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going into all my personal finances, suffice to say I have a handful of bills for which it is normal for the bill to be withdrawn by autopay either on the last day of the month or the first day of the next.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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  • kevinf said:
    Your reimbursement marker would come out of available to budget money. You keep buffered in AtB

     This violates Rule 1, which is to give every dollar a job.  If you're coming from YNAB 4, that was still a rule.  

    If you want a cushion of money to deal with unplanned expenses/reimbursables, put it in a category and then draw from the cushion category.  I believe this exact set up, automated by YNAB, is one of the suggestions for better reimbursement handling. However, it's not hard to manually do, either, until such functionality exists. There are many explanations of how to do that.

    Like 4
      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 3 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Move Light Sound Life Absolutely correct. Using your funds for reimbursements is the first approach described in the Reimbursement docs. Automatically updated with transactions. The pending amount owed visible at a glance. Handles cash and credit usage. No mucking about with the CC Payment category or anything else in the budget after setup. Accurate category balances everywhere. Consistent with the methodology. One might even say, "easy and intuitive".

      I'm not saying it's perfect, as some people will prefer to float reimbursements on their credit card, which is the motivation behind the second approach described. That retains a manual process to shift funds to the CC payment category when the reimbursement category turns green.

      Like 1
  • Lavender Piranha said:
    Why bother with budgeting if you have 100% discipline.

     That's a very silly argument.  I have incredible discipline BECAUSE of my budgeting. 

     

    That's like saying if someone is so stinking rich why do they need to budget?  Maybe they got stinking rich BECAUSE of budgeting carefully.  Perhaps you yourself are on that path right now to having a healthy amount of wealth do to careful budgeting. 

    I encourage reading The Millionaire Next Door, which dispels many myths about "being good with money" or having money, or being rich, etc. 

     

    Budget apps do keep us in check.  And the feature many are asking for is a TOOL or method for keeping us in check.  Just a different one or a different way than currently exists.  Any tool can be misused.  And not everyone needs to use the same tool to accomplish the same end-goal.  It's about freedom, choice, and options.  And with that comes responsibility.

    Like
    • Slate Blue Banjo "freedom, choice, and options" exactly my point that has been taken away

      Like
  • Slate Blue Banjo said:
    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**).

    In my view, that's not why at all. In fact, YNAB doesn't want you to "borrow". They would rather that you live within your means rather than make it up later. The category that takes the hit in order to cover overspending should be the LEAST important category in the entire budget. Why in the world would you want to pay back the least important thing?

    Granted, sometimes timing dictates that something has a low priority (and therefore fair game to cover with some of those funds), but it's still something that has a known/estimated outflow & date and therefore needs to be "paid back". However, the budget entries to do that are just part of the normal budgeting process; e.g., a Save By goal gives you the budget number that will enable you to make that eventual outflow. No "tracking" is needed.

    In my view, those are the two possibilities: either you just don't spend as much on the category you robbed or you naturally pay it back because you know when and how much the eventual total should be. No workarounds.

    Like
  • Slate Blue Banjo said:
    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.

    YNAB believes you have more to learn. They would have you sacrifice immediately and skip the extra work and continued obligation of tracking paybacks. Furthermore, if you cannot identify something worthy of immediate sacrifice, they would have you not make the purchase in the first place. 

    (FWIW, even financed purchases fit this viewpoint. In such cases, you've effectively decided that the lowest priority is to maintain your debt at current levels. Down the road you may decide it's more important to reduce debt and therefore budget accordingly at that time.)

    Like 2
  • Slate Blue Banjo said:
    As another matter of point, anyone with an escrow account with a mortgage company has almost undoubtedly done this.  Escrow occasionally go negative. 

    That's never happened to me or anyone I've ever talked to. The escrow people look at upcoming expenses and then jack up your payment so that they DON'T go negative. Interestingly, this is exactly what the YNAB methodology teaches.

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

      dakinemaui It doesn't happen often, but if property taxes go up much higher than expected it's possible that you will end up with a negative escrow balance depending of course on timing of property taxes and homeowners insurance payments. Some states do value reassessments for taxes after a change in ownership, and there can often be a pretty big jump in value when this happens if state laws restrict value increases for current owners. Since escrow is based on the previous property tax amounts, you can end up well short.

      This happened to us in Florida when our property taxes doubled after the first year of owning the home. There was a cap on assessment increases of 2% for current homeowners, but then the house would get reassessed upon the sale of the property.

      We don't escrow anymore, but we have a new construction home. Last year the property taxes were $600 on the land. This year, I am estimating they will be about $3300 or so based on the new property assessment. if we had escrowed, they would have been basing the escrow calculation on $600 and the account balance would have been well short.

      Like
      • WordTenor
      • I have the honor to be your obedient servant
      • WordTenor
      • 3 mths ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      nolesrule My escrow was negative after year 1 because before it was flipped, my house was worth less than half of what I bought it for. I calculated the taxes on the actual value and just budgeted for it all year, then when the escrow company yelled, I sent them a giant check. Hoping to axe escrow when I refinance, if I stay, since I'm obviously better at escrowing than the escrow is. 

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

      dakinemaui escrow goes negative all the time.  Usually if it is a smallish difference they'll give you an option to pay the shortfall in a lump sum or spread it over the following year.

