Delete and combine categories creates big problems
I deleted a category (#1) that had $2700 of expenses in it, so that I could combine it with another category (#2). After combining, the transactions were recategorized as I hoped for. Fast forward a couple of weeks and I noticed I had $2700 more in "To Be Budgeted" that I just couldn't figure out where it came from. I spent probably 3 hours troubleshooting where this money could've appeared from (I didn't know category #1 had $2700 in it to begin with, so it wasn't self-evident). I always budget to zero at the start of every month, so it was baffling to me that I could've missed it. I decided I just messed up, and budgeted it elsewhere.
Come to find out, I realized that while transactions do get recategorized and moved, the original budgeted for amount does not! The result was $2700 subtracted from the category #2 to cover the difference without my knowing it. Where I had $17,000 in category #2 before the merge, I only had $14,300 after the merge. It just makes sense that everything would straight-up move together. Is there a reason why this is not the case? YNAB team: could the option be included for the user to combine the original budgeted for amounts also?
Small things like this pop-up every now and again in the software that make the experience somewhat clunky and frustrating.
Hi CamJPete !
When you delete a category that has previous information in it, two things happen:
1) You are asked to choose a new category for the existing transactions (like you did and everything moved over as expected).
2) Any money budgeted to the deleted category (in all months) is sent back to To be Budgeted.
If you budget the funds assigned to the new category in step 1, it shouldn't give you any trouble. Or, you can budget those funds somewhere else. If you didn't have any transactions in that category, there'd be no need to select a new category but the funds would still go back to To Be Budgeted so that you have them to put elsewhere.
I hope that helps explain the why! I did go ahead and send your request over to our development team, as well! :)
Thanks for your replies to my post. I'm (very) late in getting back, but I'd like to follow up.
jenmas: as far as only hiding expenses, that is not a good solution for what I am after. As an example: Suppose I have three vacations coming up: 1) a small staycation in 2018, 2) a trip to California in 2019 and 3) a trip to Australia in 2020. The way YNAB is setup right now, I can't create separate goals for each of these trips within my "vacation" category, and have it sum the total amount I need to add each month for all three vacations of varying expenses. The only option is to create separate categories for each, then after I've saved enough and spent the money for each vacation, I would delete the category and push it over into my "vacation" category. This would allow to me keep track of everything I've ever spent on vacations in the past. I don't want to just hide each individual vacation I've saved for and then have 100 hidden vacation categories by the time I die. Plus it wouldn't keep me informed on my vacation spending habits.
Perhaps the solution is to recategorize the expenses after I am finished saving and spending from a category. But then the original money budgeted doesn't move with the recategorization. Since YNAB does not allow for multiple goals, I'm really surprised that it wouldn't automatically transfer the budgeted amount to the new category when it is deleted. What other option is there that doesn't require some rigorous reshuffling of money within each month? Sure I could budget the total amount put back into "to be budgeted", but then that doesn't accurately reflect how I've saved in the past for all of my vacations? "You budgeted $12,400 last month to vacations" it will say. No I did not. I budgeted 400 for many many months.
I just want to bump this issue to get some visibility from the YNAB developers.
I see no organizational value added from the action of sending previously budgeted funds back to the TBB line item when a category is deleted. This action actually actually destroys some "information", because it combines those funds with other potential imbalances in the budget. This only muddies the water.
It's hard to imagine a situation where someone recategorizing transactions would want to separate that process from recategorizing previously budgeted funds. Those two actions are meant to go together, to me. Recategorizing is about simplifying or rethinking the structure of a budget. It's not about reviewing the decision of how to spend funds. Reviewing the decision of how to spend funds is already supported by the very aspect of being able to look at one's budget. That feature is already supported.
If there is any way to change this feature to keep both re-categorization actions together, I would be hugely in favor of that.
(p.s. I have been using YNAB for 4 years, and am so grateful for the organization that produces it. Thanks so much, y'all. Keep on doing great and virtuous work.)
I put in another request just now for this also. It just seems so much more intuitive to move the budgeted funds to the new category as well rather than hiding. Just does make any sense to me at all why it was designed the way it was. It has caused some major confusion in the past for me, trying to figure out why all of a sudden I have another $2000 in my budget. I didn't figure it out for weeks why it appeared out of nowhere.
If the solution is to hide the category, then why when you delete a category does it require that you reassign the transactions to another category in the first place? Why would it reassign the transactions but not the money previously budgeted to that category? Baffling. It is inherently confusing to users to do it this way.
