Help with procedure/operation of YNAB

Long time YNAB user, upgraded to subscription model in new year, figuring out the changes and loving it...have run into a specific problem I need your help with.  Can't tell where I'm doing something in error.

 

Everything below is during the same calendar month.

  1. Made several purchases with a credit card with 0 balance.  
  2. Categorized purchases under Reimbursable.  
  3. Reimbursable money deposited into checking account, I designated those funds directly to reimbursable category.  (Alternately, tried designated as Dollars to be budgeted, then manually directed them to reimbursable category).
  4. Transferred exact amount from checking to credit cards to pay off credit card bills.

OUTCOME/PROBLEM

My budget line item for the credit card shows activity of -$340 (the original purchase amounts).  It doesn't show the payment that I made from checking account.  The balance of the account is correct ($0), but my budget shows overspending of $340 from the credit card line which carries over into next months' budget at the top, classified as overspending in February.

Please see attached image to see how YNAB handled the series of transactions.  It seems that credit card category should show $0 under activity, not -$340...since I made purchases -$340 to credit card, but then transferred money from checking to pay it off +$340.

 

What am I missing?!?!?  Going crazy, thank you for your help!

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  • Your steps 1-3 look good. Your step 4 I'm not clear on. The credit card payment involves two steps. Step A is actually making the payment with your bank. Step B is recording the payment in YNAB. To do that click on the credit card account in the list of accounts. Click 'record payment' at the top of the transaction list. The payee is 'payment from: checking'. Enter the amount as an inflow. Can you try that and report back?

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  • Also, did your reimbursable category have 0.00 available when you first recorded the credit card purchases?

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      • Rajl Bogoze
      • Salmon_Mainframe.9
      • 7 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Kensington 

      Kensington Thanks so much for your replies and I'm sorry for my ambiguity on step 4.  Yes, I paid the credit card account from my bank, then in YNAB I entered the transactions in my checking as a "Transfer to Credit card" to create the linked payment.  (The balances in both checking and credit card accounts are correct following the transactions being entered).

       

      My reimbursable category had a pre-existing balance that I'm still waiting on reimbursement for.  My reimbursable budget item was as follows:

      Beginning of Month:  -$479
      After Transactions:  -$934
      After Receiving Reimbursement: -$479

       

      So as far as the Reimbursable Budget Category goes - that all looks as expected.  I started waiting on $479 for reimbursement funds.  After the middle transaction was completed, I'm still waiting on the $479 transactions for the reimbursement category.

       

      As far as I can tell...here's where I think the problem is occurring.  (I've uploaded a bigger screen shot on this post to show what I'm talking about from my Credit Card budget line item).  Top right column - budgeted spending is $0.  Payments and Returns is -$340.  The activity shows I have $340 out, and $340 in, but the formulas above don't reflect the activity in the lines below.

       

      Does this clarify anything?

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  • Found this list of things YNAB does with credit cards and hope it helps. https://docs.youneedabudget.com/category/135-credit-cards-debt

    I know there are many people here on the board who utilize cards the way you do.  I don't.  All I know is that YNAB does some nasty stuff to my budget when I over spend a category and avoid it if at all possible.  I might suggest you read about overspending and payments.  When making a payment to an on budget account, it's entered as a transfer, no spending. 

    There several differences between the way YNAB4 and nYNAB handle credit cards.  You might find some good information in all the information there.

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      • Rajl Bogoze
      • Salmon_Mainframe.9
      • 7 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      MsTJ Thanks so much for your reply and link.  I've been using nYNAB for the past 6 months with lots of credit card transaction use between on-budget account, and some "over spending" that's carried over month-to-month.  But I've never had this problem before when YNAB isn't reconciling my ins/outs properly.  I know it's probably user error, I just need to figure out here/how my error is occuring.

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  • Rajl Bogoze said:
    My reimbursable category had a pre-existing balance that I'm still waiting on reimbursement for.

    This is your problem. By paying the CC account to $0, you paid off these charges as well. The Payment category is red because you didn't have funds available for that large of a payment.

    I suggest you cover this overspending from somewhere now. When you receive money for the pre-existing reimbursements, the Reimbursement category will turn green. Use those funds to pay back the category used to fix the overspending.