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

      Thanks for the additional observations. Apparently I've always been lucky (?) enough to have been made to pay before going negative. Clearly varies, though.

      Like
  • Slate Blue Banjo said:
    It will take Chris a 25 days to make this piece.

    Chris should simply move $2k from his "ample reserves" / emergency fund to Furniture Making Costs and sets a goal of $2k target balance. He buys $2k of materials. Next month a glance at the Inspector shows him that $2k of his startup capital is pending, so he records the $10k inflow split between $2k to Furniture Making Costs and $8k as To Be Budgeted.

    I've tried to make this point several times now. If you have enough cash where running a negative category isn't a problem, then it would also not be a problem to shift those funds to make your YNAB usage easier.

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

      dakinemaui If Chris isn't taking an up-front deposit of $2k to $2.5k he's taking on way to much risk. I work on multi-million dollar projects, and we always get an up-front deposit from clients upon execution of the SOW.

      Heck, when I was self employed and doing small projects I always got 25-50% down as a deposit when work began.

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

      nolesrule True enough but Chris may not see the advantages of sage advice from a couple randos on the internet.

      Like 1
  • Slate Blue Banjo said:
    Any tool can be misused.  And not everyone needs to use the same tool to accomplish the same end-goal.  It's about freedom, choice, and options.  And with that comes responsibility.

    But a tool that is trying to help those that need it most should have as few a choices as possible to guide someone in the right direction.  For example, if I were to start someone off with the most basic of tools, a young child perhaps, by providing a pack of envelopes, I would not allow them to spend from an envelope unless it had money in it.

    Like
  • Not everyone needs or desires this kind of hand-holding.  Give us the option, or don't be surprised when people are looking for alternatives.  For a paid program with a subscription, users should at least be offered basic features such as carryover within categories. 

    This is not the first time I've come here looking for a solution to some issue, only to find that the real issue is YNAB's foolhardy one-size-fits-all strategy.

    Like 3
      • iwaddo
      • iwaddo77
      • 3 mths ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      Slate Gray Griffin it is an envelope budgeting system and you simply cannot take money out of an empty envelope.

      Like 2
      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 3 mths ago
      • 5
      • Reported - view

      If I were a screwdriver salesperson, I'd say, "A hammer is a more appropriate tool if you want to drive nails. I feel screws will hold more securely, but nails are quick and may hold 'well enough' for your needs."

      Like 5
  • Late in April a vendor charged my credit card by mistake. I contacted the vendor and requested a refund. I carried the negative balance in the appropriate budget category. A couple of days later May 1st arrived. I looked for the negative balance in that same category (I assumed it would just carry over to May). It wasn't there!  I switched back to April and saw the negative balance still hanging there. I rarely look at past months.  After reading the frustrations of Brandon and others above, I came up with the following work-around:  I went back to April, found the transaction, and changed the date from April 29 to May 1. In the MEMO segment I typed the following words,

    "Actual date was 4/29/2020, YNAB won't allow me to carry a negative balance past the end of a month."

    Now I have that negative balance there to remind me that the vendor still owes me a refund, so I can bug him about it if it is taking too long. When the refund arrives, THAT will fix the negative balance. I don't like having to tweak things like that, but that is the only way I know  of to deal with this. 

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

      Silver Elk you could have left them existing transaction and scheduled a future transaction to handle the refund, it will nag you to bug the vendor

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

      Silver Elk until the vendor pays you back, you owe that money to the credit card.  Ynab basically says they'll give you to the end of the month to clear or or they are going to show it as owed to o the credit card and you don't have funds see to aside to pay it.  

      Like
  • Lavender Piranha said:
    "freedom, choice, and options" exactly my point that has been taken away

     Everyone always has freedom, choice and options, surely, what am I missing?

    Like
    • iwaddo 

      this whole feed, carrying over negative balances. 
       

      of course I have the freedom to dump the program and find another program.   To continue using nYNAB the same as I used YNAB4, cannot be done, that freedom has been taken away.  Knowing it used to be there as an option means it could easily be done, especially as a setting in an options menu.  To stay with YNAB means taking away the freedom that worked best for me and succumbing to everyone’s follow up responses as, “you’re wrong we’re right this is the only way to do it” themed responses.

      itd feel good to hear, maybe there’s enough people where this works for them that we could Escalade this to a new feature.   It’s always, no do it this way...

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

      Lavender Piranha It is not unusual that the functionality of a piece of software changes it such a way that makes it no longer suitable. YNAB is aimed at a very specific market. It was a fact that the Red Arrow allowed people to get into a mess, it allowed them to spend more than they had. I have seen all the arguments on here about discipline but that is easier to say that it is to achieve.  In order for YNAB to stay true to its target audience the rules that supported an envelope budgeting system where tightened. As I have said before in this thread, it is not possible to spend money from an empty envelope.

      I think the Red Arrow is not easily done, in fact, I think it will be quite hard to implement and stay true to all the improved Budget Goals that are aiming to keep people honest.

      Why is carrying a negative balance in a budget envelope so important to you, what is your use case that requires you to take more from an envelope than is actually there?

