How to use Splitwise and YNAB?


So I have a question... My fiancee and I decided to use Splitwise and keep our own budget each instead of throwing our money together. We earn exactly the same amount and this gives us more independence. I works well since 3 years now so I think this is our way. And Splitwise works great for keeping track of all expenses.


I know how to use YNAB but I can't get my head around how to handle stuff we split, especially if she pays and I owe her money.

Let's say I buy groceries for 20 $. I enter the transaction into my checking account or credit card and split it. 10 $ for the groceries category, 10 $ in the fiancee reimbursement category.

So far so good as long as I buy stuff.

What if she does it? She pays 20 $ and I owe her 10 $.

But nothing will happen to my accounts till the end of the month. Should I enter a transaction the day she pays for stuff or should I just enter and split a transaction when I actually have to pay her at the end of the month?

What if things get more complicated: I buy groceries for 300 $ this month and he buys Christmas presents for the family for 500 $? I owe her 200 $. How would I handle this?

How do you use Splitwise with YNAB?

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  • Two observations regarding Splitwise:

    • It's a decent method of communication, especially among more than 2 people (not your situation, though)
    • It's a duplication of effort since you'll be entering your joint spending into YNAB AND Splitwise. (The transaction obviously hits your account and will therefore impact your budget.) You'll also be entering your portion of fiancee's spending in your budget.

    My advice: brush up on Reimbursements. Transactions are typically split transactions with your portion against your category and finance's portion against a category for her spending. As for how the budget works, I highly recommend the first approach discussed in that linked documentation.

    Alex Kree said:
    What if she does it? She pays 20 $ and I owe her 10 $.

    No different than when you paid: your portion against your category, her portion against her category. The only difference is her portion is an inflow which reduces the amount she would owe you (or increases the amount you owe her). Outflow of $10 against your Groceries and an inflow of $10 against Fiancee Reimbursement makes for a net of $0 on the total transaction amount. That makes sense since no money entered or left your account.

    Alex Kree said:
    I buy groceries for 300 $ this month and [s]he buys Christmas presents for the family for 500 $? I owe her 200 $. How would I handle this?

    (I assume you meant "she buys Christmas...") The category keeps a running tally. Your grocery outflow is split, presumably $150 against groceries and $150 against Fiancee. You would record another transaction (net $0) with outflow $250 against your Christmas presents and inflow $250 against Fiancee (because she paid). You would actually owe her $100, not $200. 😉

    In summary, I don't use Splitwise with YNAB, as it's a fair bit of extra work just to tell the other person that money was spent. Again, the only value Splitwise provides is as a communication method; YNAB already tracks what is owed. I find it easier to just to drop a receipt or note in the other person's pile/jar/etc. on the kitchen counter or wherever. OTOH, if Splitwise is your preferred communication method, then by all means use it; however, it won't replace what's being done in YNAB.

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      • Alex Kree
      • Turquoise_Hammerhead.11
      • 4 mths ago
      • 1
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      dakinemaui Thank you! I've been looking for a good solution to this for days now. I've found some half heartedly ones like just making transactions to the reimbursement category of my fiancee but this altered the checking account balance... The other solution I've stumbled upon was a Spiltwise account but this felt like too much work for what I wanted and changed the statistics too much.
      Your solution is by far the best! So thank you... Never would've thought about doing 0 $ transactions... this is just briliant.

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