I couldn't get YNAB to work for me.

Hi - I've made the difficult decision to cancel my YNAB subscription as a couple of critical things are missing for me. By way of background, I've been using financial apps since the mid-1990's, originally Quicken, MS Money, back to Quicken and then Banktivity on the Mac about 10 years ago.

Anyway, there are many things I love about YNAB. I think the philosophy is great, especially for people struggling with budgeting, and the web application has some nice features, such as simple reporting (it's a shame those things are missing from the application versions).

What kills it for me though is reconciliation. It's so basic, it's practically useless. Most Finance apps have the concept of entered, cleared and reconciled, where the latter is done to a date and balance. The concept is simple, and in the Finance world it contributes to a trial balance which tells you if your ledger is complete.

YNAB only allows you to say whether or not the balance it has calculated is correct. It almost never is because of timing of downloads (which you can't manually force at will) and if there is an error, it's incredibly difficult to track it down because the ledger doesn't show a running balance, and you can't see the prior balance you reconciled to.

Maybe I am old fashioned, but unless I can have confidence in completeness and correct balances, I can't be confident in my budget or balances. My preferences would be a reconcile function that reconciles to a specific balance and date defined by the user (likely from their statement) and shows any difference between YNAB's calculated balance and statement balance.

I'll check back from time to time to see if things improve, but I've seen this on the wish-list now for more than a year and it's such a basic and fundamental function, I'm wondering if it's just not something that YNAB believe is important.

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  • While the reconcile function is a little too simple as you point out, quite frankly if that's the only issue you're having then it's not worth quitting over. There are ways to manage the process to make it easier.

    Reply Like 2
  • Good luck to you.  YNAB has made a huge difference in my budgeting process, and my net worth has grown beyond my wildest dreams.  Wish you luck finding something that works better for yourself.    

    Reply Like
  • The first time I read this my first thought was I don't have this problem. Then I realised why.

    1) I'm in the UK so not using direct import.

    2) I use the Toolkit so have a running balance.

    Reply Like 1
      • JoeDid
      • Remember: It is To Laugh
      • Purple_rain
      • 5 mths ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      monkeyhanger I'm in the US, but the second part of "1)" and all of "2)" apply to me as well. I never have trouble reconciling. It's so simple I do it only when I'm so bored I want something to do. Even then, two clicks and done.

      Reply Like 2
      • monkeyhanger
      • No animals were harmed
      • monkeyhanger.1
      • 5 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      JoeDid Actually I should just rephrase (1) to I'm not using direct import or any other import option (assuming the OP is an Aussie). 

      Reply Like 1
      • Superbone
      • YNAB convert since 2008
      • Superbone
      • 5 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      monkeyhanger 1) is irrelevant.  I use it and have no reconcile issues. Yes, 2) helps.

      Reply Like 1
      • monkeyhanger
      • No animals were harmed
      • monkeyhanger.1
      • 5 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Superbone Thank you. I was just trying to think of reasons why someone might find reconciling difficult when I don't and they mentioned those issues.

      One thing I have noticed when helping others in the past is that they have intuitively hit the reconcile button to start the process whereas in reality you hit the reconcile button to lock in the transactions once you've completed it.

      (I know you know what you're doing. Just musing aloud.)

      Reply Like 1
  • Let me add that I have used YNAB and iBank/Banktivity side-by-side for over 10 years.  They compliment each other, for me.  I know Banktivity has a newish budgeting feature but I've never even bothered to trial it, because there's no way it can be better than YNAB.  I don't categorize much in Banktivity anymore, maybe just medical and tax-related expenses, so I can use the reports at tax time.  It also tracks all my investments, cost basis, and I have account transaction histories that go back over 20 years!  

    You sound like you've come from the Quicken for Mac hell that left a lot of us pulling our hair out for a decade.  My advice is, if certain account statements are super important to you, continue to reconcile your statements to the penny in Banktivity.  I've done some wild reconciliations in it for investment accounts that go back years and years that leave me absolutely gleeful when it's all done.  But for my real life budgeting and every day decision making?  YNAB hands down.  Maybe a little more effort to do both, and I know lots of people who just log into cloud websites to see "how things are going," but that is not me and probably not you either.  My money is too important to me that an extra reconciliation or two a month is no skin off my nose.

    Reply Like 1
    • Annieland That’s good to know about Banktivity, I’m currently trying out the application as a trial, along with YNAB.  I will try using it for my investment accounts, since it’s not Ynab’s specialty.

      Reply Like 1
      • Annieland
      • YNABbing every day since 2009!
      • Annieland
      • 5 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Gray Seal 12 I’ve test driven every financial program for MAC for over a decade after finally deciding to stop using the Quicken for MAC abandonware relic and Banktivity is definitely the best. Reports are really good. Paying for direct access isn’t really necessary since we get it with YNAB.  Direct connect (free) works well for most accounts.  It screws up the obscure bonds I used to track for my mom at Schwab, but those are going to be sold now anyway.  None of these apps is perfect (YNAB included) but I like finding the ways they can compliment each other to meet my needs.  I also check in on brokerage websites, and now Personal Capital too.  But for this old brain, nothing beats a checking account register on my hard drive that I’ve used since college :). 