      Like
    • iwaddo 

      I don't want to engage with the last question, it turns into a lecture that I'm not interested in anymore.  I engaged in a response about choices.  Yes they were taken away.  On that same note, the target audience that YNAB is going for probable wouldn't be searching for that option if they come looking for a new budgeting philosophy.  Putting in a feature like that would require little work.  I've used YNAB for 8 years, I built up a surplus using carry overs, it increased my discipline each month having areas of focus - red arrows.  IT's not like I had a million dollars in the red arrow, typically they're $10-$20.  What it did is gave me a clear picture of where I'm weak in spending and over time I developed better and better habits to create the effect less.   

      As well it helped me keep track of reimbursable items, right now when our kids borrow from us it's a big clumsy work around.  When a family member borrows money it seems like it takes a month or two to get paid back and just recently I ran into this, how much did we borrow, it was so easy before, I couldn't remember my work around and I just accepted $50 even though it was a bit more than that.  I feel more careless now since I've been trying to run this new method since January, I am not saving as much as I used to.  I paid for a year so I'll keep using it, but I'm definitely. experimenting with other options.  I'd like to leave this feed as I see comments and it brings me back to it.  

      I don't see any reason why you can't have two target audiences, make it difficult to change the setting so it's not an accident, put out warnings, 'with this option you will not be following our tried and proven rules..'

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

      Lavender Piranha I do understand your frustration, you had something that worked for you and it was changed.  It worked for you because you developed a way of working that you understood and was able to 'bend' to suit your needs.

      It is possible to manage reimbursement in YNAB, I know exactly how much I am owed and by whom, I know exactly when it was borrowed, I certainly would not 'just accept £50' that would drive me nuts.

      I used to use the Red Arrow, it managed all my reimbursements but now I have learned how to do it differently, but I now think I am in a better place.

      If I get an over budget warning I know it is because I have over spent, if I budget more than I have then I need to fix it.

      The advantage to me of the way I use YNAB now is that it allows me to manage my budget and respond to the genuine warnings whilst at the same time keep a very precise eye on who owes me money, whether it is work expenses, loans to my children, things I have bought that someone said they'd pay me for or money I owe to others, it is all in there and it does work.

      Admittedly, it took some sorting out to 'bend' YNAB into a shape that suited me and I have no doubt I'll have to tweak it again at some point in the future but for now I find that it does work and I am more in control now with better visibility than I had previously.

      Like
      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 3 mths ago
      • Reported - view
      Lavender Piranha said:
      When a family member borrows money it seems like it takes a month or two to get paid back

      Most people just devote $X to covering such loans with a one-time budget entry. Put $X right in the category name for easy reference. If the category ever has less than $X, you are owed the difference. Simple. Create a Goal for $X and YNAB will even do the math for you, showing the pending amount owed in the inspector.

      Like
      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 3 mths ago
      • Reported - view
      Lavender Piranha said:
      What it did is gave me a clear picture of where I'm weak in spending and over time I developed better and better habits to create the effect less.

      My suspicion is that YNAB thinks you would have developed those habits sooner if you weren't allowed to kick the can down the road. By immediately seeing the consequence of your actions -- ideally even BEFORE spending -- you will make decisions that are better aligned with your priorities. I've certainly found this to be true. 

      Like
    • dakinemaui So $100 in the category, I loan out 50.  I just have to keep $100 there, it works, I'd rather see a red arrow though, just preference.  What's wrong with that?  OK, negative money in the cash envelope can't exist, I've always got spare cash in the account, it's not like I'll be lending $10,000.

      Developing habits, so going through college, it's always better to be ahead of schedule right?  However, how many late nights the night before typing up a paper.   I tried so many times to get ahead, I just couldn't get myself motivated.  I never had a late paper and maintained a 4.0 GPA.  When I felt the pressure I performed.  When I see a red arrow I'm better motivated and perform to bring it back and the great thing is, I'm not getting charged interest and I'm ahead a month so I have no worries of over drafting.  Changing my hardwire is much more difficult than a simple option on YNAB, and with this thread - I'm not alone, but YNAB is seeking out the students that do their papers a week early.

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

      Lavender Piranha The fact is that YNAB is not going reimplement the red arrow. You have to adjust or move on. No amount of talking about it is going to change that fact. Now, I have heard that they are working on a reimbursement enhancement.

      Like
      • jenmas
      • jenmas
      • 3 mths ago
      • 4
      • Reported - view

      Superbone oh you mean that announcement in 2016/2017 that those wanting better handling for reimbursements would be excited by what they were going to announce "soon"?

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

      jenmas Sure, if you want to be technical about it! 😜It will be right behind the SFTF fix.

      Like
      • Tomato Colt
      • Tomato_Colt.3
      • 11 days ago
      • Reported - view

      Lavender Piranha  I agree with all of this. I initially just wanted to carry over negative balances for reimbursements but it would also me helpful for me to see where I’m habitually overspending. Now I just add more money to the account to make it green and it’s all good, except that I can fool myself into thinking I’m following a budget when really I’m just moving money around to make the software happy! (I realize there is some self-discipline lacking, but if I had to look at a red in my “blow money” category each month it might make me spend less or modify my expectations!)

      Like
      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 11 days ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view
      Tomato Colt said:
      if I had to look at a red in my “blow money” category each month it might make me spend less

      Pulling money from somewhere in advance of the overspending is even more effective in my experience (and I've tried it both ways).

      Like 3
      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 11 days ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view
      Tomato Colt said:
      when really I’m just moving money around to make the software happy!

