Feedback - love YNAB - but Reimbursements is difficult

I live in Norway, so my accounts are not linked directly. Even if I have to import transactions, I love YNAB.

I am a PFM nerd and use a lot of time on my personal finances. We are a family of five.

We have 5 accounts (my wife and I). Two current and three credit cards. I use it mainly to budget and follow my spending towards my budget.

I have a lot of reimbursements and have made a decision to keep them out of YNAB. I have tried to include them, but it messes up my spending and makes it more difficult to follow my spending.

The result is that YNAB does not keep correct track on my account balances. 

My feedback is

1) The user can make a choice NOT to track account balances. In this case, I do not want to see these numbers and I do not want any feedback on what need to be changed in my budget.


2) Make it easier to reconcile. When I try to do this now I get sum that need to bebudgeted and I really do not understand what is happening.


Keep up the really fantastic work!

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  • Hi NorwegianPFMNerd !

    Since YNAB uses only the funds currently available, account balances are vital to having an up to date budget. When reconciling an account, changing the balance changes the amount of funds available in the budget. For instance, if you have an account with a balance of $10, then there will be $10 to budget. If you then reconcile the account to $15, then there will be $15 to budget (so an extra $5 will be added to your To Be Budgeted). If a certain account's balance shouldn't be included in the budget, then it should be added as a Tracking account instead of an on budget account. 

    Have you seen our Help Doc on Reimbursements? Or, if you don't like those options, have you considered using a Tracking account for your reimbursements instead of deleting those transactions?

    Like 1
  • In order to keep reimbursements out of YNAB, you can't have purchases or repayments hit a budget account.

    If that's not possible, categorized both outflow AND inflow to the reimbursement category. This will cancel the spending on behalf of others.

    One of the two approaches in the docs is required to handle the budget interaction. The offset category (budget up front) is the easiest since you don't do anything after the initial setup.

    Like 1
  • My 2c is that you should have a budget category holding enough $ to cover as much reimbursement as you would have in a month. Keep that balance high if you have a lot of them. Spend from that category and bring money into that category.

    I keep a tracking account for such things, and a budget category called Tracking that I keep funded to cover it.

    How it works.

    The spend

    1. I pay out of my personal account for someone else.
    2. I list it as a transfer to my "reimbursements" tracking account, the budget category is "Tracking".
    3. I put the name/reason into the memo field (making sure this is different each time, if it is the same person).
    4. I make sure the Tracking category has enough $ in it to cover it.

    The refund

    1. Money comes into my checking account
    2. I list it as a transfer to my "reimbursements" tracking account, the budget category is "Tracking"
    3. I put the name/reason in the memo field.
    4. I go into my "reimbursements" tracking account and clear the two transactions: the payment out and the payment in. I am using the notes in the memo field to make the match.
    5. I look at my tracking account and if it now has too much in it I move money elsewhere.

    This keeps reimbursements out of income records, as it is not income.
    I can look into the "reimbursements" tracking account to see what is still owed and by whom.
    I am covering all these expenses by budgeting for them, so there are no surprises, my numbers are accurate.

    Its a little bit fiddly, but your a PFM nerd, so should be able to handle it!

      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 8 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Cirrus More for the OP, but a simplified version of this is exactly the #1 recommended approach. The simplification is to skip the tracking account, as you obviously are owed money if the category is less than the amount you put into it. It's less fiddly since you have access to the Payee field for... well... the payee info.

      • Cirrus
      • Living mobile and solo
      • miriamnz
      • 8 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      dakinemaui The tracking account makes it easy to find the matching transactions and mark them completed. Otherwise you are at the mercy of consistent memo labelling. I find it harder work to try for consistency in that, than consistency of adding to a tracking account.

      I guess you could go into the memo fields  for the outward and inward transactions and say it was completed when it was paid back, but that feels like hard work too.

      Looking at the value of the Tracking account to see what is owed is not ideal either, as I might add extra $ to that in anticipation of an expense, or just to stay ahead, or I might WAM from it too.

      All in all a little number sitting in the Reimbursements Account total in the left column makes it really easy to see what's what. And matching up outward and inward is easy when its all in one account.

      I suppose it depends how many items, how often and how long before repayment too. If it is very occasional then YNAB's suggested method might be ok.

  • Cirrus said:
    The tracking account makes it easy to find the matching transactions and mark them completed.

    If that's something you feel needs to be done -- i.e., a line in the sand -- then, yes using the cleared status is the perfect way to achieve that.

  • Maybe this video will help:

  • Heisan @NorwegianPFMNerd,  have you joined the the YNAB norge group on FB? there are a lot of Norway specific questions and answers there :) Also, regarding reimbursements, I budget them as expenses, generally under a specific category that I call 'black eye expenses' (from a roll with the punches mentality, get it?! :D) because until they are actually repaid, that money has physically disappeared from my account (whether it's on my credit card or not), and then when they are repaid, I budget that back as income (this is because I work for the state basically, so it can take up to 6 weeks for reimbursements to clear back to me). 

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