Using Available money--not remembering what bank account I got it from

I, as a black and white personality, can't seem to wrap my noggin' around some of this. I get the concept with "Budgets" being like envelopes. I understand that when the "Available" money is green, I am good to make the payment for a particular category. My problem is that I don't know which bank account I set that money aside from. 

To further explain. . . 

Let's say I have 4 bank accounts. (Ignore the fact why.) My husband's check goes in one. Mine goes in another. Business income came into another. We gave all our monies a job. Let's just say the mortgage, the garbage, and the clothing categories are now supplied with enough "Available" money from both bank accounts and it's time to actually spend it. Is there a way to know where we planned on taking that money from? 

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  • No, because there is no link between where you keep the money and what its job is.

    Reply Like 2
  • It doesn’t matter. If you need to spend $100 on clothes, make sure the account you are spending from has $100 in it and spend the money. All money is fungible and is not tied to specific categories or accounts. 

    Reply Like 2
    • And that account doesn't have enough money and you still want to pay from that account, transfer from any other account first.

      Reply Like 1
  • I share your frustration, as a new YNAB user, this poses some problems for me.  My problem comes in when it's time to pay for something:  I'm not sure which account I need to use for the payment.  I read the article referenced in this thread and appreciate that there are essentially two views in play, however, YNAB doesn't really let me switch between those views.  What I'd like (and I'm not sure how to submit this as a possible feature request), is the ability to optionally choose a specific checking account when budgeting.  That could reduce the available balance in that account specifically while still giving me the overall picture of my budget.  

     

    Since I don't know of a good way to deal with this problem, my solution for now is going to be to only link one checking account to YNAB and I'll use that for budgeting.  If I need additional funds to cover, I'll transfer them from a non-linked account and will budget as in-flow/TBB.  This is kind of annoying for me, but it beats the alternative of not having the broader view of my budget.

    Reply Like 1
      • mamster
      • mamster
      • 2 wk ago
      • 4
      • Reported - view

      Tomato Barnacle Try embracing the YNAB way of doing it. The thing to understand here is: you've probably been roughly giving your money jobs by putting it into different accounts. YNAB wants you to give your money jobs by putting it into categories. This is a better way to give your money jobs: it's more intentional, more granular, and easier to understand. Try it for a couple of months (and really commit to not caring which account your money is in) and I would bet $5 from my Dumb Money category you'll never look back. And this is speaking as a guy who used to have 12 accounts.

      Reply Like 4
      • bevocat
      • Crazy Cat Lady
      • bevocat
      • 2 wk ago
      • Reported - view

      mamster *raises hand* have almost 5 dozen accounts holding money for 143 categories, but I mostly only use about 5 accounts regularly.  Most daily spending is through about 5 credit cards, backed by cash in my categories. As long as I've got cash in my checking accounts to make the payments, that's all I care about!

      Reply Like
    • mamster After using YNAB for just a short time, I can already see exactly where you're coming from.  You're right in that while I may have found additional ways to justify it, essentially, I was using my accounts to pay for specific categories, one mainly for bills, another for variable expenses and so on.  Unifying with YNAB not only makes this all much simpler, but I can feel more comfortable doing things like using a credit card to capture rewards knowing that I won't forget to actually pay its balance.  

       

      Thanks for your encouragement, I'm still learning but very much appreciating the YNAB way.   

      Reply Like 2
      • mamster
      • mamster
      • 10 days ago
      • Reported - view

      Tomato Barnacle Glad to hear it!

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  • The way I manage this in YNAB is:

    In the Budget view I tick the categories that I'm planning to spend money from and the column on the right will add up totals for me - the "Total Budgeted" amount and the "Total Available" amount.  Then I can look in the Accounts view to see if there's enough in a particular account to cover that.

    For example, I'll soon need to pay for my monthly train ticket for work.  And I can see that I still have two automatic deductions to go out of my current [checking] account for regular monthly bills (phone/broadband and energy). 