      LOL, you've grossly misunderstood if you think the point is to make the software happy. The point is to reflect the fact some other category is actually lower than stated, so that your next spending decision is based on accurate information. Furthermore, you are also made aware of the concrete consequence of that choice to overspend.

      I wonder how much of the general resistance to covering overspending is due to a desire to avoid accountability. (Not making any claim either way for you, Tomato Colt.)

      To be clear, I'm not talking about reimbursements, since that is easily handled with the Temporary Debt approach described in the docs.

      Like 3
    • dakinemaui  No, not to avoid accountability, but to make it more visible that I’ve overspent. If each month I want to spend $200 on eating out, but I always spend more than that and cover it from another category, at a glance everything is green and I did fine. It isn’t immediately obvious that I actually spent more in that bucket than I wanted. I’d like to see an “at a glance” red/yellow/green type indicator of where I spent more than I originally budgeted and had to cover from somewhere else. I sort of see that because I might cover the overspending by not completing a savings goal or something like that, but it isn’t as obvious as if it were red. I think this would be too complicated and I don’t know how the software would do it, I’ve just been thinking lately about how I just mindlessly cover overspending rather than addressing it and changing either my habits or expectations. (This has probably come to light more lately as my spending has changed during quarantine) 

      Like
  • Re-creating red arrow right functionality in the web app is trivial if you understand the YNAB method and the way the software carries balances forward. 
     

    If doing it isn’t trivial for you (meaning anyone), that’s a sign you shouldn’t do it. 

    Like 4
  • Ugh. Yet another feature of YNAB4 that's gone in my switch to nYNAB this week thanks to my bank not allowing qfx downloads anymore. My negative carryovers were for payments I made on behalf of my employer. They owe me the money. SO easy to keep track of this before. Really cumbersome now. Really hate the new cloud version.

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

      EclecticActor "Really cumbersome" seems a bit strong. Assuming you pay work expenses with a credit card, the single extra task you'll have to do is occasionally move funds from the Work Expenses category to the CC Payment category. The category turning green indicates the need to do this.

      OTOH, I'm amazed your bank doesn't provide downloads. Perhaps not QFX, but there are other formats supported by YNAB4.

      Like
  • I totally agree with the original post - not being able to carry over negative balances is a pain.  And although I understand this is YNABs philosophy and violates every dollar must have a job (or something like that), its silly and annoying.  There are real and practical reasons to carry over negative balances in an envelope from time to time.  I get if you dont know how to manage money or live pay check to pay check you probably shouldn't do it (or do it often).  I proposed that YNAB offers it as an option to turn on by envelope for those of us who are responsible with our money and have plenty of cash cushion.  

    Like
      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 13 days ago
      • Reported - view

      mjrudolphi They used to have it as an option in the previous version of YNAB. I suspect the number of people who got themselves into trouble figures largely into the lack of this feature in the current program. Yes, it was strictly "opt-in".

      I'm sure you understand that if you have plenty of cash cushion, then it would be a simple matter to use some of it to cover shortages in the more "legitimate" use cases such as reimbursements. (This is actually YNAB's #1 recommended workflow for that.)

      Like
      • mjrudolphi
      • mjrudolphi
      • 13 days ago
      • Reported - view

      dakinemaui  I was aware as I was a user back then. And from what I recall it wasn’t an option or if it was it was for all or none.  My suggestion is an opt in by category.  
      honestly I just can’t believe people would get in trouble by carrying over a negative balance. The only way is if you did it to the point of overdrafting your checking or went deeper in debt.  But you don’t need to lock out cary over to avoid both of these situations. They are quite easy situations to avoid really.  And like I said, if you aren’t good at math or live check to check then don’t opt in.  Basically users are being held to the lowest common denominator. Also, by enforcing this stance YNAB is saying you can’t be trusted to make your own decisions. They are also removing the chance for you to make a decision on how to fund.   This is a flawed approach.  There are good and valid reasons why so many people want this feature.  YNABs response is you can’t be trusted with that level of responsibility. 

      Like
      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 13 days ago
      • Reported - view
      mjrudolphi said:
      My suggestion is an opt in by category.  

      That is precisely what was implemented.

      Like
      • mjrudolphi
      • mjrudolphi
      • 13 days ago
      • Reported - view

      dakinemaui ok either way it’s a good feature to have, many people would find it an efficient way to handle certain situations. They should bring it back and not be so rigid.  There really is no good reason not to have it as an option. 

      Like
    • mjrudolphi I do want to be clear that this isn't an option our team expects to bring back. As a YNAB 4 user, it took me a bit to come around too. 😉 It's not that folks can't be trusted. The software is built to support the YNAB Method, and this was one that wasn't quite aligned.

      The budget is your plan for your cash. A negative category means that the $5, $50, or $500 is money missing from somewhere else in your budget—so you can't trust your category balances. Those dollars are gone, even if it's temporary.

      As dakinemaui mentioned, reimbursements are a common reason this is missed, and making improvements on that front are on our radar! Just in a different way. If you need help with a scenario in your budget, start a thread and folks would be happy to chat through it.

      Like 3
      • Superbone
      • YNAB convert since 2008
      • Superbone
      • 13 days ago
      • 4
      • Reported - view

      mjrudolphi I bet my grandparents would have liked an option to carry over negative money between months however it just wasn't possible. It still isn't. You're just invisibly taking it from another category. Your budget can no longer be trusted.

