Should my savings accounts be tracking accts?

According to YNAB, I have a whole bunch of money still to be budgeted. Problem is, that money is in my savings accounts, and I would prefer not to use my savings accounts to pay for my daily budgeted expenses. Should I delete those accounts and re-enter them as tracking accounts? Or is there another way to keep them out of my budget?

Just started this today, so I'm still finding my way around YNAB.


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  • You can create a category called "Reserve" or "Emergency Fund" or just "Savings" and assign the balance of your savings accounts there. That money is still technically part of your budget, but the job it's doing is to sit and wait.

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  • I use my savings accounts as an emergency fund, so I created a category called Emergency Fund to budget my savings accounts to.

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  • Read this. Then read it again. Then sit down and thing about how you plan to use those savings: Vehicle replacement? Children's education expenses? Family reunion in 2 years? Eventual roof replacement? Create categories for all those things. When you have just one big blob of "savings" it can be easy to over estimate just what your budget can handle. What if your car dies on the side of the road on the same day you sign the contract on the roof replacement - can your "savings" cover all of that? If you have a bunch of separate categories for all these things, you'll know at a glance and can quickly make adjustments to your categories.

    I am single with no dependents and I have 25 on budget accounts. Wallet, Cash Stash, I bonds, CDs x5, checking x3, savings x4, gift cards, credit cards x9 (all paid in full every month). I also have about 65 categories. The available balances in my categories are not associated with any particular account and no group of category balances add up to the balance in any particular account. (Ex, I have one CD that is almost equivalent to the balance in my "Loss of Income" category, but I would never say that CD is my Loss of Income money per se).

    I also have 9 tracking accounts (3 IRAs, 1 401(k), 1 taxable investments, 2 mortgages, 2 property value estimates).

    Accounts are where I store my money, categories are the purposes of my money.

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  • It depends. I have a savings account that is for income replacement only that I keep off budget in tracking. This money set aside only if I find myself without my regular paycheck for a longer period of time.

    Many long time YNABers would recommend keeping any savings on budget and not using a general "emergency" fund. Something general is too tempting to WAM (or move money) from. I have a savings master category and then I categorize that money .. "car maintenance", "home maintenance"  and less emergency type things ... vacation, new car fund, etc. 

    I do sometimes look to see if my savings master category is close to the amount in that account, but YNAB really doesn't care where your money comes from. And I know that I have savings for specific emergencies or "rainy days" that may come up. 

    edited to add: What jenmas said while I was typing! 😂

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  • Should my savings accounts be tracking accts?

    NO! 🙂 What jenmas said. One of the beauties of YNAB is categorizing all of your liquid funds. Categorize all of your savings to give it purpose rather than one amorphous lump of funds. You will have greater financial peace when you know everything is covered.

    Like 4
  • Thank you, everyone! It's hard to see accounts and categories in a different light after a lifetime of using conventional bookkeeping methods. I'll read the article jenmas suggested tomorrow and I'll probably come up with a way to incorporate one or more of the suggestions. I have to come to terms that "To be budgeted" = zero is not a bad thing!

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      • bevocat
      • Sometimes, It Just Sucks to Be You
      • bevocat
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 4
      • Reported - view

      Nora Martinez In fact, it is not only not a bad thing, it is positively a part of the method! If you don't tell your money where to go, you'll wonder where it went.

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      • Superbone
      • YNAB convert since 2008
      • Superbone
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view

      Nora Martinez In fact, it is Rule number 1: Give every dollar a job. Budgeted does not mean spent.

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  • Nora Martinez said:
    I have to come to terms that "To be budgeted" = zero is not a bad thing!

     One thing I had to learn when I started years ago is "Budgeting to zero does not mean spending to zero".

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