Helping elderly relative with energy costs

I’m a new YNAB user I’m in Egham England UK. I have this iteration that is mashing my brain.  I help an elderly relative who is in energy poverty she lives in an old fisherman’s cottage on Cornwall UK. She has struggled to pay her electricity bill for years. Two years ago I stepped up to help. The result is that I am now jointly responsible with her for her bill. We have an account with the electric company I pay £327 to monthly this is an estimated amount that is supposed to even out the peaks and troughs of the electric usage so today in Oct the account is in credit in the sum of £707.90. But we are headed into the high use seasons so I expect the balance to go into debt by March 2021 and it should cycle like this. The actual power charge is made to the account each month when I submit the meter reading. My relative also reimburses me £210 per month and we get the occasional charitable donation which reduces the amount I have to support by a bit.  I need to get clarity and transparency for this. First of all I set up a credit card type account but this didn’t work so I now have this account as a checking account which I guess should accommodate the positive and negative balances.  But to manage my cash flow (my money is not aged right now) I have to budget for my £327 regular outgoing but it’s treated as a transfer in YNAB so it is not a budget transaction. Sorry for the rambling post anyone have thoughts should be much appreciated. 

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  • Try setting it up as a Tracking Account. It will require a little more bookkeeping, but I think it would do what you want.

    The opening balance would be £707.90, then as you pay into it from your checking account you would transfer to the Tracking Account categorized your “Relative’s electric” category. When the electric company takes their portion, you would reduce the balance in the tracking account. As your relative reimburses you, put it directly into your on-budget “Relative’s electric” category to reduce you will have to contribute next month.

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  • I wouldn't track this account balance in YNAB at all; presumably you have a place where you can view the account online. You can't spend from the utility account. 

    The budget mechanics look like this:

    1. You budget $327 each month to "relative's electric." (don't have pound easily on my keyboard, so just going to use $--translate to UK. :) ) 

    2. Each month, you record a $327 payment to the electric company

    3. Each month, you record a $210 inflow from your relative directly to the "relative's electric" category. 

    This will result in spending in your reports which is what you personally are paying in, which is $117. 

    If you really want to track this account in YNAB, it should be a tracking account. Your payment in step 2 will be a transfer to that account and will be treated the same as spending. You will also need to then record each month's actual electric charge so that you can see the account balance. It's not too onerous, but I am an "err on the side of simplicity" person and I keep such accounts out of my budget. 

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  • Thank you for your suggestions really helpful responses. 😀👍

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