Automatic import of transfers often assigns wrong Transfer: <name>

I have PNC as our primary bank, and we have multiple checking accounts under our PNC umbrella account. Our workflow tends to involve transferring money from one account to the other fairly often. Some accounts rarely have any action, but 3-4 of them are used for transferring money between them as often as a few times a day.

I have noticed that when I import a batch of transactions for a particular account, it is not unusual for YNAB to have assigned the wrong "Transfer: <acct name>" in the Payee field. I have tracked this for a long time and finally decided to ask someone rather than assume this is and should be normal. Essentially, there is no rhyme or reason or pattern to it. It sometimes gets it right, and sometimes, not. Thank goodness the Memo line actually has the correct account (last four digits) in the text; this sometimes is the only way I can straighten it out.

Any ideas?

Cheers,
Jerry

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  • Hi Jerry! gobuzzgo

    Transactions are categorized/updated automatically based on the last transaction that imported with the same payee. For instance, let's say a transaction imports with the payee PNC and you change the payee to Transfer: A. The next PNC transaction imports, and it's automatically updated to Transfer: A, but it was actually Transfer: B, so you change it. The next PNC transaction will import as Transfer: B, and so on. 

    Manually entering those transfers ahead of time, like mamster mentioned, will let YNAB Match them to prevent the mix-up. :)

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      • gobuzzgo
      • Salmon_Cyborg
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Faness I often do manually enter transfers, as well as normal transactions. However, I don't always manually enter them for a variety of reasons:

      1) I didn't feel like it.
      2) I forgot.
      3) I wasn't near my laptop.
      4) It's an automatic transfer and I don't always know exactly when each one will occur.

      I think it's reasonable that YNAB would distinguish between Payees when the Payees look (exactly) like:

      ONLINE TRANSFER TO XXXXX1234

      ONLINE TRANSFER FROM XXXXX5678

       

      Overall, 99% of my interaction with YNAB (and earlier, with YNAB4) is awesome. The user interface and experience is seamless, and world class. I develop software for a living, and I know good UX when I see it; YNAB is an A+ across the board. I'm very comfortable with my workflow, and I feel as though I am full control of my finances. I no longer worry about living paycheck-to-paycheck, and we are definitely able to work strategically instead of tactically when we address upcoming issues. 

      My only real nit is this transaction issue, but it's not a showstopper. I'm actually comfortable with babysitting this aspect once I figured out what was going wrong and how to easily monitor and fix it. I love working in YNAB, and I enjoy the experience of the Toolkit for YNAB as well.

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    • Hi gobuzzgo ! It sounds like one of the automated payee re-naming rules isn't working well for you. I've reached out from [email protected], so we can have one of our import experts look closer!

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  • Enter the transfers manually, and then match them as they download. Compared to point-of-sale payees, transfer transactions are really hard to parse correctly.

    Have you looked at your workflow to make sure there isn't a better way to do this? Fewer transfers between accounts is one of my favorite things about using YNAB.

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      • gobuzzgo
      • Salmon_Cyborg
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      mamster Well, the physical accounts (the PNC accounts) are separate for good reason. Three of them are the PNC Virtual Wallet (Spend, Reserve, Growth - which is a savings acct). Another one of them is my wife's business account. Two more are for my two kids. The last one is where we park money for large projects (home improvement mainly). Arguably, only that last one would really be considered optional, as being a black belt in YNAB would mean we would already have that money parked somewhere else, such as Reserve or Growth. That would still leave us with six accounts. Even if we whittled down the VW accounts to a single checking and a single savings account, we would be down to five.

      We transfer money from my wife's business account when she "pays herself", or we need to shift money to cover a big expense.  We transfer money to the kids' accounts so they have money for school trips, or moving allowance money, or big tasks that we have paid them to do, etc. Money gets automatically transferred to the savings account from time to time. You get the idea...

      I actually don't understand how it is that transfers are "hard to do." Obviously, there is some pattern matching within YNAB to match payees, and in this use case, transfers. The bank lists the payee as "transfer blah blah blah to xxxxxxx1234", where 1234 is the last four of the account. The other account payee field has "transfer blah blah blah from xxxxxxxx5678", where 5678 is the last four of the other account. Those to payee statements clearly identify to and from accounts, so when the date and the amount match, I think you have a winner. YNAB should be able to use those text strings to correctly parse the information needed to map it to its versions of the registers. I mean, it obviously does it correctly much of the time. It just seems randomly (I've looked for months and cannot see a pattern) that it will put the wrong From or To account. Again, the memo field has the correct "xxxxxx1234" in it, but the payee will (randomly) be a wrong account. The fix is easy, now that I know to always check every single transfer closely, but it seems like this is a symptom of a bug.

