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going into all my personal finances, suffice to say I have a handful of bills for which it is normal for the bill to be withdrawn by autopay either on the last day of the month or the first day of the next.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.

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  • Green Piranha said:
    I just want the money I saved for tires, oil, etc to stay in those categories

    The potential problem is that you used some of that money to fix the bike, and you don't have it at the moment. And yet, you're pretending you do in your plan.

    This error is probably fine if the missing money is a small fraction of total remaining cash. It's a serious problem when that is not true. YNAB chooses to play the conservative card and tries to get you to adjust the plan because not doing so would be a problem for the majority of their target market.

    The truth if the matter is you are not 2 months ahead immediately following a crash. If this doesn't happen a lot, it can be convenient to ignore this. If it does, though, it really is less effort to stop fighting YNAB.

    Like
  • Brandon I totally agree. I tried to switch from v4 to "new" YNAB the second time and it simply is not possible. There are two main reasons:

    1) Negative category budget is not possible anymore and it totally kills my import of about 5 years of budgeting. Bad things happen and I want to see, where my negative budgets are and I want to deal with it correctly. That means going on in the next month and eliminate some part of the negative while planning the rest of my categories like they need to. Yes, this is dept, and YNAB was always the best way to deal with it correctly. Paying the one negative category with money from something else is totally wrong in my opinion, because it hides the problems or moves them to another place.
    Not having this possibility anymore and not respecting my way by not taking the budget as is when switching to web-based version ist already a blocking point.

    For me, the "make a fresh start" answer is nothing more like "we screwed it up, so we make our problem yours". 

    2) Web-based YNAB is a pain. It is slow at first, I don't like it. It needs to save my data on nab server, which I don't like, too. Native applications are very much faster than anything running in the browser.
    I tried to get the good old view of a few months side by side, but I couldn't find it.

    Switching some months back and forth ist slow as hell, it kills productivity. 

    It's very sad to have to look for something else, especially because v4 works perfectly for me but there is no support anymore and it is just a matter off time, that somethings brakes with next iOS or macOS updates. Using the 32/64 Bit hack will just move the inevitable a bit forward.

    In the end all I would like to see is a v4 based native 64bit solution with iCloud support to eliminate Dropbox, that's it.

    Like 5
    • Spring Green Pegasus This 100%

      Like 1
  • The reality is YNAB is choosing ideology over more subscribers. I'm not a huge fan of the web based YNAB 5 but I'd subscribe in an instant if negative carryover existed just because YNAB 4 is getting to be more and more of a pain to use. Sadly, like many others in this thread if I'm going to loose 5+ years of budget history and have to completely rework how we use our budget categories I might as well switch to some other company.

    Like
      • WordTenor
      • I have the honor to be your obedient servant
      • WordTenor
      • 6 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Eric_D nYNAB has tens if not hundreds of times the number of subscribers as YNAB 4. Something to keep in kind any time any of us want to go “They should listen to us or else!” 

      Like
      • Eric_D
      • Eric_D
      • 6 mths ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      WordTenor Oh I get that, I'm a software developer as well and we constantly make X vs Y vs available time decisions.

      What bothers me about this thread is that the reason given for not supporting  negative carry-forward is "you're holding it wrong" not "that feature just isn't important enough to justify the cost of implementation". The result is a bunch of people that relied on this feature from YNAB 4 feeling like they are being talked down to or discounted.

      A great answer fro YNAB support wouldn't focus on "You're doing it wrong" because for many of us a negative carry-forward works really well for our financial management approach. It would say "we only support fully reconciled budget categories, I'm sorry if that doesn't work for you."

      Like 2
      • Herman
      • herman
      • 6 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Eric_D I've tried repeatedly telling people that "yes your method works for you but no, that's not what ynab wants to offer so you should look for something else" and that doesn't seem to change the ad nauseum calls for something different and the neverending explanations of why ynab should change and the empty threats to go elsewhere.

      Like
    • Eric_D    You're a software developer? 

      I see a lot of people on here who feel like I do, Create something that we want and we'll ditch YNAB and use yours.  I really like the YNAB interface, just make the negative budget, make funds you'll be receiving for the month available, show a year's worth of budgeting activity summary (like the YNAB4)  I liked looking at that and seeing months where I was more successfull, etc.    It's obvious to me now after going through these that their answer is "education" to doing it their way.  I love that they provide that, teach another method, but seeing that many of us think similarly maybe an option to turn that feature on would be beneficial for us --> the CUSTOMER of a software app, I really don't want to be paying for a "financial class".  I've already done that.

      Like 1
  • TheMadTurtle said:
    We don't simply keep going negative.  We hold ourselves accountable to paying ourselves back.  

    Instead of fluctuating between, say, $200 and -$50, why not make the one-time adjustment so you fluctuate between $250 and $0?

    Like 3
  • TheMadTurtle said:
    I have a fund "rainy day" that I'll take this money from and keep track in Excel of which envelopes took money from there.

    Why not just keep track of this in the notes of your rainy day category? Why the need for an external tool to track this? I'd want it all in one place if I was going to do it this way.

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

      Superbone This, definitely. After receiving some inheritance money this summer I beefed up my true and new expenses. I had some left over without a plan, and decided to budget a little from it each month for a vacation, unless something unexpected happened.  And each time something has, I wrote a note. Took $500 out for a medical deposit not covered by insurance. -1700 for vet emergency that went beyond my category savings, -$600 for poor Christmas gift planning.  I’d really like to at least replace that $600 but if I can’t, I can’t. My budget is still accurate. 
       

