Variation on reimbursements
Looking for ideas on how YNABers handle tracking of expenses they don't make, but want to track, in a shared expenses situation.
A quick example:
Roommates sharing rent 50/50. Rent is $1000 per month.
Roommate A has a dog, which is not a shared expense.
To save roommate A a trip to the store, roommate B picks up $50 worth of dog food while at the grocery store, and "carries" the expense till month-end and then just pays $450 as their "half" of the rent.
If roommate A wants to "track" the purchase of $50 dog food so they can run a year-end report on how much was spent on pets, what would be the best way to do that?
For tracking purposes, I would recommend Google Sheets or your favorite spreadsheet.
Roll your own register with sums. Three columns:
Roommate A Paid
Roommate B Paid
Sums for the last two columns, and a Delta amount. When you get to a reimbursement point You look at the sums, and the person who owes money in the Delta amount cuts a check to the other, and you put in offsetting entries in the spreadsheet which will zero out the Delta.
Yeah, the tracking we already have covered, and is done in a spreadsheet as you said.
My issue is exactly as you said in your first post, how do I enter the spend when it wasn't me that did the spend and track it as such. I could do a transfer of money from pets to rent, which is technically what happened, but that doesn't show as an expenditure in YNAB . . .
I might be able to do something with an off-budget account maybe, have to think about it some more.
The issue is my situation is actually more complicated - the "roommate" scenario was hypothetical just to get the basic scenario across and that I could extrapolate a solution to my situation. So the more manual / moving parts the solution has the less likely I am to implement and just go back to my current situation of balancing the budget and not tracking the expenses properly.
I suppose worst case I export a report out of YNAB and then write a formula to aggregate the data out of the monthly sheets and generate a "true" report from that.
Would be nice though to do it one place and be done.
If roommate A is using YNAB, you're effectively already tracking it, because you have to account for every penny that goes through your account, including paying B back. You would have a category called, "Owed to B". If this is positive, you owe B. If negative, B owes you. Just reflect reality with the transactions you record:
In the case where B buys dog food, no money enters your account, so Net = $0. Record this as a split transaction:
- Split 1: Inflow $X to "Owed to B"
- Split 2: Outflow $X to Pet (or whatever)
If you buy something for B that is not shared (e.g., dinner), again reflect reality. For a $40 total bill with $20 your portion, that's a Net of $40 and:
- Split 1: Outflow $20 to Eating Out
- Split 2: Outflow $20 to "Owed to B"
Be careful if B owes you (negative category). YNAB will not carry over a negative past the end of the month. Options to deal with a negative category:
- Arrange to finish positive with the timing/amount of who pays what expenses
- Settle up at the end of the month so you end at $0 (or positive)
- Seed the category with enough of your own money to stay positive. If the category is less than the seed amount, then you are owed. Tip: put this amount in the category name or notes.
- Leave it negative, which manifests as increased CC debt. Upon reimbursement, you must manually shift funds to the CC Payment category when you do finally settle up.
Be very careful if the OwedToB category is red. This indicates that there is missing money from the rest of your budget (because you used it to buy something for B). If this is an appreciable portion of total on-budget funds, you should "seed" the category (see above) with enough money to not be red. When there is no red showing (either yellow or green), then your other categories will be entirely backed by cash in hand.
I use my Emergency Fund budget to float reimbursable expenses, and I flag unreimbursed expenses with a yellow flag until they're reimbursed. I figure, if the expense doesn't end up getting reimbursed, it's low-key an emergency :)
For Roommate A, if they end up paying $550 in rent to cover what they owe B, but wanted to track the $50 separately, I'd probably just use the split feature (or these days, more likely, just do a separate transaction with Venmo or Apple Pay to Roommate A).
For real world situations like this, e.g. travel with friends, I tend to just tally all my expenses for say a shared trip under Travel. We account for who owes who what in a separate spreadsheet, and any settling up transactions also get logged under Travel.
I had the same problem with a local non-profit that I volunteer with. I'd be out, pick up something they needed, then they would give me a check a couple of weeks later. The problem is I didn't plan on spending the money. I asked them for an advance since this happened about every 2 weeks. In your case, if your roommate gave you $50 now, then they'd have a credit with you. When you spend it, you ask for another advance to keep the credit positive. My situation didn't like that. I spoke with a leader and asked them to get a credit card, which they did. Now they can order things online or the leaders with credit cards can purchase them while they are out.