Starting Balance Incorrect?


Just signed up. Imported my Checking and Savings accounts automatically linked.

My Savings account cleared balance and working balance are the same as my starting balance in YNAB. These numbers look correct.

However, in my checking account in YNAB the cleared balance and working balance match my bank's balance...but the starting balance in YNAB came in as a few thousand dollars lower.

What is happening? Should I just change the starting balance to match the other numbers? I haven't actually done anything in YNAB yet.


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

    Were any other transactions imported besides the starting balance?

  • Yes, two transactions dated Nov 30. No other dates. These appear to be already fully processed by my bank. There are some other transactions that did not get imported but don't appear to have been processed by my bank. My bank lists them as generic debit card transactions for a day or so.

    • casner
    • Now retired, and figuring out transitions
    • casner
    • 7 mths ago
    • 1
    • Reported - view

    The bank balance should match your Cleared Balance in YNAB, not the Working Balance. The difference between the two are the transactions that you know about that your bank doesn't yet (or hasn't cleared.) What shows up in the left column under Budget is the Working Balance, which for an active Checking account can be confusing.

    Like 1
  • I can see there's just a delay in my bank having cleared some transactions and it throws of ynab a bit. I added up some pending transactions and I can see what it's waiting for. However, it still makes no sense why my starting balance is so low, like $2000 or so lower than it should be. Should the starting balance reflect how much money I actually have minus those pending transactions? I've deleted and relinked the accounts and still the starting balance is grossly off. Unless I'm misunderstand what a starting balance is in YNAB.

  • Starting Balances do show up incorrectly every now and then, but this doesn't necessarily indicate there will be any issues moving forward. Fortunately, the starting balance can be edited manually by double clicking on it right in the account register

    Why does this happen? Because banks don't have a standard definition of "current balance," so while we do our best to request the cleared balance, that's not always what we get. Bottom line: if your starting balance is wrong, fix it, either by editing the Starting Balance transaction or reconciling and entering an adjustment.

    Like 1
  • Hi, thanks for the reply, I've tried some steps to hopefully work it out.

    Here's what I've done, and will have to wait for my bank transactions to clear at my bank to know for sure if it worked after they import to YNAB.

    1. I added transactions in YNAB for anything showing up at my bank, but not in YNAB.

    2. I made sure these transactions were marked uncleared.

    3. I changed the starting balance to a fake number that forced my Working Balance to be exactly what my bank balance says (my bank includes pending transactions up to the minute).

    4. The result is that the Cleared balance in YNAB is equal to (my working balance) + (the exact amount of anything pending in my bank account)

    The numbers seems to make sense, but it's probably best to wait until all my transactions clear and import to see if this worked out. I'm thinking of not spending any money for a few days just to flush things out with pending transactions.

    Is it reasonable to not worry about the starting balance still being "off" as long as everything balances out?

  • If everything else is correct (cleared balance = bank balance) then the starting balance is not off. It may not be what you thought it would be, but the starting balance is just a number that ensures that any transactions that are not shown individually are accounted for. If starting balance + transactions = correct balance, then starting balance is correct.

    Like 1
  • DexterCat said:
    If starting balance + transactions = correct balance, then starting balance is correct.

     So far this looks to be true for me.

    With my pending transactions NOT marked as cleared in YNAB:

    StartingBalance + InflowTransactions - ClearedOutflowTransactions - PendingOutflowTransactions = WorkingBalance

    If I mark cleared for all those pending transactions, then:

    WorkingBalance = ClearedBalance.

    So I'm hoping once my transactions download to YNAB from my bank, WorkingBalance will still equal ClearedBalance.

  • I may be misunderstanding you, but if you are referring to the "Working Balance" and "Cleared Balance" in YNAB, then those equations will always be true because that is how they are defined. Working Balance is the balance of all transactions including the starting balance. The Cleared Balance is the balance of all cleared transactions including the starting balance. If all transactions are cleared then WB = CB.

    The trick is working out whether the balances match your actual bank account. This is complicated by all the different ways banks display the "balance". You say your bank shows a balance including pending transactions which is helpful. It can also be helpful if your bank displays a running balance next to each transaction. You can turn a running balance on in YNAB as well. Then, provided the dates of the transactions are the same in YNAB as your bank, you can look at each day and see if they match. For example, maybe mine match on the 29th of November, but after that I haven't got around to entering some transactions. I can clear the transactions in YNAB up to the 29th and then reconcile to that day. This gives me confidence that everything up until that day is correct. If the balances don't match later on, I only need to check transactions since the 29th.

    Because I'm not in the USA or Canada, I've always done manual entry. I've recently found a third party app that will link my New Zealand accounts to YNAB, but I still do manual entry first (if I remember) and the bank link just confirms what I've already done. In your situation I wouldn't wait for YNAB to catch up, I would manually enter any transactions that haven't linked yet. Working Balance should then equal your bank balance.

    A further complication is that YNAB recently changed how pending transactions are displayed. My bank link doesn't have pending transactions and so I'm not familiar with how exactly YNAB does this and how it affects the Working Balance.

    • DexterCat 

      DexterCat said:
      The trick is working out whether the balances match your actual bank account. This is complicated by all the different ways banks display the "balance".

       Yeah that was the confusing part for me. My bank only displays a working balance. They always display my pending transactions in their transaction list and calculate my balance based on including those pending transactions.

      Once I figured out which pending transactions were and were not included in YNAB, and entered those transactions manually, I did some math and figured out what the starting balance needed to be to make the Cleared and working balance match...

      Fast forward to this morning....all my bank transactions have downloaded to YNAB. there are no more pending ones in my bank account. YNAB auto matched and cleared the manual pending transactions I entered. And the ClearedBalance = Working Balance....which matches the balance at my bank.

      I think I'm good to go. But it still slightly bothers me the starting balance number makes no sense to me other than it forces the numbers to be correct. I'm hoping I can just forget about it and all will be good going forward.

      Thanks for all the help I got here.

      Now I can transfer my budget plan from an Excel spreadsheet I was using for months to YNAB.

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