Arg.

Hi all - ordered the book today and watched the videos but still having trouble getting my head wrapped around getting started. I’ve used mint and personal capital so maybe that’s part of my learning curve :) I’m starting mid paycheck cycle and linked all my account, including credit cards and am overwhelmed by all the transaction imported. Am I better of to start by going the manual route (and unlinking) until I can get the feel for the YNAB process?  Any advice or guidance is appreciated. It’s starting to get a little less fuzzy. I think. 

Thanks all. 

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  • The official YNAB methodology is manual entry of everything and importing of transactions is merely for double checking. Regardless of whether you link or not (I have been doing 100% manual entry since 2014 including working in multiple currencies and don't find it to be hard at all), start from today. Therefore you shouldn't have transactions importing while you set up.

    For the current balance on your credit card, if you intend to pay off that amount (let's say $555.55) the next time you have a payment due, then you must budget $555.55 to the credit card payment line item when you do your set up.

    Don't just watch videos, take the live classes.

    Reply Like 4
  • Hi Purple Memory !

    I wanted to leave a quick link to the free, online workshops that Jenmas mentioned - they're a great resource and an amazing place to start! :)

    You want to start from today and look forward. Use the money you have to budget for the expenses you need to cover before you're paid again.

    Also, here's a short video that explains these three main steps: 

    1. Add your primary accounts with the balances as of today. 

    2. Budget those dollars where they’re needed before you get paid again. 

    3. Record your spending. It’s best to enter transactions right away so you can always trust your budget!

    Take a look at those links and let us know if you still have questions! :)

    Reply Like
  • I agree completely.  One only has so much time for podcasts and such.  At some point, some one-on-one coaching with YOUR budget is needed to move one from where they are stuck.  None of what I have read or watched has explained to me why my budget is -$3500 (in the red), but I have "Available" balances in the green in many budget categories.  I have spent January trying to get my head around how this works so everything will be clean and in order by February 1st.   Now it looks like I'll spend February trying to get clean and in order by March.  My February budget is already populating with available $$.  Where is that coming from if I'm negative already in January?  Maddening to try to figure out with a passive video on theoretical budgeting.

    Reply Like
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 2 mths ago
      • 4
      • Reported - view

      Salmon Sound You've budget money into categories that you don't actually have. It's called overbudgeting. When your TBB is at zero, you have to stop. So now you need to unbudget money from categories to get your TBB back to zero. When you get paid again, you can budget more money.

      Reply Like 4
    • nolesrule 

      Thank you for the feedback. I'll try to fix that when I'm back in front of my budget. Hopefully I can get the kinks out soon. This is a very different way of budgeting for sure.

      Reply Like 2
      • Ben
      • Toolkit for YNAB Designer & Developer
      • furiousfalcon
      • 2 mths ago
      • 4
      • Reported - view

      Salmon Sound YNAB really isn't like a lot of other budgeting systems, in which you "budget" by estimating your usual monthly earnings and then setting spending limits based on your expected earnings.

      YNAB instead only wants you to budget out money you actually have (budget until your To Be Budgeted number is zero), so the money in your budget reflects the actual money you have in your accounts. Ideally, this reinforces the idea that your money is limited and purchase decisions sometimes require adjusting priorities, and hopefully ultimately results in better financial decisions and less debt, more savings, etc.

      Stick with it and hopefully you'll get it figured out. =)

      Reply Like 4
    • nolesrule OK. I've overbudgeted.  How best to reverse that?  Most of my budget line items have been paid/categorized this late in the month.  Do I:

       

      1.reject transactions/expenditures?  But that $$ has been spent as needed and assigned to the proper category.  If I do that, it certainly does not reflect reality.

      2.zero out the monthly budget amount? I need to spend $$ on that line item, so zeroing it out does not reflect reality either.

      3.transfer some $$ into my budget account, then import the transaction thereby adding more money to get my TBB back to green?  Maybe this late in the month, that makes more sense?

      Reply Like
      • WordTenor
      • Your lieutenant, when there's reckoning to be reckoned.
      • WordTenor
      • 2 mths ago
      • 6
      • Reported - view

      Salmon Sound  you should not have any outflow transactions in your budget the pre-date the date that you began.  So if you pay your mortgage on the first and you started using the software on the second, you don’t include your mortgage this month. 