      Since the red arrow is basically taking a loan from yourself, is it possible to make an on budget CC account for it? Maybe if CC’s are checking accounts?  I dunno, I’m not good at visualizing this stuff. 

      Like 1
  • dakinemaui said:
    It's also a bit of a faff to record since the Payee field is occupied with the Transfer instructions. However, this is the approach I personally use as well. My spouse, OTOH, prefers the category approach for more "traditional" transaction entry.

    This is the biggest issue I have with this approach and why I can't use nYNAB. I have expenses that expand into the thousands of dollars and cross months, and I have to have awareness of the payee. Losing the Payee information by transferring is a show-stopper, and if I have to manually note each payee, that's the point where I say to myself, "Why am I leaving a perfectly functional YNAB4 behind to jump through silly hoops?" I want to use the new one, I really do. I want to give them my subscription money, I really do (a lil' sarcasm in this one). But, I can't make it work.

    Like
      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 6 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Pink Piccolo You could use the category approach with an offset category. Works for friends/family, but perhaps not large expenses (e.g., for work).

      You can also use it without funding the category and search for the category to get the pending total.

      I get voting with your wallet, though.

      Like
  • Pink Piccolo said:
    Losing the Payee information by transferring is a show-stopper, and if I have to manually note each payee

    Pink Piccolo There is nothing to stop you adding the Payee in the Payee field then adding the transfer as a split transaction, this gives you the best of both worlds.

    Like
    • iwaddo Okay, that's interesting. I'm still not completely sure how to handle things when the reimbursement comes in. Do I allot the reimbursement amount to the category in the account where it was actually spent, then transfer the expense back to that account and category as well?

      Like
      • iwaddo
      • iwaddo77
      • 6 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Pink Piccolo I have an Expense Account as a placeholder for the reimbursable expense.  When I incur the expense I add a transfer transaction that the transfers the amount from the account that I paid from, say my credit card, to the Expense Account.

      When I get reimbursed I add a transaction that transfers the amount from the Expense Account back to the account into which the reimbursement is made. This is often my current account.

      No categories involved at all. No impact to my budget. No impact to my reporting.

      If you want to record the Payee then I use a split transaction with the correct Payee and the Transfer as the only line of the split. I do this for both the expense and the reimbursement.

      I hope this helps.

      Like
    • iwaddo So the money someone owes you shows up as a POSITIVE balance in the expense account rather than negative, so it will carry forward? I think I'm following and that could work for me. Because I want YNAB to "remember" the reimbursement for me so I don't have to. Some of the other workarounds that require manual effort still require me to remember it!

      Like
  • I'm glad to get some ideas to work around the reimburseable expense issue but it would be WAY easier and more clear if we could just carry forward negative balances! It should be a feature you should select for specific line items (ie, reimbursable expenses category). Ugh. 

    Like
      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 5 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Tomato Colt The side effect is the money you have available in *other* categories is no longer clear.

      Like
  • Attention YNAB: Please allow the option to carry over a negative balance in a category! Our state (Alaska) offers a generous reimbursement program for homeschoolers.  However, it often takes a couple weeks and sometimes more for reimbursement requests to be processed and deposited into our bank account. Furthermore, we allow expenses to accumulate before processing a reimbursement request so that we are not always nickle and diming our poor homeschool administrator. Since YNAB zeros the homeschool category each month, our budget does not reflect the accumulated expenses beyond for that month. It may be a few months after an expense that the reimbursement check arrives.

    Like
  • Navy Blue Elk said:
    our budget does not reflect the accumulated expenses

    Correct. The budget is the plan for future expenses. 

    Have you looked at the recommended approaches, specifically the offset category (budgeting for the expense up front)? The reality is that money is gone, and if you have enough cash on-budget to implicitly rob categories -- as is the case with a negative balance -- then you have enough to explicitly offset the category (cover the expense).

    OTOH, if cash is too tight to allow you to plan that way, then it would be quite risky to run a negative category (again, missing money). In which case, I'd recommend the temporary debt approach, also described at that link.

    Like 4
  • Wow, this thread! I find it very interesting how different people view YNAB. I've noticed a few points come up that I have to admit I'm a little confused about.

    My husband and I use our credit card for the rewards and the miles. I have a goal set on my credit cards to pay them off monthly. My credit card category shows yellow in every month I don't fund that goal. When I see the yellow, I know that I have a negative balance on that card that has "carried over." If I don't set this goal, it doesn't tell me. You want it to "alert" you, you have to set this goal.

    Next, lots of people mad about negative balances within categories... Haven't you noticed that if you had negative balances from the previous month and no money TBB, that your TBB is in the red the next month? This is if you made those purchases using debit. If you used a credit card, but don't have a goal set to pay it off it looks like that responsibility disappeared.

    With the reimbursement issue, what would happen if you entered that transaction in a future date? Wouldn't it reflect on your budget? I tried it. I added a future transaction for income and in that month the upcoming transactions showed a positive amount. The category did not show yellow because it knows that I will be getting funds for those transactions. Then when the transaction hits, that category will show green and I can leave it there or move it to another spot.

    When I learned that I could input all my scheduled expenses it completely changed how I budgeted. I am now aware of all the yellow spots where I need to fund bills. If I overspent in a previous month, that carries over. It reflects that I will have more to fund in that category that month because I stole from the future. The negative balance doesn't carry over visually the same way because YNAB looks at all your assets combined. If you used a credit card to pay for that reimbursed expense, then you have to make a goal on that credit card to show what you owe. When you get that reimbursement, that money is actually going to your CC payment and not to the original category. Leaving the negative balance doesn't make sense to me if you're using a checking account. If it's paid for then that money came from somewhere and your budget should reflect that movement.

