Trouble with Rolling Over Balances

Hi all,

I think this is just me not understanding how the software works. I started setting everything up yesterday, 12/31, so that I'd be ready to tackle things today, and I ended up getting myself into a world of trouble, not knowing that "available" balances would roll over.

Here's an example - I pay $139 per month for my storage unit. This comes out every month on the first. I budgeted $139 for that yesterday. However, now that the month has rolled over, it shows "budgeted: $0, activity: $0, available: $139." If I reset "available" to 0, "budgeted" becomes -$139. If I set "budgeted" to $139, "available" becomes $278. If I set "available" to 0, and then budget $139, "available" becomes $278. I am not able to reset both the budgeted amounts AND the available amounts. Repeat this for ALL of my monthly bills that I budgeted yesterday, not knowing that all of the money recorded as not being spent would roll over.

Did I screw myself trying to be proactive, and do I just need to delete this and set up a new budget, or what?

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  • At the start of the month, the way you have done it, you already have the money in the category.  The category doesn't need any additional funds to pay your monthly storage bill.  

    Now, if you want that to happen again next month, already have the money in the category before the month rolls over, budget another $139 to the category sometime this month.

    This is what your budget will basically look like once you are buffered. If it wasn't your intent to do this, go back to December and removed the money you budgeted there.  It will return to To Be Budgeted.  Then go to January and put the money in the category at that point.  The only thing this will mess up is that in December you will not have budgeted to zero.  There will be $139 left that was not budgeted in December and rolled over to January.

    I understand how this can be a little confusing at first.  Hope this helps.  The only thing I would suggest changing is how you look at things.

    I like to have most, if not all of my categories funded with what will be paid out in any month, before the first of the month, especially the ones that go out on the first.  I don't normally get paid on the first, and besides, I don't like having to rush to fill a category, before the bill goes out. 

    It sounds to me like you did things just right.  

    Like 1
  • It doesn't matter when you budget the money as long as it's available to spend when the bill is due so you're fine. Alternatively, you could unbudget it from December and rebudget it in January but it really doesn't matter. Just make sure you don't budget funds before you have them.

    Like 2
  • Hi xan_g !

    Here's a different way to look at that: you put $139 aside in December to spend in January. Those dollars have already been given a job and they'll sit in that category until you're ready to use them (which sounds like today). At some point during January, you'll budget $139 towards that category for February's bill, and budget $139 in February for March, and so forth. 

    The Available amount is the column that shows you how much you can spend in a certain category, the Budgeted column shows how much you've added or subtracted from that category in that month. So, even though you haven't budgeted anything towards that category in the current month, you still have $139 Available to spend.

    Here's an article about what happens when the month rolls over. Check it out and let me know if you have any other questions! :)

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  • >The Available amount is the column that shows you how much you can spend in a certain category, the Budgeted column shows how much you've added or subtracted from that category in that month.

     

    Got it, that's the piece of the puzzle I was missing. Thanks!

    Like 1
  • Hi, sorry, okay, I have another couple questions, which, again, I think are just from my unfamiliarity with the principles under which YNAB operates.

    I just decided to Start Fresh with all my expenses this month/year and I think that was the right call for how my brain works. That said, I'm curious about splitting monthly payments.

    Right now, my band splits the rent for our practice space five ways - $40 each, $200 total. Depending on how on top of it everyone is, I will get all the money to my paypal account in advance and then send it all over to the landlord, with only $40 coming from my bank account. However, sometimes life happens and I have to send out the full $200 from my account and get reimbursed. Life happened over the holidays! So, I budgeted $200, and then when people reimbursed me I categorized each $40 deposit as income into the "Practice Space Rent" category. Now it shows $160 Available in the category ($200 Budgeted, -$40 Activity) - next month, is it going to show that I have $360 available to spend in that category? Won't that throw things off, since I will not actually have $360 to spend on practice space rent next month?

    Next - our rent is going up $25 (total) next month. Do I just add $25 to the "budget" category for Practice Space Rent and it'll be correct from then on? 

    Thanks!

