Why do my budgeted available amounts add up to more than my checking account balance?

Hi All! I have been using YNAB for a little more than a year and it has made such a positive difference in my finances. I'm so grateful that it makes budgeting so much easier. Today I did run into a point of confusion though. I realized that the amounts showing as available in all my budgeted categories add up to more than my checking account balance (in YNAB and at my bank ... these totals match). How can this be if every transaction has a budget category assigned and my budget shows no overspending? How would I begin to sort this out?

27replies Oldest first
  • Oldest first
  • Newest first
  • Active threads
  • Popular
  • Do you have other cash accounts on budget (savings account, etc)? That's how. All of your cash accounts make up your available category balances assuming your account are reconciled and what's in YNAB matches the bank.

    Like 2
    • Tobias I’m running into the same issue and no, it’s not a cash problem. The allocation still adds up to more.

      Like
  • Hi Ivory Router !

    Here are the steps you can use to verify that the amount in your account(s) matches exactly with your budget in YNAB—no more and no less. 😄 Making sure your account balance in YNAB matches your bank is a great start!

    1. Advance to next month's budget. (The math is easier there, because all overspending is covered.)
    2. In the right sidebar, when no categories are selected, you’ll see your Total Available amount, which is the sum of the Available column.
    3. Add that to the amount you have left To be Budgeted and any amount Budgeted in Future, if applicable.  Let’s stop here for a minute, just in case your To be Budgeted was negative. If it is, you would need to subtract it from Total Available, because that means you’ve given jobs to funds you don’t yet have. Preferably though, you would go back to this month’s budget and budget less in a few categories until To be Budgeted is back in the green at zero.
    4. Now, add up the cash in your accounts. That includes checking, savings, and cash accounts, plus any positive balances on credit cards if applicable.
    5. Your totals in step 3 and 4 should match up exactly.

    Now, if you’d like any dollars to be in a different category, you can confidently move money. I hope that helps! Let me know if you still have questions, I’m happy to help!

    Like 2
  • Ahhh, thanks. .. I must have moved money from checking to savings but then assigned it a category of something other than savings (like auto maintenance). Any tips for marking budgeted money for where it can be found in accounts? Like what if your savings is a mixture of emergency funds and then more specific long term goals (car purchase, house down payment, etc)? ... it's not clear in the budget interface which allocated funds reside in checking vs savings. 

    Like
      • Herman
      • herman
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Ivory Router No, ynab does not tie money location (account) to categories. 

      Like 1
  • Ivory Router said:
    Any tips for marking budgeted money for where it can be found in accounts?

     Short tip: Don't.

    You save money by assigning it to a category and then not spending it. The location of your money should be about how it benefits you - ie, over the next 2 months I will have a total of $6000 going out of my checking account, therefore everything else goes in my savings account to earn some interest.

    This is an extremely important read: https://www.youneedabudget.com/the-relationship-between-your-budget-your-accounts-its-complicated/

    Like 5
  • Got it, thank you. For my own purposes, I just set up a separate budget category for savings and dragged my savings budget items (emergency funds, auto maintenance, etc) under that so I can easily see when I need to transfer from savings before I spend on those longer-term things. 

    Like
      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view

      Ivory Router Dollars in the savings account don't have markers on them that say, "for auto-maintenance only". The ones in the checking account work fine (especially considering new ones arrive periodically), so there's often no need to transfer from savings. 

      It also seems a shame not to earn the additional interest on the short-tem things. I've found mine usually total a substantial amount that never all comes due at once.

      Like 3
  • I’m having the same issue and realized I’m screwed. Thanks for asking this! 

    Like
    • Ivory Thunder As long as there is no red in your budget and your account balances correspond to those in the real world, it's all real money in the budget.

      What are you adding up on the budget side? On the account side, add all positive on-budget accounts.

      Like 1
    • Hi Ivory Thunder !

      If things still don't seem to be adding up, we'd be more than happy to take a closer look for you! 

      If you’re up for it, go ahead and enable Support Access for your account. Once you’ve done that, let me know—and mention whether you’d like to continue the discussion here or via email instead. :)

      Like
  • Not sure if this is still monitored, but I'm having the same issue. I completed the suggested steps, but I still have more in my budgeted categories than my cash balance, and can't figure out why. If I were to use the balance in my categories I would overdraw my cash. Suggestions? Thanks!

    Like
    • Cyan Cobra You're going to have to elaborate before we can correct your misunderstanding:

      1. Do you have more than one cash-based (non-credit) account (e.g., a savings account)?
      2. Do you have overspending (negative Available in a category)? Is it red or yellow?
      3. Is your To Be Budgeted value negative?
      4. Do you have any positive balances on credit accounts?
      5. Which month's budget are you looking?

      It's simplest to understand things if you look in the future-most month you have available. In that month, the Total Available (shown to the right of the budget) plus To Be Budgeted will always equal your cash on hand. Cash on hand equals the sum of cash-based accounts and any positive credit accounts.

      Like 2
      • WordTenor
      • Can we agree that goals are dumb and immature? Sure.
      • WordTenor
      • 1 yr ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      Cyan Cobra The relationship between your accounts and the budget is a hard enforcement. While there are audit steps to make you feel comfortable and help you see the relationship, it is actually impossible for the budget to have more money in it than is in the SUM of your accounts. 

