How to keep track of what exactly is in your savings?

Hey guys, trying to find the most effective way to determine what is in savings account and what it is allocated for.

Example - I have money in my checking account that is used for all of the budget. At the end of the month, I have to look at each category and add up the totals and transfer that amount to my savings (I.e. emergency fund savings, vacation, Xbox yearly subscription, etc.). I have about 5-10 categories and I can already tell it’ll be hard to juggle/remember what is in there for what. Is there an easy way to do this? What are you guys doing? Thanks!

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  • Accounts are just locations where money is held, no different than having money in different pocket pants. Your categories tell you what the money is for.

     

    Read this and then stop trying to figure out how to make them match because it doesn't matter:

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

    Reply Like 6
  • Let's say that my average outgoings from my budget is $5000 (mortgage, insurance, groceries, memberships, fun stuff, shoes, haircuts, gas, etc, etc). In that case I would try to make sure that $6000 is in my checking account at the beginning of the month and then move everything else to savings account. I'll get paid on the 10th and the 25th. After that last paycheck clears, I again send off anything over $6K to savings.

    Now, I do know that in 4 months I have to send off a lump sum for that vacation I've been planning for years so I actually leave $8000 in my checking account because I know my outgoings that month with be higher. Or, if absolutely necessary, I transfer funds back from savings to checking.

    Reply Like 6
  • Green Filly said:
    At the end of the month, I have to look at each category and add up the totals and transfer that amount to my savings (I.e. emergency fund savings, vacation, Xbox yearly subscription, etc.).

    No you don't. 🙂 Like others have said, your savings account is just a way to get a little more interest on your funds. YNAB categories are how you keep track of how much you have for what. Just keep enough in checking to cover your bills.

    Reply Like 7
  • If you are using your budget categories correctly,  you may really only need one account - bonus! So firstly question why you need to have multiple accounts and transfer funds between them - what benefits are you getting by doing this?

    But if you must transfer funds between accounts, my advice is to make sure you are scheduling transactions as much as possible against the accounts you expect them to be paid from - even if the transaction is just an estimate. 

    Once you've done that, and you can simply select the upcoming transactions to see how much you need to transfer from one account to the other to cover the outgoing payments.  And if you've budgeted for those transactions, you could flag them a certain colour to indicate that upcoming transaction has been budgeted for.  But looking at your budget category colours will tell you that anyway...

    Hope this helps!

    Reply Like 1
  • One more voice to the chorus here:

    The main advantage of a savings account is that it earns better interest than a checking account. The greater portion of your money you keep in a savings account the more interest you'll earn from it. 

    Before adopting YNAB, many people also use savings accounts as a rudimentary way of budgeting. I.e. the dollars in the savings account may have a specific purpose (or "job") such as college tuition, or savings for a new car, or a house down payment.

    The problem with budgeting-by-account is that it doesn't scale very well. Most people have lots of financial goals, and managing separate accounts for each one is impractical. So they end up combining those unrelated goals into a single generic savings account. But then it's hard to reason about that money: How much of it is for college tuition, or that new car, or ...? It requires a lot of mental math (= high margin of error), or you need to track it separately in a spreadsheet.

    That's where YNAB comes in. Dividing all your money into categories, which you can think of as "virtual checking accounts," lets you see exactly where you stand with respect to each of your financial goals. And it's much easier to see the relationships between those goals: "The more money I save toward tuition, the less I have for new car." Seeing those relationships in a clear, unambiguous way helps you make better decisions with how to use your money. And at the end of the day, that's the whole point of maintaining a budget.

    Reply Like 5
  • bret said:
    The main advantage of a savings account is that it earns better interest than a checking account. The greater portion of your money you keep in a savings account the more interest you'll earn from it. 

     Unless you can find a credit union that offers a good deal on checking accounts! Many places now will give you 2% interest on a checking account as long as you jump through a few hoops like regularly using a debit card.

    Great post, very accurate and helpful...just wanted to point out an extra option for those not aware.