      Now, if you do have plenty of reserves. Use them. It's simple.

      Like 4
      • iwaddo
      • iwaddo77
      • 13 days ago
      • Reported - view

      Nicole Great to hear that improvements for reimbursements are on the radar and even greater to hear that the pesky little reg flag has gone for good!

      Like
      • jenmas
      • jenmas
      • 12 days ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      iwaddo Back in 2016 Jesse told an AMA that better handling for reimbursements would be available soon. It is now 2020. "On the radar" is a statement with no meaning.

      Like 1
      • mjrudolphi
      • mjrudolphi
      • 12 days ago
      • Reported - view

      Superbone Just because you have a negative balance in a category doesn't mean you have an issue.  YNAB4 had this capability and so does other envelope style programs.  Not sure why people on this thread are so afraid of a negative envelope balances.  Assuming your grandparents used the envelope method with physical cash and physical envelopes there was no way for them to carry a negative balance.   Luckily for us today we don't have limitations like that.  I'm sure they would have liked to have a dishwasher, clothes washer, in door toilets, etc as well.  I doubt anyone here has to go outside to use the bathroom any more.

      Like
      • mjrudolphi
      • mjrudolphi
      • 12 days ago
      • Reported - view

      Nicole "this isn't an option our team expects to bring back" - yes that is crystal clear.

      "The software is built to support the YNAB Method, and this was one that wasn't quite aligned." - That isnt an answer - just another way to say  we arent going to do it.  I would rather hear you say our engineers cant figure out how to do it.  You can always adapt the YNAB method to allow for carry over. 

      Plus per rule 3: "If you overspend in one category, free up money from another category and move along. Remember, you’re the boss!" But I'm not the boss because YNAB cuts me off on the 1st of every month and makes the decision for me.

      "It's not that folks can't be trusted" - per the YNAB Method they aren't.  I'm sorry not trying to be flippant just observant.  

      "The budget is your plan for your cash. A negative category means that the $5, $50, or $500 is money missing from somewhere else in your budget—so you can't trust your category balances." - A negative balance is a category where the source of funding is TBD (per rule 3).  Trust of your balances is not an issue.  And if it was why cut it off at the month?  Why not cut it off at the week, the day, or the hour?  Why allow negative balances at all?  Just force it to take from one that has a positive balance before it even goes negative.  That seems to be more in line with the YNAB Method. (as a compromise I would be fine with a yearly cut off).

      That's the great thing about software that couldn't be done with real cash envelopes.  It can be done and done quite effectively.  By not allowing negative balances YNAB actually takes away responsibility instead of enforces it.  I can run my balances negative as much as I want and I don't even have to address it.  I dont even have to think about it.  It's decided for me.  And then for reimbursements I lose track of whats outstanding - very annoying.

      YNAB has chosen not to do it for a reason they believe makes for a better product.  Yet their paying customers disagree.  

      For clarity - I think YNAB is a great product.  Its the last good envelope based SaaS that remains standing (which is why I'm here).  It has really nice features that other SaaS doesnt.  I wouldn't be here if I didn't believe that.  I have been doing my budget this way for 30+ years on various platforms (including spreadsheets prior to the internet).  I dont need to do it this way, I just prefer it.  Others do as well.  

      I doubt that YNAB will ever change the way in how this is done.  Just as they wont convince me of any benefit of not allowing carry over.  But I think that's what a customer forum is for - for customers to have discussions/debates with the provider and other customers on how the product can improve.  I appreciate you providing this platform so I can give you my opinion on your product and be heard.  Thanks

      Like
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 12 days ago
      • 6
      • Reported - view

      mjrudolphi 

      mjrudolphi said:
      YNAB4 had this capability and so does other envelope style programs. Not sure why people on this thread are so afraid of a negative envelope balances.

       The problem with this line of reasoning is that envelopes can't actually have negative money in them. When you have an envelope with a negative amount in it is no longer an envelope budget.

      So how long should YNAB allow you to keep an envelope negative without fully negating the entire theory behind the envelope budget system? The compromise is that they give you to the end of the month. They could have gone uncompromising and forced you to immediately cover any negative balances, but that would have been more difficult.

      I'll admit it took me some time to come around to losing the red arrow, but it makes sense in the context of envelope budgeting.

      Like 6
      • iwaddo
      • iwaddo77
      • 12 days ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      jenmas I have been using since 2012, I want from YNAB4 to YNAB, I do not miss or need a Red Flag.

      I do not have any issues with YNAB today, I can do everything I need including managing all my reimbursements, both work expenses and personal, but I do acknowledge that there might be ways that YNAB could help.

      I taught my children to budget using YNAB and at what point is it OK to explain to them not to worry that the envelope is empty and to just carry on and spend more money anyway?

