Lost control, should I start fresh or reconcile?

Over the past couple of weeks I fell off the wagon and stopped tracking.  My banks are not linked so its a lot of effort to now go in and manually add all the transactions. 

Question:  Should I start from scratch, or do a reconciliation?  Thoughts?

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  •     Hey there Wildcat! Great question...I myself have been there a time or two (more than I'd like to admit actually). One good thing about YNAB's "Make a Fresh Start" option,  is the clarity it gives us. Think about it...you know you fell off the wagon and its GREAT that you can acknowledge that and understand that you need to tidy up or fix your budget.

         I am a firm believer in just making a fresh start and it's practically  perfect timing since a new month is just  a few days away! I'd suggest give yourself a few days to think rethink your budgeting priorities/categories, brainstorm a bit and on May 1st, start all over with a clean slate! I find it extremely refreshing to do that especially when you have to manually import everything. 

         Question...have you considered linking your accounts to help with importing so you aren't stuck doing everything manually? I'd love to hear how things go for you so I hope you keep us posted as to what you decide and how it works out! Good luck and happy budgeting!

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  • Thanks!  The thing about the fresh start is that I lose my history, and so I can't see how much I'm spending per month on groceries for example (unless there is a way that I'm not aware of?)

    My main bank account is not a linkable account unfortunately - I'm in Canada (its Alterna bank, an amazing fee-free bank but not very well known).

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      • mamster
      • mamster
      • 1 yr ago
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      • Reported - view

      Aquamarine Wildcat You can always switch back to your old (pre-Fresh Start) budget and look at your past spending there.

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    • Vibrant
    • No more counting dollars, we'll be counting stars
    • vibrant
    • 1 yr ago
    • 2
    • Reported - view

    I have been in your shoes, and if we're talking a few weeks, I think it is 100% WORTH IT to set aside an hour or two to enter your missing transactions and bring your existing budget back in line. You can skip manually entering all the transactions by using file based import, although you'll still have to categorize them, etc. 

    There is valuable data in those skipped transactions, AND in the exercise of owning up to your unrestrained spending. 😉

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  • How about this:  Keep your history.  Make an entry into each of your accounts for the inflow/outflow difference between the balance when you stopped tracking and the balance today.  Categorize it as TBB.  Then proceed to the budget page, and move money or budget until TBB=0.

    Alternatively, assuming the net of not tracking is an outflow:  You could create a category called "Not Tracked" or whatever makes sense to you.  Use that category for the adjustment, then move money from existing categories to Not Tracked to cover the resulting overspend.  Your history will have a reminder of the cost of not tracking.

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  • What I'm learning and loving about YNAB is that it is flexible enough to handle this kind of scenario in a number of ways.  I'm going to digest these ideas.  Maybe the first step is to start tracking again right now going forward and then figure out what to do next.  I just hate opening it up and seeing all these inaccuracies!

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  • I would start a reconciliation on one account at a time, but don't waste time entering every little transaction, rather I'd use the difference shown during reconciliation to roughly eyeball what might have happened and just enter some transactions that are close.

    Example: Checking shows a difference of 380 during a reconciliation. I'd glance at the rough transaction history in my bank account then follow a process along these lines:

    • Eh, probably, let's say 180 for groceries, that leaves me 200.
    • I see a bunch of itunes transactions, so maybe 25 bucks in media/entertainment. 175 left.
    • OK here's an insurance payment for 87 that I can pin down exactly.
    • 88 left, there is some eating out and a food delivery order, so that's about 45 bucks for that.
    • Can't be bothered to hunt for the remaining 43 bucks so make a reconciliation adjustment for this one.

    So in this example I would have created 4 lumped together transactions that roughly reflect what was going on in my respective categories, plus one created by YNAB to finish the reconciliation.

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