      Reply Like
    • Annieland I’m currently comparing Banktivity 7 and Moneydance, Banktivity seems a bit better to use.   I added more accounts, and most of the investments require manual input, but my main bank  (checking, savings, credit)at least has a quicken file download that I can import easily.   It’s nice to have a local copy on my computer.  I’ve never used financial software before, I wish I’d tried it earlier.

      Reply Like 2
  • I like the reconciliation. Yes, the downloads can be a bit of a pain, but I just manually clear the items. I take 5 minutes to reconcile daily, and I love it. Best of luck to you in the future.

    Reply Like 1
  • I must be too smart or too stupid as I never understand why people have issues reconciling.  I personally see no reason to reconcile to any other date but the current one but the process to reconcile to a specific date would still be simple.  I may just have to "unclear" transactions that are marked cleared by direct import.   I know whether I'm reconciled before I click the reconcile button so if I'm not in balance I don't click the reconcile button until I am.  I've never had to make an adjusting entry and no account has ever taken me more than 10 minutes to reconcile.  Usually I can reconcile all my accounts in under 5 minutes. 

    Reply Like 8
  • If you don't trust the import for reconciliation to the "current" balance, then you shouldn't trust it for the clearing of those transactions either. Unclear them and proceed with reconciliation to the statement as you normally would.

    The date is implicit in the transactions that you clear.

    Reply Like 1
  • Woolloomooloo said:
    it's incredibly difficult to track it down because the ledger doesn't show a running balance, and you can't see the prior balance you reconciled to.

    I've never had a use for the prior reconciled balance or a running balance to troubleshoot reconciliation. Personally, I sort by transaction amount to make the lookup in YNAB nearly trivial. Sounds like you're relying on import for entry, so a transaction will either be there or it won't.

    Reply Like
  • Incidentally, the Prior Reconciled Balance is available as the "Cleared Balance" in YNAB before you start to clear transactions. If that matches the "prior balance" on your statement, then you know none of the locked transactions have been accidentally altered, added, or deleted.

    Reply Like
  • I must be missing something.  I thought reconciliation was the process of approving imported transactions, or manually ensuring cleared transactions between my YNAB ledger and my unlinked accounts.  What else is there?  My Cleared, Uncleared, and Working are always spot-on unless there is a delay in a transaction clearing (but they're still effectively accurate because the money shows as spent, so I can't accidentally re-spend it).

    Reply Like 2
  • Hi Woolloomooloo !

    Your budget is comprised of the funds you have available today. We recommend reconciling against your current account balances rather than the statement balances so that the amount reflects would you have in your accounts at the time you reconcile.

    That said, if you still want to reconcile against your statement balance, that's definitely possible! Here's how:

    1. Mark all transactions in your account register that occur after your statement's closing date as uncleared (select those transactions and hit the "c" key on your keyboard to do this with multiple transactions at once).
    2. Click the reconcile button at the top right of your budget and enter the statement balance instead of your current account balance.
    3. Clear transactions from before that statement date until the Cleared balance of your (YNAB) account matches your statement balance - YNAB will automatically show you how close those balances are.

    I hope you'll give that a try before deciding YNAB isn't for you! If not, we still understand and we wish you well on your budgeting journey, no matter where it takes you! :)

    Reply Like 1
    • Khaki Storm
    • YNAB book topics online: https://support.youneedabudget.com/r/q5w48j
    • Khaki_Storm.1
    • 5 mths ago
    • 2
    • Reported - view

    I've been keeping an eye on Tiller. They're based in Google sheets. 

    Reply Like 2
  • How do you cancel? I can’t find anywhere to do it !!!

    Reply Like
      • Khaki Storm
      • YNAB book topics online: https://support.youneedabudget.com/r/q5w48j
      • Khaki_Storm.1
      • 4 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Cornflower Blue Mask reach out to support. Sorry to see you go, but don't give up on budgeting. Just find a tool that works for you. 

      Reply Like 1
      • Superbone
      • YNAB convert since 2008
      • Superbone
      • 4 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Cornflower Blue Mask Go to My Account. It's about half way down the page.

