I have a category of Savings and in it I have my 2 savings accounts. From 1 of those savings accounts I want to budget a certain amount for vacation and the remainder for plain old savings. What's the best way to do that so I can still know which savings account the money lives in?
- Savings = $100
- Savings = $150
- Vacation = $200
Does that make sense?
Decouple the idea of accounts and savings categories:
Read that a few time until it sinks in. It will free your mind to save more than you ever have before.
Your categories do the job of setting aside savings. The only jobs of savings accounts is to get you a better interest rate on the funds sitting in them whether they're for savings or not.
What's the best way to do that so I can still know which savings account the money lives in?
Money is fungible (interchangeable). Given sufficient account balance, a category is in whatever account you want, and you can change the location by merely changing your mind about where you think it is located.
When you have multiple accounts, determining if you can afford something is a 2 step process.
1.) look at your category. Is there enough money in it?
a.) If yes, proceed to step 2
b.) if no, redistribute some funds from other (lower priority) categories.
2.) look at your account (that you'll be spending the money from) is there enough money in it?
a.) if yes, make the purchase
b.) if no, transfer money from some other account (or use CC, and pay it off when statement comes)
i.) you might still need to transfer some money to the appropriate account to pay off the card when it comes due, but at least you have enough time to do it.
ETA: This is one (among many) reason to simplify, and keep fewer accounts. Have enough in your checking account to cover what you need for the month, or week, or whatever timeframe you're dealing with, plus a little extra. Whatever is above and beyond your current needs in the checking account can sit in a High Yield Savings account. (Really, that's the only reason to have more than one account, is for the interest.)
If something comes up that you'll be needing more money (such as car insurance every 6 months) transfer some of savings into checking so it will be available when needed.
Bruce gave a really good detail here of what you need to know, TeamTJ
The reality is that categories and accounts aren't linked, so a shift in thinking will serve you better than attempting to force square thinking on the program.
THAT being said (I recommend Bruce's method above), if you STILL can't wrap your head around it here is a work around:
Create a category group for each of the savings accounts, then create the individual categories under that. That will give you the ability to one click see how much is budgeted in the category group as a total, which should equal your savings account if you keep them nice and neat.
If you're fairly new to YNAB, I would give it more time with the program before you worry about these things, because eventually you realize you just don't need all the extra accounts. YNAB keeps track of them for you in their various categories, so everything can be piled into one place. This is how I have managed to get the BF's savings account to grow so much. I stopped worrying about where the money was, and just let it pile up, and only made sure that there is enough in the checking account to cover the current bills before he gets paid again. I have dozens of categories that the piled up funds in the savings account are technically put into, but it doesn't matter that they all sit together in the same pile in the bank. YNAB keeps it all straight for me so I don't have to worry about it.
This assessment is completely outside of the budget. I've found that looking at the running balance in conjunction with scheduled transactions makes it extremely easy to gauge whether to transfer funds between my checking and savings accounts (either direction).
A paid-in-full credit card also simplifies operation when you have multiple accounts, as that greatly reduces the number of transactions hitting that checking account. (#2 in @Bruce's list is almost always "yes" for CC purchases.)