Pending transactions/ real time import

Hi there, 

is there a plan to add a feature that allows to import pending transaction? I also wonder about being able to import transaction close to real time instead of every 12 hours. I am a former Mint user and that is definitely something I feel YNAB is missing and reducing its use for me. 

Thanks!

Nadja

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  • I have been using YNAB off and ON since before it was a web based product.  My wife and I have tried SOOO Hard to build the habit of putting a transaction in as we make them to keep things up to-date but we just can't do it.  It has been YEARS of trying.  The only reason we go off of YNAB is when i find something that can handle realtime transactions to see if it could work. One example is Simple.  I loved walking out the door of the store and seeing the transaction.  It was super easy to then put it where it belonged only simple does some wacky stuff that I couldn't get my head around. So then we end up back at YNAB  I realize that simple different in that it is directly tied into the bank but even if YNAB could pick things up at the rate that my current bank sends me text messages of my transactions that would be amazing!!

    Like 2
  • Some Day said:
    I would love to have Pending Transactions as an option too! Just show them what they are and let me Manually Add them, with just a click of a button!馃檪

    This is obviously the correct solution. I've had the pending beta for a while now and this works great. The only problem is that I have to manually type in the shown pending transactions that I want rather than being able to add them with the click of a button. The feature is even optional too. (You can turn it on or off in the interface.) 

    Why it's so hard to program (I'm a programmer) or why it hasn't been added, I have no idea.

    Like 1
      • WordTenor
      • I have the honor to be your obedient servant
      • WordTenor
      • 9 mths ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      Superbone The issue I see, and reported, and which apparently has gotten me kicked out of beta-ing (why you would ask people to beta and then not want them to tell you if something is is bad idea is beyond me, but...YNAB) goes back to the same problem we鈥檝e been having with us version 4 enthusiasts since the get go. The level of financial literacy necessary to know when to tell a pending transaction to drop is, while low, higher than the average new web app user possesses. Most people who want this feature want a 鈥渟et and forget鈥 budget, and nothing about pending transactions would ever be set and forget. It would actually be more work than cleared transactions only, as pending transactions will update their amounts, causing much wailing and blaming the software for the fact that the user didn鈥檛 remember that they tipped or didn鈥檛 realize the gas station only authorized a dollar. 

      Like 2
      • Annieland
      • YNABbing every day since 2009!
      • Annieland
      • 9 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      WordTenor Or in my all-to-frequent case, a whole string of fraudulent transactions that can't be reversed until posted 馃檮.

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

      Annieland 馃憥鈽癸笍馃憥

      Like 3
      • Superbone
      • YNAB convert since 2008
      • Superbone
      • 9 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      WordTenor AKA the ol' kindergarten safety scissors. We can't allow anything that could ever possibly be misused by the masses.

      Most people who want this feature want a 鈥渟et and forget鈥 budget, and nothing about pending transactions would ever be set and forget.

      I'm not so sure about that. I personally don't want that, that's for sure. I want to know everything that comes through my budget. That's why we have to approve every scheduled transaction and every imported transaction. This would be no different. If you choose to allow a $1 pending gas station transaction, that should be the same as entering a $1 gas station transaction manually. You are forced to use your brain on every decision for everything that enters your budget.

      Further thoughts are that after choosing to enter a pending transaction into your account, you would continue to see the pending transaction as well and then when it actually entered your account, it would once again force you to approve it over the original entered pending transaction. This would fix transactions that users allowed that were premature.

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

      Superbone I can't get past the inconsistency of use case. The entire point of including pending transactions is supposed to be more up-to-date category guidance for someone who does not want to manually enter. That's not the kind of person that WANTS to be engaged, which is in conflict with being "forced" to use your brain on every decision.