      Reply Like
  • We moved from Quicken to YNAB about two months ago - we actually still have a desktop computer just so we could continue to use the same version of Quicken we had been using for the past 15 years(!) I do agree that Quicken (old Quicken, at least), was a more complete program. Many more reports, I loved the way savings goals worked. I do wish that the program weren't replaced by Mint, which I think doesn't hold a candle to Quicken. Anyway, about reconciling, I was wondering how frequently you reconcile? Since moving to YNAB, I would agree they don't have the same reconcile feature Quicken had, however the solution I have found is to reconcile more frequently - every day or so. YNAB does have 'entered', 'cleared' (appears with a 'c'), and 'reconciled' (appears with a lock). Even though I am reconciling more frequently, this way I find I spend less time overall reconciling. It was a thrill to find that missing $2.79 with Quicken through the process of reconciling my bank statements once a month, but it was also a bit of a search. By changing my mindset and verifying my accounts every few days, I find things generally stay on track with minimal effort, which makes me appreciate the simplicity of the reconcile feature.

    Reply Like 3
    • Sky Blue Cornet I noticed it’s easier to reconcile on the website ( rather than smartphone) , there’s a reconcile button on the top right of the account page.  

      Also like another mentioned, the tool-kit extension add-on adds the “running balance”, and other features, I know it’s available on Firefox and Chrome browsers. With the toolkit, you have to find and manually turn on the features you want to use.

      Reply Like
      • Superbone
      • YNAB convert since 2008
      • Superbone
      • 4 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Gray Seal 12 There is no reconciling on the phone apps yet although YNAB has claimed it’s coming.

      Reply Like
  • Add the toolkit extension for running balances.  It's no additional cost.

    Reply Like
  • I am also outside the U.S. and do not use direct import.  My reconcile is easy.  I log into my bank and CC accounts several times/month.  I clear the transactions I see posted.  I reconcile the bank on the 1st of the month (in the morning) and the credit card on the 3rd of the month (my statement date is the 2nd).  All done.  I haven't been off in almost 4 years of YNAB or 20 years of quicken before that.

    Reply Like 3
  • I have no issues with reconciling my accounts either.  I never look at my statements but I do reconcile daily  to the current balance using the on line account info for each account.  

    Reply Like 2
  • So I think I quite in haste, and it was frustration at the reconciliation which I had neglected (ironically).

    So I signed up again and will give it a second try. It doesn't seem to recognize me from before so I'll be starting from scratch, but my subscription was paid for a year so I wonder if there is a way to link to my already paid for subscription (which should be good through to November).

    Reply Like 5
      • satcook
      • satcook
      • 4 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Woolloomooloo email help, but your info should definitely still be there. 

      Reply Like 1
    • Hi Woolloomooloo !

      I'm so happy to hear you're giving things another chance! :)

      How did you cancel your account initially? If you deleted your budget, we can recover it for you! However, if you deleted the account, we can't. It does look like your subscription is still listed under your email address, however. Let me know what you're seeing on your end or I can reach out via email to get this ironed out! :)

      Reply Like 2
      • Woolloomooloo
      • Risk
      • Lavender_Moose.2
      • 4 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Faness  I deleted the account so had to sign up again. However it does seem to have kept my subscription. It was a good chance to start again, so all good, thanks for offering to help.

      Two things I did this time, thanks to a better understanding, which I did not before and they’re  critical to getting everything to balance from the outset.

      If you download the transactions for credit cards, it’s important that the balance on the card PRIOR to the first recorded transaction in YNAB is the initial budgeted amount for that card. Your new wizard points this out, but wasn’t there before and it’s incredibly helpful.

      One additional step that keeps things clean  which is not in the wizard, is to adjust the opening balance on the card to what it was before the first transaction that downloads,  rather than leave it at  “today’s” balance. All of my cards downloaded all of July’s transactions, but the opening balance was whatever was showing for the day I connected the account.

      If you don’t do both of these things, it’s possible to go for months, as I initially did, without realizing there is an issue. 

      I’m sure this is documented somewhere and this is definitely the mistake I made last time.

      Reply Like 1
    • Woolloomooloo Good for you for giving it another chance.  Not sure if you went back to read all the responses from your goodbye post.  One thing that I recall you wishing YNAB had was running balances.  You can get that if you add the free Toolkit for YNAB to Chrome.  http://toolkitforynab.com/ There are many features it brings.  You don't need them all, but running balance may make your day.   It's in the Accounts section of the Toolkit.  Below are some videos showing each of the sections, pretty extensively.

      https://esharden.com/tutorials/toolkit-for-ynab-general-settings/

      https://esharden.com/tutorials/toolkit-for-ynab-reports-screen-settings/

      https://esharden.com/tutorials/toolkit-for-ynab-budget-screen/

      https://esharden.com/tutorials/toolkit-for-ynab-account-screen-settings/

      Reply Like 1
    • Woolloomooloo We're so glad to hear that things are going smoother this time around. You apply all the things you've learned to the brand new budget. 🙂

      Let us know if we can do anything to help you along the way! 

      Reply Like 1
  • Welcome back.  

    As you can see from the many responses, almost everyone here wants to see everyone else succeed.  If you have future problems, reach out.  Help is very close.  

    Wishing you much success.  

    Reply Like 5
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