Importing past transactions

I just purchased and am setting up my YNAB.  I want to analyze our past income and spending.

Can I import past spending  history going back a year?  Between checking accounts and credit cards I have about 7 banks and over a year there must be hundreds , maybe thousands of transactions.  In other words, can I import past statements from the banks' websites?

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  • YNAB works from today forward. Definitely look at those statements to get an idea of your spending in various areas, but because of the way YNAB works, putting them into the software is extremely counterproductive--you'll have to do hours of confusing work to make the budget make sense before you even really learn to use the software. Not to mention, your trends will likely immediately change when you begin using YNAB so the past info is less useful than you might expect. 

    Begin with your balances from today, and budget that money to where you need it before you get paid again. 

    Like 7
  • I want to say that you'll probably be sorry you did this, but I also understand the analytical backward view of crunching data being an attractive notion, at least in theory.

     A way to experiment would be to create a separate budget for the historical stuff.  That way it doesn't make a total mess of your current budget (requiring you to start over when it totally gums up the works), and if it actually works for you,  you have some historical data you can refer to, and if it doesn't work, you can delete it with no harm done.

    Like 5
    • This is exactly what I did and it worked very well. Having last year's historical transactions in a separate budget meant I could reference them when I needed to (like figuring out my average spending in each category) but they wouldn't get in the way of my forward-thinking budgeting.

      Like 5
      • HappyDance
      • YNABing consistently since 2014
      • HappyDance
      • 2 yrs ago
      • Reported - view

      Gray Admiral 

      Interesting.  Do you use the bank sync?  If yes, did you experience  any issues with linking the same bank accounts to two different budgets?

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    •  I think I imported the last year's transactions in the new budget as a file upload, but I don't see why syncing to two separate budgets would be an issue. The budgets are kept entirely separate so your activity on one doesn't affect another.

      Like 1
    • Gray Admiral can you give details

      exaclty how you did this? I made a separate budget, changed the start date, but it still didn’t import any transactions before June. I’m not sure how to get files to import from my bank website either. Thanks so much!!

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    • Forest Green Memory  Sorry I can't be more specific because every bank is different, but if you have online banking then you will almost certainly be able to download files from their website. There will probably be an area called View All Transactions or something like that where you can pick a date range and see all the activity on an account within that span of time. You will likely also be able to download the transactions as a spreadsheet or another file type instead of viewing them in your browser. If you're not sure where, reach out to your bank's customer service email address and they should be able to help you find it.

      Once you have the files downloaded from your bank, you can import them into YNAB using the upload feature.

      Like 1
    • Hi Forest Green Memory !

      The Direct Import feature can only pull transactions back to a certain point (usually the cut off is 6 weeks), which explains why you couldn't see transactions from before June. Gray Admiral is correct that how banks offer those transaction downloads differs. Do you mind sharing which bank you use? If it's a more common bank someone here may be familiar with the process! :)

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  • Hi Cornflower Blue Sound !

    YNAB is forward looking, so when you link your account it will start with today's date. We don't suggest adding past transactions - especially not those spanding a lengthy period of time - but it can be done. I second HappyDance's suggestion of trying this in a separate budget.

    After connecting an account, if you decide to import past transactions (since the first of the month, for example) you can change the date of the starting balance transaction. You will also need to adjust the amount of the starting balance.

    Direct Import will only provide historical transactions for a couple of months in the past, at most. If you need additional history, you might consider our File Based Importing option.

    Let me know if you have any other questions, I'm happy to help! :)

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      • Duncan
      • OK, maybe I will drink the kool-aid...
      • Pink_Boa.9
      • 5 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Faness So you show how to "change the date".  Fine.  But that doesn't seem to have any effect on anything, other than changing that date.  My expectation was that when I changed the date the software would go pull transactions starting on that date.  It appears that's not what happens.  I just changed the date of my checking account starting balance to be the first of the month, which has no effect, as far as I can see.  Could you please explain how changing the date accomplishes the goal of importing past transactions?

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    • Duncan Is this a brand new account? You'll want to adjust the date and the amount of the starting balance. Try unlinking and re-linking the account to pull in the transactions, if you don't see them pop up.

      Direct Import will only provide historical transactions from 15 days in the past, so if you need more history, using File-Based Importing is the way to go!

      I think you're new to YNAB, but one thing that could impact this is if you've reconciled—then it looks back three days. If that's the case here, you'll want to create a new account and make those starting balance adjustments.

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  • Yes, this is an issue for me as well. I need to track from the beginning of the year so I can get totals of categories for tax deductions at the end of the year.

    Like 1
      • Ben
      • Toolkit for YNAB Designer & Developer
      • furiousfalcon
      • 2 yrs ago
      • Reported - view

      Khaki Octopus As you'll see here, and elsewhere in the forum if you search for others that have similar questions, the general advice is to start where you are now and go forward, not back -- it's going to be time consuming to enter and budget for 6+ months of past data, and there's a high likelihood of errors or issues with that much data to add. Budgeting tends to work best when you work forward, since you can't change your past spending.

      I can see the need for tax records, though, so you may consider keeping a separate budget just for the past six months where you can import all your transactions, but not necessarily go through the hassle of "budgeting" for all that spending. This way, you get the tax records you need with all your transactions recorded, but will do budgeting in a separate budget with reduced chance of issues. 

      Direct import can import past transactions if you change the starting balance date, but I'm not sure it's going to be able to import 6+ months worth of data. You'll probably want to import those transactions using an export file from your bank:

      https://docs.youneedabudget.com/article/173-file-based-import

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      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 2 yrs ago
      • Reported - view

      Khaki Octopus 

      Khaki Octopus said:
      Yes, this is an issue for me as well. I need to track from the beginning of the year so I can get totals of categories for tax deductions at the end of the year.

       You mean "want", not "need". How did you get this information in previous years? It's unlikely that option is no longer available to you. It's only the one year you'd have to reference two different sources for the data. That's hardly a major undertaking.

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    • nolesrule Hmm, I would like to know how to import older transactions as well, and came here for a solution, not an opinion or judgement. They also asked for a solution, not for an opinion about what they “want.” If they “want” to do it, more power to them for “wanting” to do it with YNAB.

      Like 1
      • WordTenor
      • I have the honor to be your obedient servant
      • WordTenor
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view

      Forest Green Memory You'll find that very often the answer to "how do I" is "Don't; doing so won't serve you.." YNAB isn't like every other piece of budgeting software, and the best results with YNAB come from using it as intended, which means not doing things like backdating transactions. Rather than tell new users how to do something how to do something that we know will make their budgeting more difficult, many of us choose to go, "Don't do that thing." 

      Honestly, it's not very difficult to begin the budget with backdated transactions. But if you have to ask how to do it, you probably aren't someone who should do it, because the results of it will be very confusing to account for in YNAB. If you're the kind of person who will easily figure out how to account for the results in YNAB, you can probably figure out how to get the backdated transactions. 

      Like 3
      • HappyDance
      • YNABing consistently since 2014
      • HappyDance
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      WordTenor 

      This made me guffaw coffee through my nose this morning.  Unfortunately for me, I knew just enough computer stuff to make me a menace to myself and my budget. 🙄  Luckily for me, I did this while using YNAB4, and YNAB4 has a built in fail safe for gung-ho newbie enthusiasts like me (or like I was when I first started). I was able to simply reload my budget from the point in time before I began the download (or is that upload?), and then whistle nonchalantly like I had never tried to do anything silly.  🙂  The web version has no such fail safe, which is why I suggested doing this in a second trial budget, one that can be deleted if/when everything goes so much more wrong than a person anticipates. 

      Like 1
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