      Like
      • Superbone
      • YNAB convert since 2008
      • Superbone
      • 9 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      dakinemaui Well, what does that make me? I don't want to manually enter transactions. I don't need more up-to-date category guidance. I like to be engaged and on top of my transactions as they come in. The more up-to-date, the better but if I have to choose, I'll wait until they direct import. I don't think we can categorize users and what they want in general. And beyond that, we shouldn't have to. It's a tool. Let me use it how it works best for me as long as it follows the method.

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

      Superbone Abbe Normal? 馃槀

      Superbone said:
      Let me use it how it works best for me as long as it follows the method.

      Fine in theory, but it takes dev resources and support resources. You know this will introduce another topic for newbies to be confused about. WordTenor already said it -- it's another topic on which to educate the masses... which brings very little gain.

      I'm not trying to state an opinion about the feature itself. I'm commenting on the inconsistency of YNAB upping the financial knowledge required to use the tool.

      Like 1
      • Superbone
      • YNAB convert since 2008
      • Superbone
      • 9 mths ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      dakinemaui As a fan of Young Frankenstein, I really appreciate your answer. 馃槃

      Like 2
  • Awesome to see YNAB implementing this is a beta feature. Are any of you also participating in the beta? I haven't been to figure out how to use the feature yet, but supposedly I have access to import pending transactions through the web interface.

    Like
      • Superbone
      • YNAB convert since 2008
      • Superbone
      • 4 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Some Day I am. It鈥檚 awesome. It鈥檚 exactly what I wanted. You just have to have pending transactions, which are in their own section, and then you approve them and make any adjustments you鈥檇 want just like when you approve regular imported transactions. The only difference is that they enter your register uncleared.

      Like
      • Mario P.
      • Attorney
      • guarionex_48
      • 4 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Superbone So it is in beta right now? I thought I read somewhere that it had been scraped. 

      Like
      • Superbone
      • YNAB convert since 2008
      • Superbone
      • 4 mths ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      Mario P. Nope, not scrapped. It has been improved so that you can now enter the pending transactions into your budget. It's ready to go as far as I'm concerned.

      Like 2
    • Mario P. We gave pending transactions a try a while back but the feature just wasn't up to par. This is our latest attempt at giving them a go and I love hearing Superbone 's feedback! If all goes well with the beta, they'll be coming to a budget near you soon! ;)

      Like
      • Superbone
      • YNAB convert since 2008
      • Superbone
      • 4 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Faness I have one little caveat to that. I just sent feedback. 馃檪I just realized a little issue I've been having lately is related.

      Like 1
  • I am loving the new feature. Transactions just become part of my budget much sooner :) I am operating in near-real time with actual spend vs. remaining amounts which is the key!     

    Like 2
    • Some Day How does one get in on this? I would love to be a tester.

      Like
    • Goodlandmama I love your excitement! We're not looking for beta testers at the moment, but appreciate your interest. Our team is looking into making changes to the process!

      Like
  • I am REALLY hoping that this is an optional feature.  The issue with pending holds, transactions without tips, etc. has already been fully explained on this forum.  If it's optional then I don't care but I have no interest in importing pending transactions into my household budget.

    Like 2
  • Hey, bobbucy ! I totally understand your concern here鈥擨 don't want pending transactions messing up my budget, either.

    To avoid that, the pending transactions in YNAB are treated the same way as they are at the bank: They don't affect the budget/account until the bank posts them or the user explicitly approves/moves them to the register early. They're cordoned off into a separate area of the account register like scheduled transactions, and you can collapse and hide that area, too.

    Like 1
      • Herman
      • herman
      • 4 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Matthew If I manually enter a transaction and then it appears in pending and I approve/move them to the register, will it match with my manually entered transaction?

      Like 1
    • Hi Herman !

      Yes, pending transactions will be able to be matched to manually entered transactions. Currently, that leaves them uncleared until you mark it as cleared.

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      • Superbone
      • YNAB convert since 2008
      • Superbone
      • 4 mths ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      Faness Which is one of my issues with it right now. It should import again once it's no longer pending and match again, this time cleared. Otherwise, I have to go to the website to find out if it has cleared where I didn't have to before.