I would also like to see this changed and put in a note to developers. This should be a top priority for YNAB to fix because the way it is handled currently disputes the rules YNAB stands on.
Currently, having the money go back to TBB goes against the YNAB rule of giving every dollar a job. I already gave my money a job; I am just transferring it to another job within a different category, not firing it altogether. If the FOUNDATIONAL rule of YNAB is "give every dollar a job," this previously employed money should be able to be transferred to a new job if YNAB practices what it preaches. Don't fire my money.
I also want to point out another YNAB rule is to "roll with the punches" and to be flexible about your budgeting as things evolve. The fact that you cannot recategorize existing transactions and its assigned money to another category goes against the rolling with the punches rule. I'm always tinkering with my budget month after month to see what system works best for me, and this whole firing my money is really causing problems and making some of the rules irrelevant.
A better analogy is those workers/dollars were transferred within the company. All the code they've ever written (i.e., the transactions) go with them. You've also shredded all the authorizations for those historic work efforts (the cash backing those transactions), so now the bean-counters in the company are up in arms that that work was illegal.
You're forcing the boss to write an entire new set of authorizations when all you had to do was not shred the old ones!
Is there a straightforward answer to the question: How do I fix my budget after deleting a category?
I went back and just used TBB funds to fill in the missing monies deleting my category created, but in all those months the TBB were $0, so when I worked my way back up to November, my TBB turned into a red negative.
So I'm confused because it says here the money from that deleted category goes back to TBB, buuut that's not what I'm seeing happen...
Agreeing with OP and others, this definitely needs attention. CamJPete, Mathletics, et.al. have already explained the needed functionality.
Faness seems to be confused as to what everyone wants because we are using the "Delete" term, as it is the only one YNAB gives us. What we really want to do is "Merge" two categories (both transactions and budget history). We are asking for the functionality to achieve this.
The "Merge" functionality works hand-in-hand with the "Wish Farm" technique touted elsewhere on the YNAB forums. For it to work, we need to transfer both transaction history AND budget history. While it might make sense to dump budget history into TBB for "Delete", that isn't what we're trying to do. We want to "Merge", and we absolutely need to transfer that budget history as well.
I second this request. I have some transactions that I had categorized as category A, but I actually think they belong to category B. So now I want to go back to 2-3 years ago, and recategorize some of the A transactions to B. Note - I do NOT want to delete / hide category A, because I still need and use that. If I simply recategorize those old transactions to B, now my budget is thrown off. In my opinion, recategorizing old transactions should absolutely cause the budgets to be updated. Or, it should prompt how you want to handle the budget change: should they go to the new category (e.g., B), or in TBB?
I thoroughly agree with this thread, and am pretty sure I've had feature requests out there on this topic for a while.
As I see it, there are two options that could make life easier.
1) Create a "Merge Category" feature (or modify / add options to the existing "delete category" behavior) that gives you the option to shift both transactions and budgeted dollars to a new category. Boom, no more philosophical ramblings about whether your dollar's jobs align with metaphors about your real job, no more patronizing lectures to your user base on whether they really want what they want, no more worrying about breaking the existing "delete category" functionality. Bottom line: sometimes I want to change how my budget is organized, and align my history with it. This grows more painful the longer I keep your product. Therefore, you've now incentivized me to explore other options, because you've told me that my problem will get worse the longer I stay with you.
2) Fix reports so that they have the option of showing hidden categories under the area they were at before hiding them. I track maintenance records for each car separately so I can see which ones are costing me more. I track charitable donations separately so I can fund them at the appropriate levels. I set up spending categories for projects like home renovations. Each of these reaches a natural end of life, and it makes sense for each of these to have the ability to "drop off" my main Budget screen without also going to the wrong place in reporting. You've published blog posts saying not to track things that way, but also made it difficult to reorganize and fix things that were done that way.
New to YNAB so honestly curious...Why all this concern about rewriting the past? It seems dishonest in a way. YNAB's whole philosophy seems to be about focusing on the present, providing a method of guiding spending decisions TODAY using only the money you have TODAY and planning for the future based on your priorities TODAY. It accomplishes these thing BEAUTIFULLY and PRECISELY! Going into the past is problematic and forecasting way into the future is problematic. Why so set on forcing a square peg into a round hole? For me, the reports are fun (as a way to visualize the results of my hard work) and informative in a broad sense (I can see if a category group is creeping up disproportionate to my priorities); I'm not too worried about the exactness of them. Should I be? What are you all using these reports for?