YNAB doesn't carry forward negative balances and this screws up everything
I've been using YNAB since their version 4 Desktop App days, and quite frankly the Desktop App is still my favorite. I have an almost constant problem with the web app version because it will not carry forward negative balances, and this screws up all my tracking.
Yes, yes, I'm well aware of YNABs rules and why they think this is a "feature" but it's not. It's a limitation that doesn't allow one to properly account for reality.
Just about every month, at the end of the month, various bills are due, and when those bills are deducted from the account can vary by a few days, and I don't have any control over this.
Sometimes a bill will be deducted on the 31st but then the next month, it might happen on the 1st. My lease payment is particularly fickle in this regard, but without going into all my personal finances, suffice to say I have a handful of bills for which it is normal for the bill to be withdrawn by autopay either on the last day of the month or the first day of the next.
The problem arises when a bill is taken on the 1st day of the month but then again on last day of the same month. That causes the budget in question to be overdrawn, with a negative balance.
If I don't catch this, YNAB rolls over to the next month, and suddenly none of my numbers make sense. The money listed as available is less than it should be, and....well I this plagued me for months until I realized what was going on, and now I know that after the first of the month I have to go back and change the dates of a hand full of transactions to make this work. This is very frustrating.
There are other realities of life that cause negative balances to occur as well, such as needing food for the weekend, but the months budget is spent, but the weekend is next month, but you have to buy the food today. Again the budget gets into a negative and I have to go manual edit the date to fudge things to balance out.
THIS SHOULD NOT BE NECESSARY. Simply rolling over the negative balance into the balance of the budget in the new month should be normal behavior. This is why we are all a month ahead in our budgets. It allows things to be seamlessly transition from month to month. The desktop app did this correctly. The web app does not and so causes the end of each month to be a constant hassle instead of a seamless transition.
I'm posting here because I have reported this issue multiple times via YNAB support and have been politely ignored by support telling me this lack of functionality is a deliberate feature.
Ivory Python said:
I think it would be quite normal to overspend and underspend on groceries every-other-month in the case where one buys in bulk and then ends up not spending much the following month ... and so on
Sure, and the exact same thing happens for seasonal utilities like water or electric. The methodology would have you build up a surplus in the low and draw from it in the high. What it doesn't want you to do is start with the high -- it's not certain there will be a low next month. What is certain is you spent more than planned, and the money's gotta come from somewhere.
Ivory Python In addition to the Spending Goal with a yearly target for groceries, a few folks have put a weekly spending goal on groceries. This is because a lot of folks do their groceries always on the same day of the week, eg, Saturday. But in some months, you'll have 5 Saturdays while in other you'll have 4.
For the weekly spending goal, you enter a weekly amount by a given day of the week. YNAB will calculate the adequate monthly goal whether there are 4 or 5 occurrences of this day in the month.
Ivory Python said:
How do you remember to prioritize spending less in future months after you've "blown it" a few times in a year?
Not @WordTenor, but I don't prioritize spending less in future months it I spent high in previous months. At the beginning of the month I budget the exact same amount to the majority of my categories. If I do have to WAM from a lower priority category, I do it and move on.
I did not have time to read this whole thread, however not rolling over negative balances is irritating. We have a small side business. Sometimes I buy things for the business and the business pays me back. If those transfers happen on the 31 of one month and the 1st of the next, YNAB wants me to cover those expenses from non business funds while waiting to be reimbursed. It just gets very annoying. We have the money to cover it, but I dont want to make a new category of a business slush fund cause there is way too much variation each month to keep a steady amount in there. I may do that, but an option to carry over a negative balance would be so nice.
Cornflower Blue Orca said:
YNAB wants me to cover those expenses from non business funds while waiting to be reimbursed
See the second recommended approach. No "steady amount" in the category.
To summarize: categorize both outflow and inflows to the Business category. If that category turns green, move the positive portion to the CC Payment category. Search for the category in All Accounts for the pending reimbursement amount.
This issue is the primary issue that will push me to a competitor's budget software if it's not fixed between now and whenever the 64bit workaround for YNAB4 no longer functions.
Every few months I check the forums to see if YNAB has fixed it yet, and this thread or one like it is always one of the top forum threads.
As others have stated, the reasons nYNAB doesn't do it have been made abundantly clear, but at the same time the fact that this thread or one like it is almost always on the first page of the forum, the number and sheer creativity of "workarounds" that have been developed, point to how much it's wanted.
Make the "nYNAB way" the default. Fine. Make carryover a super hidden feature that requires the Konami code to be entered in triplicate with multiple confirmations, whatever. But do it. As others have pointed out, that's what software is for - to make our lives easier, not harder. If this was all strictly about applying a specific method, and not ease of use, we'd still be using physical cash and physical envelopes to apply whatever said method was, because anything above physical funds makes cheating "easier".
I'm quite impressed by some of the creative workarounds and I can see how they'd work . . . but . . . I'm not paying a monthly fee to add extra time and steps to my budgeting. For me to justify a monthly fee, it has to make my life better, not worse.