Negative "to be budgeted" every month?

I spend what I budget. At the end of each month, I make sure no category is in the red. If it is, I reassign money to that category. So each month is cleanly accounted.

Yet... my "to be budgeted" is ~$1000 in the red at the end of *every* month. Doesn't that mean I'm budgeting $1000 more than I have? ... But I'm not doing that. Unless I'm missing something about how this program (or money) works.

Anyone know what's going on here?

44replies Oldest first
  • Oldest first
  • Newest first
  • Active threads
  • Popular
  • The program does not stop you from budgeting money you don't have. If I wanted to, I could budget $1 million to my categories in February right now and all of the categories would be positive but my TBB would be negative. You stop budgeting/adding money to your categories as soon as the TBB hits zero.

    Like
  • I know that. But I'm not doing that - as far as I know (like I said in the OP). 

    Any ideas how one might be budgeting money they don't have and not realize it?

    Like
      • jenmas
      • jenmas
      • 5 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Beige Cartridge the minute your TBB goes negative, you have budgeted money you don't have. Therefore you must unbudget money from categories until it is back to zero.

      Like
  • Do you mean your TBB is -$1000 after covering all overspending to make categories zero out at the end of the month? And it wasn't at the beginning of the month? Are you covering overspending with an empty TBB?

    There's an issue called Stealing From The Future, but the whole reason it's an issue is because it *doesn't* make the current month's TBB go negative with overbudgeting (when there are budgeted funds in the future), so people are taken by surprise the following month. That doesn't sound like what you describe at all.

    I can't imagine how you're overspending/overbudgeting without being aware, unless you're not updating transactions quickly enough and thus making decisions based on old, incorrect category available information.

    Like
  • Beige Cartridge said:
    I make sure no category is in the red

    How do you do that? If you simply increase the budget value, that is certainly an issue. You also need to decrease some other budget value in order to leave TBB unchanged. (And TBB should be $0, Rule 1 right.)

    Alternatively, you can use the Move Money or Cover Overspending Tools which ensure offsetting budget entries.

    Like
    • dakinemaui 

      I do increase budget value to match spending. I also decrease budgeted amounts where I underspent.

      Here's the typical month: I get X amount of income. I spend less than X in that month. At the end of the month, the budgeted amount and the actual activity in every category are exactly the same, after adjustments to budgeted amounts. And I spent, during that month, less than I earned during that month. So how can have - $1,000 "to be budgeted"?

      Like
      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 5 mths ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view

      Beige Cartridge If TBB was negative at the start of the month, then you would end negative after covering spending as you describe. And if TBB is negative at the end of the month, it will still be negative at the beginning of the month. Etc.

      Look, the budget is the plan for your cash, and ANY red (categories or TBB) means you have planned to use money you do not possess. Such a plan is infeasible. Move money from green categories to whatever is red.

      Like 3
      • satcook
      • satcook
      • 5 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Beige Cartridge are you reconciling your checking account to ensure it has the correct amount in YNAB??

      Like
  • A second follow on is that for most people, the amount budgeted in a given month will never equal the amount spent. You’ll have true expenses, saving, etc, that draw on your earned money but which will not be spent in the month you earn the money. If all your categories are a perfect zero at the end of the month, you likely aren’t using YNAB optimally. 

    Like 4
  • Thanks for trying, everyone! I don't think I'm any closer to knowing the reason, though. None of the suggested explanations correspond to what I'm doing. I think I just significantly misunderstand something about YNAB and am doing something wrong with it. It's a great tool to track my spending across all accounts, but the budgeting component of is seemingly not clicking with me. I'm doing something wrong. I'll keep looking into it

    Like
    • Beige Cartridge Hi there. If you'd like, we'd be happy to take a look at your budget and record a custom video (confidential, of course) walking through what we're seeing there and how to get back on track. If that's something you're interested in, please let me know!

      Like 1
      • jwehrer
      • jwehrer
      • 5 mths ago
      • 4
      • Reported - view

      Beige Cartridge I think I know what the issue is.  Unlike most other budgeting methods, YNAB is making you budget the money you physically have on hand at the moment.  Most other budgeting methods have you list the income you expect in a month and from that, you subtract your budgeted expenses.  For example.  I expect to receive $2,000 in January and I'm budgeting to spend $1,950 in January and I should have $50 left over.

      YNAB is different.  It intends for you to budget to categories only the money you have on hand.  And then when you get paid again, you budget that money to categories and so on an so forth.  What I think happened in your case is you budgeted more money than you had on hand from the get go.  I know the numbers are different from your actual numbers but follow me on the following and see if this helps explain it:

      You've got $1,000 in the bank when you start YNAB in December, so you budget the categories for the month of December which happens to be about $2,000 in expenses in various categories.  Well right there you are -$1,000 from the very start.  Only $1,000 in the bank but you budget for $2,000 worth of expenses and spent that much.  So January rolls around and you expect $2,000 in income and you budget to spend $1,950 in expenses.  However remember that you were $1,000 short of money to pay for December's expenses so that $1,000 negative carries over into January.  And so, even though you received $2,000 in income in January and spent only $1,950, you're still running a negative "To Be Budgeted" figure of -$950.  I hope this helps to explain it.  I would advise going back to the very first month in your YNAB budget and see what your "To Be Budgeted" number is.  My guess is that very first month you budgeted to categories $1,000 more than you actually had on hand.

      Like 4
    • jwehrer My confusion continues haha
      Thanks for this idea!

      First, I do not budget anything beyond the current month.
      Second, I have no way to spend more than I have. No credit cards. No loans.

