Total activity issue / bug

Hello everyone

I have been using YNAB for a few years. Overall I enjoy the product although there are some VERY annoying bugs, the worst of the is the "Total Activity" bug.

I have exchanged several emails with the support team and according to them, the "Total Activity" in the budget section is how much you have spent in that particular month.

Please take a look at the image below. I have a total activity of -$5,099.86 (which doesn't match with the total activity that I actually have for the period). If I reduce the budget for a category, for example, house supply, the Total Activity jumps to -$5,524.96. Why is that? I haven't spent or earned anything, I am just adjusting the budget for the category. Why would the activity change?!?

 

Here's the confirmation from  the YNAB Support team that Total activity is indeed the total amount spent in the period:

 Now if I go to the reports section to check how much I  have spent I am getting a completely different amount (at least it seems to be accurate):

 

 

Has anyone else here having a similar issue? The latest suggestion from support was to "Do a fresh start". Why do I need to just lose years of data when they could work to get this bug fixed?

 

Cheers

 

VG

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  • Out of curiosity, have you tried the same experiment on a category that is not overspent? Or when there is no overspending present at all anywhere? 

    Not to diminish the complaint there is a bug, but what are you trying to use Total Activity for in the first place? Are you trying to evaluate whether you're living within your means or something like that? Given this certainly seems to be a bug, I wonder if there's some other way to give you the information you're looking for.

    Like
  • Hi dakinemaui
    I wanted to have in the same place my budget and the actual activity (how much I have spent) for a particular category, which is the goal for the budget screen. That's why you can also move money/budget around in different categories. It's annoying having to go to reports, then back to the budget screen.

    I know I am spending less than what I make, but I like to track very closely to make sure everything is balanced. It has just been impossible when the numbers completely don't add up.

    Like
  • I agree there is a problem. To address your second point with a different number in the reports, on the budget, the Total Activity also counts the activity in the CC payment category. Which cancels all activity on the card since the last payment. Could that explain the different numbers between budget and reports? On the budget, if you select all category and deselect the CC categories, do the numbers agree? They do for me.

    I also directly categorise my income during the month to a next month income category so I have to unselect this as well both in budget and report.

    Like 1
  • And this makes me wonder if the bug is simply because on your screenshot this is spending on the CC except for the overspend on your screenshot appears red. Toolkit? 

    Like
  • And since YNAB budget is the plan for your cash and with CC spending the cash hasn't left your possession until you pay the CC, it makes some sense not to include the CC spending in the Total Activity. But it is misleading.

    Like
  • Ceeses
    Why would a change in the budget change the "total activity", which is the total spent? I didn't spend a dollar, I was just changing the budget for one category. 

    Like
      • Ceeses
      • Ceeses
      • 4 days ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Roin Because if it's an overspend on CC then the activity isn't added to the CC payment category activity.  But it was added before. That means before the activity related to this category was 0 (-X in category + X in CC category). Hence an increase of the activity after modifying the Budgeted amount. Which isn't good as if you have overspending on a CC, you still haven't spent cash, you are creating debt. 

      I think the whole thing would make a lot more sense if the CC payment categories were excluded from Total Activity.

      Like 1
  • Ceeses
    Maybe you didn't understand. There was no credit card payment/activity and no additional transaction. I was playing with the budget and was surprised to see activity (actual expenses) going up/down. 

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  • Ceeses said:
    And this makes me wonder if the bug is simply because on your screenshot this is spending on the CC except for the overspend on your screenshot appears red. Toolkit? 

     I didn't misunderstand. I was wondering if your overspending was cash or CC. I could explain it if on CC that's all.

    Like
  • Roin said:
    There was no credit card payment/activity

     I didn't mean a payment of the CC balance. Any outflow on the CC will appear as positive on the CC payment category activity column. And it will appear as negative in the category used for that transaction. That's how YNAB reserves money to pay the CC balance. 

    Roin said:
    to see activity (actual expenses)

     The problem is activity isn't actual expenses. It is the sum of the Activity column on the budget screen. So it includes outflows, inflows (including income if categorised to a category to budget for next month), and the activity on the credit card payment category which nullify any outflow on the other categories that has been made on the credit card.

    The payment to the credit card appears as negative in the CC payment category Activity and that's when the outflows on the CC are actually counted as expenses in terms of Activity in the inspector.

    Like 1
  • Ceeses
    According to support (check my original post), the total activity is the total actual expenses for the period. 

    Again, that doesn't answer my question. Why would activity go up or down if I am just changing the budget, and not adding any new expenses? It doesn't make any sense.

    Like
    • Hi Roin !

      Sorry for the confusion! Total Activity is the total of the Activity column in your budget - which can be found in our Help Doc on Inspector Totals - and doesn't always equate to spending. 

      The issue you're experiencing in the example you gave is because of credit card spending. When credit card spending is budgeted for, the amount is moved to the credit card category (which affects the Activity amount in the credit card category). If it's not budgeted for, then the Activity column is affected in the initial spending category, but not the credit card category.

