Chase bank has me in a horrible spot. Please help!

Hi everyone,

So, we are trying to get a budget going but are having major issues.  We don't have any credit cards.  We belong to Chase and we are always low on money from not budgeting.  Chase allows us to go negative with our checking balance and we get a $34 fee per transaction when negative.   We've gotten down to -$1100 before which is debilitating and so frustrating and discouraging.  I'm now scared to cancel the debit card coverage because I don't have control of my bills and I'm worried something important might get declined.  The problem is that now when we get paid a $2000 paycheck, we might be -$1100 and now we only have $900 to budget and to live on.  We're getting hit with $300-400 in fees from them a month and. we feel trapped.   Even with 2 different paychecks we still feel like we have nothing.  

I'm currently reading the You Need a Budget book and it's great.  But we just got paid $1300 and it's gone in 2 days.  I need ideas here of how to get off the ground and start running.  Please any help or ideas are appreciated.  Thank you.  D.

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  • Slate Blue Cello  I hate that you're in the situation you're in. I won't act like I have the answers to help you get out of the situation completely, but I think the best place to start is to look at your monthly expenses. When I say monthly expenses, I'm including monthly recurring bills (rent/mortgage, car payments, auto insurance, internet, Netflix, cell phone) and variable expenses that you have to pay each month (transportation costs like gas or a bus pass, groceries). If you're not used to being mindful about your spending then it's easy to lose track of how your money is being spent. One of the best things that YNAB has helped me with is understanding where my money is being spent.

    Once you have your list of monthly expenses, you can enter goals into YNAB (most will be Monthly Funding Goals). After you've set up goals, it's easier to look at your total monthly expenses. Understanding your total monthly expenses can be a big eye opener if you've always (like I did pre-YNAB) estimated your expenses. It's easy to add expenses that you think are small or maybe larger but you think is manageable whenever you don't really understand what you're money is doing.

    After you have a grasp of your total monthly expenses, you can really begin to assess your overall situation (i.e. if you didn't have the charges from Chase for prior purchases, could you afford your lifestyle). Really understand whether you keep over-drafting because you can't afford your lifestyle or because you just haven't been able to actually recover from over-drafting that has already occurred.

    Once you understand this, you can really start to make a plan for the go-forward. The YNAB classes are really helpful in getting started with YNAB; understanding the 4 rules, the functionality of the program and how it can help you.

    I would recommend that you stop automatic payments (until you're confident that you can go at least one month without an over-draft charge) and cancel the over-draft protection - it's really just a way that the bank can charge you for flat-fee high interest loans.

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    • Nina Shelly thank you so much fo the great information. 

  • Hi Slate Blue Cello !

    I'm so glad you found YNAB and these forums! You are definitely in the right place to help get things off the ground and I can't wait to hear all about it! 😊


    If you're reading the YNAB book, you're likely already familiar with one of YNAB’s fundamental concepts, only budgeting money that you have. You assign those dollars to categories, giving every one of them a job!

    However, if your bank account is negative when you start in YNAB and add your accounts, you'll see that negative balance on the account in the sidebar and you’ll have a red number at the top of the budget. There’s no money to budget. Not to worry though, there is still a lot you can do. 😊

    First, get organized and lay out all your expenses by making sure there’s a category for each of them. Then, track your spending. You see exactly where your money is going, and that awareness will help you reign things in. 

    When you spend without budgeting, that creates overspending. If you don’t have any dollars budgeted to Groceries, but you spend $100 on groceries with your overdraft account, you’ll see a red -$100 in that category. This is what happened, so YNAB is showing you the truth.

    When you’re paid again and your account balance is positive, budget to cover any overspending. You’re basically doing some clean up on the budget, which will be empowering. If you can’t correct it all, don’t worry. Any overspending that’s not corrected this month will be subtracted from next month’s To be Budgeted number. 

    Continue to track your spending, repeating the steps above. Your goal is to have less and less red over time, until the overdraft is gone. Sometimes it takes a bit of time and work to break the cycle. Question your spending as you track and you’ll find places to cut. It’s important to only spend on your most critical expenses until the overdraft is gone, but seeing less red will let you know you’re making progress!

    Here’s a short video walking through how to manage this.

    Once you’re out of overdraft, you can add goals and scheduled transactions to help you plan for future spending and prevent the overdraft cycle from returning.

    If you have 20 minutes to dig in deeper, I would recommend signing up for our Break the Paycheck to Paycheck Cycle workshop. You can learn all about how to increase the time between when you earn money and when you spend it and get to see the budget live in action!

    Helping new YNABers who are in overdraft is something we're actively working on, so please let us know if you have any follow-up questions or if any of these resources were particularly helpful! 

     We're excited to walk with you as you turn things around. 😊

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    • Jannelle thanks for the great resources and link to overdraft video very helpful.

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