Any easier way to import and categorize transactions on platforms like Venmo, Paypal, Amazon, Square, etc?

Take Amazon as an example.  My credit card shows 10-20 separate transactions per month labeled "Amazon.com" with zero context on what I bought.  I would LOVE to be able to have some breadcrumb of a hint come through on what the charge was for so I could correctly categorize it without opening up Amazon transaction history and reconstructing it from there.  I have a similar desire for paypal and venmo.  They are black boxes to YNAB.  Any way to improve import and categorization for these black-box platforms?

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  • Every time I make an Amazon purchase I record it in YNAB with a brief memo of what it's for.  It can get a little hairy when I have to do a split transactions from multiple marketplace sellers, but it's doable.  There's no way it's going to import exactly what you bought.  Best practice would be manually entering it when you make the purchase, as you're the one with the info and making the decision

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  • Thanks Annieland!  That would work, but I'm looking for something a bit more 'hands off and auto-magic'.  I like to look at YNAB only about 1x per month or less and tend to not want to manage purchases on a daily basis like your method would require.  Add to the fact that my wife and I both share YNAB and we each have our own AMZN/Venmo/Paypal accounts and each YNAB categorization session becomes an involved forensic investigation which means we put off doing it..... 

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      • Annieland
      • YNABbing every day since 2009!
      • Annieland
      • 11 mths ago
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      • Reported - view

      Turquoise Router Ooh that's gonna be rough then 😬.  Nearly everyone here will tell you that YNAB is a "hands on" approach to budgeting and most of us look at our budgets no less than once a week, if not at least once a day.  

      My "lazy" budgeting friends who seem to have limitless resources and shop a lot at stores like Costco, Target, and Amazon end up just making categories for those stores.  But if you are trying to be diligent enough to track how much you spend on household items, food, pet stuff, etc. then you need to record and categorize your purchases at ANY general merchandise retailer, online or off.  

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      • jenmas
      • jenmas
      • 11 mths ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

       yeah, Annieland is right. Transaction import is meant to be your backup with manual entry being the primary way of getting data into YNAB. 

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    • Annieland Your 'lazy' friends have something there.  If I just give up the fidelity within amazon/venmo/paypal and treat them like their own category that might be simplest.   Thanks for the insight!

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    • jenmas I disagree. Before YNAB changed their account import backend, the memos from Venmo would show up, which made it trivial to categorize (the actual payee never did). 

      The new importer does not show the memo and so it joins the ranks of things like Amazon and Paypal where there's nothing you can do but review your history each time you need to categorize (or enter manually).

      Amazon gets particularly hairy as they do things like split orders into multiple transactions and, worse, take multiple transactions and lump them together and charge you once (so you can't even search for that value in your email to find the order confirmation).

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