    I used YNAB4 years ago and could not wrap my head around it. Every month showed red because back then we used credit cards to pay for everything and couldn't fund them. In the new version, I appreciate how I can acknowledge my debt without it completely impacting all my categories. With the old version, it looked like I never had any money, ever. I came back to YNAB after the update and everything clicked. I lack the experience to empathize with those that got used to this formatting. So far, I haven't found any issue with the current version that there isn't actually a method for. What's wrong about embracing a new method if it gets you to the same place?

    Like 3
  • Yes. They should have an option to make this feature available. Also, when a recurring transaction comes up on another date from that that is originally entered, there should be an option when you change the date for that one transaction that won’t affect the future dates. Another app I use to use, when there was a recurring transaction and I want to change the date or amount on it, it would give me the option “change this on the repeating event or only for this transaction”. If YNAB would have that option that would be great then you wouldn’t have to change the info for the future recurring transactions. 

    Like
      • iwaddo
      • iwaddo77
      • 3 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      NalaMama the workaround is, do not change the date of the scheduled Transaction, instead, use Enter Now. 
       

      This enters the selected transition with today’s date and schedules the repeat on the date it what set to repeat on.
       

      You can then change the date of the transaction you’ve just been enter if needed.

      I hope this helps

      Like
      • NalaMama
      • Aquamarine_Battery.3
      • 3 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      iwaddo What is enter now? Do you mean, just adding a new transaction?

      Like
      • iwaddo
      • iwaddo77
      • 3 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      NalaMama hi, the below is from the help text. If using an iOS device then Enter Now is on the transaction edit screen.

      If a scheduled transaction happens earlier than you were expecting, but future transactions will stay on the original schedule, you can select the transaction, click Edit in the toolbar, and choose Enter Now from the drop-down list. The single transaction will drop into your register with today's date.

      Like 1
      • Tobias
      • Toviathan
      • 3 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      NalaMama Screenshots below just to make sure it makes sense.

      Like
      • NalaMama
      • Aquamarine_Battery.3
      • 2 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Tobias 😊 Thank You

      Like
      • NalaMama
      • Aquamarine_Battery.3
      • 2 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      iwaddo cool. Thanks

      Like
  • THIS IS 100% ON-POINT!

     

    I do retail arbitrage as a side gig.  I sometimes use my credit card to purchase merchandise knowing that I will pay it off and make profit and never pay a finance charge or interest.  But I buy something on my CC in, say, March, then slowly sell my products from March to April.  At the end of March my category for Retail Arbitrage is negative by THOUSANDS of dollars.  And that just gets erased.  Like it never happened.  Then I finally get to a point in April where I've sold enough that I'm in a net-positive situation and low-and-behold YNAB makes it look like I've now MADE THOUSANDS of dollars.  But that's because it didn't let the negative from March carryover. 

     

    My wife love YNAB.  And I mostly am okay with it.  This is the number one reason I think it's just dumb and want to move on to something that tracks reality and doesn't call stupid ideas like this a "feature". 

     

    Go out and ask 500 accountants what they think about this feature and at least 750 of those 500 will tell you it's just.  Plain.  Flat.  WRONG.  PEER.  EEEEE.  UD.

    Like
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 2 mths ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      Slate Blue Banjo The accountants would also understand that YNAB is not an accounting platform or inventory management system that assumes an intrinsic value for non-monetary assets but rather a forward looking plan for the cash you have on hand.

      Floating on a credit card is a precarious position to be in.

      Like 2
    • nolesrule Not at all precarious when you have a well-thought and proven business model and plan.  If I have high confidence that I can borrow $5k on my CC for 2 weeks to buy something that I can sell for $8k within that time frame, and do so because I don't want to use cash (there are protections for using a CC, accountability, traceability, etc), then I'll do it, make money, pay off my CC, never owe a single dime in finance charges and have "borrowed" money interest-free and made a SUBSTANTIAL profit in the process.

       

      But YNAB is severely limited and just flat wrong in carrying forward all positives and no negatives. 

       

      I bought these items on March 30 and 31.  I sold the last one yesterday.  I told YNAB they came out of my newly created, and empty "Retail Arbitrage" category, which went just as negative as those two purchases.  April 1 comes around and my "RA" category has $0, not the reality of still having the same negative amount it had in it at 11:59:59pm on what just happened to be a date in a different month.  Roll a second later and negatives just go "poof!"  That is silly.

       

      If the negative had stayed, then as I sold things as quickly as I was absolutely certain I would, then the balance would creep back up and into the positive.

       

      Instead, my balance in that account is now the entire positive of every sale I made.  It is my total revenue, not my total profit.  Even when paying money "out of" that category onto my CC, YNAB says there is no category.  So now I look flush with cash. 

       

      And I get it.  This is a philosophical difference.  YNAB operates a certain way.  And it's not a good way to operate once you are good with money and can be trusted to be a responsible adult with your money without having YNAB strong-arm you into their niche philosophy. 

       

      Because everything I did happened within a 30-day period of time.  And if I had charged my CC on 3/1 and sold everything before 3/31 it would all account correctly.  Because it lapsed over the crossing of a month, everything is suddenly handled differently. 

       

      This simply doesn't work for me.  And it clearly doesn't work for many others.  And it is clearly just a philosophical difference.  One of us likes oranges and hates apples, and one of us like apples and hates oranges.  To each their own.  My point in posting is so that someone else can see a real-world example of when YNAB can't be a solution for handling money.  There are plenty of cases where YNAB is a great solution.  This is very clearly not one.