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      • Rajl Bogoze
      • Salmon_Mainframe.9
      • 7 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      My credit card balance was $340.  That was the amount of the latest reimbursable transactions, and the amount in full that came in as new income.  So I spent $340, I was reimbursed $340, and then I repaid $340.  The credit card balance went from $0 to $340 back to $0.  However the credit card budget line item still shows red -$340.  How did I overspend or spend from funds that weren't available?

       

      My reimbursable line is still accurate at -$479

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      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 7 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Rajl Bogoze The transactions are correct -- they match what happened in the real world and are not at issue. The issue is what has happened in the budget, which is simply the plan for the cash you hold. YNAB automatically moves funds in and out of the CC Payment category for certain transactions, and in this case picked a different CC Payment category than you wanted.

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  • I was able to recreate what you did. It's not user error, pretty sure it's a glitch.

     Because the reimbursement category stated with a negative balance, the new spending isn't being recognized as credit card overspending. When the reimbursement is paid and categorized to the reimbursement category, the amount doesn't move to the credit card category line like it should. It does if the starting balance in the reimbursement category is zero, all works as it should, but it doesn't when the starting balance of the reimbursement category is negative.

    To recreate I opened a new budget. Added a checking account, starting balance 1000, and a credit card account, starting balance 0. I added a reimbursement category to the true expenses category group. (1) enter -479 budgeted in the reimbursement category. (2) made the 3 credit card purchases (3) entered the reimbursement inflow - there should be a green paid amount in the credit card category at this point but there's not (3) paid the credit card. Same wonky results: -479 available in reimbursements and -340 available in the credit card category line. As to how to fix it....?

    Like 1
  • dakinemaui said:
    This is your problem. By paying the CC account to $0, you paid off these charges as well. The Payment category is red because you didn't have funds available for that large of a payment.

     I don't think op paid the card to $0. Op just paid the $340 on the card when the reimbursement was received.

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      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 7 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Kensington Going by this in the OP: "The balance of the account is correct ($0)"

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      • Owlette
      • owlette
      • 7 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      dakinemaui Sorry I misspoke. I understood you to be saying you thought op paid off the entire overspending in the reimbursement category (-479-340=-819) but my understanding is only the -340 was on the credit card and that was the amount paid off.

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      • Rajl Bogoze
      • Salmon_Mainframe.9
      • 7 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      I paid the credit card back to $0.  The only balance on the credit card however was the $340 from the reimbursable transaction.  

       

      So the credit card balance IS at 0. The reimbursable category is still at -$479, but was paid from a different account.

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

      Rajl Bogoze This is the "glitch" that I mentioned involving multiple CCs in a given category. The $340 reimbursement went to that CC account instead of the one you paid. Just move $340 from that other CC Payment category to fix the overspending.

      Like 1
      • Rajl Bogoze
      • Salmon_Mainframe.9
      • 7 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      dakinemaui Thanks so much for taking your time to help me out, I appreciate it.

       

      Am I understanding correctly that are you saying that when I received the $340 and paid my credit card, I may have accidentally transferred the $340 from my checking, to the wrong credit card account?  And so the credit card I used still shows $340 in the red, because the $340 payment went to another credit card I use?

       

      I just double checked and it's transferred to the right credit card account.

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

      Rajl Bogoze No, I'm talking about the budget, not transactions. I'll try to explain further in a sec.

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  • One solution - create a second reimbursement category and assign the $340 in credit card purchases to the new category. Slightly messy but the numbers shake out.

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      • Owlette
      • owlette
      • 7 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Kensington Paying off the -479 in the reimbursement category works also

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  • Kensington said:
    It's not user error, pretty sure it's a glitch

    The only glitch I've ever seen with YNAB CCs sometimes occurs when there are multiple CCs used within the same category with a cash inflow. I don't think that's the case here.

    Like 1
      • Owlette
      • owlette
      • 7 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      dakinemaui  In this case YNAB seems to be double counting the $340 in spending. Once when it was actually spent and again when the credit card payment was made.

      Like 1
      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 7 mths ago
      • Reported - view
      Kensington said:
      YNAB seems to be double counting the $340 in spending.

      It's not double-counting, it's what happened, as near as I can tell. There have effectively been two outflows. The second was part of the CC Payment, and that one is at issue because money was not yet reserved for that purpose.