       For everything else, if you don’t have the money to pay for it, then you don’t have the money to pay for it.  If that is because you didn’t include all of the money that you have when you set up your budget, then you probably need to include some more accounts.  Don’t just transfer the money from that account, bring that whole account on budget and decide what all of the dollars in that account are for.

       This is how the software and the method are brutally honest with you. They will show you things like where you think you have money that is savings but it’s actually being used to bridge the gap between paychecks. 

      Reply Like 6
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 2 mths ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      WordTenor is exactly right! Include all your accounts in your budget and you'll be able to get a better grasp on how the system handles both expenses and saving. Your accounts do not exist in isolation.

      Reply Like 2
    • WordTenor First transactions were inflows on 12/31/18, those were my 2 account balances.  My first outflow occurred on 1/3.  So no issue there.  My current account balances are over $7k.  Why is my current TBB  -$3.5k?  I understand the theory.  Don't spend $$ you don't truly have.  It is the practical steps I'm not seeing on how to reverse what  I set up for January in order to make a sensible budget.  I don't want to get February messed up like I did January.

      Reply Like
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 2 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Salmon Sound If you are budgeting February and your TBB is negative, you have to remove what you budgeted from February. It sounds like you may get paid on the last day of the month. If that's the case, you'll need to wait till then to budget February.

      Reply Like 1
    • nolesrule I appreciate the way you guys so quickly offer feedback!  I haven't begun to budget February yet, as it is still a few days away.  I guess not having to have the budget done by the 1st day of the new month is another paradigm change to adjust to.  Every direction I turn, my thinking is way off-track.  My wife and I are both next paid the 2nd week of February.  So we'll go through half the month with no budget?  And can you please explain why TBB is in the red when I have $7k in my accounts?

      Reply Like
      • WordTenor
      • Your lieutenant, when there's reckoning to be reckoned.
      • WordTenor
      • 2 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Salmon Sound Because either YNAB thinks you only have $3.5K in your accounts,  or because you have budgeted $10.5K into your categories. 

      YNAB is an envelope system. Just as would happen if you were actually putting paper money into paper envelopes, when you run out of money, you can’t put any more money into the envelopes.  If you need to pay for something and you don’t have enough money to put in that envelope, you either need to take money out of another envelope, or you need to somehow get more money. 

      Reply Like 1
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 2 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

        do you have credit cards in YNAB? You might be on the float but budgeted the full card balance during onboarding. 

      Reply Like 1
    • nolesrule No, no credit cards.  Just 2 debit accounts.

      Reply Like
    • WordTenor Ah, maybe getting somewhere.  My first inflow that I started my initial YNAB budget was $10.6k.  I used that to start January.  That was my debit account balance as of the end of December.  But not sure how to see if that explains my current mess.  Any recommendations on how to figure that out and fix it?  My TBB is -3500.  I tried deleting the 10,600 initial cash inflow.  That sent my TBB to -14k.  So I went the wrong direction.  I'm just not connecting the dots...

      Reply Like
      • WordTenor
      • Your lieutenant, when there's reckoning to be reckoned.
      • WordTenor
      • 2 mths ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      Salmon Sound There's no enforced connection between how much you are able to budget and how much you have in your accounts, except that if you try to budget more than what you have in your accounts, you'll see an overbudget number. I could, if I wanted, create a category called "New Tesla X" and budget $150,000 for it, and the budget would show that in that category, I have $150,000 available for buying a Tesla. It will not physically prevent me from doing this. However, it will also show me in TBB that I am $150,000 overbudgeted--I have put into one or more categories $150,000 that I don't actually have in my accounts. 

      If that $7K figure in your accounts in YNAB matches your cleared balances at the bank, then you have put $3500 into your budget that at this time, you don't have (perhaps you've spent it during January?). You have to reduce the things you've budgeted for by that amount of money, because in reality, you are waiting on more income to pay for those things. 

