My Balances Are Off & I don't know where.

Hi, I've not been YNAB'ing for about 6 weeks (I was sick with COVID & other life scenarios) and I wasn't budgeting every paycheck. I went in tonight and my balance is off. I have an Ally savings and checking and as I've moved amounts between those accounts and our joint checking, I don't know where my mistake is. I also know that budgeting into the future is tripping me up, but I've been sort of getting along. Is there a quick fix/silver bullet? Thanks.

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  • Silver bullet is make a reconciliation transaction (click reconcile, enter today’s cleared balance, and accept) and then get on with life. If your cleared balances in YNAB match the real world then your budget matches the real world and you can safely move money around the budget to cover any overspending. 
     

    I would prefer to verify and catch up on six weeks of transactions, but I’m particular. 

    Like 3
  • Direct import only goes back 6 weeks, so you're probably just missing transactions. The reconciliation adjustment accounts for those as a lump sum and is the quickest way to move forward.

    Like
  • If you find that after making Reconciliation Balance Adjustments in your accounts, you still don't feel confident moving forward, know that you can always make a Fresh StartThis would keep your categories, goals, and scheduled transactions, but it would clear out all budgeting and transaction history. And, YNAB will archive a copy of your current budget in name-only, so you can refer back to it (or even use it again if you'd like). To make a Fresh Start:

    • Click the name of your budget (upper left corner).
    • Choose Make a Fresh Start from the menu.
    • In your new budget, enter your starting balances as of today (if they are linked and don't automatically import). This step allows your transactions to start importing if you want them to, so don't skip it! 🙂
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    • Annieland
    • I was told there would be no math.
    • Annieland
    • 2 mths ago
    • 5
    • Reported - view

    I don’t like all this Fresh Start advice going around. It’s a cop-out. 11 years of YNAB I never needed a fresh start other than the move from old to new YNAB (which was a bummer). People who utilize fresh start should do so because they fully understand the software and have a specific use goal in mind. 

    Then I see confused people saying they’ve Fresh Started 3 times so far this year and are ready to give up.   I’ll give a pass to reconciliation adjustments, because people DO need to move forward, even though I am more of the WordTenor mindset, in that if there is an error I feel much better finding it and understanding it so I can hopefully avoid a repeat occurrence in the future. 

    If there are newish users out there who have fallen off the wagon or had errors that a Fresh Start immediately fixed and found sunshine ever after, then I may be wrong and I apologize to you.

    Like 5
      • WordTenor
      • Not throwing away my shot.
      • WordTenor
      • 2 mths ago
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      • Reported - view

      Annieland I couldn't agree more. I also feel it creates a learned helplessness. I'm forever saddened by the attitude on reddit and FB that YNAB should take months of frustration and several fresh starts to understand.  It doesn't; and it shouldn't. 

      Like 7
      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 2 mths ago
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      • Reported - view

      Annieland I feel a Fresh Start is also more work in the long run. It doesn't save anything on the account side -- you have to give the current balance either way, so you might as well give it to the reconciliation box. That leaves the categories, and I'm pretty sure most of those are actually correct.

      I think a lot of people do it because they just don't understand the fundamentals. Don't take TBB negative. Don't send the CC more than is in the category. No, TBB should not match your checking account. Etc.

      A Fresh Start is merely a snooze button for other issues.

      Like 7
      • Annieland
      • I was told there would be no math.
      • Annieland
      • 2 mths ago
      • 5
      • Reported - view

      WordTenor Thank you!  And the last thing I’d ever want to do is make someone feel stupid, but I’ve gotten two friends to use YNAB, with my promise of 24/7 assistance. One hasn’t asked me anything after the first week and every time I check in, she’s still manually entering everything on her phone immediately, and all is well. Not into goals or reports, but keeps everything tidy between her and her husband with their phones, monthly budget meetings, etc,

      My other friend (now former, unfortunately), would TBB red every freakin month, would put random amounts in categories based on “what he’ll probably get next month,” was always telling me how it didn’t work, she’s still broke,  asking me the same questions over and over and me giving her the same calm, rational, relevant responses every time.  Still always a 💩show. 