    Like
    • xan_g How did you categorize the extra $160 you had to pay? Categorize their reimbursements to that same category.

      Presumably you covered the remainder of the $200 from somewhere else in your budget, so you can feel free to move the reimbursed $160 back to that other category. Alternately, you can keep it in your Rehearsal Space category for the next time you have to pay rent up front. 

      Either way, you'd normally budget $40 for your portion. $160 carrying over + $40 normal budget will never be higher than $200 (to be used temporarily for the next timeline mismatch).

      I don't know about PayPal, so if that requires something like the CC resetting over the month end, someone else should jump in!

      Like
    • xan_g if everyone pays in advance, then yes, the category would temporarily be $360 (before the expense) and $160 (after the expense).

      Feel free to reallocate as much of the $160 excess as you like. The important thing is that the category covers the outflow. Leaving that cushion in there means you don't have to stress so much over the timing of receiving those payments.

      Like
  • xan_g said:
    Won't that throw things off, since I will not actually have $360 to spend

    Why do you think you will not have that money shown as being Available?

    A key concept of YNAB is you really do have that cash somewhere in your possession. (This assumes  there is no red showing in the budget and your YNAB accounts agree with the real-world.)

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      • xan_g
      • Slate_Gray_Dragon.8
      • 1 mth ago
      • Reported - view

      dakinemaui my thinking is that, okay, let's say I pay $200 and then get reimbursed $160. Next month it will show $200 available, plus the $160 rolled over, totaling $360. Repeat this monthly and it rapidly stops being an accurate reflection of what I have in my actual budget.

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  • xan_g said:
    Next - our rent is going up $25 (total) next month. Do I just add $25 to the "budget" category for Practice Space Rent and it'll be correct from then on? 

     Nope, you'll budget whatever you need every month.  This could be by typing it in manually or using goals/quick budget tools to automate and minimize the budgeting action.

    People generally do one of two things to remind themselves of their normal monthly budget numbers.  You could write the normal budgeted amount in the category title for easy reference or set a monthly contribution goal for the portion you need.  Using the Quick Budget will let you budget these set amounts in just a few clicks every month.  You can also just use a scheduled transaction, though it might not be a clean quick budget action for this particular circumstance, depending on how you set it up. 

    If it were me, I would have a category for my portion of Rehearsal Room and a category for Reimbursables.  I would then create a scheduled transaction that repeats monthly, split $45 to your Rehearsal Room Rent (RRR) category, and the remaining $180 to the Reimbursable category.  Honestly, to save monthly work, I'd also create separate, scheduled transactions from each bandmate for when they pay their portion (categorized to the Reimbursables).  Then, when they pay, your only workflow is to approve/clear/'enter now' with a couple clicks.

    If you are often collecting from your fellow musicians after the payment, I'd likely just leave the $160 (and add $20 one-time for the rate increase) in the Reimbursable category to have peace of mind.  It's your call if you want to keep the Reimbursables at $0, though. 

    Just remember that the budget is the plan for YOUR money, not your bandmates'. You do need to account for being the pass-through for their funds accurately, but unless you want to fund their participation, there's no need to budget for it and have it show in the band category in the reports. Of course, how you structure everything is entirely up to you.

    Like 1
    • Move Light Sound Life I would echo everything you said.

      OP, the use of a reimbursement category lets your other categories focus on your portions of expenses. The only difference from what you're doing now is to use a split transaction so the outflow is spread across more than one category.

      Like
      • xan_g
      • Slate_Gray_Dragon.8
      • 1 mth ago
      • Reported - view

      Move Light Sound Life Okay, so if right now I have $200 budgeted, if I add $25 next month to make it $225, I will need to manually add that every month?

      I am only using scheduled transactions for things I automatically pay.

      I am beginning to worry that YNAB is overcomplicated for my needs - I am quite good with money and have minimal debt (student loans and a car payment). My goal is primarily that I have a new job with a new salary and I want to be able to track saving for big expenses (down payment on home, engagement ring, emergency fund, etc) and was hoping to use YNAB to more easily visualize my monthly obligations so that I could find out how much I could afford to devote to these savings and still have "fun money" left over.