      Like 2
      • Herman
      • herman
      • 4 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Superbone yes, I absolutely wouldn't use this in this scenario. Removes the primary value of direct import for me.

      Like 1
      • Superbone
      • YNAB convert since 2008
      • Superbone
      • 4 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Herman I ended up with a whole bunch of uncleared transactions before I realized what was happening. I think it's just a bug and needs to be fixed. (I hope!)

      Like
    • Superbone At the moment, that's expected behavior. We're taking feedback on pending transactions to see where this feature will go while still in beta (and my personal feedback was much in line with your own).

      Like 2
      • Superbone
      • YNAB convert since 2008
      • Superbone
      • 4 mths ago
      • 1
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      Faness Glad to hear it and I hope it's getting serious consideration as it is part downgrade as is. I'd have to go to the website and visually search for cleared transactions. That would be sad if that's how it is delivered. It was a pain in the butt. I try to only go to the actual website when reconciling or looking up a suspect transaction. And having to visually clear transactions adds more room for error as well as adding a pain where there wasn't one before. Would be a real buzzkill. 

      Like 1
      • ToddYNAB Team
      • YNAB's CPO | Four Rules since 2009
      • Todd
      • 4 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Superbone I'm glad you're (mostly) enjoying the feature in beta.

      I wanted to chime in on this specific question, because this is easily one of the most complex decisions around pending transactions, and we've been talking a lot about it on the product team. What you're describing definitely could be an issue.

      On the other side of the coin, if they don't auto-match, you end up with an increased possibility of duplicate transactions. Here's the scenario:

      1. I enter a transaction directly at point of sale
      2. A couple of hours later, the transaction shows up as pending and doesn't auto-match.
      3. Some time later, I (or my partner, maybe) categorizes the pending transaction, not remembering or realizing it had already been entered directly. Boom. Duplicate.

      So ... It remains to be seen how this will work out, and it's not even as simple of course as this binary sort of way I'm framing it. But it's a really tough one.

      EDIT/SUPPLEMENT: I'm framing it as either match or don't match at all, but I didn't mean to ignore what you're suggesting Superbone , essentially a re-import to clear the transaction. That could be an example of something (being much more complicated from a technical perspective) that gets future consideration. 

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      • Herman
      • herman
      • 4 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Todd Make sure support is prepared for the deluge of reconciliation issues.

      Like 1
      • Superbone
      • YNAB convert since 2008
      • Superbone
      • 4 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Todd I was confused by your answer. I never suggested not auto-matching a pending transaction to a manually entered one. That's exactly how it should work. But it should also absolutely match the imported cleared transaction with the entered pending  one as well, technical challenges be damned. I'm a programmer, I get it but it's not like it's an unsolvable issue.

      If it ships like it is now, I'm not sure what I'll do because I absolutely want direct import to let me know if a transaction is cleared or not.  In my mind, I have two choices. Don't use the feature (a real shame) or just mark them cleared when I enter them. I really don't like either choice and it frankly, shouldn't have to be a choice. It's a half baked feature as is.

      Currently, when I don't mark them as cleared, I end up with a bunch of uncleared transactions that I have to go over one by one with the online statement and then reconcile. At least the other way where I manually mark them as cleared, there are less to unclear (than I would have to clear the other way) while looking at the website so that I can reconcile.  It's pretty obvious it should work as I suggested. Otherwise, like I said, it's half baked. Sorry, if that's abrupt but I'm just being honest.

      Like 1
      • Superbone
      • YNAB convert since 2008
      • Superbone
      • 4 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Todd I just thought about it some more and I personally won't use the feature as is (and it had so much promise). 馃檨For me, it's more important that DI marks my transactions as cleared than it is for me to get the transactions entered earlier. I'm lucky to have an abundant budget so on time transactions is just less important to me than the clearing functionality.

