inclined to pay for a few months at the monthly rate while they figure out whether the software is valuable enough, also allowing them to save up for the annual one. 

      The monthly option should not be a long-term solution for anyone. 

      Like 3
      • Seabass
      • Seabass
      • 9 days ago
      • Reported - view

      Move Light Sound Life Very confused.  Who says "The monthly option should not be a long-term solution for anyone" ?   I personally pay most everything on an annual basis, but just because I do does not mean others must.   I believe we are not here to be anyone's parents.  There are some folks (many younger) who work differently, they see things monthly.  I have said before, as with most subscriptions, it should really be about 2 months free for annual payers as an incentive. Generally, it is a better deal on the annual price so the company can lock you in and get your money sooner (time value of money), but it should not be used as a punishment for not following someone else's arbitrary rules.  This is not a cult (I hope).

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    • Seabass What I meant was that, from a mathematical perspective, one option is objectively better.  There was also context for the intention.  If you're bothered about the word "should" well, I believe you also used it to express an opinion. 

      As for your last sentence, while we do aim to *cultivate* efficiency and best practices with budgeting through the YNAB method, I'm not aware of anything else going on.

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      • Seabass
      • Seabass
      • 9 days ago
      • Reported - view

      Move Light Sound Life  Thank you for the clarification.  I agree that "from a mathematical perspective, one option is objectively better."  I have noticed that many on these boards tend to instruct others based on what they see as objectively better and using it as dogma (thus my cult reference).  I just come from the direction that I don't know each persons situation and reasoning.  I have a friend that it would take about 2-3 years to save up the $100 to pay for that annual subscription.  And in truth, she cannot afford the monthly fee.  She has not purchased any new clothes in 6 years.  She does not waste money (it happens to be the cost of living in her area, not her wages) and never asks for help.  So we are setting her up on a free budgeting program so that she can make the best of what she has.  Again, I don't try to question the whys for each person.  My thing, and, yes, this is my opinion, is that it could be so much more helpful to have a reasonable monthly rate.  Maybe over time those monthly folks will come to the same conclusion that it is objectively better to pay annually.  

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    • Seabass I guess I figure adults can read different perspectives and decide what fits their situation better.  Maybe that's old-fashioned of me.

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      • Seabass
      • Seabass
      • 9 days ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Move Light Sound Life It might be old-fashioned given the heavily marketed consumerism that adults (and kids) are bombarded with these days.  What fits many folks situation, based on their actions, is lots of debt so they can get that fancy degree, latest fast fashion, the car of their dreams, etc.....  My hope is that those that find their way to YNAB, paying monthly or annually, will see through it all and build a life that allows them to breathe and then really thrive (whatever that means to them).  But hey, maybe that hope is probably old-fashion as well.  Be well.... 

      Like 1
      • MXMOM
      • MXMOM
      • 9 days ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Hot Pink Robot first of all, if you read my detailed explanation, you will see that after YNAB “learns” your patterns, manually entering is NOT laboriously entering every detail. The transaction is automatically populated. And I didn’t get into it for simplicity but you can actually set up the payee with the defaults. 

      Second, the recurring charges are automatically entered based on the date you enter. You just have to approve them. And if you have the bank linked, when the transactions post, they will match up with your entered transactions. If they don’t that is the alert to either the amount being incorrect or a charge that you did not know about. 

      Third, I guess my first question should have been, what is your goal in using YNAB? The name of it is You Need a Budget which is a spending plan. If you are looking just looking for a transaction summary to see what happened then YNAB is probably not the right solution. You could just use a spreadsheet and download transactions from the bank. I previously used Quicken for decades and that is what it does as well.  

      YNAB is NOT an automated budget. YNAB is about intentionality and mindfulness. You are the driver, not a passenger. 

      That said, many people do start out using YNAB just to capture their spending but generally with a goal to being in control of it. 

      The functionality of YNAB is complex but can be used initially very simply and then more complex as your knowledge and goals expand. 

      Like 1
      • MadDog
      • Navy_Blue_Pegasus.2
      • 8 days ago
      • Reported - view

      Move Light Sound Life I was simply pointing out that the price is that much when it is paid monthly. satcook mentioned that it did not cost that much but they might have missed the monthly subscription. 

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