      Like
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 2 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Slate Blue Banjo When the category has a surplus from a crossover month that has been reset to zero and then you sell an item you just move the money from the category to the CC payment category to cover your need to pay off the CC. It's pretty simple.  Eventually you may even build up the category enough so that your margins can cover your inventory purchases so you no longer have to float.

      Otherwise you need to prefund your inventory rather than floating on credit.

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

      Slate Blue Banjo No matter how many caps you use, you are flat-out wrong in your assessment. It shows that you don't understand that the YNAB software is a zero-based envelope system. You can't have envelopes with less than $0 in them. It would behoove your side gig to move to a positive cash flow system where you're not living on the edge at all times. Try it, you may like it.

      Like
      • Wiecked
      • Happy Happy
      • Orchid_Tiger.5
      • 2 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Slate Blue Banjo So if you made a super quick call to your CC company and changed your payoff date to the 1st, YNAB would be amazing for you?

      https://www.thebalance.com/how-to-change-your-credit-card-due-date-961112

      Like
      • Tomato Colt
      • Tomato_Colt.3
      • 2 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Slate Blue Banjo I totally get what you are saying and also wish they would allow negative balances to carry forward for those of us that are fortunate enough to have enough money, but want to use YNAB to help us manage it. My husband occasionally builds furniture or does odd jobs for people and I’d love to be able to have it as a category in YNAB to see whether he’s in the green or red, but if he buys supplies one month and completes the project the next, it’s super manual to reconcile. I understand WHY YNAB works the way it does, I just think it’s wrong 😀 

      Like 1
      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 2 mths ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view
      Slate Blue Banjo said:
      My point in posting is so that someone else can see a real-world example of when YNAB can't be a solution for handling money. 

      I think the point in the responses of others is to point out it's actually a poor argument. You're effectively running a reimbursement scenario where you're a month behind. Run the outflows and inflows through the same category, and the "net" is shown by totalling those transactions. (Hint: search for the category.)

      Lots of people cross the month boundary and have no issue tracking how much they are owed.

      Unless... you are actually more precarious than you've stated and are trying to float more than one month. Perhaps you don't even realize it?

      Like 2
      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 2 mths ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view

      Tomato Colt If you have enough money not to worry about negative balances, then you also have enough to simplify the tracking of your husband's side endeavors. A one-time reallocation to offset whatever category you're using moves the "zero" point into positive territory. If you offset by $X, then materials/supplies takes the category below $X (but still above $0 so YNAB doesn't complain). If Available is less than $X, he's "in the hole", so to speak. If it's above $X, he's made money. (You can even put $X right in the category name for easy reference.)

      YNAB is the way it is, as you clearly state. With a slight adjustment, though, you can use it efficiently rather than fighting it.

      Like 3
    • Wiecked erm, no.  Because it is about when the transaction hit my CC, not when I pay it. 

      Like
    • dakinemaui It is not a poor argument, it is merely a different way of handling things.  A different philosophy.  I have well over $20k buffer.  If I overspend on clothing by $50 in a month, I don't care and I'll make it up in another month's budget. 

       

      If I do it the way YNAB *forces* us to do it, then I have to take $50 from another budget category.  When the month rolls over all is lost and forgotten that my standard/usual/been-with-me-for-years grocery budget just bought me a new outfit. 

      If instead we are given the freedom and liberty to be adults, I could just let jeans go negative and then decide to maybe invest $50 fewer dollars, or not save as much in another sinking fund the following month. 

      Sure, I could do it in the same month just as well.  But it often just doesn't work out that way.

       

      I'd like to know more about how people are "crossing the month boundary" carrying over negatives like this.  Work-arounds are very unideal when it could just be implemented. 

       

      My situation is not at all precarious, not the slightest.  I have steadily grown my balance from literally scraping by paycheck to paycheck to having $15k-$20k sitting idle in my checking pretty much at any point within any month and I have monthly expenses around $5.4k. 

       

      And I fully understanding this is borrowing from Peter to pay Paul.  And I fully understand why YNAB has a central principle NOT to do that.  If not careful, one can get into a very precarious situation very quickly (and I stress **if not careful**).  And I can agree that it's a good principle to have, and I can agree that it isn't bad to NOT have that principle, either.  I choose not to have it.  Because I do not need it.  I have not needed it for over 9 years now.  I did need it at one point 11 years ago when I started on this journey - when things were indeed very precarious for me.  That was when I didn't have a good understanding and appreciation for income, outflows, or just money and its real value in general.  And when I was **not careful**.

      Now I have learned quite a lot in 11 years of good money management.  And for probably the past 9 of those I have been borrowing from Peter to pay Paul.  And carrying negative balances has allowed me to see when and where I need to pay something back by sacrificing elsewhere. 

      It also comes down to the idea that YNAB wants me to sacrifice other categories within a month - and not even within 30 days - but arbitrarily set by the dates at which a month switches on a calendar.  I have often paid back Peter in fewer than 30 days.  But I also have spent 6 months paying back Peter.  Carrying the negative balances have allowed me to diligently sacrifice  a little here and little there until I got back where I wanted to be.

      And if YNAB is about changing our lives and our behavior about money, can't it also be about GROWTH (pun is NOT intended - I don't mean growing your money, I mean personally growth)?  Getting to a point where we can use laxer rules because we don't need the stricter boundaries to keep us from engaging in old behaviors? 

