Budget: Budgeted and Available columns
Why is the amount "Available" in green greater than the "Budgeted" amount if YNAB is meant to be zero-based budgeting?
"Zero based" means you aren't budgeting using dollars you don't have yet.
Functionally, the Available column tells you in total how much of your money you've allocated to that category - if you don't spend it, it accumulates.
The Budgeted column tells you how much money you added to or took away from THIS MONTH.
Zero based budgeting just refers to the fact that all your funds are allocated to categories and that your To Be Budgeted (TBB) value is 0 (i.e. you've given all you dollars a job). For a given category, the available amount can be bigger than the budgeted amount if you budgeted money to that category in a prior month and haven't spent it all.
The available amount of each category "rolls over" into the next month. Available is what you use as advice on how much you are able to afford for a given category. If you don't use it all, it's still available next month. If you budget more next month, then available will be higher than your budgeted amount.
roll over $20 from last month.
Budget 30 this month
Available shows 50. That is money that you are able to spend on category X because you have budgeted for it, and it's sitting there, just waiting to be spent.
That is how you save up for True Expenses. Just don't spend the money over a course of several months, and as long as you budget money into the category, the available amount continues to increase.
You should understand that the total money in the budget ALWAYS matches the cash in YNAB accounts. This is easiest to see when you've allocated funds to categories until TBB is $0 and then look at the future-most month's budget. There, you'll see Total Available equals the total cash in your budget accounts.
I have categories with Available balances in the 5 figures that only have about $100 in the budgeted column each month. Because the Available balance accumulates over time. It's zero-based because I give every single penny I have (including cash) a job AND I do not give jobs to any money that I have not yet received.
“Budgeted” = this is how much money has been added to the category in this month by actions of the user. Note that you can add a negative number; in other words, you can take money out.
“Activity” = this is how much money has been removed from the category this month due to transactions. Note that you can also end up add money to a category if inflow transactions exceed outflow transactions.
“Available” = this is how much is in the category. It is the result of all the adding and subtracting which has been done since the beginning of the budget, whether by user action or transactions.