Month-end overspending frustrations in "new" YNAB

Hi all,

 

I've been using YNAB since YNAB V3, so I’m a bit ashamed to come to the community with this confession/request but I’m finding it harder and harder to keep track of overspending with YNAB as time goes on. In the perfect YNAB world, I wouldn’t overspend by $0.01 and every category would magically balance at the end of the month. In the near-perfect YNAB world, I’d enter every transaction as they’re made and balance the category budget on the spot if I happen to overspend. I can’t be the only person that doesn’t live in either of these worlds, can I?

The problem constantly rears it’s ugly head on the last day of the month, where if I’m not diligent with setting a reminder to make sure my categories balance or I somehow make a note of any overspending manually (this is honestly what I've had to resort to since making the switch from YNAB V4), it just disappears the next month without a trace! I used to be able to roll overspending forward month-to-month in YNAB V4 (I know this is not the intention or a best practice, but it at least allowed me to see what was overspent yesterday on the first of the month if I didn’t have time to get to my budget, and track it that way). In the “new” YNAB, prior to the January 3rd update, when I clicked on my credit card budget category under “Credit Card Payments”, the payment recommendation text at least allowed me to see what was overspent and just transfer that amount into the budget category when the month started anew. But now that they removed even that feature, I have no godly idea how much I may have overspent on my credit card, or from which category or what’s what at the start of each month (short of going back a month and fixing all the categories manually)! Aside: Release notes say “The payment recommendation text in the credit card account inspector was removed. It wasn’t very helpful.” Disagree, YNAB!

I overspend from time to time, occasionally on the last day of the month, and I don’t always balance the categories before the month rolls forward. There must be a better way to track/fix this??? What am I missing?

 

(Forgive me if I've selected the wrong forum, moderators please move if appropriate)

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  • Can you go back to the previous month and fix the overspending there and/or see the negative amount in the credit card payment category?

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  • The amount needed to budget to the credit card payments category is the difference between the total due on the card and the amount in the payments bubble. Personally I go back to the previous month and clean up all my overspending. 

    Reply Like 2
  • The amount you've overspent on any credit card = credit card balance - available in credit card category.

    Admittedly you have to do a calculation if you're in the next month.

    Just because we've moved into January doesn't mean you can't make changes in December. I'm watching my budget like a hawk at the moment because (a) we've just had a larger than budgeted bill for building work which has wiped out some of my padding (in true expenses) and (b) we've just rearranged things so I'm keeping an eye on how it's working. However, in the past I sometimes just updated and budgeted once a week when life was busy. This would have meant budgeting for January on the 5th. Once of the consequences of doing it that late is that (because you can't red arrow) you have to go back to December to sort things out in there first*. All the information about which categories you've overspent in is there.  If you can cover it by WAMming then great, if not, it rolls forward as credit card debt. Less obvious unless you know to look for it but it does reflect reality.

    *i.e. you're doing what you would have done on December 31 if you'd had the time/inclination to do it then.

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  • I almost always have to go back to the previous month & adjust overspending, even if I reconcile & budget on the end of the month. There is almost always a transaction or two that I didn't get entered (usually bank interest) & have to account for. And I usually don't get around to budgeting until a day or two into the new month anyway.

    My beginning of the month  routine has become:

    1. Reconcile all accounts, entering in any transactions as needed.

    1a. If there were any paychecks from last month, move those funds from TBB to "next month". Or if from this month, move to a holding category.

    2. Go back to the last month & cover any overspending & budget any final deposits left in TBB.

    3. Move the funds from my "next month" category to TBB

    4. Go to the current month & budget, making sure any existing transactions are covered.

    4a. Move income from this month from holding category to "next month" category.

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

     At the end of the month, which is not the end of the calendar month, but when the last transaction clears date of the previous month,  I compare the credit card available to the credit card balance. If those two don’t match, there’s a problem somewhere. 

     I don’t use the tool kit because I don’t like having one more failure point for the software,  but I understand there is a setting in that add on that allows you to flag this discrepancy automatically. 

    Reply Like 1
  • adriana01 said:
    1a. If there were any paychecks from last month, move those funds from TBB to "next month". Or if from this month, move to a holding category.

     Can you clarify this? I only just started YNAB, but I only have a single Income ("Inflow"?) category and it's "To Be Budgeted"... do you create multiple Inflow categories? If so, how do you move it to "next month"? Thanks!

    Reply Like
      • bevocat
      • Crazy Cat Lady
      • bevocat
      • 11 days ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Turquoise Tape I literally created a category called "INM - Income for Next Month" and one called "Income for Month After Next". I budget $$ to these categories with every income transaction (which stays categorized as "Inflow - To Be Budgeted").  When I have enough in "Income for Next Month", I start budgeting into "Month After Next".  At the end of the month, I zero out both categories, putting the money back into TBB, then I budget the new month, and anything left in TBB gets budgeted into "Income for Next Month".  Lather, rinse, repeat.

      Reply Like 1
      • adriana01
      • adriana01
      • 10 days ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Turquoise Tape As bevocat said, it is a budget category I use to hold the funds I want to use in the next month. Income gets categorized as TBB and then moved (on the budget screen) to  that category.

      While it is possible to budget directly in the next month as I get each paycheck, I find that I can plan better when I look at the month as a whole and budget using the money I saved from previous paychecks.

      Reply Like 1
    • adriana01 Thanks, that's what I'm planning to do as well (look at the month as a whole and use January's pay to fund February).

      Reply Like 2
      • mhornak
      • mhornak
      • 3 days ago
      • Reported - view

      bevocat  - I would like to understand the idea of the xtra categories, INM IMAN?   Why are you not simply allocating that income to your real budget categories in the next month (or 2 months out if you have built up enough budget).