       

      Again, I believe it is philosophical at this point.  What I want goes against YNAB's primary principles.  And I only think it is fair to have the discussion about it.  I firmly disagree with this principle being something I want in my money management life at this stage.  That's not to say the principle IS INHERENTLY wrong - it's just not one I choose to buy into.  My making an argument for why is so others can share in the knowledge and make choices for themselves as well. 

      Like 1
    • dakinemaui This may not be what she means by having more than enough money.  Just an example:

       

      Let's say "Chris" has $5k in various sinking funds (categories that hold money from month to month either for general savings or in anticipation of a large, annual expense).  Chris wants to buy $2k of lumber, stain, parts, and maybe new tools so he can make a custom piece of furniture for a client who has agreed to pay him $10k at the end.  It will take Chris a 25 days to make this piece.  He uses cash from one of his accounts to spend $2k on the 15th of the month and sets about his work.  He finishes around the 10th of the following month and his customer picks up and pays cash instantly and Chris immediately drives to the bank and deposits the money. 

      Now Chris may have had plenty of overall money in his bank (covering all those sinking funds I mentioned), but perhaps his "Furniture Making" sinking fund only had $500 because he's typically only made a small chair that cost $50 and sold for $100.  In spending $2k last month, this category went negative $1,500.  Here is where I split the example into a "YNAB Case" and a "Carries Over Negatives Case".

       

      YNAB Case

      At the start of the month after Chris spent $2k, his Furniture Making ("FM") category says $0.  He gets paid and it now says $10k.  Now, his FM category could say $0 at the start for one of 2 reasons: 1 - he moved money from one or more other categories to cover his overspending, or 2 - he let it stay overspent and in this new month YNAB just took $1,500 out of his To Be Budgeted.  In either case, he has $10k in his FM category when in reality he should have $8,500 - his gross profits from his endeavor ($8k) plus the $500 that was already there - his chest of money for his side gig is growing, and substantially after his most successful endeavor yet that I'm sure he is extremely proud of taking such a leap!!!

       

      Carries Over Negatives Case

      At the start of the month after Chris spent $2k, his FM category says it is negative $1,500 (recall he had $500 in it and spent $2k).  He sells on the 10th, takes the money to the bank, categorizes the transaction in YNAB and it says he has $8,500 in FM - exactly where it should be after a very wonderful endeavor that he should feel very proud, happy and excited about!  Job well done!  No workarounds, no hoops - just **careful** and smart planning, spending, and budgeting. 

       

      Yes, it is true that if these were cash funds you can not ever have them be negative (say if there were physical envelopes with green money inside).  And you could move cash from envelopes to make things work out okay. 

      But we live in a slightly more abstract world when our money is in an account online and its all digital and we say this much is here or there.  And we can leverage this - when done **carefully**. 

       

      In my 9 years of acting in just this way I can't even think of all the examples where my wife and I have done this.  Usually it is a fast decision because it is only a couple bucks.  Other times it is a family meeting.  And other times it is sitting down and recalculating how much we have in our "Gas" (as in heating, not car fuel) category so that over the next twelve months its low balance is $100 and not -$50.  That month where it went negative $50, I let it ride and we budget more than that in a month and it was back in the positive with regular budgeting and we tweaked many other categories to help us put some additional at it every month so when the cold months hit again, we'd never go negative.

       

      As another matter of point, anyone with an escrow account with a mortgage company has almost undoubtedly done this.  Escrow occasionally go negative.  And the bank doesn't come and say "give us our money today."  They readjust and have you send them just a little more each month.  Probably within one payment it is back to the positive.  An interest-free 30-day loan was granted without robbing your other categories immediately with due haste.  And over the next 12 months, provided calculations were carefully made and there aren't large unexpected changes in insurance and property taxes, then it won't go negative again. 

      Like
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 2 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Slate Blue Banjo Chris should be asking for an up-front deposit of 20-25%. Otherwise the customer has no skin in the game and Chris could end up swallowing the costs until the custom furniture is eventually sold.

      Like
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 2 mths ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view
      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 2 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view
      Slate Blue Banjo said:
      I have well over $20k buffer.  [...] Work-arounds are very unideal when it could just be implemented. 

      ... and abused. The limitation is present (in my opinion) because in the past it was abused by people who a) didn't understand that overspending renders categories inflated and b) that error was a significant portion of on-budget cash.

      To put it simply, you are not the target market for YNAB. The design of this and other features are not optimized for someone with reserves or paid-in-full credit cards. The philosophy they seek to instill in users is that going outside of the current plan has impact elsewhere. You, on the other hand, have adopted a distinctly more casual outlook of, "ah, just wait a bit and it'll all go away." However, I think their point remains that regardless of your reserves and whether you feel it's "good enough" your way, you could be more effective by better doing it "their way".

      Like 1
  • I'm a soon to be former user of YNAB4 for at least 4 years. After several weeks of sitting here yelling at the computer because the numbers don't make sense and there is no explanation of where they came from, looking through the records with a calculator to make sense, getting paid this month but struggling to get it to allocate to next month, not being able to see if I overspent or underspent, I am really at my wits end.  If I could only get YNAB4 to work again on Catalina I would be happy but that won't last long.  Looks like it is time to go back to the spreadsheet.  Such as shame you really destroyed a great product with your discipled way of working.

    Like 1
      • iwaddo
      • iwaddo77
      • 2 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Turquoise Unicorn 

      Perhaps you could provide a little more context, people on here might be able to offer some guidance.

      Many have gone from YNAB4 to YNAB without problem so there maybe light at the end of the tunnel.

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

      Turquoise Unicorn YNAB4 does work on Catalina. Just google how. I don't know the details because I moved to nYNAB. And a little hint, your computer can't hear you so yelling at it won't help and will only make your blood boil. 😛All your nYNAB issues are fixable if you work with support or ask questions here.

