Deleting a Category

Can I simply delete a category when I no longer need it? In my case I no longer want to have an emergency fund - but I seem to remember trying to delete a category before and finding it threw off everything because it deleted everything from the very beginning. I think in frustration I ended up creating a fresh start which I really don't want to do.

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  • You can delete a category that does not have any transaction history on it. If you have any transactions on that category (at any point in history), then deleting the category will result in that transaction being uncategorized and thus throwing off your budget because you now have have transactions floating around without a home. 

     

    If you just don't want to see that category, but preserve the transaction history you can simply choose to hide the category. It will move the hidden category section at the bottom that is usually minimized. 

    Like 3
  • Also, if you have ever budgeted funds to the category (even if there were zero transactions) those funds will need to be rebudgeted in every month that they appeared.

    Like 1
  • Hi Powder Blue Trumpet !

    Chahan is exactly right! 

    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 (Uncategorized is an option).
    2) Any money budgeted to the deleted category (in all months) is sent back to To Be Budgeted. 

    To clean up your budget after the deletion, go back and budget money to the new category you assigned in Step 1 above. That will keep everything in line!

    However, if that category was there for a reason (not by mistake), hiding it is the best option. For instance, if you had a "Vacation" category, you shouldn't delete the category after the vacation. Instead, hide it (to preserve the category history) or, edit it to start saving for your next vacation. :)

    Like 1
  • How DO I delete a category? When I click on it the only option I see is to "hide" it. Essentially, I want to delete my "Credit Cards" category and add all of my monthly CC bills to my "Monthly Expenses" category. I tried dragging and dropping but it won't let me do it from one category to another (?) 

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      • Jannelle
      • jannelle_ynabsupport
      • 3 yrs ago
      • Reported - view

      Holly Marrow Great question! Since the credit card categories are created when you add a credit card account, you can't delete the categories unless you also delete the CC account. 😊

      It sounds like you have a credit card though? If you need help with getting a hang of CC handling in YNAB, here are the two best resources to help you understand how credit cards work in YNAB (if you haven't already had a look!):

      - The Help Docs section on Credit Cards & Debt

      - The workshop titled Master Credit Cards with your Budget

      Of course, you can always write to us with questions!

      Like
  • I created categories for two one time purchases that will never happen again. I don't want to hide them because they'll still be there just taking up space, which bothers me. However, I don't want to have to recategorize the purchase. Why isn't there a way to customize the budget categories month to month?

    Like 1
      • nolesrule
      • Stealing From the Future fix is an improvement but is incomplete....
      • nolesrule
      • 2 yrs ago
      • Reported - view

      coolcoolcool 

      coolcoolcool said:
      I don't want to hide them because they'll still be there just taking up space

       I'm not sure what this means. They will be hidden, so not taking up space.

      Like
    • nolesrule It still sits at the bottom of the budget in a category labeled Hidden Category, i.e. not actually hidden and taking up space. 

      Like
      • nolesrule
      • Stealing From the Future fix is an improvement but is incomplete....
      • nolesrule
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      coolcoolcool So don't scroll to the bottom.

      Hidden categories takes up one line the size of a category group regardless of the number of categories you have hidden and it's anchored to the bottom of the category list. It's not significant enough to waste time fretting over it.

      Most people even forget it exists.

      Like 2
      • adriana01
      • adriana01
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      coolcoolcool I try to find a general category for those one time things. So all my kitchen gadgets go in one category even though any particular one may never need to be replaced (not a great example, but there are other things like this) I occasionally have small one-time things that I can't figure out & so I put them in a "random fees" category since that's usually what they are. Otherwise I might create a category for "one time purchases" and put the details in the memo.

      Like 1
      • HappyDance
      • YNABing consistently since 2014
      • HappyDance
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      coolcoolcool 

      Could you repurpose the one-time use category(ies) by naming it/them to something more generic?  For example:  If you buy a bed and use a "new bed" category, chances are you're not going to need to save for or buy another bed any time soon, but you might need other furnishings before even thinking about another bed, so renaming the category from single-purpose "bed" to generic purpose "furnishings" would resolve that one-time category.

      Once I finished paying off my car loan, I renamed my "car loan" category to "next car" category and began setting aside a monthly amount towards a replacement car.

      However, my smokes category was simply hidden when I quit smoking.

      Like 2
  • I deleted a few categories before realizing the past transactions linked to them would all need to be recategorized. Now I’m confused about what to do with them. If I categorize them against other budget line items will they throw the dollars off since they aren’t new expenditures?

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    • Hi Forest Green Grizzly !

      When you deleted the category, did you choose to leave the transactions as Uncategorized? If so, you'll need to go through and categorize each one. They will affect the dollar amounts in that category for when they were dated. For instance, if you deleted a category that had a transaction from December, when you recategorize the transaction it will affect your December budget. 

      If you haven't logged out or refreshed the page, you can Undo deleting those categories and take them one at a time instead of all at once.

      Like
  • I had over 20 hidden categories from many years of YNABing across different versions. I decided to do some cleanup on them. I got rid of all of them except for two that I decided to keep around as I could possibly use them again in the future.

    Here was my process:

    1. Unhide a few categories at a time that I was working on eliminating.
    2. Right-click on a category and select delete.
    3. Select an existing category to recategorize the transactions to. (choose something most similar)
    4. Occasionally some funds would appear in To be Budgeted. I would just put these back into the category above that I had recategorized to and I would end up back where I started in that category.

    I also had a handful of credit card hidden payment categories. In order to get rid of those, I had to go into my closed accounts and reopen them and convert them to checking accounts. Then I deleted the credit cards which removed the hidden credit card payment categories. Finally, I re-closed the converted credit cards.