      I’m sorry, but at some point it’s like RTFM man.  

      Like 5
      • Herah
      • Orange_Clarinet.7
      • 2 mths ago
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      • Reported - view

      dakinemaui I actually don't understand what a Fresh Start is supposed to achieve for a newbie.  If your accounts are messed up, reconcile and make the adjustment (but don't make an adjustment every time you reconcile!).  If your budget was ill-thought-out, quickbudget Available to zero and reorganize your categories.  Either way you keep moving forward, just with more experience.

      If you fell off the wagon for a year or more, a Fresh Start is probably better than massive reconciliation adjustments.  But why would you need it during the trial period?

      Like 2
      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 2 mths ago
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      Herah It doesn't achieve anything for a newbie, as I see it. It does, however, close the support ticket.

      Like 6
      • WordTenor
      • Not throwing away my shot.
      • WordTenor
      • 2 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      dakinemaui You delightful cynic, you. 

      Like 1
      • Annieland
      • I was told there would be no math.
      • Annieland
      • 2 mths ago
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      WordTenor dakinemaui I was thinking more what my husband's latest annoying catchphrase is: "Sick burn, dude."

      Beats "That's what she said," though.

      Like 2
  • Help, my one credit card is off by a penny.

    Fresh start!

    I don't feel like I can trust my To be Budgeted amount.

    Fresh start!

    I've got a negative balance in my Paduka category and I can't figure out why.

    Fresh start!

    Fresh start is a copout, man! It's the easy answer. One will never learn how YNAB works if they just fresh start every time something is a little off.

    Like 4
  • Hello, everyone! Hope you're having a great holiday season.

    I think you're all vastly underestimating the psychological value of a Fresh Start. You're absolutely right, of course, that repeated Fresh Starts aren't a substitute for understanding how YNAB works. And you're equally correct that there's no such thing as a budget that requires a Fresh Start, and we have a very well-used set of instructions spelling out exactly how to get any budget back on track.

    But when you're getting started with a new tool, it's immensely valuable to have a safety valve that lets you say, "Hey, I don't want to live in a budget that has my past mistakes in it; I don't want to enter two months' worth of transactions; and I don't want my budgeting decisions to be driven by anchoring based on what I see available in my categories from the past. I want a new budget that's based on what I've learned so far, one that makes me feel smart and capable and on top of things." That's why we recommend a Fresh Start.

    Furthermore, you're not looking at real-world YNAB accounts all day. I am. And what I'm describing is exactly how Fresh Starts tend to be used in the wild: A couple of times when starting out, and then rarely after that unless someone is making big changes like splitting out a business budget, getting married or divorced, and so on.

    That's a huge generalization, of course. But the idea that we're encouraging Fresh Starts in order to close more support tickets or dissuade people from learning how to use YNAB properly just isn't true. It's about establishing an emotional clean slate.

    Like
      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 2 mths ago
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      Matthew you mentioned a number of scenarios for which I don't think anyone would criticize a fresh start. However, it is the opinion of some that the FS recommendation comes out far too often for more mundane issues when education is warranted. This thread, for instance, was a simple balance adjustment with no indication by the OP they were looking for major restructuring or dumping of emotional baggage.

      My personal opinion is that understanding what's going on is also emotionally empowering.

      Wouldn't you agree a FS (outside of the restructuring type scenarios, of course) should be a last resort after repeated attempts at explanation have failed with a fair bit of back and forth with the OP?

      Like 4
      • WordTenor
      • Not throwing away my shot.
      • WordTenor
      • 2 mths ago
      • 5
      • Reported - view

      Matthew 

      Matthew said:
      you're not looking at real-world YNAB accounts all day

       You may have misjudged how much time the rest of us waste here and elsewhere when we should be doing other things...