      Reply Like 2
    • WordTenor Confused again.  I think at this point, I'll just transfer $$ to cover the negative TBB, then try to deal with February more in line with what I'm learning about YNAB and less like the traditional budget model - which unfortunately I followed in January.

      Reply Like
      • Superbone
      • Senior Software Engineer
      • Superbone
      • 2 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Salmon Sound said:
      My wife and I are both next paid the 2nd week of February.  So we'll go through half the month with no budget?

      Remember that only funds you have now should be budgeted in YNAB. So your current funds need to last until the 2nd week in February. You will budget for your February bills and expenses that are due before your 2nd week in February paycheck. Then, when you get paid, you will budget those funds to last you until your next paycheck and so forth.

      Reply Like
      • Superbone
      • Senior Software Engineer
      • Superbone
      • 2 mths ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view
      Salmon Sound said:
      I think at this point, I'll just transfer $$ to cover the negative TBB, then try to deal with February more in line with what I'm learning about YNAB and less like the traditional budget model - which unfortunately I followed in January

      These funds you're bringing into your budget should already be there in the first place. If they're coming out of a savings account, that savings account should be in your budget. The YNAB budget isn't just for spending but also for saving.

      Reply Like 2
      • satcook
      • satcook
      • 2 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Salmon Sound you said you budgeted your $10,600 starting balance. Did you then add a transaction for $3500 when you got paid in the middle of January??

       

      it should be payee: the name of your employer

      category: to be budgeted

      inflow in the amount of your paycheck. 

       

      Did you do that?

      Reply Like
    • satcook Yes, my bank balance as I started was 10,600.  For that transaction in my register, the Payee column says "Starting Balance".  The Category column says "INFLOW: To be budgeted".  My next Inflow is a YNAB Balance Adjustment of 5300 in the next week.  My next couple of inflows are paychecks that total about 3200.  They appear as you described (payee, category, inflow, proper amount).  That adjustment of 5300 seems very large.  I'm not sure what led to that.

      Reply Like
    • Superbone These funds are meant to be a protected set-aside for a specific purpose.  I am not trying to grow this account and don't plan to spend from it.  But I am willing to move some money from it temporarily just to get this budget problem reconciled so I can re-try using YNAB for a February budget.

      Reply Like
      • WordTenor
      • Your lieutenant, when there's reckoning to be reckoned.
      • WordTenor
      • 2 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Salmon Sound Forget what happened in the past. Right now, do the cleared balancds in YNAB match the cleared balances at the bank?

      Reply Like
    • WordTenor No.  My paper register agrees with the bank.  My YNAB register is off by about $57.  And I have $18 in transactions that have not come through YNAB yet.  So by the time that happens, I'll be off by about $37.  Also, transferring $3500 into the YNAB account moved me into a much more favorable TBB balance.  Still negative, but barely.  I guess I should reconcile that and allow YNAB to  make an adjustment?

      Reply Like
      • WordTenor
      • Your lieutenant, when there's reckoning to be reckoned.
      • WordTenor
      • 2 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Salmon Sound   No. Don’t allow YNAB to adjust it for you; I think this is the root of the problem.

      Am I understanding you that you have a paper check register that is accurate? If so, finding the $57 should be straightforward. It will be something(s) that are in the paper register and at the bank but not in YNAB. 

      Reply Like 1
    • WordTenor Ok. I'll let it stand until I can find the discrepancy.  I show 2 bank transactions that say "pending" on-line.  But the math indicates they really have cleared the bank, not really pending.  Neither of those 2 transactions have come through ready to import yet in YNAB though.

      Reply Like
      • satcook
      • satcook
      • 2 mths ago
      • 4
      • Reported - view

      Salmon Sound manual entry is the preferred method of inputting items in YNAB. This ensures that your budget is always up to date. When the transactions import they will match up with the one you manually entered. 

      Reply Like 4
      • WordTenor
      • Your lieutenant, when there's reckoning to be reckoned.
      • WordTenor
      • 2 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      What  satcook says. Don’t wait for it to import; fix if now by entering/correcting the transactions. This will then allow yo to move on to dealing with the overbudget  number with confidence. 

