Joint Account with My Sister

I'm struggling to find a good set up for my current situation. The challenge: I share a joint account with my sister for some family matters. How do I manage that joint checking's account on YNAB?

  • She doesn't use YNAB or wants to.
  • I need that checking's account as a budget account and not just tracking so that I can categorize expenses correctly.
  • I budget expenses and transfer funds from my personal checking's account to the joint account as needed.
  • We usually fund that account 50-50. So 50% of that money is not mine.

Currently, I have added the joint checking's account as a budget account. And I am putting my funding and her funding as TBB so that when the time comes to pay expenses, I have enough budgeted $ to pay them. However, 50% of those funds and expenses are not really mine.

I appreciate any suggestions. :)

Thank you!


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  • The ideal situation would be that you stop sharing the account, but that isn't very good advice because it sounds like that's a situation which is out of your control.

    If the account is reliably split 50-50, here is what I would do. Create a separate category and call it Sister's Money. Budget 50% of the account's current balance to that category. The "job" you are giving to that money is "get spent by Sister however she sees fit". The remainder of the balance can be allocated among your own categories.

    Going forward, log her transactions in this category--both inflow and outflow. If she deposits money in the account, you have two options: either earmark it directly toward her category, or just categorize it as inflow in the Sister's Money category from the start, rather that putting it toward To Be Budgeted.

    The goal of this setup is to set aside a certain chunk of the balance that is untouchable by you. If you can identify how much of the account is available to you at any given time and how much is reserved to her, you can isolate her portion and do all your budgeting within your own.

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  • Thanks Gray . I think I would still have my sister's money counted in my budget. My net worth would still be inaccurate.  What do you think?

    Thank you!


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    • Jess Unfortunately I don't think there's a way around that. Or at least not a good way. The only way to keep your sister's money from reflecting on the total account balance and your net worth would be to delete all her transactions (inflow and outflow) rather than track them on the record. This would have the effect of the account accurately representing the money available to you...but it would make the account not accurately reflect reality. I don't recommend this, as it could really spell disaster if she makes an unexpectedly large withdrawal.

      Actually, that might not be the only way. What if instead of making a separate category for your sister, you made a separate account? Make a new account in YNAB and do not link it via direct import to anything. When your sister makes transactions, select them all and move them into the other account. You can exclude that account from Net Worth reports and such.

      This approach still has the disadvantage of the account total not being accurate, but at least your sister's transactions are still recorded somewhere and you can mentally add the two accounts together. A big drawback will be that you won't be able to reconcile the account balance, so it will mean a lot more manual work.

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      • HappyDance
      • YNABing consistently since 2014
      • HappyDance
      • 5 mths ago
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      You can deselect an account that you don't want included in your networth report.  I do that with quite a few accounts, actually, all funds that are not mine but that I manage for others:  a couple of social clubs.

      I have some experience with joint accounts, both with a sister and with roommates.  From what you posted I'm assuming that you are using this joint account as a 50-50 household account from which communal bills such as rent, utilities, and possibly groceries are being paid?  That is such a smart way to do things in a roommate situation:  each person deposits their share to a communal account in advance of the expenses.  So much better than one person playing banker, personally paying all the bills, then collecting funds from everyone else after the fact.

      As a transactional account, there shouldn't be money building in it, so the 50% that is yours not being counted in your current total networth display shouldn't be that concerning, especially since all those funds are earmarked to be spent within a short period of time.

      Edited to add:  you cannot deselect categories from being added to your networth report, but you can deselect them from showing in your income/expense reports

      Reply Like 1
  • Hi Jess !

    There isn't an easy way to properly adjust your Net Worth. If you create a Sister's Money category, like  Gray Admiral mentioned, and record inflows there the amount won't be included in your Income vs. Expense report. However, your Net Worth is calculated by combining all of your account balances (including the portion of that account that doesn't belong to you). If you create an additional account and enter a negative amount to counter-balance the portion of the shared account that isn't yours, you'd have to manually adjust it with each transaction made.

    Instead, you could leave the account as is and select not to include it at all in your Net Worth report. That would give you the Net Worth of just your accounts instead of including the shared account. 

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