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

      Turquoise Unicorn You can set aside the spreadsheet for a while, and use YNAB4 on your Catalina Mac. I've been using this since October.

      https://gitlab.com/bradleymiller/Y64

      Like
      • Herman
      • herman
      • 2 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Turquoise Unicorn  the math is simple. I have zero problem if someone doesn't like the way ynab has changed the way certain things are handled but If you don't understand where the nynab numbers come from then you didn't really understand ynab 4.  

      Like 1
      • iwaddo
      • iwaddo77
      • 2 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      JoeDid It is such a shame that you are taking such a backward thinking position and encouraging people like Turquoise Unicorn  to keep digging themselves into a hole that they will eventually not get out of.

      YNAB works, it does exactly what it says on the tin, it helps many hundreds and perhaps even thousands of people manage their budgets. It is perfect to those with little or no spare money as it provides a methodology that is proven to work.

      What it does not do is allow people to kid themselves into thinking that they can go forward with negatives amounts in an envelope (category) and still have enough to pay the bills.

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

      iwaddo I don't see what is backward-thinking about sticking with an app that you think works better for you. I use both Y4 and nY because there are features of both that I like/need, and keeping them both in sync is a double check that I've entered everything (I do manual entry only) in both apps.

      I don't use the red arrow: never have. Nor do I have to deal with reimbursements, which I infer from posts all over this forum that nY makes them harder to track. That might just be my (mis-)understanding of what I've read here, but if the red arrow helps to make tracking reimbursements easier, what's wrong with using it?

      FWIW, in addition to never using the red arrow, I'm now in a position where I'm three months ahead (figuratively speaking) in my budgeting, thanks to YNAB. You don't need to lecture me on its worth.

      Like 1
      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 2 mths ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      iwaddo unfortunately, if someone wants to circumvent the methodology, it can be done in either product.

      Like 2
      • iwaddo
      • iwaddo77
      • 2 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      JoeDid My point was that it might be better to help someone move forward rather than enabling them to stay behind.  At some-point YNAB4 will not run so it is my view that it is better to make the move sooner rather than later.

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

      iwaddo There's nothing wrong with giving somebody the option. Obviously, they weren't aware that YNAB 4 can continue to run on Catalina. You shouldn't force somebody to upgrade because they have bad habits.

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

      dakinemaui But it is true that YNAB 4 makes it easier.

      Like 1
      • iwaddo
      • iwaddo77
      • 2 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Superbone This is nothing about bad habits, I have many bad habits in the way I use YNAB.  I bend the YNAB application and methodology to suit my own ends, the only difference is that I have embraced the changes and made it work, rather than whinge about it repeatedly on this forum.

      I manage reimbursements in the form of work expenses that cross month-end boundaries and I manage loans to friends and families all without the red arrow.

      In fact, because I like to see my income and expenses on a month-by-month I never used the red arrows in YNAB4 to carry forward empty envelopes as this does not give a true picture of my own income and expenses from one month to the next.

      My point, I had used the word 'help' not 'force', was more about keeping up and making the move whilst there is a choice, possibly running in parallel until such time as their confidence increases and they can make the switch.  It is much better to do this whilst there is a choice, the alternative will be to fall off a cliff into freewill when YNAB4 eventually stops running.

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

      iwaddo OK, but the poster said:

      If I could only get YNAB4 to work again on Catalina I would be happy

      Why not give them that option?

      And who knows when YNAB4 will stop running? It may never happen. There will always be workarounds. Keeping a dedicated laptop for instance. Plus, there is a process in place for converting YNAB4 data to nYNAB. I don't believe there will ever be a fall off the cliff day where it will be impossible to convert.

      Even if there were, is that so terrible? People start new budgets every day. As we all know, YNAB is forward looking.

      Like 1
    • iwaddo 

      whining on this forum may show that there would be reason to add a set up option to appease many of their users.   They ignore requests for this feature to be added, also it helps those investigating a budgeting app to know this isn’t an option.  
       bad habits is a matter of opinion.   It could be argued that rule 2 is negated by rule 3.   You plan for an expense X per rule two knowing you’ll need to save up for about 4 months for it.  Rule 3 comes around and you get that surprise family visit (using the example ynab gives) and do the borrow funds method.  You aren’t thinking of the expense you were planning on and about the only green column to borrow fund is from expense X and you take the money without thinking.  Next month is the 4th month and b you don’t have that money there.

      i like red numbers, they give me big pause moments when I see them and I take care of them, for example the case above if it were eating out that I’ll put money back into that category having to sacrifice eating out the next month or two to get that category back in the green, and I know it’s a MUST do at the beginning of the month that gives me the right mindset.   So now comes the question at next months budgeting, ok because I went red will I have enough money in my checking now or will I need to do a transfer from savings or credit card to hold me through until I get my red category down, the expense X is never a worry to cover but just anxiety over my true problem.   
      I just see pushing money around as creating new problems and not a focus on the real problem - to not have offered to go into the red in the first place with eating out- I’d rather give that a problem of focus.

      i don’t think every budgeting philosophy is a 100% for for anybody.   This is great software and YNAB4 fit my own best - I am a goal setter and use a budget to help push myself into my decisions at the beginning of the month.   Not a ok this is how I decided to spend and shift my money around throughout the month, I feel now it’s more of a reporting of what I’m doing with my money rather than a guide for myself for when I’m feeling week in a spending situation. 
      One option focuses on taking your funds in a state where you sit down looking at the whole picture, the other while looking at that new device in the store thinking, it’s ok, I just have to shift this money here and I’m good, I get a paycheck tomorrow that I’ll use to fill in the rest of my expenses, then tomorrow comes and bills you said you’d have to take care of with the next paycheck because you no longer budget the month ahead with money you’re planning on getting.   Now you are in a pickle, you have true expenses and over spent money having shifted it out of categories you shouldn’t have. 
       