    If I tick the "Work Travel" category, the "Phone/Broadband" category and the "Energy" category then on the right hand side it tells me that I have a Total Budgeted of £155.30 and a Total Available of £155.30. 

    So I know I need to have at least £155.30 in my current account to cover these.  If I also plan to buy groceries from that account I need to allow some more for that too.  Then I look at the Accounts view to make sure there's enough in that account, and I transfer more in if I need to.

    I have money in 8 different accounts and find this a very easy way to manage spending from them and making transfers between them when needed.  In fact, I find it a lot easier than trying to do it any other way and it's a major reason I started using YNAB in the first place.

    Reply Like 2
  • I’m considering creating different budgets for my different accounts. For example, my husband and I already have a joint checking account which we use to pay our joint monthly expenses. The right amount is transferred in from our paychecks and the remainder of our checks goes to our individual checking accounts. I’m considering adding another joint account that we’ll use for groceries and other variable monthly expenses and build and manage that budget together. Then, if there is money remaining after our checks have already been split into savings, then joint monthly standard bills, then joint monthly variable expenses, that will go into our individual accounts, and we can each have a budget for that money (because we both would spend our fun money or dining out money very differently). my husband values his independce of spending, so this is my plan to allow us to ensure all our family obligations are met, but still allow us to each spend our “extra” money how we’d like. 

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      • Pikayo
      • Pikayo
      • 13 days ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Khaki Wildebeest of course it's up to you what you do.  I'm a little confused by the reasons you give and just wanted to check that you're aware that you can manage all those different types of spending through a single budget without having multiple bank accounts.  It's a feature of YNAB that

      a) where the money is physically located and

      b) what money you've got to spend on what

      are completely separate things. 

      My reason for multiple accounts is not to use them as a way to manage spending, it's simply to get higher interest rates.  With YNAB, there's no need to physically locate your money in a different place in order to manage spending.  

      My humble suggestion would be to give the YNAB method a fair try before opening any extra accounts.  

      Reply Like 1
  • One approach is to create a Category Group for the critical stuff that comes out of each account (e.g. rent), and then making sure that you keep the account balances above or equivalent to the "Available" amount for the Category Group. It doesn't matter if you buy groceries from two different accounts, so long as your account still has enough money when the rent cheque clears.

    Example:
    - Category Group: Account A Fixed Costs (Available: $200)
    -- Category: Utilities ($200)
    - Category Group: Account B Fixed Costs (Available: $700)
    -- Category: Rent ($700)
    - Category Group: Misc Spending (Available: $1100)
    -- Category: Eating Out ($200)
    -- Category: Groceries ($500)
    -- Category: Car Stuff ($400)

    If Account B has $1000 in it, you know you can spend $300 without jeopardizing rent.

    Honestly though, after about 6 months in YNAB, we fell in love with the simplicity of categories and we got rid of everything except one joint chequing account, one joint savings account, and one credit card each. Easy peasy.

    Reply Like
  • On the first of every month my main chequing (or transaction) account balance has an amount equal to the following formula:

    • My average monthly spend +
    • Any big scheduled expenses due in the next 4 to 6 weeks +
    • $1,000.

    If my account has more than that amount, it gets transfered to savings. If it has less than that amount, I transfer from savings to chequing.  The $1,000 is just my choice.  Originally it was $250, but I found that was still a little too restrictive and required too many bank transfers.

    I closed down most of the extra accounts I used to control spending by type of expense early in my use of YNAB, and then I had  a few near misses with overdrafting.  I finally figured out that my biggest issue was that I was accustomed to keeping my main transaction account very lean. Well, d'uh, I thought, when I finally understood what was going on.

