Brand New! Need help with credit card budgeting into next month vs this month

Hi all! I have about 10 days left of my trial period and I'm definitely going to take the plunge, but I've got some questions about how the months lay out. I already use this months money for next months bills - sort of; but I can't see how to do that in YNAB.

So the big reason I wanted to use YNAB is because I don't know where my money goes (I'm starting to now, oh yes I am lol) and it's absolutely giving me pause before I just flounce around blowing money I don't have on stuff I don't need, so hey it's already doing it's job! But the main reason was to track category spending throughout any given month.

I use the AmexBlue for groceries and the BoA card for gas - both returning 3% cash back which is awesome. I budget $300 a month for each of these categories, and I pay these cards in full every month.  Looking at the image I'm including here, I've done good staying within the budget - great, on the gas, actually! And I can see how it's already put the surplus gas money into September, which is fine.

The problem is the gas card closed on August 21st, and so the $161.71 is due on September 18th. Any charges I make now go on the next statement, and I want to keep track of that as a whole new $300, not added onto the existing balance.  I guess I budget $300 per statement, not $300 per month.  I need to make sure I don't spend more than $300 between now and September 21st. 

I guess this is all just how I think about it? I'm ok with YNAB moving the surplus of that card to September; but now I want any transaction I make today to ALSO be put toward September, because I'm not going to pay for anything I charge now until October.

Am I going to have to just jiggle the dates to make it show me a running tally of what I've spent in gas? The grocery category isn't a problem because that card closes on the 1st of the month so that category will be accurate.  

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  • Welcome! And glad to see that YNAB is doing its job of showing you what you want/need to see. 

    For the budgeting, YNAB works on the month basis and not by statement. Since each statement is approximately a month long, I would recommend budgeting $300 per month and monitoring it from there. The statement date becomes irrelevant because you are simply making the gas and grocery purchases and the money waits in the credit card payment category until you pay it. 

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    • MadDog I hear you. I was trying to wrap my head around the concept of the months and the statements are the same period of time, but I've been so locked into the closing dates of the statements for so long, it's a hard thing to stop living by!  One of my biggest stumbling blocks is that right now, YNAB doesn't represent actual money to me - my spreadsheet does. Eventually that'll change right?  :)

      Thank you for taking the time to help!

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  • YNAB is a plan for the cash you actually have. When you assign money to a category, you are reserving it for that category's purpose. Money in the category stays in the category until spent or you move it to another category.

    When you make a budgeted purchase on a credit card, YNAB repurposes the cash you have from being in that spending category to being used to pay back the credit card by moving it to the credit card payment category. This allows you to pay any amount toward your credit card at any time, as long as the money is in the card payment category.

    So if you want to have $300/month for gas, you've got it set up correctly. If you have money left over at the end of the month, you just have to top up the category in September to get back to $300.

    As a result, the month boundaries don't matter for credit card payments, only that you have enough money in the credit card payment category to make the payment. For a pay in full user, the payment category should have enough in it to cover the entire balance on the card at any given time, not just the next statement amount.

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    • nolesrule "you just have to top up the category in September to get back to $300."

      I read that and went "Aaaahhhhhhhhhh" because it never occurred to me to not add $300 to September!

      I think I get what you're saying here, and yes - once I totally get a whole month ahead it ought to just roll on out from there. I think I'm like 2 weeks ahead right now, as the age of my money says "14 days" and I've only been on here for about 3 weeks. So there's some work to do there!

      Thanks for the reply!

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      • nolesrule
      • Stealing From the Future fix is an improvement but is incomplete....
      • nolesrule
      • 3 wk ago
      • Reported - view

      amazingpitbull You don't have to have the $300 available at the beginning of the month for something like gas. So you can top it up throughout the month to meet the target. YNAB does this with the Needed for Spending target/goal. Once a new month starts, it looks at how much you have left and calculates a target equal to the total amount you want in the category during that month. If you don't top it up all at once it'll remain yellow to remind you that you haven't completely topped it up yet.

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    • nolesrule I just read your other stuff for Jeff's post and the credit card float thing, I think I get it a little better now.  I'm just so used to my previous crappy way of budgeting: take the whole months bills and the whole months pay, divide them both in half, subtract one from the other, make sure I have enough to cover the bills, and then blow the rest!  That's no way to live.  *lol*  YNAB is a much better idea. And weirdly, I put stuff in the budget to save for, throw a little money at it, then come back a couple days later and think "I don't want that thing, what was I thinking?" but now instead of having buyers remorse, I'm just happy I didn't throw ACTUAL money at it!

      Like 3
  • It sounds like this is all making more sense to you now, but I did want to send over a link to our new video on Credit Cards - Ben does a great job of going over credit card handling and will set up up to move forward with using them to support your financial goals!

    Like 1
    • Thanks Marisa! I do get it, sort of!  :) It seems like it's working as intended, and I have a couple of them linked and that seems to work ok - I can categorize what I spent it on, and it shows up both in that spending category and on my card balance. The thing I'm wrestling with now is that I didn't start out quite right, and now the budget isn't quite right. I'm going to make a separate post about that though.  :) Hopefully I can get this all squared up before I subscribe - I really don't want to scrap the work I've done this month and start over!

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