      Like 2
      • jenmas
      • jenmas
      • 11 days ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      iwaddo I think you are replying to a comment from a few months ago. It's a risk tolerance thing that only you can decide for yourself. If all the funds in the available column in m budget add up to say $75,000 and one category is red while I wait for my company to reimburse me for that $23 expense next Tuesday, the magnitude of the impact of all my other categories being inherently inaccurate might be a risk worth taking for the sake of convenience. Now, let's say I'm in the middle of an international business trip and have to get out of there in a hurry because there has been a coup attempt and so they have me just buy the first ticket I can to get out of there rather than wait for it to be normal business hours at the travel agency back in the US, plus I have to pay for my hotel for the past month (because I forgot to file my expense report every 2 weeks while in the trip as per company policy) and suddenly the expense reimbursement I'm waiting on is $10,000, the risk is exponentially higher. Now, let's say of that $75,000 mentioned above, $15,000 is for various vacations  that have a 2-3 year time horizon because we don't even have concrete plans yet that we are in fact having a massive family reunion in 2023 or that friend is doing her milestone birthday in Hawaii or whatever, I may determine that the risk for a category being 5 figures in the red is tolerable because I have the discipline to keep all my other categories green. The risk might not be tolerable to you or your kids.

      Like 1
  • mjrudolphi said:
    Just because you have a negative balance in a category doesn't mean you have an issue.  YNAB4 had this capability and so does other envelope style programs.  Not sure why people on this thread are so afraid of a negative envelope balances.

    Ha! "Courage" is my middle name. Yes it does. It means any one of your categories are now understated and not backed by cash. Maybe I should ask you why are so many afraid to cover their shortfalls? YNAB makes it easy. Negative balances create an unknown.

    Like 4
      • mjrudolphi
      • mjrudolphi
      • 12 days ago
      • Reported - view

      Superbone I respectively couldnt disagree more with you Super B.   If you believe what you say - why should negative balances even be allowed - ever?  Why doesnt the program take from an existing positive balance and not allow negative balances to begin with?

      Your argument is it needs to do this for my own good.  I cant be trusted to carry over negative balances and deal with them in my own way.  YNAB big brother must watch over me and make decisions for me.

      Living in a 1984 scenario may be fine for you but it doesnt work for me.  I like freedom.

      Like
      • Superbone
      • YNAB convert since 2008
      • Superbone
      • 12 days ago
      • Reported - view

      mjrudolphi Hmm. It doesn't feel like 1984 to me. They didn't take away this "feature" because of you and me. They took it away from the average YNAB user that gets into trouble because of it. It's really not the big deal you're making it out to be if you have the funds to cover it. Besides, you're welcome to continue to operate in the negative by overspending any category month after month if you wish. Might just take an extra step. All hail Big Brother! So say we all!

      Like
      • mjrudolphi
      • mjrudolphi
      • 12 days ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Superbone "They took it away from the average YNAB user that gets into trouble because of it. "  That makes it worse for us then.  That's why it should be an option.  You make my point by making that statement.  They took it away because people cant be trusted with it.  Really?  So they make their product for the lowest common denominator?  That's what is so maddening about the whole thing.  So because some people dont know how to use the software - everyone else has to have a subpar product?  That makes no sense.

      If you are fine with the way it is then you should have no beef making it an option.  No skin off your nose as you are fine the way it is.  If they make it an option then you just dont use it - bam we are both happy.  That seems like a no brainer and so easy.  That's why I'm so mystified why anyone would consider it an issue.

      Like 1
    • mjrudolphi I'm almost positive all of your points were addressed above in other comments. However, I will say that this quote from you sums up your stance:

      mjrudolphi said:
      "The software is built to support the YNAB Method, and this was one that wasn't quite aligned." - That isnt an answer - just another way to say  we arent going to do it.  I would rather hear you say our engineers cant figure out how to do it.  You can always adapt the YNAB method to allow for carry over. 

       You're asking YNAB to change the method, not the software. You don't like the method. If you're not using the method, expect to use workarounds or find another software. 

      The points about the timing of the software applying the method are in comments from the last few months. You don't have to scroll up that far to read them. 

      There are several other features that actually support efficiency in using the method that I would rather see prioritized over this one. Not that I think it should be implemented, because YNAB's software should not contradict its method.

      Like 8
      • Superbone
      • YNAB convert since 2008
      • Superbone
      • 12 days ago
      • Reported - view

      Right, why would the YNAB engineers say they can't figure out how to do it if YNAB doesn't want to do it and has no plans to attempt to do it?

      Like
      • Superbone
      • YNAB convert since 2008
      • Superbone
      • 12 days ago
      • Reported - view

      mjrudolphi You are exactly right. I would not care if they made it an option. I can tell you that I've been using YNAB since YNAB Pro (before YNAB 3) and I've used the negative carry over in the past. But I can also tell you that I've adapted to not using the negative carry over and I like it better even though my budget is very mature and could literally handle tens of thousands of dollars of overspending for month after month. I can also tell you that YNAB has zero desire to re-add the feature and that they removed it on purpose. I guarantee you it was not an accident or an engineering failure to implement.

      But of course, you're welcome to debate it. And on that note, I will agree to disagree. Thank you for the discourse.

      Like
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 12 days ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      Superbone My budget could handle $110k of overspending if I wanted to.  😉

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

      nolesrule Mine too and even more. Should I go back and change the wording to 100s of thousands? I was trying to be modest. 🤣

      Like 1
      • mjrudolphi
      • mjrudolphi
      • 12 days ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Superbone I too have buffer of 1+ years worth of expenses.  That is an argument to have negative carry over.

      Superbone said:
      I would not care if they made it an option

       Great.  I'm glad you are fine with them making it an option for those who would like it.