    The bottom line is that it feels good to have cleaned up all those hidden categories. My budget now feels pure. 😅

    Like 1
    • Superbone  I just found your post because I tried to do this exact thing.  I deleted a category and re-categorized the transactions to a different category.  As part of that, the funds i had added to the deleted category appeared as To Be Budgeted.  The problem for me is in your step #4.  If I add the new To Be Budgeted funds to the new category I now see a large available amount there.  The issue i discovered is that all of the moved transactions now created negative balances in that category in past months and the to be budgeted funds now appear to be available in the current month when I actually want to apply them to cover the negative balances in the past.  

      This definitely makes fully deleting a category to "clean things up" fairly difficult.  Ideally I'd like to be able to make those To Be Budgeted funds available in the past and just go back through old months applying those funds to the old negative balances that just appeared but i can't find a way to do that (I'd have to instead change the dates on all the moved transactions to move them forward to where the budgeted funds are now, and i really don't want to do that)

      I guess I'll just stick with hiding the categories as that is simply less trouble and as @nolesrule mentioned above you can basically just ignore them.  But if anyone knows a simpler way to handle the situation i described above I'd be curious to hear it :)

      Like
      • Superbone
      • YNAB convert since 2008
      • Superbone
      • 8 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Brad Warren Hmm. I didn't see that behavior. Did you use the red arrow in previous YNABs? Maybe that's it as I had cleaned those up previously. However, past months really don't matter. Why not just clean up the current month and move forward?

      However, I'll be honest, I don't like old months that aren't perfectly balanced either. I just yesterday, added a new category and recategorized a bunch of transactions to it. And yep, it messed with my perfectly balanced previous months. I went back a year and fixed them month by month.

      Like
    • Superbone Thanks for the reply! I've only been using YNAB for about a year, and am not familiar with the red arrow you're talking about.  Is that something from more than a year ago?  As to just cleaning up and moving forward... I'm willing to do that but the problem is that deleting the category gives me back the money in To Be Budgeted that i need to put somewhere.  And it makes it seem like that money is really available but its not.   If i move that money into the new category it looks like i actually have it available.  And this is due to the fact that negative balances from previous months don't carry over.  (that behavior baffled me initially but i now understand the YNAB philosophy and how that works, but in this case it makes things difficult)

      Ideally I'd love to make that To Be Budgeted value available in previous months so i can just go back and assign it to all the negative balances.  Those values should cancel each other out, but when i go back i don't see the To Be Budgeted balance.  After deleting the category i can only see that available budget in the current month.  

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      • Vibrant
      • No more counting dollars, we'll be counting stars
      • vibrant
      • 8 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Brad Warren if deleting a category gives you an uncategorized transaction from July, you should* be able to flip back to July and see that money in TBB, because the money was in the budget in July. You are also seeing that money in TBB in the current month because money in TBB isn't static to a particular month, it rolls forward until you give those dollars a job. 

      * I haven't tested this in my own budget to verify, but this is the behavior I would expect.

      Like 1
    • Vibrant oh duh.. thanks!  I think what was throwing me off was that when i clicked back to previous months the To Be Budgeted said $0 and i was afraid that if i tried to use that to cover the negative balance of a category it would cause TBB to show negative.  But it does in fact correctly cover from To Be Budgeted even though i only see that amount when viewing the current month.   So it works as expected and i'm good now!  Thanks for the responses!

      Like 2
    • Vibrant Superbone any other thoughts on this subject? I'm trying to delete a hidden category and having same problem as Brad Warren .  When I go back to Jan. 2019 the TBB funds are not there. 

      There are a total of three transactions in Jan. 2019 in Work Dues for 591.50. When I delete that category (re-categorizing to Work) my current TBB increases  (from 0) to 414.60. I then move it to Work which currently has  $425.40 and it increases to 840.00. I went back to Jan. '19 but TBB is 0 and I'm overspent in the Work Dues by 591.50

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    • B's Gambit Here's what worked for me.  After deleting the category, don't move the TBB into the new category in the current month.  Instead, go back to Jan '19 where the transactions are showing the overspent category and choose to cover that spending from TBB.  Even though TBB will appear to be $0 while looking at Jan 19, it will correctly pull it from TBB.  So the overspent category should become 0 and then when you go back to the present month TBB should also now be back to 0.

      Like 1
    • Brad Warren THANK YOU! I don't know why I didn't get that step from your earlier response 🙄 

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  • I had the same problem a couple of years ago and I have discovered two things:  sometimes I don't actually mind hiding a category when I'm done with it. Looking at hidden categories I had "life insurance" there - we don't have life insurance any longer so it reminded me of the years when we did - kind of a good reminder of how our lives have changed.. Also I have discovered I can just rename the category and go on with it. I had a category for "stucco" (exterior of the house). Once that job was completed I renamed the category "landscaping" and when that is done I'm sure I'll have another big project to save for - LOL.

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  • What I don’t understand is what category do you assign it to after you delete it?  For example, a sports fee we used to pay, but now don’t, or a debt that is now paid off. Do you just categorize it to ‘to be budgeted’ or a miscellaneous category?

    Like
      • Vibrant
      • No more counting dollars, we'll be counting stars
      • vibrant
      • 4 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Beth S In these cases, you would want to Hide the category, not delete it.

      Like
      • Beth S
      • Beths
      • 4 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Vibrant -thank you!  So, if I have a goal with it, first delete the goal & then hide the category?

      Like
    • Beth S Goals won't ask for money in hidden categories, so you don't need to delete the goal first—although you certainly can!

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      • Beth S
      • Beths
      • 4 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Matthew thank you for your help. I’m still new to YNAB, trying to get it all figured out

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    • Beth S Welcome! We're always here to help.

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