      Like 5
    • WordTenor Fair point!

      dakinemaui In general, I agree. But I also think the cases where Fresh Starting replaces honest reckoning with how to manage the budget are rare.

      Like you, I'm disappointed when I hear someone say, "My Credit Card Payment category got out of whack again, so I had to Fresh Start." That's not what we want, either—but my disappointment isn't with the customer, it's with us for not making it clearer how the Credit Card Payment category works and helping YNABers avoid issues like end-of-last-month charges sneaking in after the month rolls over.

      Like 1
      • WordTenor
      • Not throwing away my shot.
      • WordTenor
      • 2 mths ago
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      • Reported - view

      Matthew 

      Matthew said:
      the cases where Fresh Starting replaces honest reckoning with how to manage the budget are rare.

       So similarly, this might reflect your own difference of seeing only the budgets of those who’ve reached out to support directly vs. those who have reached out on FB, Reddit, and elsewhere. I would say that in those other channels,  fresh starting instead of fixing the problem is the first choice.  

      And in this instance, as dak points out,  none of the things you suggest were presented by the OP, but support nevertheless showed up and said “Hey, Fresh Start!” The accusation that support suggests Fresh Starts when they aren’t warranted was in fact brought on by Support suggesting a fresh start when one isn’t warranted, so the high level theoretical conversation is deflecting that central issue. 

      Like 1
    • WordTenor A Fresh Start is absolutely warranted in this case. I'd encourage you to reread the original post. Is it the only possible solution? No. But it's a good one.

      As you know well, part of why YNAB works is that it's not the kind of budget that makes you feel like a failure because you said you were going to spend $40 on dining out but you spent $60. You apply Rule 3 and move on.

      The OP here definitely needs to learn how budgeting in the future and transfers between accounts work in YNAB. A Fresh Start isn't going to change that—but it's probably going to make it easier for the YNABer to grasp those concepts, for two reasons:

      1. People who aren't used to an allocation budget get really tripped up by thinking about past cash flows instead of the current state of the budget. YNAB doesn't care how things got to where they are now, of course. It only cares about how much money you have and what you're planning to do with it next. A Fresh Start makes that viscerally clear. "Oh, you mean I could restart my budget at any moment and just budget the money I have, and everything would work fine? Ahhhh."
      2. Having to use a budget that enshrines your past budgeting attempts—e.g., the time you literally got COVID and stopped budgeting for six weeks—feels crummy. You don't want to open that budget. Why not throw it away and start fresh? What's the possible harm?
      Like
      • WordTenor
      • Not throwing away my shot.
      • WordTenor
      • 2 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Matthew Because the OP doesn't indicate any distress or any inability to do these things other than to say "This is probably where I messed up"? (Which is a sign they actually have a good sense of the budget’s workings not that hey are struggling.) They missed six weeks of transaction input and want a way around  having to input those six weeks of transactions. A fresh start is one option, but it comes at the cost of getting rid of the budget history that helps users make good plans. So because they don't seem to be struggling otherwise, or seem to feel guilty about putting the budget aside while having COVID, the suggestion "Yeah, nuke the budget!" indeed seems premature. 
       

      Basically the conversation here is “This doesn’t need to be a fresh start.” “It should be a fresh start.” “Support *always* says fresh start, it’s their preferred solution.” “It is *not* support’s preferred solution!” “Then why should this person fresh start?” “It’s support’s preferred solution.” 

      Like
  • dakinemaui said:
    However, it is the opinion of some that the FS recommendation comes out far too often for more mundane issues when education is warranted.

     Yeah, that was basically what prompted me to make the original comment.  I just felt like I had seen the advice more often than usual, so I just wanted to put the brakes on for a sec.

    Matthew It's heartening to know that the FS approach does help some people in the way I mentioned at the end of my post.  I truly did not know if that was the case and that's why I left it open for suggestion.

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