       

      Move Light Sound Life said:
       You're asking YNAB to change the method, not the software

       Whats funny about that is it doesnt state anywhere in their "method" that they will force your balances to zero.  I'm not asking them to change their method - I'm asking them to change their software.

       

      I don't understand why any existing customer would even care if they made it an option.  You could continue using the product like you always do - you would see no difference.  So why do you care if they were to make it an option?  What does it mean to you if they did that?

      Like 1
      • jenmas
      • jenmas
      • 12 days ago
      • 5
      • Reported - view

      mjrudolphi Rule 3 - Roll with the Punches. That's the rule that says to cover your overspending from other categories.

      Like 5
      • RIP_MSMoney
      • FinTech Programmer
      • rip_ms_money
      • 11 days ago
      • 6
      • Reported - view

      If everyone has this much money liquid, than just cover your purchases lol... I mean, how much monthly negative rollover are we taking about? Are you all buying yachts? 

      Like 6
      • Superbone
      • YNAB convert since 2008
      • Superbone
      • 11 days ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      RIP_MSMoney 😄 You know what the two best days of a yacht owner’s life are, right?

      Like 1
      • RIP_MSMoney
      • FinTech Programmer
      • rip_ms_money
      • 11 days ago
      • 4
      • Reported - view

      Superbone Well, there are three.. The day you buy, the day you sell, and the month you let me use it for free........ If you are in-between #1 and #2, we should focus in on #3.....

      Like 4
  • nolesrule said:
    The problem with this line of reasoning is that envelopes can't actually have negative money in them. When you have an envelope with a negative amount in it is no longer an envelope budget.

     You do realize the envelopes really don't have money in them right?  Its not real. 

    Also, lets say you have a group called house with all your household related expense categories rolling up.  Now assume only one of these went negative but the entire category is still positive.    Also, lets say you live a busy life and you aren't always ready and able to make that decision right there at that very moment and perhaps you need to discuss with your spouse or.......life happens.

    Having the option to roll over negative balances really shouldn't be an issue for anyone.  It would mean nothing to you.  You wouldn't use it.  So why do you care?

    Like
      • jenmas
      • jenmas
      • 12 days ago
      • Reported - view

      mjrudolphi Yes, but he is referring to the actual envelope budgeting where you operated with cash in actual envelopes. If you only had $20 in the grocery envelope but you needed to spend $25 at the store there was literally no other choice than to take that $5 from another envelope. YNAB is a virtual form of that but it is operating like the physical envelope budgeting system.

      If it's so important to you, then just manually recreate the red arrow.

      Like
  • mjrudolphi said:
    You do realize the envelopes really don't have money in them right?  Its not real. 

     It's an abstraction, sure. But what use is an abstraction that is disconnected from the concrete reality? On that note, do you really think the dollars in your bank account are real? They're an abstraction, too - the "real" dollars are sitting in various other people's loans (that they should hopefully pay back) and there's hopefully enough in the bank's reserves to support your need for cash. 

     

    mjrudolphi said:
    Whats funny about that is it doesnt state anywhere in their "method" that they will force your balances to zero. 

     As has been said earlier in the replies, you're supposed to force your own categories to not be negative. It's a mix of Rules 1 and 3. 

    As has also been said earlier, the month turn over is the best arbitrary time for the software to correct your inconsistencies. If it never corrected, what do you think would happen? To both the software's calculations across time and users learning/implementing the method?

     

    mjrudolphi said:
    Also, lets say you live a busy life and you aren't always ready and able to make that decision right there at that very moment and perhaps you need to discuss with your spouse or.......life happens.

     That would be why I'm glad I can always go back to that month's view and fix the budget if things got too busy. You'll want to work from the past forward if things get skewed. Alternatively, you can just trust YNAB's calculations and move forward with where you current situation landed you, adjusting the budget as needed.

    I care because understanding concepts, their applications, and their implications matters to me. Asking for something to go against its purpose is disingenuous to truth. People present arguments in discussions so that the truth and its implications may be found out. 

    Pragmatically, if YNAB the company were to go against their method and devote development resources (which I'm paying for, and don't want the price to increase) to this feature, that would take development time from other, more worthy (IMO) features. Further, the UI would get more complicated, newbies would be even more confused and not get the benefit of using the YNAB method as much, potentially reducing the customer base and causing the company harder times. But I suppose that future projection is a bit drastic, right?

    Like 2
  • Move Light Sound Life said:
    But I suppose that future projection is a bit drastic, right?
    yes that is a little over done.
    Like
  • Move Light Sound Life said:
    I care because understanding concepts, their applications, and their implications matters to me. Asking for something to go against its purpose is disingenuous to truth. People present arguments in discussions so that the truth and its implications may be found out

     There are no implications to you if it’s an option. And I’m not asking anything that goes against its purpose.  It’s purpose is to be SaaS. Making it more user friendly to some is not disingenuous. 
    It’s easy for you, you already have what you want.  What I’m asking doesn’t take that away from you. It doesn’t impact you actually at all.  All it does is help me and others like me.   Why would you be against helping others?

    Like
    • mjrudolphi I shouldn't have replied. The definitions of our very words seem at odds with each other. There are many replies above if you'd like to delve into the arguments*. However, I'm going to use my time to help people understand/use the method and otherwise live my life. 

      I hope you have a good day. 

      *By arguments, I mean thoughts and ideas, supported with logic. Not people being mean. I want to head off that misunderstanding.