    Reply Like 1
      • ynaber2613
      • ynaber2613
      • 4 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Gray Admiral That is what I do, I earn 2% on checking up to 25K.  The hoops I have to jump through is 15 transactions on my 1% credit card totaling a minimum or $500.  We just use that CC for drive throughs and groceries until we meet the minimum and then start using the other credit card with a better reward.  

      Reply Like
    • Khaki Storm
    • YNAB book topics online: https://support.youneedabudget.com/r/q5w48j
    • Khaki_Storm.1
    • 4 mths ago
    • Reported - view

    I get that it doesn't have to line up, but some of us just like things to line up. Like turning all the cans facing the same way on the self, it doesn't change anything in the cans, but it looks nicer and neater  To me checking is now the total of my immediate and monthly expenses in the current month. There's not much adding because I grouped them and the group calculates a total. I only look at the total at the start of the month. If there's a large purchase from another category I've been saving up for, I'll move that over at time of purchase. Savings is everything else. I used to have like 7 saving accounts at the bank for different purposes, but now just one for everything else in my budget. You don't have to do it that way. Whatever gives you control of your money, go for it. 

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      • WordTenor
      • Arranged the menu, the venue, the seating.
      • WordTenor
      • 4 mths ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view

      Khaki Storm You’re missing out on interestand simplification of your budget management. 

      Don’t take my word for it, take the word of me six years ago when I tried to convince everybody else that my way was fine and why didn’t they just get off my back. 

      Finally, I listened and I got it and holy cow is this a better way to do it. It doesn’t feel as though you're banging your head against a wall, but you are. When you realize that, I recommend stopping. 

      Reply Like 3
      • Khaki Storm
      • YNAB book topics online: https://support.youneedabudget.com/r/q5w48j
      • Khaki_Storm.1
      • 4 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      WordTenor I'll keep an eye out for that moment. Also, please keep in mind I'm not the only one looking at my budget. There are give and take on the management of it and old habits/views stick around. 

      Reply Like
  • Hmm...without getting into the whole checking vs savings account thing, I was wondering if you are using categories and subcategories. You could create a category called "savings". Within it you could have subcategories for things that you feel are savings goals. For me, that would be emergency fund, and general savings. When you check the box beside the main category, on the right column, a total amount will be displayed. My intuition is that balance should match your savings account balance, if that is what you are going for? So if you need to allocate funds, you would just transfer the difference between the two numbers to get to where you want to be. For me, I wouldn't think of a yearly xbox subscription or a vacation as savings, because that money is specifically money I intend to spend. But if it is important to you to put that money into a specific account, you could just group those things together that you want to see in some specific account. Kind of like how all the credit card spending ends up together under a credit card spend category.

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      • WordTenor
      • Arranged the menu, the venue, the seating.
      • WordTenor
      • 4 mths ago
      • 6
      • Reported - view

      Sky Blue Cornet Yes. This us exactly the procedure if you are set on aligning a set of categories with an account balance. 

      Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Again, I say this not as someone who jumped into this world doing this but as someone who spent a year insisting on keeping a budget by account framework along with YNAB. It was a mistake. I try to help others not make the same one.

      Reply Like 6
  • I kind of pre-YNABed pre-YNAB in that our savings account then was always a largish slush fund for extra large purchases, down payments, emergency car repairs, vacation, etc; we regularly added to it.  It just wasn't assigned any particular job, I mostly tried to make sure that more went into it every month than out on average.  Now I use the running balance feature from the toolkit and I have most bills as repeating transactions so I can schedule payments and keep an eye on how much will be in my account at any given point in the month.  I don't have any given date when I move funds if there's too much in checking.  I did this week at randowm, I decided to move two thousand into savings because payday is coming and most of my bills are scheduled for the month.  After I moved that money,  I'll still have a thousand dollars in the account when payday hits.  My budget has a lot of sinking funds and delayed spending categories, I just need to know what's coming out and when so I can cover the bills with my available cashflow.  

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