Confused by "cleared" vs "uncleared" credit card transactions

Hi. We are completely confused about how YNAB categorizes and tallies credit card transactions.

Example:

For one of our credit cards, all transactions are showing as 'cleared' except for what we entered as 'starting balance' when we opened out YNAB account. There does not appear to be a way to 'clear' this starting balance.

In any case, the "cleared balance" + "uncleared balance" equals "working balance", which  should (we assume) equal the actual current balance we have on the credit card. It's not. It's not close to accurate. This is true for all of our credit cards entered into YNAB.

Can someone explain how this is supposed to work?

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  • Is the starting balance uncleared or reconciled?

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  • It has a grey "C" next to it, which I assume to mean "uncleared". I have no idea how one reconciles a starting balance, beyond paying it off.

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

      Orchid Mill You clear transactions by clicking the gray "C". The starting balance defaults to cleared, so you must have "uncleared" it at some point in the past. You should reconcile your account periodically to ensure/verify the cleared balance in YNAB agrees with the real world.

      If you've manually entered transactions, those will be uncleared and the working balance will be temporarily more accurate than your CC's website. If you strictly rely on import for transaction entry (not recommended, BTW), the working balance should always match the cleared balance.

      It sounds like your starting balance is incorrect, and a reconciliation adjustment will fix the current balance. Your call if you want to incorporate that adjustment amount into the starting transaction and then delete the adjustment.

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    • dakinemaui Thanks. Shouldn't a linked account be automatically reconciled? The differences between YNAB's "working balance" and actual card balances are way off—for all cards. 

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

      Orchid Mill Not automatically reconciled since that's a user process. The balances should theoretically track once they successfully agree. In practice, you still need to reconcile because Import makes mistakes. One in particular to watch out for is there's only a 15 day window. If you don't log into YNAB inside that timeframe, you may well be missing transactions.

      Reconciliation is simply an easy way to know there's a problem.

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      • MXMOM
      • MXMOM
      • 2 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Orchid Mill are you only using the mobile app?  You can't reconcile on the mobile app, you have to log in to the web.

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

      Orchid Mill your YNAB balance should always be the most correct and up to date.  its the same as if you wrote a cheque to me for $5000 but I don't cash it for a month.  In YNAB your chequing account would show your real available balance.  If you logged into the bank site, the balance there would be $5000 higher. Dangerous.

      ________________________________________________________________________________________________________

      Excerpt from https://docs.youneedabudget.com/article/1666-keeping-your-budget-accurate-on-mobile

      Managing your account balances

      Just like a house needs a solid foundation to be strong and long-lasting, your budget’s accuracy depends on having a strong foundation too. That foundation is correct account balances!

      Without correct account balances, your budget can’t be correct, so your active management of them is key—it’s one of the reasons why YNABers are so successful with their budgets. The spending awareness and connection it brings to your finances means actually being able to stick with budgeting. 

      Account balances are a sum of the transactions in the account, so if any one transaction is incorrect—say your bank accidentally pulled in the incorrect Starting Balance amount—your account balance will be off. So even those YNABers who link their accounts still need to reconcile and actively manage their accounts. Direct Importing transactions is only one component of budget accuracy.

      If you’re able to use YNAB on the web, reconcile your accounts regularly.

      The reconcile function isn’t yet available in YNAB’s mobile app. If you use the mobile app exclusively, however, there’s still a lot you can do to keep your account balances up to date!

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    • MXMOM Hey, I wrote that article! Glad you found it useful.

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      • MXMOM
      • MXMOM
      • 2 mths ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view

      Matthew a suggestion (if not already done) is a clear comparison of what functions are available on web vs mobile and also if available but different on mobile.  And a “directed path” based on whether they are using mobile only, web only, or combination. I know there’s a Budgeting on Mobile section but I don’t think it is clear to new users that there is a difference and what the differences are. 
      I love a good comparison chart rather than sentences for these things. 
      I am getting the feeling from reading new users posts that there are more and more people who exclusively use their phones for “online” purposes and they may not realize there is a difference in the functionality. This Can be confusing when trying to learn how to do something. 

      Like 3
  • Orchid Mill said:
    I have no idea how one reconciles a starting balance, beyond paying it off.

    Reconciliation is simply saying, "OK, my bank knows about these transactions. There aren't any errors and I'm not missing anything." It has nothing to do with paying off any debt.

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  • Why then would the working balance amounts in YNAB be so wrong (compared to what is actually shown as a balance on the credit cards)?

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  • Orchid Mill said:
    The differences between YNAB's "working balance" and actual card balances are way off—for all cards. 

    One thing to watch out for is the CC website including pending transactions in whatever total you give to YNAB. You need to give it a total that excludes those pending amounts. (This may have been the case with the initially imported starting transactions. Again, Import isn't perfect.)

    Reconcile all accounts in YNAB and get them agreeing with reality.

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  • Ok. I appreciate the help!

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  • I don't see it mentioned so I'll add the bank balance should match the cleared balance.  The working balance is not at all part of the reconciliation process.

    Like 3
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