    Because I had always relied on the account balance to tell me how much and if I could spend, I was used to keeping very little in my chequing account, as a way of controling my spending.  But after I began using YNAB, I was introduced to the idea that if I used the budget categories to guide my spending, I wouldn't overspend, and it won't matter which account I used.  Okay.  I embraced that concept, but I forgot or didn't immediately understand that I also needed to alter the amount I left in my chequing account.  I had a light bulb moment and figured out that all I needed to do was leave more in my chequing account because the account itself was no longer for a specific type of spending; it was now for a specific amount of time.  BAM! Life-altering realization.

    Reply Like 3
  • Hi Michigangster1&2 !

    When you have a moment, take a look at our Simplify Guide. Having fewer moving parts in your budget can make things easier to track. However, if you'd rather not cut back on the number of accounts, just make sure to check your account balance before paying any large expenses. Maybe you have $100 Available in Dining Out, but a quick look at your account list will tell you which account that $100 is in or if funds need to be moved around. :)

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    • Faness I totally agree with simplification and hope to move that way, but until we can, the question still is there—how do we know which account we planned the money to come from? (Speaking of paying for a particular bill, for instance.)

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      • bevocat
      • Crazy Cat Lady
      • bevocat
      • 2 days ago
      • Reported - view

      Michigangster1&2 Did you enter it as a scheduled transaction? If you did, you entered it into a particular account. You can click on "All Accounts" and make sure the filter is set to show future scheduled transactions and it'll show you what you've got coming up, and there is an Account column that'll tell you where you've entered the scheduled transaction.

      If you don't have a scheduled transaction set up, then I don't think your question has an answer, because it's not a question that makes sense. You can't tell which account you planned the money to come from, because that's not a thing that you do in YNAB. You have a smaller or larger dragon hoard of money to be budgeted all lumped together from all your on-budget accounts, and then you give each of those dollars a job by budgeting them to categories.  The category assigned to them is the important information about dollars listed in YNAB.  Money is fungible.

      Reply Like
      • TheTabby
      • Just a common cat trying to budget uncommonly well.
      • TheTabby
      • 2 days ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Michigangster1&2 YNAB doesn't have a way to keep track of this built in beyond the scheduled transactions bevocat mentioned.  So far as YNAB is concerned, or the company sending you a bill for that matter, it doesn't matter where the money comes from.  Whether it comes from checking account 1, savings account 3, or your wallet, it's still paid.  Regardless of which account it comes out of, you still end the day with that much less money.

      Personally, I do have a separate checking account I use for scholarships for my two little brothers, simply because it's with a credit union based in my home state, and it's simpler for them to get checks from the same credit union they use, rather than from my current out-of-state bank.  That's something I have to keep track of myself though.  YNAB would be just as happy if that money came out of any of my other accounts.

      Reply Like 1
    • Michigangster1&2 Bevocat and TheTabby are exactly right. The only thing I can think to add here is if you're trying to schedule a transaction and see which account you Should use, you'll want to check the account balance first. 

      Reply Like
  • If you want the complexity of multiple non-credit accounts, spending becomes a 2-step process:

    1. Check the category balance ("Can I afford this?") -- reallocate from some other category if insufficient funds are available and you still want to make the purchase.

    2. Check the account balance ("Can I use this payment method?") -- transfer from some other account if insufficient funds are available and you still want to use this payment method.

    A paid-in-full CC comes in handy, because #2 is usually true. This reduces the complexity of the multi-account budget nearly down to that of the single account, but retains the advantages of the multi-account (e.g., higher interest rates in some accounts).

    ---

    If you don't want to deal with this 2-step approach, then your best bet is to consolidate to a single non-credit account. This poses other issues, however, like "How do I deal with my friend's cash after I paid for a joint lunch on my CC for the rewards?"

    Reply Like 5
  • You don't budget by account in YNAB. You budget by category. What this thread is really about is cash flow management. What works best for me is to set up scheduled transactions along with using the toolkit to turn on running balances. Then you can see at a glance what your balance will be at any point in time in the future. Just make sure you have enough funds in there to cover your payments. Of course, I simplify it by having only one payment checking account.

    Reply Like 4
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