      And let's review the two cases. If I did manually enter the transaction, pending transaction don't do anything for me other than confirming the amount. So matching those does nothing for me. I'm better off just deleting the pending transaction rather than matching it.

      If I haven't entered the transaction yet, I have two choices. Type it in manually since it won't match when it does clear if I were to import it or just wait for the cleared transaction. I was typing them in manually (less than ideal) before the ability to accept the pending transactions was added.

      Like
      • bobbucy
      • Tomato_Snow_237e7f17927
      • 4 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Todd I appreciate your detailed explanation, but it does reinforce my concern regarding unnecessary complexity in the import process.  I absolutely don't ever want a pending transaction to be included in my imports and I strongly suspect that I'm not alone in that feeling.  Keeping imports working reliably is complex enough without trying to add the type of workflow that you're describing above, which is why I have to reiterate that this feature should come with an on/off switch at the customer's discretion.

      Like 1
      • Superbone
      • YNAB convert since 2008
      • Superbone
      • 3 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      It turns out that the behavior we were talking about above (where it wouldn't clear the previously pending transaction) was just a bug! It is now working as I would expect it to. I am happy once again! 馃槃 This allows those of us who don't always manually enter transactions to be more on top of our budgets.

      I don't understand the animosity some have toward this feature. You don't have to use it. It has been designed as an optional feature. I believe if you don't turn on the Pending filter, everything will work exactly as before. I guess it's just fear of the unknown. 

      Like
      • Herman
      • herman
      • 3 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Superbone As some who was against it, it was that lack of this design.  I'm perfectly fine with this approach.  I think this is very different than many of the early discussions on how it would/should work.  Based on what you are saying it should be great. 

      Like 1
  • I'm very concerned with adding unnecessary complexity to importing transactions.  The fact of the matter is that I don't need another section on the account screen that I need to hide.  Why aren't you just adding an import option for each connected account that says either import pending transactions or don't import them?

    Like
      • Superbone
      • YNAB convert since 2008
      • Superbone
      • 4 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      bobbucy You can relax. 馃檪 There's a Pending filter. It would look exactly the same as it does now to you.

      Like 1
      • bobbucy
      • Tomato_Snow_237e7f17927
      • 4 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Superbone Got it.

      Like 1
      • Superbone
      • YNAB convert since 2008
      • Superbone
      • 4 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      bobbucy Looks like I'll be joining you. 馃え

      Like 1
      • Superbone
      • YNAB convert since 2008
      • Superbone
      • 3 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      bobbucy I am back on board. See:

      https://support.youneedabudget.com/t/h4rwhs?r=60hxwpd

      Like
  • bobbucy said:
    Why aren't you just adding an import option for each connected account that says either import pending transactions or don't import them?

    And to answer this question, they do have this. Or, at least it doesn't show them. I'm not sure what's happening behind the scenes but you won't see them.

    Like
  • All,

        As many are probably not aware, YNAB already has facilities to enable real-time pending transaction import. I will go into details on how I set this up at the end of this post. 

    I鈥檝e been living with pending transaction import for the last 18 months there are several caveats that in my opinion make pending transaction import a potential mine field for new and semi-experienced users. We must remember YNAB is in the lifestyle business, not the software business. Their goal is to sell the YNAB method, their software is simply a mechanism to aid in achieving this lifestyle and its revenue is simply there to aid in furthering their promotion of the method. Their method isn't for everyone, nor is their software. They are aware of this and are not trying to cater to the maximum number of users by opening up any and all features. A clean and concise default toolset will sell their method better then trying to mix in any and all extra features to attract the maximum number of advanced users. Thankfully, YNAB openly support community based enhancements to their software via the YNAB toolkit and API. 