      That being said Ynab philosophy works for a lot of people.   I like most of it, except what I posted and with a simple setting that I hope they finally get over their ego of having the only way to budget it could work wel for even more people.   We’re not all left brain folks.

      i hope this topic forum stays alive until they developers finally give in.   They could even do something like, “we highly discourage the use of this setting to stick to our philosophy” when trying to change the setting.

      Like 2
      • iwaddo
      • iwaddo77
      • 2 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Lavender Piranha You miss the key point, it is not about anyones ego it is about being able to budget when you do not have any money. Why should it be possible to borrow from next month if there is not even enough money for this month.

      Interestingly, I have read your detailed post but unfortunately I am unable to determine what it is you seem determined to be unable to do in YNAB?  Perhaps, you could try and explain it again.

      Like
    • iwaddo You can go forward with negative amounts.  If done carefully.  I've been doing it for 9 years.  Took me two years to be responsible enough to do it, but it can be done. 

      Like
      • iwaddo
      • iwaddo77
      • 2 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Slate Blue Banjo Yes, I agree it can be done.

      The target audience for YNAB is people with little or no money, and possibly debt, that are looking for a tool to help them gain control of their finances.  The Red Arrow really does not help them do this. 

      Like
    • Herman 

      That’s the point of a budget and this app right?   To steer you in the moment of weakness.  Just like grocery shopping when you’re starving.    We all make dumb mistakes.   We make budgets and plans to help minimize them.   Why bother with budgeting if you have 100% discipline.   You’d have no need.

      Like
      • Herman
      • herman
      • 2 mths ago
      • 4
      • Reported - view

      Lavender Piranha of course you have a need. Discipline or not you need a plan and an understanding of your priorities (a budget). When you have to adjust that plan (rule 3) ynab isn't suggesting you grab money from any category but that you adjust your plan to meet the change an priorities.  I'm suggesting this should be done thoughtfully.

      Like 4
  • They could just adjust the software so that you can only "red arrow" when you have a forward buffer to pull money from to cover it. Stops people who aren't buffered from having a negative envelope, and allows people that ARE buffered to have an "owed enveloped" that is covered by the buffer. This still allows people to have the functionality they want while staying true to the core principals.

    Like
      • iwaddo
      • iwaddo77
      • 2 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      kevinf But if you have a forward buffer just put more in the envelope.  I do not understand this imaginary would people live in where it is possible to take more money from an envelope than they have put in.

      Like 1
      • kevinf
      • kevinf
      • 2 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      iwaddo Free your mind.

      People like the functionality, give it to them in a way that aligns with the core principals, even if it is just an alternate way to pull from the buffer. It's a way to let them mark a transaction as a reimbursement or float. Users don't fit neatly into boxes, no matter how badly devs want them to.

      Like
      • iwaddo
      • iwaddo77
      • 2 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      kevinf I manage my reimbursements without any difficulty. 
       

      I would suggest that those who move forward are demonstrating a mind with so much more freedom.

      Like
      • kevinf
      • kevinf
      • 2 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      iwaddo How nice for you. Others want clearer, more structured handling of reimbursements and float.

      Like
      • iwaddo
      • iwaddo77
      • 2 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      kevinf Please clarify, just so I fully understand what it is you are asking for?  Is it that you want an envelope budgeting system to allow you to spend money from an envelope that does not have any money?

      Like
      • kevinf
      • kevinf
      • 2 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      iwaddo It has money from the buffer, let someone red arrow and draw down from the available to budget. That maintains the core principals of not spending money you don't have while allowing for use of "the red arrow" which seems to be a popular way of marking reimbursement and float.

      Like
  • Lavender Piranha said:
    Rule 3 comes around and you get that surprise family visit (using the example ynab gives) and do the borrow funds method.

    It seems that you have misunderstood Rule 3, or at least injected your own connotation into it. Money should move from lower to higher priority categories. "Borrowing" is not a consideration of the methodology and never mentioned in any of the Rule 3 educational materials.  You've merely changed the plan for those dollars.

    If you choose to take from a true expense category with a hard date/amount, that is your call, but understand that every reallocation has consequences, and you need to be OK with that. (There will be increased contributions if you still intend to incur that hard date/amount, at the least.)

    As Herman succinctly put it, "Don't take money without thinking." 

    Like 2
  • Lavender Piranha said:
    will I have enough money in my checking now or will I need to do a transfer from savings

    Look at the running balance against scheduled transactions to verify this. The budget is the wrong tool to assess the location of your money.

    Like 2
  • Lavender Piranha said:
    I just see pushing money around as creating new problems and not a focus on the real problem - to not have offered to go into the red in the first place with eating out- I’d rather give that a problem of focus.

    Sorry, I'm afraid the decision to eat out is long gone. You cannot do ANYTHING about it now. Focusing on that as a problem is useless.

    The real problem is what will you do with your remaining money moving forward. On what will you base your next spending decision? Will it be on an inflated category balance that is not backed by cash? That's what any red in the budget means -- missing money.

    Or will it be on an accurate category that ACTUALLY has that money available to spend is says it does without impacting anything else? That's why you're supposed to immediately clear the red (and why YNAB won't let it persist) -- so categories are accurate allowing you to make informed decisions -- not misinformed decisions.