      Total Activity isn't Total Spending, it's how much money moved into and out of the selected categories. 

      Like
      • Roin
      • roin
      • 4 days ago
      • Reported - view

      Faness 
      Thank you for clarifying. The budget for this category is not exclusive on credit card. 
      I really think you guys should simplify this view. Even your support got confused when answering to me today (see my original post).

      Like
    • Roin I agree that can be a bit confusing! If the spending isn't exclusive to credit cards, only the spending that was credit card spending would be moved and affect the Activity amount. I'll pass this feedback along to the Design Team! 

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      • Roin
      • roin
      • 4 days ago
      • Reported - view

      Faness Thank you. And I would be more than happy to chat with them. 

      Like
  • I've made a short animation with a test budget to explain. Tell me if you understand then.

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  • Ceeses , thank you for sending the video. Still, it doesn't make sense for me. I am changing a budget, and not accruing any income / expense, so activity should remain unchanged. 

    Like
      • Ceeses
      • Ceeses
      • 4 days ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Roin As I said in a previous post, it would make a lot more sense to most people if it didn't include the Activity of the credit card payment categories. Then, changing a budgeted number wouldn't change the Total Activity number. But I guess then, you can't really call it Total Activity.

      Like 1
      • Roin
      • roin
      • 4 days ago
      • Reported - view

      Ceeses I agree with you. 
      It would be way more simple to show income, expenses, net. That's it. 
      But they do like to make things harder it seems. 

      Like
    • Ceeses The number also makes perfect sense if you 1) don't have any overspending, and 2) pay your credit card for charges in the month that they happen.  So, Total Available/Activity is beneficial if you're paying down debt on the CC without incurring further debt (overspending).

      Once I started paying statement balances on the CC, I, too, needed to select everything but the CC category to see useful numbers.  But I found the number quite useful for the five months I was paying down debt on the CC.  If you know how the calculation works, it's logical to include/not include the CC in the appropriate situations.

      A lot of things don't make sense (though with experience, people can figure out the patterns) when overspending is present.  Perhaps the relationship of Overspending to Total Activity is like Overbudgeting to your Category Availables - it's not a feasible plan.  Something has to give to make it make sense.

      Like
  • Roin said:
    I wanted to have in the same place my budget and the actual activity (how much I have spent) for a particular category

    For a given category (outside of the CC Payment category group), the middle column is your net spending. That is actual spending less any refunds.

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      • Roin
      • roin
      • 3 days ago
      • Reported - view

      dakinemaui 
      I don't want for a single category. I would like to have a view for ALL my expenses VS my Budget. Without these ridiculous rules / cases YNAB has. 
      I am almost giving up and will either develop something myself or just go back to spreadsheets.

      Like
      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 3 days ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view
      Roin said:
      I would like to have a view for ALL my expenses VS my Budget.

      Actual expenses are "lumpy" and won't correlate well to what you've budgeted in any given month. In fact, many actual outflows will exceed what you've budgeted in a given month -- that's the entire point of saving.

      I still don't understand the underlying information you're trying to gain. What is the point of comparing expenses vs budgeted? If there's no overspending, you already know expenses are below Available (which is the cumulative version of Budgeted).

      If you're trying to gauge how much you're "saving" over and above "expenses", that doesn't really work in a zero-based budget. The money you're saving is really just an expense that just hasn't occurred yet. I mean, you save FOR something... that is eventually bought.

      Like 2
      • Roin
      • roin
      • 3 days ago
      • Reported - view

      dakinemaui , I would like to have a simple view with budget vs actual, that's it. Just as I have for my business, and yes, my goal is to be at or below my budget for each category. 

      Like
      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 3 days ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view
      Roin said:
      I would like to have a simple view with budget vs actual

      How do you reconcile that desire with any expense that does not recur monthly?

      Like 1
  • Ceeses said:
    it would make a lot more sense to most people if it didn't include the Activity of the credit card payment categories

    A similar statement can be made regarding Total Available. It would make a lot more sense if it didn't include credit-overspent categories.  It is a useless number when CC overspending is present.

    Like
      • Roin
      • roin
      • 3 days ago
      • Reported - view

      dakinemaui True.
      The system is so messed up that I have transfer $ from one investment account to my checking account to pay the downpayment for my house, and the system only recognize the outflow, so a have s huge negative amount to be budgeted. 😓

      Like
      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 3 days ago
      • Reported - view
      Roin said:
      the system only recognize the outflow

      Do you have your investment account as an on-budget account? If so, you've presumably given all that money jobs. You can't just send it off to pay your house downpayment unless you have given that amount the job of "Pay For the Downpayment" (Available in a Downpayment category).

      Like
  • Roin said:
    dakinemaui , I would like to have a simple view with budget vs actual, that's it. Just as I have for my business, and yes, my goal is to be at or below my budget for each category. 

     When using YNAB correctly this is irrelevant. Some categories build up over time so Activity can exceed Budgeted which is perfectly normal , and overspending should be covered so Available shouldn't be negative except perhaps in the extremely short term. 

    Like 2
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