      Like 1
  • Move Light Sound Life said:
     As has been said earlier in the replies, you're supposed to force your own categories to not be negative. It's a mix of Rules 1 and 3. 

     I’m not suggesting I would never fix a negative balance. I just don’t want the software to arbitrarily do it for me.  I’m asking to fix the software so that I can do it on my time, not it’s time. 

    Like
  • Move Light Sound Life said:
     It's an abstraction, sure. But what use is an abstraction that is disconnected from the concrete reality?

     On that logic then you should have only one envelope per spending account.  

    Like
  • jenmas said:
    If it's so important to you, then just manually recreate the red arrow.

     I don’t know what you mean. But I’m sure it involves extra steps that could easily be solved with an option to have negative balances roll over. 

    Like
      • jenmas
      • jenmas
      • 12 days ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      mjrudolphi YNAB has stated repeatedly and vehemently since 2015 (soft launch) that they are not going to implement red arrow functionality. Now of course in theory, on paper, they could change their minds, but it's not something that I would hold my breath over.

      Like 2
  • jenmas said:
    Rule 3 - Roll with the Punches. That's the rule that says to cover your overspending from other categories.

     Yes and I would like  the chance to do that at my convenience.  Why is that heresy?  What is so awful about wanting that?

    Like
      • jenmas
      • jenmas
      • 12 days ago
      • 5
      • Reported - view

      mjrudolphi you can most definitely want whatever you want, but that instills in YNAB no obligations. They have consistently stated that YNAB is a method first and the software is only to support the method and since they created both, they get to decide how to interpret the method. If a product doesn't suit my needs, I just go out and find one that does.

      Like 5
      • mjrudolphi
      • mjrudolphi
      • 12 days ago
      • Reported - view

      jenmas agree they can do whatever they want. They can ignore me and the others who want this. And trust me if I had a place to go I would. But there is no other place. Don’t get me wrong, YNAB is a good product. It simply has one flaw that makes it extremely annoying to use.  I would love to use a product that looks exactly like YNAB with all the same features with this one item changed. And I’m not alone. There are many of us per communication I received directly from YNAB. That’s what makes this so odd. The company does listen and actually has great customer service. Why be so adamant and obtuse about this ?  Making it an option for those who want it hurts no one and helps many.  Happy customers makes more customers. 

      Like
  • Move Light Sound Life said:
    I hope you have a good day.

     Thanks. You to. 

    Like 1
  • mjrudolphi said:
    On that logic then you should have only one envelope per spending account.  

    Huh? That logic makes no sense whatsoever. Envelopes represent categories, not accounts. You can have as many envelopes as you have categories. Some of them have funds, some don't. None of them have negative funds. I had to come out of retirement from this conversation for that head scratcher.

    Like 2
      • mjrudolphi
      • mjrudolphi
      • 12 days ago
      • Reported - view

      Superbone my point exactly.  The categories aren’t reality they are made up.  The only thing that is real is your account. The argument by MLSL was that a negative balance doesn’t reflect reality and therefore YNAB should fix it by month end if you don’t. My point is categories aren’t reality and therefore YNAB doesn’t have to fix them under a specific time constraint on your behalf. 

      Like
      • Superbone
      • YNAB convert since 2008
      • Superbone
      • 11 days ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      mjrudolphi In what way are categories not real? You're just being silly now. An envelope with a category written on it is real. OK... I'm out. You are making this waaaaayyyy too much of a big deal. It really isn't. If you want to play with imaginary money, be my guest. YNAB works perfectly fine without catering to your cult of the negative money people.

      Like 2
      • Herman
      • herman
      • 11 days ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      mjrudolphi The thing that is real is you can not spend money you don't have.  If it is allocated for a different purpose, that is the same as not having it for whatever purpose you want to  carry over the negative. 

      Like 2
      • mjrudolphi
      • mjrudolphi
      • 11 days ago
      • Reported - view

      Superbone we’re not the cult SB, you are.  Not sure why folks like yourself can’t see that folks like myself are just as committed as you are. 

      Like
  • jenmas said:
    but it's not something that I would hold my breath over.

     I’m not as I’m sure I would die.  And yet there are so many requests for it, it seems silly they take such a hard stance. YNAB wrote me even saying they get this request a lot.  Ok, so if a good potion of users want it, why (as a company that wants to make money and expand its user base) would you not even entertain the idea as an option for those who want to have more time to make decisions or track reimbursements.  A couple of lines of code and poof - happy users and more business.  

    Like
      • iwaddo
      • iwaddo77
      • 11 days ago
      • 5
      • Reported - view

      mjrudolphi The answers as to why they are holding such a tough line are quite simple.

      1. YNAB implements a methodology
      2. the target market is people who really need a good robust solution to help them manage a debt or near debt situation. A situation where borrowing from empty envelopes is what got them into dept in the first place.
      Like 5
      • Herman
      • herman
      • 11 days ago
      • 8
      • Reported - view

      mjrudolphi It's kind of refreshing to see a company stick to what they think is best for users even if it costs them users/money.  

      Like 8
      • mjrudolphi
      • mjrudolphi
      • 11 days ago
      • Reported - view

      iwaddo yep and I’m not suggesting that change.  That’s why I don’t understand the stubbornness. 

      Like
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