Tip or Trick Needed: Paying a December Bill Early Puts November Category into the Red

Last week, I paid two bills a few weeks early.  They weren't due until the 1st or 2nd week of December, but I already had the money in my account (and they were budgeted in December, with 1 more paycheck and no more bills due in November.  so I paid them in full.

The bills got posted to my checking account and bringing them into YNAB has caused both of those categories to go over their limits for November. 

Question 1:  Did I do something wrong for the transactions to land in November?

Question 2:  How do I correct these two activity events and move them to December?

Question 3:  It feels like the "Tips and Tricks" forum is not the right place to post "how do I" questions.  Which forum should I use instead?

Thanks in advance!

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  • It sounds like you budgeted for them in December but paid them in November. Remove those dollars you budgeted in December and add them in November and that should fix it.

    The transaction occurred in November so leave that as it is, you just basically hid the money from yourself until next month.

    Like 6
  • Thank you for responding so quickly.  I guess I am a bit confused.  Do I need to move my bills from the 1st week of the month to the prior month's budget?

    I get paid on weekly on Fridays and I have bills due on the 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 10th of each month.  The first two are autopay so I never pay them "early".   But I have been budgeting them in the same month where they get paid, even in months where I don't receive a paycheck before they get paid. 

    I don't check in with YNAB every day, and sometimes it might be 2 weeks.  So I guess by the time I usually get around to looking at YNAB, the payment has posted, but so has 1 or 2 paychecks, so everything balances up even though the paycheck(s) may have arrived after the bill was paid.

    Due to my long-term budgeting (and saving for big future payments), my checking account always has the funds to cover this slightly disordered sequence of events for my small monthly bills, so I guess I never noticed this before.  But it's kind of annoying to have to move budget dollars backwards a month just because I paid a bill early.

    So what do some of you folks do...do you put the first week of the month into your prior-month's budget?  Or do you have a different method that works better for you?

    Thanks in advance.

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    • Debtectomy I have bill payments automated. I enter such transactions via the scheduler rather than importing. If one of the payments is moved up, say because of a weekend, I don't care. The transaction stays dated for the nominal date.

      OTOH, if I normally pay at the end of the month, then yes, I would budget for it in that month (the month of payment) as a matter of course.

      Like
    • nolesrule
    • Been waiting 5 years for the Stealing From the Future fix...
    • nolesrule
    • 1 mth ago
    • 10
    • Reported - view

    In YNAB, there is no concept of a payment being FOR a month, only when a payment is actually made.

     

    There is no December's bill or December's rent. If you pay it in November, you fund for it it by the payment date in November.

    Like 10
  • Debtectomy said:
    They weren't due until the 1st or 2nd week of December, but I already had the money in my account

    In YNAB, we don't look at our account balance to determine if we can pay a bill or not. Instead, we look at the category. If the category doesn't have enough, then move funds from elsewhere until it does. Then you can pay it. If you can't do that, then don't pay it.

    Like 10
  • Debtectomy said:
    I don't check in with YNAB every day, and sometimes it might be 2 weeks.  So I guess by the time I usually get around to looking at YNAB, the payment has posted, but so has 1 or 2 paychecks, so everything balances up even though the paycheck(s) may have arrived after the bill was paid.

    That's not optimal if you want to stay on top of your budget. You should be a little more hands on. Like nolesrule said, don't budget in December for bills you pay in November. Budget for them in November instead.

    Also, it's helpful to add all of your recurring transactions as repeating transactions.

    Like 3
      • Cirrus
      • Living mobile and solo
      • miriamnz
      • 1 mth ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Superbone In fact repeating transactions instead of goals might help for these particular bills.

      But the real flaw was paying the accounts in November when the category didn't have the funds.

      Move the dollars into the category before paying.  That does mean looking at ynab before paying. (If you do that for every payment, you get even further ahead: it's the ynab method!)

      Like 1
  • I have done this before too.  Just move the money from December to November and it should align.

    I have got to the point where I just pay all my bills on the 2nd of the month then I can focus on the rest of hte month.

    Like 1
  • Debtectomy said:
    Do I need to move my bills from the 1st week of the month to the prior month's budget?