      Here are reasons why people often feel it's not right:

      1. The budget has the money from all your accounts, not just the account you think of as being "available to spend." It's up to you to separate the money based on purpose in the budget. If you are trying to match accounts to categories, it's very easy to end up with a mismatch because YNAB does not enforce that (and it's better that it doesn't https://www.youneedabudget.com/the-relationship-between-your-budget-your-accounts-its-complicated/)

      2. You have red overspending or an overbudget TBB somewhere. Red means you've made plans for money you don't have. Any time that exists, you have fake money until it's covered. Cover all red overspending (and preferably all yellow overspending) 

      3. You did a cashback transaction on your credit card. Note that this actually creates red overspending, so it's functionally the same as 2; but it's worth pointing out. 

      4. Your account balances don't match the real world. The account balances in YNAB need to be up to date. If you have fake account balances, then of course you'll have money in the budget that is more than you have at the bank, because YNAB doesn't know what you have at the bank. Reconcile your accounts to fix this. 

      Then, scroll to the furthest month you have budgeted. In that month, the "total available" will match the sum of all your cash-based (non-credit) budget accounts, plus any positive credit card accounts. Always. 

      Like 2
    • WordTenor said:
      You did a cashback transaction on your credit card. Note that this actually creates red overspending

      Can you elaborate on this? AFAIK, cashback throws off paid-in-full status (effectively yellow overspending) but doesn't create Monopoly money.

      Like
      • WordTenor
      • Can we agree that goals are dumb and immature? Sure.
      • WordTenor
      • 1 yr ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      dakinemaui I slightly misspoke; I'm really referring to a cash advance, which draws from the credit card category's available which can put the credit card category negative if the new TBB is not budgeted back to the card. 

      Imagine what the world would be like if I could edit my post. 

      Like 1
    • WordTenor That's not quite it—a cash advance won't change the Available amount in the Credit Card Payment category; it'll add new money to To be Budgeted to represent the additional borrowing you're doing that isn't attributed to any particular category.

      I wonder if you're thinking about a credit card overpayment, which does typically cause a negative Credit Card Payment category.

      Like
      • WordTenor
      • Can we agree that goals are dumb and immature? Sure.
      • WordTenor
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Matthew Interesting! That used to work differently; both cash advances (biggest thing we ran into was buying gift cards) and overpayments screwed it up. 

      If you all can fix one screwy thing where the card payment category acts unexpectedly, can you maybe fix all of them? I think dak has the full list somewhere. 

      Like
    • WordTenor It's working as it always has to my recollection... meaning it still acts unexpectedly. ;-) The transfer to a gift card -- effectively a cash advance (since the GC account is cash-based) -- has always thrown off PIF status precisely because the Payment category is left alone (but the account balance isn't).

      Like
  • YNAB Really wants to operate out of as few bank accounts as possible - so you may be getting bungled up by allocations to budgets where you think money is located in one account or another.  True though, the "amount to be budgeted" is calculated directly from the amounts available in the accounts table less any already budgeted this month AND less any overspent from previous month.

    I'd ask yourself some questions:
    -Do I have overspending from previous months that's being corrected in this month?
    -Do I have money budgeted in future months (maybe on accident - check for any months that are bold in your calendar selector - those have been viewed before)
    -Did I remove money from a "savings" category but not from the respective savings account?

    These are my 3 guesses at what you might be seeing.  Best of luck in your reconcile :)

    One tip on emergency funds and savings:
    Have one parent category for your entire savings account and use categories to subdivide it into purposes.  Then you can check the parent category balance against the real account balance to make sure you don't have funds allocated incorrectly.

    Like
  • Aquamarine Cleric said:
    One tip on emergency funds and savings: Have one parent category for your entire savings account and use categories to subdivide it into purposes.  Then you can check the parent category balance against the real account balance to make sure you don't have funds allocated incorrectly.

     That works in theory, and I have done it, but get ready for a lot of headaches going forward. There’s always gonna be some pennies somewhere, either unexpected interest, fees, or even a typing error that will throw the balance off and by the time you notice it you’re driving yourself crazy trying to figure out why.

    Trying to keep an account reconciled to a category isn’t generally recommended, as it defeats the greater purpose of YNAB and leads to much more work for the user.   Especially new users. 

    Like 4
    • Annieland Yes - I suppose if you're not reconciling every day that could easily happen.  Just had an interest correction today, but that's my own personal use case.  I'd also only recommend it if you're not using those savings accounts frequently - like for emergency funds more than short term savings.  I converted to YNAB coming from a much more cumbersome budgeting and accounting process.

      Like
  • Do the folks with the balance issue have credit cards?

    Like
  • Hello, I am having this same issue.  My total available amount is greater than my account balances.  I'm at a loss.

    Thanks ahead of time for any assistance.

    Like
    • R Johnson You'll want to cover any cash overspending in the current month, and if you're still running into issues, we'd be happy to take a look! You can enable Support Access, and let us know - we'll take the specifics of what's going on in your budget to email at that point. 

      Like 1
      • R Johnson
      • rjohnson
      • 1 mth ago
      • Reported - view

      Marisa  I've double checked and I don't see any overspending that I haven't covered.  I went ahead and enabled Support Access.

      Like
    • R Johnson Jumping in for Marisa this afternoon - I just sent an email your way! We'll get to the bottom of this 👍🏻

      Like 1
Like2 Follow
  • 2 Likes
  • 1 mth agoLast active
  • 27Replies
  • 1825Views
  • 16 Following