Dealing with Scheduled Payments
How do I get more visibility into scheduled payments? A number of my bills are paid through scheduled credit card or checking transactions that I know are coming. Insurance, cell, internet, etc. I get a notice in my email a few weeks ahead of time, with the bill. That email says that card X will be charged Y on date Z. If I plan ahead and enter a transaction for date Z on credit card account X for amount Y, it will go in as a future transaction, and won't be treated by YNAB as activity until that date.
Assuming I've budgeted for it, between now and Z, YNAB reports "available money" in the category corresponding to that bill, but I don't think of it that way. The money is effectively spent, but the transaction just hasn't gone through yet.
How can I get YNAB to recognize scheduled transactions as done deals, that just haven't cleared yet? That way, they'll appear as spending activity (and therefore spent money) rather than available to be grabbed for another expense? I don't want to change the date, for a couple of reasons -- I like the account register to reflect reality, as much as possible, and I worry about matching up transactions on import.
This has been a criticism since launch. Add your voice with a Feature Request to optionally allow future dated transactions to impact category balances.
The common example is Amazon Pantry order categorized to the Grocery category.
The workarounds are:
1. Use a dedicated category for the scheduled transaction so your other category can be relied on to have the money it says it does. So category bloat.
2. Enter with today's date, which has the two drawbacks you mentioned. FYI, the import window for matching is only 10 days.
Some people will do #2 and "shepherd" those transactions forward as time goes by (edit the dates to the new "today").
There's no great solution, and sadly, it's not a priority to the developers.
Add your voice with a Feature Request to optionally allow future dated transactions to impact category balances.
In a very disappointing turn of events, I put this in as a feature request (for probably the 3rd time). I was trying to consolidate and reorganize my categories, and wished I could combine categories with disparate spending patterns that are functionally the same. Anyways, I got frustrated enough that I wrote in directly from the app.
The kind support person proceeded to need specific examples (she didn't ask - she just demonstrated a misunderstanding by flat out saying that future, committed transactions went against the 4 Rules). I gave her an example that I'm pretty sure I got from either you or Patzer (and was definitely included in the entirely too long feature request post I made last year, so I also know I included it in an official feature request), and someone else responded that it seemed very much in line with Rule 1, and that my new idea would be very helpful to the developers.
It was rather disheartening.
Maybe if enough people suggest the "new" idea, it will at least be recognized as not new.
Walrus 44 said:
<sidebar>Personally, I find that YNAB's display columns are misnamed. "Budgeted" really means "spending allocated this month", "Activity" means "spending this month" and "available" means "allocation not spent yet". Maybe that's second nature to everyone inside the YNAB bubble, but I'm still new here, and that's not how other parts of society use terms like budgeted and available. </sidebar>
You are thinking in terms of spending, but the reality is a little more generic. Some categories you only hold money in but never spend directly from the category (INM, Emergency Fund, Things I Forgot to Budget For, etc.). Credit Card payment categories aren't about spending, but making credit card payments. The spending happens when you charge the card.
Budgeted = money added to / removed from the category in the current month on the budget screen. This may come from TBB, it may come from another category. it doesn't really matter which.
Activity = Transactions affecting the category in the current month. This can be spending, but it can also be money back. For credit cards, it includes payments to the card, but spending is limited to budgeted spending.
Available = well, it's exactly what it says. How much money you have available for the job right now.
The relationship between them is Available = Last Month Available + Budgeted + Activity
YNAB 4 had implemented this exactly the way we are asking them to do it now. I think the primary reason they do not is because it is a significant change to technical design.
Well there you go. That's something I was not aware of. Maybe my request, coming from someone who is not a YNAB4 user, might have more weight. Then again, maybe not.