     If you do the scheduled transaction for the beginning of the month, like was stated above (not worrying if it has weekend fluctuations - just ensure you have enough cash-flow in your account to support that... Turn on running balance if you haven't)... Anyways, if you do that, then:

    Another idea that you could do would be to create a holding category called Bills for Next Month. Figure out how much you need for those bills due in the next month before you get paid, and budget to that category in this month. 

    Then, when the month rolls over, empty the BfNM category and put it in the correct bills categories. 

    This mimics what a lot of us do with an Income for Next Month category - sock away all money received in one month and use it all at the same time to fill out the following month's budget. Saves work (few click budgeting), provides clarity (all plans on the same screen), and buffers us against temporal whims (Paycheck not as expected? Get a bit of time to decide what to do.).

    Look it up. If you decide the INM workflow is a good thing to work for, the Bills/money for Next Month can turn into a stepping stone. If you budget more and more to that category, eventually you'll have enough to support spending for a month with the previous month's money. Then you can truly stop budgeting with every paycheck. 

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      • Debtectomy
      • All Debt Hurts US
      • debtectomy
      • 1 mth ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Thank you all for the great responses!

      What is the "scheduler"?  I can't find that in YNAB.

      Like 1
    • Debtectomy Create a transaction in an account dated for sometime in the future. You can then set it to repeat at various intervals. The set of future-dated transactions (in gray, italic font) is the "scheduler".

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      • Debtectomy
      • All Debt Hurts US
      • debtectomy
      • 1 mth ago
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      dakinemaui 

      Thanks, I'm already doing that.

      Oh, wait...you mean in the "account" and not in the budget?

      Looking...

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      • Debtectomy
      • All Debt Hurts US
      • debtectomy
      • 1 mth ago
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      dakinemaui 

      Okay, can I do the same thing by right-clicking on a November item in the account and selecting "Make Repeating" from the dropdown?

      Like 1
    • Debtectomy yep, the scheduler can have repeating transactions as well as single-use (though the majority are probably repeating).

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      • Debtectomy
      • All Debt Hurts US
      • debtectomy
      • 1 mth ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      dakinemaui 

      Yep, I was able to do that.  Showing running balance also helps as a visual confirmation, although I understand why it's not shown as a default.

      Long term, l just need to rethink my workflow.

      I have 3 or more long term, large-project categories.  These reside in the same checking account and they always have large dollar cash budgeted and available in them, which means that my account balance is always large enough to overcome any timing variances (paying in the prior month and/or before the check arrives and so forth)  over the passage of time. 

      But the problem is that I've been allowing myself to treat those categories (and consequently, my whole checking account) as temporary but subconscious "slush funds" for my weekly and monthly timing variances.  I wasn't thinking of them that way, but that's how I was treating them in practice.

      This was not hurting my progress long-term for those categories and not for my ongoing budget activities either.  But that's only because I live under what I earn. 

      The problem is that this workflow was adding confusion and frustration, and that's a recipe for procrastination and falling off the wagon, which would be a big Fail.

      So I'm making coffee and re-evaluating my workflow now.  I may even need to rethink my aversion to autopay.  This is gonna take all day!  Well, not really, but at the moment, it feels like it, lol. 

      Anyway, thanks!

      Like 1
    • Debtectomy Just poking my head in to say it's worth it! 

      And once it's set up, the maintenance doesn't take all day.

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      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 1 mth ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Debtectomy You have the money, you just budgeted it in the wrong month. Having cushion in your checking account is also fine.

      The mistake is assuming that cushion is identically those three large categories. Accounts just hold dollars. The location (account) of any category is a fluid thing and can be changed just by changing your mind about where you think it is located. The only caveat is that the account has at least as much money as the category.

      Like 1
  • Here's an example.

    In November, you have $0 available in your Bills category.

    In December, you have +$400 budgeted into Bills, and +$400 available.

    You pay $100 of Bills in November.

    November had $0 available, and now has -$100 available. You'll see it as red.

    At the end of the month, YNAB zeros out any negative availability and subtracts it from To Be Budgeted.

    December still shows +$400 budgeted and +$400 available for Bills, but To Be Budgeted is now -$100.

    December should show +$300 because you already paid $100 of your bills and so you've over budgeted.

    What you do to fix it is you remove $100 from December's budget and add it to November's budget. Now November has $0 available, December has +$300 available, and TBB is $0 everywhere.

    Like 1
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