      Reply Like
      • Ceeses
      • Ceeses
      • 2 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Salmon Sound Do you have any category in your budget with a positive number in the Available column? I don't mean 0 but positive. And that's the Available column, not the Budgeted column.
      Also, go to February on the budget, make sure you don't have any category selected. On the righthand panel, you'll see a Total Available number. Is this number different from the total of your on budget account balances? This 'Total Available' is what you have budgeted in YNAB so far and haven't spent yet. As you can imagine, if this number is more than your bank balances, you just have Monopoly money in your budget. Adding money to your accounts will not change that fact. 
      The way to change that is to take back money that you have budgeted to categories but not spent yet. Obviously, you need to start with categories you don't need to spend from right now (so car repairs or vacation etc are probably better choices than groceries).

      Reply Like
    • Salmon Sound It's pretty much impossible to tell you why your budget is in the red without seeing details.

      Reply Like
    • Aaron Kvarnlov-Leverty Is a support option offered that allows for that?  From what I see, there is not.

      Reply Like
    • Ceeses Let me start with just your first point.  Too many points to process all at the same time.  From my January budget (I haven't done anything for Feb yet), yes I had many budget lines with positive balances and a few red.  I moved green "Available" money from some of those categories to red categories until I only had 1 red category left, and that was my "Stuff I forgot" category.  It is red by about $16.  I still have lots of green expense categories with $$ available.  Now what?

      Reply Like
      • WordTenor
      • Your lieutenant, when there's reckoning to be reckoned.
      • WordTenor
      • 2 mths ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view

      Salmon Sound 

      1. On the account side, match the cleared balances in YNAB to the cleared  balances at your bank. This might involve fixing errors. https://docs.youneedabudget.com/article/166-reconciling-accounts

      2. Once your accounts match the bank, in the budget, make sure that the number at the top is zero,  and that you don’t have any money budgeted in any months in the future.  If the number on the top is positive, add money to your categories until it is zero.  If the number at the top is negative, remove money from your categories until it is zero. 

      3.  If now you don’t have money in categories where you need money,  move money from categories that have more than you need, to categories that have less. 

      4.  When you need to buy something, look at the category, and make sure there’s enough in that category to buy the thing before you buy it.  If there’s not enough there, you need to move money from another category before you spend money. 

       Don’t overthink it.  If you don’t fully understand it right now, that’s OK. You will start to understand it more as you follow the steps accurately. 

      Reply Like 3
      • WordTenor
      • Your lieutenant, when there's reckoning to be reckoned.
      • WordTenor
      • 2 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      I will add that step 1 is VITAL. It doesn’t matter how well you do 2-4 if step 1 is wrong. 

      Reply Like 1
    • WordTenor OK.  Can you please address these specific questions one at a time.

      1. Those balances haven't been reconciled in a few days, but by eye they will very close once I do.

      2. Looking at Jan still b/c I've done nothing for Feb yet.  TBB number for Jan is zero. When I click over to Feb, I have nothing budgeted yet, but have a negative TBB.  About $16. 

      3. I've been moving $$.  Once I have paid all I budgeted in a single category, the available should show $0.00, right?  I don't follow this kind of line item, and I have several:

      I paid this in full budgeting $1000.  But I can't understand this line.  The budgeted amount was changed by YNAB to $1240.  The activity amount is correct, but I show $440 available??

      Reply Like
    • WordTenor Understood.  Just trying to use all the time spent in January to better understand my errors.  Don't want to do it again in February. Overthinking is my nature. 🤨 I have watched a few of the vids, but am going back to do it all again and will start without introducing my prior budgeting practices from Mint and so on.  Answers you guys are providing to my specific questions on my Jan budget are helping me improve my understanding.  Especially if I can get answers to my screenshot questions!  Thanks for those.  The generalized feedback is not as helpful at this point. I still appreciate them, just isn't the way I learn.

      Reply Like
      • Jason
      • jason
      • 1 mth ago
      • Reported - view

      nolesrule why do you think YNAB allows you to move money you don't actually have into categories?

      Reply Like
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 1 mth ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view

      Jason because they expect you the budgeter to be responsible for following the rules. There will be times where in the process of moving money around you might have TBB go negative but it's up to you to get it back to zero. 