    When discussing pending transaction import we must remember what pending transactions are in their most fundamental terms. Pending transactions in the banks eyes are nothing more than vendor鈥檚 requests to the bank to verify credit availability. Therefore, pending transactions have at times little correlation with the final posted transactions. For instance, swipe your credit card at the gas pump, the gas vendor will ask the credit card company if you have enough credit to support reasonable fill-up. (100$ is typical in Canada). This pending transaction is then recorded by your bank and displayed to you mainly for fraud prevention reasons while they wait for the final tally from the gas vendor. Similar processes occur for restaurants and other vendors where the final tally isn't always known at the time of credit card swipe. Pending transactions have a life span and are expected to expire if the pending transaction isn鈥檛 followed up with a formally posted transaction within a few days.  

    Given the transient nature of pending transactions, maybe 20% are ultimately fictitious in nature. Fictitious meaning the pending transaction as initially presented does not correlate with the final posted transaction. 

    I probably enter more than 90% of my transactions in YBAB using the pending transactions import system I have setup. I also probably discard or modify 20% or so of these transactions as they are not in sync with reality.

    Some considerations I have for any official pending transaction import scheme:

    1.      Pending transactions must be instantaneous. Once you swipe our card and approve a transaction, that transaction must appear in our budget within a maximum of minutes. Using the system I have in place, the transactions are in my budget for approval/categorization by the time I get to my car once leaving the store. If the transactions are not instantaneous, then one risks losing track of spending which is core to the YNAB method. Anything short of instantaneous entry will lead to complacency which YNAB is directly trying to avoid with their method.

    2.      Transactions should be imported just like the current direct import method, but with the transaction marked as uncleared. Once the transaction is posted, the transaction should be matched up and then be marked as cleared. This is exactly how the current system works for manual transactions if you enter those transactions in YNAB before the bank clears them.

    3.      There are going to be times where the pending transaction either completely disappears from the bank鈥檚 systems or the pending transaction is ultimately posted differently than originally captured. There is no easy way to resolve this. Any pending transaction import mechanism requires diligent reconciliation of accounts. I鈥檝e had more than one occasion where I need to track down an errant transaction that was ultimately never posted, or changed before being posted. A good example is online ordering. The vendor will seek authorization for the complete order upon order acceptance, but bill out only as items ship, making for a mess when trying to reconcile. This leads to categories being overdrawn. This problem also exists when using manual entry, however, it is more pronounced when using pending transaction import. This is a mine-field for new users that needs to be avoided.

    So how did I set this up?

                The system noted below is not for the faint of heart. However if you are technically inclined about such things, you can figure your way through it in an evening or so. I did it within a month or so of signing up to YNAB and have to say it has really benefited my family鈥檚 adoption of the YNAB method.         

    Remember banks make very little money from you as a customer unless you hold a balance on a loan (credit cards, mortgages, etc). Your deposits are liabilities to the bank as they are required to pay those back to you at any time. Expecting the banks to ever competently allow free and open real-time access to your banking data is a fool鈥檚 folly. Given how direct import works today, YNAB鈥檚 partners must manually poll the banks systems to gain knowledge of the transactions applicable to your accounts. Expecting real-time access to pending transactions through this method is almost certainly never going to fly. At best they will be several hours old. I鈥檝e not researched the open banking standards in Europe; however, I expect the same limitations are present, thus limiting access to real-time data. This makes the primary usefulness of instantaneous pending transaction import almost impossible using today's direct import systems.

                What the bank is truly worried about though is fraudulent activity. Banks have invested significantly in systems designed to limit fraud as I expect this is a significant cost driver. While they can do their best to detect fraud within their own systems, their best asset for fraud detection are the account holders themselves. Therefore many banks have created systems that instantly notify the owner of their accounts upon any activity related to their account. We can harness these notification systems to directly funnel information into our budget via the YNAB API.  