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      • mamster
      • mamster
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      gobuzzgo Yeah, I agree with you that this is something that would be nice if it worked automatically. Not all banks give enough information to parse it consistently, but it sounds like PNC does, so it certainly wouldn't hurt to contact support. (Also, could any of these transfers be entered as recurring transactions?)

      This is just my opinion, but I think it would be worth your time to look at your workflow and think about whether there's a way to achieve your financial goals with fewer accounts on-budget. Here are a couple of decisions I made with my own budget; I don't know if they'll make sense for you or not, but it's worth a shot.

      1. I consolidated down to one savings account.

      2. My business account gets its own budget, because I don't commingle my business and personal money.

      3. My kids' accounts are off-budget, because neither I nor they want their transactions showing up in my budget. Once I've paid the allowance (which I do via monthly recurring transfer), it's their problem now! (For younger kids who don't have use of a debit card, I think it makes much more sense to have their account as a category in YNAB than a separate bank account.)

      I'm not saying these decisions are right for everyone, but the way you've described your workflow reminds me a lot of mine, pre-YNAB, and making sure all that money was moving in the right direction and to the right places stressed me out just enough that I try to minimize it.

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  • Totally agree that the method of categorizing transfers based on the last one that occurred is a problem.  It would be better for me if automatic categorization was a "toggle on or off" feature so that I can choose if I want it to happen automatically or categorize it myself.  This "convenience" has caused me big reconciliation headaches in situations where I wasn't paying super close attention to which account the transfer got assigned.  I have a very similar situation to the OP with multiple accounts and multiple credit cards with the same institution.  Long time user here, and this is the only thing about YNAB I truly dislike.

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    • Hi Violet Dragon ! I'm glad you chimed in here. There is a toggle option for that! 😄

      You can turn off auto-categorization by using the Payee Management feature. Click the name of your Budget in the upper left-hand corner or double-clicking a transaction in the payee field and selecting "Manage Payees."

      Find your specific payee, and uncheck the box next to "Automatically categorize payee". Future imports will prompt you to choose a category. That should do it for you! If you'd like to see other options added to Payee Management, you can submit a Feature Request to let our product team know.

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  • I tried this, but I don't see the option for transfer transactions.  It only allows renaming, not turning off the auto categorize.  It looks like the auto categorize is only available for payees like stores or other businesses, not my bank accounts.  Am I missing something?

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    • Violet Dragon Ah, thank you for the screenshot! When you have multiple accounts importing with a similar payee, like "Online Payment" we can have it excluded, so they play nicely. If you transfer money between multiple accounts and each transaction imports with the same "generic" payee, it can cause transactions to get assigned to the wrong accounts.

      It looks like the generic payees in the screenshot are on our exclude list, so let's have you remove the rules with the minus sign. Then you'll be prompted when they import moving forward and automatic renaming will no longer take place for any transactions with those payees.

      I'm thinking your rules were around before they were excluded, so that should do the trick!

      Like 1
    • If it doesn't, ping (@) me or send us a message in the app and we'll dig in!

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    • Nicole IViolet Dragon  How did this turn out? My husband does lots of transferring between our accounts and we REALLY need to figure out a way to have this go smoothly. It's a complete time sink and emotional headache. We can't actually get around to BUDGETING plain and simple, because our accounts are continually incorrect and I spend hours trying to figure out what went wrong with transfers.

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    • Nicole How do I "remove rules with minus sign".  I am going to try to work on this now.

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    • Nicole Slate Gray Captain 

      Actually I didn't understand Nicole's instructions so I didn't do anything.  I just try to correct the transfers as they occur :(

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  • Hey, Violet Dragon ! We recommend entering transfers and payments as soon as you know the date an amount. That way, YNAB doesn't have to guess (a) whether the transaction is a transfer, and (b) what the account on the other side of the transaction is.

    And since YNAB doesn't have to guess, it can't get wrong.

    In fact, we recommend entering all transactions as they happen, but for transfers and payments, it's really critical. The banks just don't give us enough information to automatically enter them when we import transactions.

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