Budget Checking only

How do you budget the checking account only.  I do not want the savings and checking combined as total dollars available to budget.

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  • If you do not want savings as part of the budget make it a Tracking account instead of On Budget. Unfortunately, I don't believe you can change the account type after the fact (someone can correct me if I'm wrong).  So I believe you'll have to delete the account and re-add it as a Tracking account.

  • Simple solution:  Just don't put the savings account into YNAB.  Yeah, you can make it a tracking account; but if the idea is that you're budgeting checking, transfers from checking to savings look like spending to the budget, and transfers from savings to checking look like income to the budget, there's no need to have the savings account in the software at all.

    Someone might ask, "Why would transfers from checking to savings be spending?"  They would show up that way if one of the things you want to do is budget for savings.  You would have a budget category of Savings, budget funds to that category, and spend it by actually transferring dollars to the off-budget savings account. 

    When I was working, I did this with an investment account; it was an easier decision to leave a brokerage account out of YNAB entirely, because YNAB can't deal with fluctuating stock prices and keeping the value up to date in YNAB would be more labor than it's worth.   The value of the budget with respect to investments was to tell me how much I could afford to send to that brokerage account.  Now that I'm retired, this situation happens in reverse; the brokerage account sends money to checking, and that is income for my budget.

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  • The recommendation is to keep your savings accounts on budget. If you keep them off budget, then either you have a lump amount in a savings account that you aren't really dividing up, and can't determine exactly what it's for. And if you are using multiple accounts to track different purposes, well that's just complicating things that you could simply do with categories in your YNAB budget instead.

    The other complication is what happens when youaren't using savings accounts in your budget but you need to use the money for something you were saving for. When you save the money, you have to move it out of your budget... requiring a category.

    So what happens when you need to spend your "savings"? You aren't actually spending from the savings account. Most likely you are using your checking account or a credit card... but that money isn't part of your budget. So if you spend the money, you now have an overspent category, and you have to transfer money back into your budget to cover for it.

    So it means your act of savings is categorized as an expense because the money leaves the budget, then you have to un-save it with a category to bring it back in, and then categorize the actual spending. This gets messy and unless you do it right you will have messy reports that may not reflect your actual spending numbers.


    Or, you could just keep your savings on budget in categories, and when you spend it use your checking or credit card to spend it. Then, if you need the money in your checking account you can just transfer it with no category.

    And even better, you may not need to transfer money at all, since you can cash-flow your checking account from new income. In my 4 years of using YNAB, I've actually only had to pull money back from a savings account 3 times. I've been able to cashflow everything else.

    This is a good read:

    The Relationship Between Your Budget & Your Accounts: It’s Complicated

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  • I did a whole budget with savings and then realized it was making it complicated. My savings is really JUST an emergency fund (if I lost my job) so I was seeing it on the books and then was moving it off the books into a line item called "Emergency Funds" seemed goofy and too easy to "borrow" from. 


    So I created a NEW budget and removed all that noise. Now I am happy. 

    •   NewYNABer BostonGirl LOL, sounds more like a discipline problem than anything else.  My Emergency Fund is in my regular account. I just follow the budget and the money doesn't get touched in my bank account.  

      You just have to understand that your live bank account balance is not your actual balance.  The budget is the only thing you should look at.  

      I know, easier said than done but with practice, it will really make things grow and you'll be surprised at how much money you end up with in your account. 

    • Gold Tiger Thanks -- not sure it make a material difference really (in my situation). I also got rid (by creating a new budget) of a bunch of one time big payments (mortgage pay off, auto pay off and 529 funding) so it was several accounts / txns I killed off as they made my overall working budget (right hand column) look artificially large. My personal goal with YNAB is just to make my single salary (and not my husband's unpredictable income) work for our family's monthly expenses and savings needs.  


      At some point I may pull savings back in but for now (being new) I want to keep it super simple so I can track monthly budgeting and planning clean. Thanks again for the reply! Gave me something to consider for the future!

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      • Gold Tiger
      • Gold_Tiger
      • 3 yrs ago
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      NewYNABer BostonGirl  I hear ya.  Glad to hear you've paid some big ones off too.  I hope to do that myself.  

      The YNAB method of budgeting was completely foreign to me. I had a hard time grasping "budgeting only what I have" compared to traditional " plan out my whole month" methods. However, after watching this video >> https://youtu.be/PmzZaHwx-0s it really helped me understand how to plan ahead and still only budget money I currently have.

      Keep up the good work. 

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  • I'm somewhere between. I have an account that is off budget that has my income replacement (about 3 months of normal spending that could definitely be stretched if ever needed). But I also have a rainy day fund savings account that is on budget and those funds are spread between various categories.

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    • nolesrule I have line items in my YNAB budget for specific things I’m saving for (new clothes dryer, back deck replacement etc). Before my paycheck hits my checking account a chunk is taken and put in a savings account that rolls over to vanguard for retirement savings.  I use personal capital (website) for my inverting planning so I decided not to bring that into YNAB.


      I should have been more specific. That savings account I took out of YNAB was only for a lay off situation and untouchable and frozen (eg don’t need to out anything more in it).  So I decided not to pull it into YNAB. 

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