      For example, if January 2019 is fully funded, which sounds like it is based on your INM and IMAN categories.  Take your income from TBB and put it in February or March's real categories. 

      You are adding an intermediate set of steps of parking dollars and moving later?  What are you not getting from clicking ahead to February or March to see what you have allocated in your budget?

      Reply Like
      • Tif_Ann
      • Tif_Ann
      • 3 days ago
      • 5
      • Reported - view

      mhornak The main reason those of us who use a category to hold the funds until the next month is because of what is referred to as "Stealing from the Future". If you budget in the future, you can only count on your "Available to Budget" number to be accurate in the future month. So this month may show "0.00" available to budget, but you can just add money from the future to the categories and it won't show that you went over budget in this month, the "0.00" doesn't change, because it just takes it from the future. So next month will show as overbudget but you don't easily see that until you switch months.

      So by putting the money into a category in this month, you can count on the "Available to Budget" amount to tell you when you've budgeted too much without affecting your funds for the future.

      Reply Like 5
      • mhornak
      • mhornak
      • 3 days ago
      • Reported - view

       Tif_Ann   hmmm...still not seeing it.  What is "Available to Budget" you are referring to? 

       I get the clarity I need in the current month and future months without having to hold income in a category.  Why not just keep it in TBB then?

      Are you using Goals, Scheduled Transactions, and Quick Budget features to manage the categories?

      And to be honest,  I'm asking these questions to help me understand better how other folks use nYNAB.

      Thanks!

      Reply Like
      • Tif_Ann
      • Tif_Ann
      • 3 days ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      mhornak The "To Be Budgeted" amount at top. I didn't look so used the wrong word.

      Yes, I use Goals, Scheduled Transactions and Quick Budget features. I've also been around YNAB for 7+ years.

      Keeping money in To Be Budget goes against the rules - giving every dollar a job. It also makes it really easy to draw money down if you are using this month's income to pay next month's bills, a rule from the old system. Sticking it in a category to wait until the end of the month solves the problem of making sure you don't accidentally use money for next month this month. Unfortunately, if you budget it out into next month and then aren't careful to use the "Move" tool or the TBB won't show you going overbudget if you cover overspending in the current month, but will just quietly take it away from the future, which you may not see until you switch to the future month.

      Reply Like 2
      • mhornak
      • mhornak
      • 3 days ago
      • Reported - view

      Tif_Ann - ah, I see now.  I get what you are saying.  Your category is just a bucket with no job other than to hold next months dollars.  You don't have insight into what those dollars are doing for you other than waiting, right?

      I guess I take the approach of allocating those dollars immediately.  So when income comes in this month, it's being budgeted to Feb (or March in some cases) immediately.  I have insight into what Feb now looks like in terms of budget.  Quick Budget and Underfunded are my budgeting friends!  TBB is always 0 in my budget.

      You are using this bucket to protect yourself from having to deal with over budget workflows in the current month.  I don't seem to have issues working through those by simply moving funds from an existing category, borrow from the future (make sure to true up next income) and using Goals to determine if there need to be corrections in the future.

      Thanks for the insight!

      Reply Like
      • Tif_Ann
      • Tif_Ann
      • 3 days ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      mhornak Yep and to be perfectly honest, I am now just budgeting ahead and keeping an eye on my "budgeted in the future" number to ensure that it is always correct. BUT switching from to nYNAB did cause me to backslide on some things and for new people, it isn't readily obvious that the system lets you pull back money budgeted in the future without warning you. There are a bunch of threads even in the last few days about it where someone released money from a category only to have it "disappear" because that person was overbudget in the future and didn't know it.

      Reply Like 1
      • bevocat
      • Crazy Cat Lady
      • bevocat
      • 3 days ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      mhornak Actually, I'm not using the bucket to protect myself from having to deal with anything. I'm a whiz at using the move money tool; that's not the problem. I'm using it because I know how much money I am going to need next month and I am giving those dollars the job of waiting for next month so that I am 100% certain I am living off last month's income. If I get an inflow this month, it gets budgeted there and nowhere else, because this month I'm only spending money I earned last month or before.

      I have, in the past, budgeted out years in advance leaving TBB negative in future months. Then I undid it all because the product isn't designed to handle that, it turns out. I have even flipped to next month and budgeted it out to make sure that what I'm going to need for next month will be met by my income this month, and then I make sure there's at least that much in the INM category at the end of the this month.

      I'm using it because this is a feature that they removed from the web-based product that had been working just fine in the desktop version and replaced it with an ill-thought-out and poorly-implemented new workflow. After arguing as a newbie against all of the old-timers on the old forum three years ago that this new workflow wasn't actually a problem, I decided to really pay attention and learn from them, and they proved their case to me. So I learned a work-around from them that somewhat restores this vital functionality.

      Reply Like 2
  • Thank you all for your thoughtful responses and advice. It's definitely helpful to see how more seasoned or creative users address the problems I'm having with the app/system so I'm extremely grateful for you, the community.

    Overspending = Credit card balance - Available in credit card category has definitely simplified things for me. But if I'm being honest, it still bothers me to be forced to do the math or go back to fix things when I'm balancing my budget on the 4th or 5th of the month (which is why I used to roll category overspending forward, the dreaded "red arrow"). It may just be my OCD (it usually is), but I feel like if it's the 4th of January, I want to manipulate today's budget, not last month's. Especially since I may use today's pay to balance Budget Category B instead of going back 5 days, moving funds from Budget Category A to B, then using today's pay to bring Budget Category A back up to what it was.

    That said, I'm sure I'm the minority, and probably being picky so you all have given me the best fix in the meantime.

    Grazi.

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