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      • Rajl Bogoze
      • Salmon_Mainframe.9
      • 7 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Kensington YES, this!  This is what's shown on the screen shot I attached earlier of the activity for the reimbursable category.  

      Like 1
      • Rajl Bogoze
      • Salmon_Mainframe.9
      • 7 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      dakinemaui You're right there have effectively been two outflows.  And that's the YNAB error I believe...there should be the one outflow for when the purchase was made, and AN  inflow for when the reimbursable funds were transferred from checking to the affected credit card account.  It would have reconciled to 0.  

       

      My spending on other credit cards accounts don't create double-outflow records.

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      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 7 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Rajl Bogoze The inflow was into checking. YNAB attributed that as being relevant to one of the the CCs used in the Reimbursement category, but apparently picked a different card than you wanted. (I think it might pick the one used first, but I'm not sure.)

      Just shift the funds between the two CC payment categories, and you'll be good.

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      • Owlette
      • owlette
      • 7 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      dakinemaui Granted I didn't know about the OPs 2nd credit card, but in my reenactment the initial 479 overspending was cash overspending and the results were the same

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  • Stepping back, the error indication is a red CC Payment category. Like any category, this signifies you sent them more money than was reserved for that purpose. Often, the follow-on question is, "why is the Payment category short?" In this case, the answer seems to be because money for the pre-existing reimbursement has yet to be received.

    Like 1
  • A critical question: were the "pre-existing" reimbursements also in the same month as everything else? My advice above to shift between the two CC payment categories is predicated on that being true.

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      • Rajl Bogoze
      • Salmon_Mainframe.9
      • 7 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      dakinemaui no...the pre-existing reimbursement of -$479 was from December.  So in January and now February I carry over that reimbursement by entering -479 on the reimbursable category.

       

      I know this throws off the accuracy of my total available funds for the month...but I have enough money that I'm not living month to month.  I have money to cover more than this months expenses.  So I'd rather keep track of what budget line item will be receiving reimbursed funds when they come, knowing that I have more than enough buffer to cover $479 

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  • That was fun, I learned a lot! I'll try for my YNAB Sherlock Holmes merit badge another day. A 2nd credit card, I'll be!

    Like
      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 7 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Kensington Turns out the multi-card glitch is not at play here. The December purchases could have been on the same card that was used in Feb with the same effect.

      Like
  • To summarize:

    1. You have $479 outflow on "Card D" in December against the Reimbursement category which had no funds. (Thus, yellow overspending.)

    2. In Jan, you negative-budgeted the Reimbursement category because you want the Reimbusement category Available to "keep score". Reimbursement is now red. This will increase TBB, so what did you do with those funds?

    3. In Feb, YNAB reduced TBB because the Jan Reimbursement is red. You negative-budgeted Reimbursement, which restored TBB to the original value (and made Reimbursement red).

    4. Also in Feb, you had outflows on "Card F" totalling $340 categorized as Reimbursement, taking Reimbursement Available to -$819. This did nothing to Card F's Payment category since no funds were available to move to that card.

    5. In Feb, you had an inflow in Checking for $340 categorized as Reimbursement. This did nothing to the CC Payment category because it was applied toward covering what is effectively cash overspending (resulting from the negative-budget entry).

    6. In Feb, you ignored the Card F Payment category (which was $0) and sent them $340, thus incurring overspending.

    Bottom line: in Step #2, you put the money that showed up in TBB somewhere. Move it from wherever that is to the Card F Payment category.

    Like 1
  • I strongly urge you to use the offset category (budget upfront) approach to reimbursements. Since you have enough money to not live "month-to-month", you should have enough to devote funds toward simplifying reimbursements (e.g., reallocate from an emergency fund). The advantage is the CC Payment categories take care of themselves.

    I will note that you have another issue looming -- you don't have funds reserved to make the Card D payment. I'm assuming those December charges would have been part of the billing period that closed in Jan, with a due date in Feb.

    The offset category approach to reimbursements handles all this transparently. You don't have to babysit the Reimbursement category. You have the pending amount owed at a glance. (If you've offset the category by $500, if the current Available is $400, then you are obviously owed $100. Set a goal for $500 if you want YNAB to do the math.)

    Like 2
  • My 2c: Credit cards works seamlessly as long as there are dollars available in the category before the credit card spend is added. Gets complicated if there are no $ available.

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