      For example my preferred method to cover overspending is to bring the NEGATIVE category to zero causing TBB to go negative. I then iterate through my categories and take money from wherever I want until TBB goes back to zero. 

      There's just no way for a computer program to differentiate between temporary and long term overbudgeting. 

      Reply Like 3
      • Jason
      • jason
      • 1 mth ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      nolesrule thanks!

      Reply Like 1
  • Is there a way unlink account and remove all those imported transactions?  I assumed during setup that adding all accounts was most logical not it seems to voluminous for a beginner. Thanks all. 

    Reply Like
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 2 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Purple Memory That seems odd. Usually it will not import transactions older than the date that you added the account. Was that not the case?

      Reply Like 1
      • Tardigrade
      • Green_Chef_baec6327c25b
      • 2 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Purple Memory Since you are starting in the middle of the month, don't try to import from the start of the month and import past transaction. That is a lot of work and doesn't matter when starting YNAB. 

      Start with where you are today. Something to keep in mind that you are probably struggling with is, unlike mint and other tools, YNAB doesn't want you to forecast.  

      Reply Like
      • Ceeses
      • Ceeses
      • 2 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Purple Memory You need to select all transactions except Starting Balance and delete. Then change the date of the starting balance to today and the amount to your current cleared balance at the bank. Then budget the money you currently own. In this way, the software should not import past transactions.

      Reply Like
  • Salmon Sound said:
    Superbone These funds are meant to be a protected set-aside for a specific purpose.  I am not trying to grow this account and don't plan to spend from it.  But I am willing to move some money from it temporarily just to get this budget problem reconciled so I can re-try using YNAB for a February budget.

     And? Sounds like my Emergency Funds category. On-budget and accounted for. Just because funds are in your budget doesn’t mean they have to be spent. One of the beauties of YNAB is divvying up your amorphous savings account(s) into specific jobs. I have an EF, a new computer fund, auto maintenance and repair, house maintenance and repair, Christmas fund, vacation fund, etc. 

    Reply Like 4
    • Superbone No, this is for a one off obligation/outflow that will occur shortly, then gone. No reason to include it in budgeting to complicate matters.

      Reply Like
  • If there is a discrepancy between YNAB and your accounts, the first step is to reconcile all of your accounts. Do NOT just have YNAB make a balance adjustment. The next step is to adjust your budget so that there are no negative values in any category and TBB is $0. From that point your budget should be in accordance with reality.

    Reply Like
  • Salmon Sound said:
    Superbone No, this is for a one off obligation/outflow that will occur shortly, then gone. No reason to include it in budgeting to complicate matters.

     That's your prerogative. I'm just telling you YNAB best practices. Best of luck.

    Reply Like 2
  • Thanks!

    Reply Like 1
  • Salmon Sound said:
    I s a support option offered that allows for that?  From what I see, there is not.

     There is! :)

    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. We can take a closer look at your budget and see what's going on.

    Based on the screenshot you posted above, it looks like you had funds carryover from a previous month. If you budgeted $200 towards your Window World category in December, if you didn't spend it then that $200 would be Available in January. You then Budgeted $1,240 towards that category, for a total Available of $1,440. You then spent $1,000 which leaves you with $440 left. :)

    Reply Like
  • A big thank you to all 12 of you who offered assistance as I was learning to use YNAB.  I sure made a mess of January by trying to apply some more traditional principles  to YNAB budgeting. I did a February restart and everything is going much better. I'm sure there is still lots to learn, but so far so good since the February 2nd restart.

    Thank you again!

    Reply Like 1
      • Ben Khaki Storm
      • YNAB book topics online: https://support.youneedabudget.com/r/q5w48j
      • Khaki_Storm.1
      • 2 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Salmon Sound Sorry to join so late. Glad you're doing better. If you don't have the book yet, you can use the link in my tagline to get a jump start. It's a list of YNAB online material that's in the order of the book and covers much of the content.

      Reply Like
  • I found the Mapped Out Money videos on Youtube by Nick True to be extremely helpful. I also unlinked everything for now until I get the process down. I just started about 5 days ago. Mint user of 10+ years here, making the switch.

    Reply Like
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