                My bank (and I expect many others) provides many mechanisms for distributing this information. One such mechanism is via email. When I swipe by card and authorize a purchase, my bank instantly (within a minute) sends me an email. I then have my email provider forward this email to a service like Zapier. (IFTTT or such would also work). Zapier then processes the email from my bank and enters it into my YNAB budget via the YNAB API. This whole system of events occurs when any transaction on my credit card is processed and is usually (>95%) of the time sitting in my budget waiting for me when I get in the car after leaving the store. This system also works really well to avoid forgetting about transactions.

                There are many positives to pending transaction import that can really help in adopting the YNAB method, however due to technical limitations in the banking systems today; the reality of a pending transaction import method that jives with the YNAB method being widely adopted is probably not going to happen any time soon.

    Chris

    Like 2
      • Herman
      • herman
      • 3 mths ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      @Chris8392    thanks for all the info.  On the other hand, pending transaction import is in beta although it will have the delay you reference. 

      Like 2
      • Superbone
      • YNAB convert since 2008
      • Superbone
      • 3 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Chris8392 I too enjoyed reading your post but pending transactions in YNAB are alive and well and I'd be surprised if they weren't rolled out by the end of the year if not (quite a bit) sooner. However, I disagree with your realtime comment. Just like current direct imports, I don't believe they'll be realtime. But, even as is, as someone that doesn't always enter my transactions at POS, I'm much more up to date with the beta feature than I would be without it. It's good enough for me and it's better than without pending transactions.

      As far as certain pending transactions like at gas stations and restaurants, yes, you have to be aware that they're not always the final amounts. Like for restaurants, it's almost always before tip. But as you're aware, that is something easily dealt with. You are not required to add all pending transactions to your budget and you can also add them and modify them. From what I've seen, it's ready to be rolled out now. I'm quite fond of the upcoming feature.

      Like
    • Chris8392 Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this! A native pending transactions feature is currently in beta, as Herman and Superbone both mentioned. I can't say for certain the extent of the differences between building this feature through the API and directly through the program, but I can say that your second point is how those transactions function in the beta and your third point is addressed by leaving the pending transaction as pending until either the bank clears it (and it imports as cleared) or the YNABer chooses to add it to the register (it will remain uncleared until the cleared transaction later imports and matches). 

      We're still working out a few details with that feature, so I can't make any promises of when it will be out of beta, but I hope you like it once the day comes! :)

      Like 1
      • Superbone
      • YNAB convert since 2008
      • Superbone
      • 3 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Faness It's been working perfectly for me for the last couple weeks. I just had a first and it handled it well. I took my dog to the groomer last week but I had my son pick her up and pay for me. I didn't know if he tipped them but I just accepted the transaction into my account. Today, I got the cleared transaction and it was $5 more due to a tip. I was able to manually match them. For me, that's fine because I pay attention but it could be better if it automatically matched them.

      Like 1
    • Superbone Matching behavior is something we've kept a close eye on in this beta. If the amount is the same, it should automatically match. However, if the amount is different, it has to be manually matched. If we remove the amount requirement for matching, I'm afraid transactions would constantly become mismatched. Maybe factoring in the payee could help here. 

      We truly appreciate your feedback! 

      Like
      • Superbone
      • YNAB convert since 2008
      • Superbone
      • 3 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Faness This is going to happen every time in these situations. Definitely factoring in the payee and the date would help. The best way would be to track the pending connection. YNAB should know if the transaction being imported was previously a pending transaction that was entered and which one it was so it can now match.

      With the way it is now, you're going to end up with two transactions for the same transaction and it's up to the user to realize and manually match (or delete the original).

      Thinking about it more, between the payee, date, and amount (Same payee, dates within a couple days, $5 difference? most likely a tip), most of the times it should be obvious which previous pending transaction it should be matched to.

      Like 1
  • Do we have any update as to whent his might be rolled out beyond the Beta Group?

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    •  Faness  Or a way to get added to the beta group?

      Like
    • Hi Sky Blue Inspector !

      We don't have a release date for this feature yet as we're still ironing out a few details. You can reach out to support at [email protected] to inquire about the Beta program. :)

      Like
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