Credit card payment amount

Every month, my wife and I get 3 paychecks.  I get paid monthly and she gets paid bimonthly.  Every month, I budget every single one of those dollars and pennies to our various budget categories.  Every month, the header on the page says "+X Funds for <MONTH>" and "-X Budgeted in <MONTH>".  Those X values always match.  Apart from my mortgage and a home improvement loan, I carry no debt (and both of those are included in my budget).

Virtually every purchase I make in a given month is paid for by a CC that has generous cashback awards.  Every month, on the first of the month, when I go to pay off the card's monthly balance (which I do from 2 bank accounts; not sure if that matters), I look for the last transaction of the month (going off the "Transaction Date") and I pay the accumulated balance up to and including that transaction.  I use that method and I don't use the "Payment" amount displaying on on the budget page.  Perhaps that is part of my problem.  But I figure, technically speaking, they should be the same because the balance I pay includes all transactions for a given month.

All of that is just to give you an idea of my process.

The problem I'm having is that the "Payment" amount is not the same as the activity or current balance of the card (and perhaps that's part of why I don't pay much attention to it) and I don't know why.  I did a fresh start in January with February being the first month I started recording transactions.  On the February budget page, the Payment amount for the card was the same value that shows up in the "Activity" column.  Again, per above, the funds and budgeted amount is the same.  On the March budget page, things start to go wonky.  The Payment amount is about 400 dollars less than the Activity amount.  In April, the Payment amount is is about 4600 dollars more than the Activity amount.  And now in May (granting it's not over yet but I would assume that even now the amounts _*should*_ match), the Payment amount is about 15 dollars higher than the Acvitity amount.

One final piece of information to include here: a number of my categories have a positive balance to cover payments that will need to be made in the future (e.g., I budget $5 every month to cover my yearly Costco membership; right now it's showing as having a $45 balance.  That is the kind of thing that I mean).  There are some months that show total activity greater than the total budgeted.  When that occurs, I just cover the extra spending for one category from reserves in another category that I'm comfortable pulling from.  Now, going back through those months, in February my activity was greater than the amount budgeted.  Despite that the Payment amount matched the Activity amount.  In March, again, there was more activity than budgeted but this is where the numbers in the 2 columns start to diverge.  And the discrepancy between total activity and total budgeted is greater than the discrepancy between the Payment and Activity columns.  But, again, despite the additional activity, there were reserves to pull from to cover it.  In April, the total activity is less than the total budgeted and it's in the month where the discrepancy between the Payment and Activity columns is the greatest.  

I can find no discernable pattern or figure out a particular set of transactions that are causing things to go so awry.  So what's going on here?  Again, every month I follow rule 1 to a "T".  All, well, "T"s crossed and "I"s dotted.  Every month there is $0 overspent from the month previous and $0 budgeted in the future.  Why is it the case that the Payment doesn't ever match the Activity.  Or, much, much more importantly, doesn't match the current balance of the card?

Any ideas or thoughts about this would be greatly appreciated!


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  • When you started over was there a balance on the card? And if so did you budget money to the payment category to cover it?

    Activity is the sum of categorized inflows and budgeted outflow transactions on the card and payment transfers within the calendar month, so it does not include credit card rewards categorized to TBB, uncovered overspending or outgoing transfers to other accounts.

  • No, there wasn't a balance on the card.  I made sure to pay off the balance (as I do every month) before I started fresh.

    Every month when I get the rewards, I immediately categorize that amount as inflow to one of my categories (e.g., household or groceries) and do not classify it as income to be budgeted.

      • nolesrule
      • Been waiting 5 years for the Stealing From the Future fix...
      • nolesrule
      • 1 mth ago
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      Christoph Boget Does your credit card balance ever go positive in YNAB?

      This can happen if you are paying the balance to zero, have rewards and/or returns.

    • nolesrule , no, it doesn't.  I pay off the current balance for the card every month.

      One thing that I did notice after reading your message is that at least part (though not all) of the discrepancy each month is the payment from the previous month.

      So, again, my beginning of the month workflow is:

      1) On the first or second day of a particular month I log in to my CC account and see what the running balance was for the last transaction posted for the month previous

      2) On that day I make a payment on that CC amounting to that balance

      3) About 2 or 3 days later, the payment from my primary checking account is posted to that CC account.  So the payment date is not for the month previous and that seems to do funky things.  Just to see what happens, I altered the payment date for those payments from the 4th or 5th of the month (when they posted) and set it to the last day of the month previous and now the payment amount for each month is showing as 0.  And the current month, which had been off when I had written my message above, the Payment amount matches both the Activity column and the current balance.

      So is it the case that I should set the payment date to be the last date of the previous month instead of when it actually posted?

    • Christoph Boget In YNAB, if you pay your card in full, it doesn't matter at all when you make your payment, or whether you pay the statement balance, the full balance, or something in between.

      All that matters is that the amount in the Credit Card Payment category, right now, matches your current working balance, like this:

      Once you've done that, YNAB should keep those numbers in sync. If they start to diverge again, it's almost definitely due to credit overspending or a positive balance on the card.

      You shouldn't need to budget directly to the Credit Card Payment category, ever, unless you're budgeting for a starting balance (not the case here) or to cover past overspending.

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    • Matthew Well, that's the problem (as described above) -- the values are not the same. 

    • Christoph Boget Want me to take a look and figure out why? If you’re up for it, go ahead and enable Support Access for your account. Once you’ve done that, let me know—and mention whether you’d like to continue the discussion here or via email instead.

    • Matthew I enabled it.  And yeah, I would prefer that we move to email as I'm sure we'll be discussing my particular finances.

      One thing I want to point out is that, currently, the payment dates for my CC were changed to the last day of the month.  I noted the original posted date in the memo.

    • Matthew actually, I reverted the date changes so nevermind my previous message

    • Christoph Boget Just sent you an email!

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