Do you treat Savings Account/Investment Account/401k as expenses?

I am trying to figure out how to list these savings for them to show up on the reports. Is the best way for me to do this to list them as an expense?

If so, that leads me to 2 more questions:

1) Lets say you set your goal of your emergency to be funded to $1000 in 1 year. If you put $100 a month as budgeted and $100 as an expense towards your savings account, that $1000 Target Category Balance goal will never move on YNAB.


2) If I have multiple categories for saving (Vacation, New Computer, etc.) but all that money is grouped in to one expense as savings, how do I show a real expense when it occurs?


Thanks in advance!

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  • It kind of sounds like you are confusing Accounts and Categories.

    For me:

    Savings and checking accounts are normal budget accounts.

    Investment and retirement accounts are off budget tracking accounts.

    Money goes into my savings and checking accounts from my paycheck and goes to To Be Budgeted.

    From there I assign that money to various categories (like your emergency fund category, vacation, etc.).

    There is no transaction from the account for this.  Expenses only happen when money actually leaves the account (such as paying a credit card or transferring money from my checking account to my investment account).

    So for say moving money to an investment account:

    Money is in my checking account.

    I have a tracking account for the investment account.

    I have a category called Investing.

    I get paid, money goes into the checking account and into To Be Budgeted.

    I budget say $100 in my Investing Category.

    When I transfer the money I do a transfer transaction from Checking Account for $100 to the Investment Tracking Account using the category Investing.


    As I put it in another thread:

    To describe the YNAB setup very simply:

    Accounts tell you WHERE your money is.

    Categories tell you WHAT your money is FOR.

    WHAT doesn't care about WHERE.


    Hopefully that helps.

    Like 2
  • Investment accounts and retirement accounts are "expenses", or money leaving the budget. Everything else accumulates in the budget categories. Remember that the money in your budget is the sum of your non-credit budget accounts. This is a helpful read.

    The Relationship Between Your Budget & Your Accounts | You Need A Budget

    Like 2
  • Hi Green Filly !

    Savings are treated a bit differently in YNAB. You save funds by budgeting them towards what you're saving for. If you have a "Vacation" category and you budget $100 towards that category, then you have $100 Available and "saved" towards your vacation. The Target Category Balance goals work based on the amount Available in a category, so it will keep track of your progress.

    When the day comes to book your vacation, you'll enter the transaction and categorize it to your Vacation category. That will show the expense against that category.

    As for Investment accounts, we suggest adding them as Tracking accounts. You can then budget for your contributions to them (so they'll have their own category where you budget for them).

    Here's an easy way to manage those investment accounts:

    1. Set up the account as an Unlinked Tracking account, if you haven't already (Tracking > Asset or Liability).
    2. Create a Scheduled Transaction to show your regular contributions or payments. Or, if you have a lot of activity in the account, give File-Based Importing a try in the web app!
    3. Update the balance like this as it changes, as frequently as you wish.

    Let me know if you have any questions at all! 

    • Faness Thank you so much! I still have one question to clarify on; Id I save this way, will it show up on my report? That is what is most important to me. Thanks!

    • Green Filly Savings, like described in the Vacation example above, will not show up in the report, since the report is for Spending. However, you can always check your Available balance in your categories to see how much you have saved.

      The Investment contributions will show in the report, if handled the way described above because that money is being "spent" on investing. 

      Like 1
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 8 mths ago
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      Green Filly The budget itself is the report you want. 🙂

      Like 1
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 8 mths ago
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        Faness I was just thinking that since you can only see one budget screen at a time, it might be a good idea to have budget reports in order to provide over-time data to review. I'm just not sure how best to do that. Because obviously there's Activity (transactions) sitting between Budgeted and Available.

    • nolesrule Interesting idea! Would an overview of the Budgeted vs Available column for each month work for what you're thinking? I'm having a hard time imagining a good way to compare the figures from month to month, but there's definitely something to be explored.

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