      I've done some fiddling with my first few months to see if the problem began there. My first few months are green, $0.00 to be budgeted. Where things begin to go off the rails, I can't see why it goes off the rails. I'm not even capable of spending more than I have.

      Like
    • Matthew I'll take you up on this, Matthew! Thank you. How does this work?

      Like
    • Beige Cartridge I'll send you an email in the next few minutes!

      Like
  • jwehrer said:
    What I think happened in your case is you budgeted more money than you had on hand from the get go. 

    I concur. As I mentioned, OP said they end a month negative and therefore means they start next month negative. Budgeting exactly what they've spent doesn't fix anything, and they will finish negative again. And again, etc.

    The fix is to move money from green areas to red areas until there is no red. It is easiest to do this in the current month.

    Like
  • Beige Cartridge said:
    I do increase budget value to match spending. I also decrease budgeted amounts where I underspent.

    This is the wrong way to do it.   If you simply increase and decrease "budget" to match your spending you could easily go negative if spend more than you have.   If you increase the budget in one category you have to decrease it by an equal amount in other categories. 

    This is the correct way to do this.  When you have a category that is overspent - i.e the Available balance is negative - click on the Available balance.  A popup will ask what category you want to transfer funds to cover the overspending.   This will simultaneous add to the buget on this category AND reduce it on the other category.   Of course, pick a category that you've underspent on :-)  If your initial "To Be Budgeted" wasn't red using this method will ensure it stays that way.

    Like 2
  • I had a similar issue a few months after starting with YNAB. After mucho frustration, I realized that a couple of months earlier, I had intended to indicate an amount like 10.00 but I misplaced the decimal point and ended up indicating 1000.00. I mention this in case this sort of typo might turn out to be the issue.

    Like
  • I have the same issue.  I zeroed everything to start fresh (since I "think" I know what I'm doing now).  There is nothing budgeted in the Budgeted column.  Yet I show a -$669.90 in the To Be Budgeted box at the top.  I just don't get it!  Help!!

    Like
      • WordTenor
      • I have the honor to be your obedient servant
      • WordTenor
      • 4 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Frank Castro What does the header say for “Overspent in January?” 

      Like
      • Frank Castro
      • Navy_Blue_Rhythm.14
      • 4 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      WordTenor  $0.00

      Like
      • WordTenor
      • I have the honor to be your obedient servant
      • WordTenor
      • 4 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Frank Castro And you have no red categories and February is the farthest month out you have budgeted? 

      Like
      • Frank Castro
      • Navy_Blue_Rhythm.14
      • 4 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      WordTenor Correct.  Everything in February is zero.  I even deleted all my goals.

      Like
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 4 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Frank Castro Is there anything in your Available in any categories? Having nothing in the Budgeted column will just carry over category balances from the previous month.

      Like 1
      • Frank Castro
      • Navy_Blue_Rhythm.14
      • 4 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      nolesrule There is nothing Available in any of my categories.

      Like
      • Frank Castro
      • Navy_Blue_Rhythm.14
      • 4 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Frank Castro Could this have something to do with my linked bank accounts and credit cards?

      Like
      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 4 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Frank Castro Linking just brings in transactions automatically. The account balance is what matters. What accounts do you have on-budget and what are the balances?

      Like
  • Correct.  Everything in February is zero.  I even deleted all my goals.

    Like
      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 4 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Frank Castro If you have cash in your account(s), then you must have money in the budget which is distributed between categories (available) and To Be Budgeted. The header next to To Be Budgeted describes what's going on. Funds for <month>, etc. What are those values (or screenshot)?

      Like
      • Frank Castro
      • Navy_Blue_Rhythm.14
      • 4 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      dakinemaui 

      Like
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 4 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Frank Castro More information is required. Do you have accounts with positive balances in your budget?

      Like
      • Frank Castro
      • Navy_Blue_Rhythm.14
      • 4 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      nolesrule I have at least 3 with positive balances

      Like
      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 4 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Frank Castro Are you in overdraft?

      Like
      • Frank Castro
      • Navy_Blue_Rhythm.14
      • 4 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      dakinemaui No

      Like
      • WordTenor
      • I have the honor to be your obedient servant
      • WordTenor
      • 4 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      are you comfortable sharing a shot of the accounts on the left hand side? most screen clips will allow you to black out the names of the accounts. 

      Like 1
      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 4 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Frank Castro Do all of your credit card accounts have a corresponding category under the CC Payments group?

      Like
      • Frank Castro
      • Navy_Blue_Rhythm.14
      • 4 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      dakinemaui I don't know what that means.

      Like
      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 4 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Frank Castro Do you have any credit cards? 

      Like
      • Frank Castro
      • Navy_Blue_Rhythm.14
      • 4 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      dakinemaui Yes - I do.

      Like
      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 4 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Frank Castro Look in the budget under the CC Payments category group. Are there categories there with the same name as each  of your CC (credit card) accounts?

      Like 1
    • Frank Castro Hello! I think dakinemaui is on the right track, and one of your credit cards is misconfigured as a checking account. I'm going to send you an email and help you get it straightened out.

      Like
      • Frank Castro
      • Navy_Blue_Rhythm.14
      • 4 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Matthew Ah, one is missing.

      Like
      • Frank Castro
      • Navy_Blue_Rhythm.14
      • 4 mths ago
      • 4
      • Reported - view

      Frank Castro FIXED!  You guys are the best!!!

      Like 4
    • Frank Castro Oh, great! I just sent you a possibly unnecessary email. Feel free to post here or reply if you have any more questions.

      Like 1
Like Follow
  • 4 mths agoLast active
  • 44Replies
  • 481Views
  • 12 Following