Why does my credit card activity add to my available budget instead of subtracting?

I use my credit card a lot and pay it off every month. So I budgeted $2500 for it. The activity on my card adds to my available column instead of subtracting from it like I would expect.

In the screen shot below, I would expect the $372.09 to be deducted from the budgeted $2500 and show $2127.91 in the "available" column.

What am I doing wrong?


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  • YNAB has moved $372.09 from other categories where you have activity down to your credit card payment category. Example if your Grocery category has $250 available and you spend $35, your grocery category available amount will go down by $35 and the credit card payment available category will go up by $35 to show that your budget has reserved $35 out of your grocery category to pay the credit card bill that includes the transaction at the grocery store.

    In short - you should only have to budget to the credit card payment category for transactions that occurred before YNAB including any credit card debt that you are carrying or for unbudgeted purchases that you don't fix by budgeting to the appropriate category after an overspend. You may also have to fiddle with the category a bit for returns, reimbursements, and statement credits, but those are completely different threads/questions.

    Like 1
  • When you enter a transaction on your credit card account using a budget category that has available funds, YNAB will take the funds for that transaction and move them to your credit card payment category (the one you have here). The available balance in that category is how much cash is reserved in your budget to make your credit card payment. This way, your budgeted spending just moves categories, since no actual cash has left your budget until you make your CC payment.

    So let's say you spend $100 on groceries with your credit card and that category has $150 available. You enter that transaction on your CC account in YNAB. Available balance for your groceries category goes down by $100, and now shows $50 available. Your credit card payment category will go up by $100. You now have that $100 ready to pay your credit card with.

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  • If you pay off your credit card each month, I highly suggest you look into changing it to a checking account and save yourself from the needless complexity YNAB has added to managing credit cards. See this thread: https://support.youneedabudget.com/t/x17w23

  • You don't budget for using a credit card, except for the purchases that happened before using YNAB (aka the starting balance on your credit card). When you spend budgeted money from your categories, YNAB will automatically shift that money from your spending category to the CC payment category (because you made the purchase, but the cash is still in your bank account, so it needs to be reserved to pay back the credit card)

  • i found the credit card work shops very helpful when I first started

  • Ah, I get it now. Makes sense. Thank you all for your help!

  • One comment to put this into perspective... Your budget is solely comprised of the cash you hold. Always. (Well, unless there is any red showing, which you should fix immediately.)

    When you buy something with your credit card, the amount of cash you have is unchanged. The reduction of the Clothing category must therefore be balanced by an increase somewhere.

    Putting this in the CC Payment category is a great choice for that "somewhere" since you'll typically want to pay off that debt with your next payment to avoid interest.

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  • I paid off my credit card a few months ago, yet YNAB has my credit card category with a positive balance.  The balance on the card is $0, the balance in YNAB is $1800 (which is what I paid). This confuses me.  I think credit card balances should show in RED if they need to be funded and paid.

      • WordTenor
      • Can we agree that goals are dumb and immature? Sure.
      • WordTenor
      • 1 mth ago
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      Did you pay the card using a transfer transaction? That removes money from the card category. 

      In general, if you have more in the card category than you have charged to the card you’re safe to move it, but since that’s exactly what you paid recently I would worry that you hadn’t recorded the payment correctly. 

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