    I mean, why not enter a fake $1,000,000 inflow transaction into your checking account and budget that? Hopefully it's obvious that causes categories to not be backed by cash you can actually spend. It's the exact same problem.

    I'd rather base my decisions on reality. YNAB encourages you to do the same.

    Like 2
  • kevinf said:
    People like the functionality, give it to them in a way that aligns with the core principals,

    The #1 fundamental core principle is that the budget is the plan for the cash you can actually spend, so I really don't see it happening.

    They might implement an "auto-cover-and-return" feature from a user-nominated category someday (e.g., Emergency Fund). That's about as close as you're going to get while remaining aligned with the core principles. BTW, that was submitted as a feature request shortly after launch. No traction to date.

    Like 1
  • dakinemaui said:
    The #1 fundamental core principle is that the budget is the plan for the cash you can actually spend, so I really don't see it happening.

     By pulling from the buffer, it IS cash you can actually spend. You created the buffer for a reason, to handle these kinds of things... emergencies, reimbursements, floats, planning ahead. If you've got a nice cash buffer, there is no reason to to be able to have functionality that benefits from it. Clearly the red arrow has a place, even if the first implementation wasn't holding to the ideal. There's a way forward that gives customers what they want while staying the course.

    Like
      • iwaddo
      • iwaddo77
      • 2 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      kevinf Where, in YNAB, is this buffer?

      Like 1
      • kevinf
      • kevinf
      • 2 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      iwaddo Available to budget.

      Like
      • iwaddo
      • iwaddo77
      • 2 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      kevinf in the current month? Shouldn’t any funds remaining in ‘to be budgeted’ be moved to a budget category so that every dollar has a job? 
       

      Like
  • kevinf said:
     By pulling from the buffer, it IS cash you can actually spend.

    No.

    You already spent the money. Some of the money you gave the merchant was part of the "forward buffer", which is money that is wrapped up in categories called Rent, Groceries, etc. That leaves one or more of those categories (depending on the magnitude of the overspending) without the funds that YNAB says are present (the category Available value).

    Again, that money is already gone, and YNAB wants you to correct the erroneous/misleading category balance(s). Ignoring that error is identical to planning to spend money you no longer have. Violation of the #1 principle.

    Like
    • dakinemaui Again, I think the classic YNAB Buffer should have another name. 

      kevinf said:
      By pulling from the buffer, it IS cash you can actually spend. You created the buffer for a reason, to handle these kinds of things... emergencies, reimbursements, floats, planning ahead. If you've got a nice cash buffer

       This is not the way the classic YNAB Buffer works. This is the way the rest of the world views a financial buffer. 

      Like
      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 2 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Move Light Sound Life The words "forward buffer" rather suggest something different than an emergency fund category. Regardless, though, even if kevinf  did mean an EF category (the conventional definition of a "buffer"), that is now the category that is missing money and overstated. YNAB doesn't care -- it just wants the user to fix the inflated category balance. It's up to the user to decide the name of that category (EF, Vacation, Groceries, Hobbies, Eating Out, whatever).

      Moreover, the example cited was one of overspending in an Eating Out category, when the money simply isn't coming back. Trying to sweep that reality under the rug is what YNAB is trying to prevent.

      Like 1
      • kevinf
      • kevinf
      • 2 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      dakinemaui Sounds like they need better tools to represent everyday financial issues that aren't currently being handled in an intuitive way that is satisfactory to swathes of their users.

      Like
      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 2 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      kevinf You've been stumping for a way to pretend that you can spend money that you no longer have. Why not enter a fake inflow transaction and be done with it? You can't spend that either, but at least YNAB won't fight you.

      Like
      • kevinf
      • kevinf
      • 2 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      dakinemaui I've never said anything like this. If you're going to strawman, you can do it alone. I don't have the patience to deal with someone that wants to construct fallacies versus have an actual debate.

      Like
      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 2 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      kevinf Do you agree that money is missing from one or more categories when any category (or Available To Budget / To Be Budgeted) is red? In other words, the budget indicates $X is available to spend when you do not even have $X in your possession?

      Like
  • kevinf said:
    they need better tools to represent everyday financial issues that aren't currently being handled in an intuitive way

    That's an interesting choice of word, "intuitive". I really can't imagine anything more intuitive than pulling dollars out of the Emergency Fund envelope when Eating Out doesn't have enough to pay the bill on its own.

    Like
      • kevinf
      • kevinf
      • 2 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      dakinemaui Also never said anything about using your EF to eat out. Your reimbursement marker would come out of available to budget money. You keep buffered in AtB so that you can cover things like emergencies, unplanned expenses, reimbursements, and future budgeting/planning. NYNAB removed a lot of very good, useful functionality that should be brought back.

      Like
      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 2 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      kevinf The jumping-off point for this latest round of discussion was Lavender Piranha's example of wanting to kick Eating Out from a surprise family visit down the road. Please forgive me for thinking you were also discussing that.

      Nonetheless, that doesn't negate my point that when any red is showing, something in the budget is overstated/erroneous/misleading relative to the funds you can actually spend.

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

      kevinf Rule 1 is to Give Every Dollar a Job. Therefore, I keep Available To Budget at $0 at all times. I’d say that’s probably the most important thing to do when budgeting in YNAB. The same was true in YNAB 4 and all previous YNABs.

      Like 1
      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 2 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      kevinf So would "better", in your opinion, mean the tool would automatically show what is actually available? If so, I completely agree, and stated as such somewhere above (auto-cover-restore feature request I mentioned above).

      Like
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