Credit Card support is super frustrating
Disclaimer: this is a rant
I have been using YNAB for around 6 months and up to this day I can't really understand how credit cards work with it. It's by far one of the most frustrating things I have come across in a very long time, and for what I saw in other posts here in the forums and other places, a lot of people share the same opinion.
YNAB's support staff and the docs try to make their point of view understandable, but the thing is so bizarre that explanation over explanation can't make us get the point.
I have seen people just give up, and now I'm thinking about it too.
I'm going to delete 1+ month worth of transactions and reinsert all of that again to see if I can "fix" the mess. It's very hard to recommend the product to others because of such things.
It's hard to tell what you're stumbling over with what's in this post. If you can give us more information, we can probably help you pinpoint where you're running into trouble.
Credit cards boil down to this: the budget shows you what it has reserved for your payment. There are some reasons that this number might not match what you think you reserved for the payment, but the fact is, the budget thinks you have the amount in the credit card payment category reserved. If you pay more than that, the budget is going to get mad. So if there is less there than you wanted, move more money there first. Step two is figuring out why there wasn't enough money there.
It's that old "Your credit card payment was greater than what you had available in your budget." problem, which has been greatly discussed in other posts.
I'm mad because when YNAB works, it works. However, when you do something "wrong", then all hell breaks loose. It's SO easy to make mistakes and SO hard to revert and / or understand why something is incorrect.
In my case the checkings account and credit card are both "Reconciled" - everything matches what I see in my bank. All categories have balance of 0 or bigger (aka, no overspending). However, YNAB is giving me that red bubble saying that I have paid more than budgeted, and because of that it automatically eats that amount from the next month's budget.
Don't feel bad. This is the most unintuitive method they ever could have come up with (IMO, and there's nothing Humble about it) BUT, take heart: once the thousands of comments you (will have) read about how this works have sunk in, you'll realize it does work just fine.
Just budget the expense category first or right away after you post the charge to the CC, and you'll be okay. If you're paying more than the CC line says you have available, add to the budget on that CC's line to equal your payment.
I've seen this advice a few times on the forums and I'm ready to try it, since I pay the cards off every month and have very little use for the Credit Cards category in the budget.
But I don't see a way to convert the account to checking now that it has already been created as a credit card. Is this a "delete and reimport" situation or is there a more clever solution?
You can’t take Patzer ‘s suggestion if you are using the budget the way you say you are. If the money isn’t there in the category before you pay the card, then you’re riding the credit card float.
While I'm not 100% certain about the order I do things, I think that it's very likely I might have had red categories before paying the credit card just because there's nothing preventing me of doing that, and if YNAB makes a whole mess (from the user's perspective, not from the software's) which is hard to describe, understand and fix, then maybe the concept they're using has serious flaws.
I use the software the way they say to use:
- Allocate budget to the categories ("give every dollar a job")
- Make goals etc
- Buy things, sometimes more than I have budgeted for
- Cover red categories by moving money from green ones
I pay the credit card several times in the month, always in full. However, not always I have the time to adjust the budget right away. So later on I go and fix the red categories by moving from the green ones. I don't overspend over my total assets (that's why I use YNAB in the first place)
Right now my CC balance is zero (aka, the bill is fully paid), all my categories are green, there's no money left do budget, and there's money in the checking account. So, by looking at that, I know that I'm living within my means, but YNAB said that I "overpaid" the credit card, which is nonsense.
Look at your budget before you spend. "Spend" includes paying the credit card. If there isn't enough the category, move money before you spend.
The problem is that if you don't move the money before it turns into a mess, like the one that happened to me and so many other users. YNAB doesn't require us to move the money before - heck, the documentation even says that's perfectly normal to cover overspending by moving money between categories - it doesn't say "move money BEFORE", it clearly states that you can do that AFTER.
It doesn't make any sense at all to expect users to adjust the budget before doing something because many times it simply can't be done (not because you don't have the money, but for practical reasons of the moment), and YNAB know it - that's why they say you can cover overspending later.
Credit Card is not a category, technically it's treated like an account type - it just happens that it also shows as a section in the budget.
Also, it's completely illogical to say that all you have to do in order to use the credit card is to allocate money in the categories you want to spend, but expect that us to move money to the "Credit card" instead of the overspent categories.
There's a serious UX flaw with credit cards in YNAB, and the amount of topics about it make it clear. The reasoning behind the idea might be right, but the implementation is not.
Don't rush to make credit card payments. Take care of your budget first. YNAB is just a tool, and it can't stop you from screwing up your budget yourself.
I only use the credit card, and there are several reasons that someone might need to pay several times in a month - for example, when the limit is smaller than your budget.
I agree that there's a pretty major design flaw with how credit cards work in YNAB. I'm careful about budgeting for any overspending on my credit card, but somehow I've accumulated overspending (debt) in spite of that. I've had two or three interactions with the support staff (and let me add that their responsiveness and willingness to help is excellent), but it's still not clear to me how I've accumulated the overspending. I suspect something may not be right in YNAB. I'm a long time user and fan of YNAB, but this experience has left me thinking about moving to another application or method.