      As such I'm finding myself doing a lot of micromanaging of different categories and subcategories and not getting accurate results (currently the app is constantly bothering me because according to the app very much in the red for the month, which is only true because I've got all of my monthly expenses for the next 30 days budgeted out but haven't gotten a paycheck yet this month).

      Like
      • Superbone
      • YNAB convert since 2008
      • Superbone
      • 1 mth ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      xan_g You are not using the app as designed. Have you read any of the getting started materials? You should not be in the red during the month. Only budget funds you have. YNAB does exactly what you described needing in your main paragraph.

      Like 1
  • Move Light Sound Life said:
    It's your call if you want to keep the Reimbursables at $0, though. 

    This is true if you're paying the expenses with a credit card. If you're paying from a cash-based account, however, you need to keep the category from going negative. You would need to budget your funds in order to cover anyone not paying on advance.

    Whatever you've put into the Reimbursable category can be notated in the category name. If the Available value is ever less than that amount, then someone owes you.

    Like 1
      • xan_g
      • Slate_Gray_Dragon.8
      • 1 mth ago
      • Reported - view

      dakinemaui PayPal is like a separate, unlinked account. If everyone pays in advance, which they usually do, $160 sits walled off in a PayPal account, and then $40 comes from my checking account when I make the payment. My checking account and YNAB don't see the other $160.

      Like
    • xan_g I would put the PayPal account on-budget (checking account type). With PayPal as a budget account, transactions then mirror reality. Reimbursements to PayPal from your friends are categorized to the Reimbursement category. Advance payments from friends are also categorized to the Reimbursement category. The actual outflow is a split transaction with $160 from Reimbursement and $40 from your Practice Space Rent category.

      IF that $200 is entirely paid from the PayPal balance (which it should be with a $360 balance), then you're done.

      OTOH, if you buy something else with PayPal or transfer money back to checking for whatever reason, then it might pull some money from your checking account. Just record whatever is pulled from your checking account as an additional split line, as an inflow transfer, which will lower the amount you put in the Net Outflow (top line). Again, you're just reflecting the actual things that occur. This "on-the-fly transfer is no big deal and doesn't use a category.

      Once Rent goes up, just budget $45 to the Practice Space Rent category and adjust the split in the PayPal account accordingly.

      Consider the alternative -- keeping PayPal out of YNAB. You're going to have issues when PayPal doesn't need to pull funds from your checking account. (Which it won't next month, as there's going to be $320 in that account -- $160 from reimbursement and another $160 for the advance payment.) You will therefore have to make extra transfers to ensure there is only $160 in the PayPal account, so that PayPal will pull another $40 from your checking. Either that, or you have to manually transfer $40 to PayPal. It's just a matter of time until you screw this up, and then you have another mess to solve. Not to mention, having PayPal on-budget allows you to make other budgeted purchases from that account, which is especially convenient for online purchases.

      Like
      • xan_g
      • Slate_Gray_Dragon.8
      • 1 mth ago
      • Reported - view

      dakinemaui Sorry, this seems remarkably complicated but that may be because I haven't explained how I do things clearly.

      Assuming everyone pre-pays, $160 sits in PayPal, $40 comes out of my checking account. $200 total. If people don't pre-pay, I pay the difference out of my checking account. When I am reimbursed, that money goes back into my checking account. Therefore, at the end of the day (week, month, whatever) the outlay from my checking account is never more than $40 when everyone is settled up.

      As such, budgeting $200, $360, etc doesn't make any sense to me. What am I missing?

      Like
      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 1 mth ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      xan_g No, I believe I understand what you're doing. I would say that what I've suggested is simpler.

      > When I am reimbursed, that money goes back into my checking account.

      Not on its own, it doesn't. You have to manually do this, right? They reimburse you through PayPal. It's just a matter of time until you forget to transfer back to checking. Or you buy something online that prevents you from transferring back. Etc. Again, if you have $200 in PayPal, then it WON'T pull $40 from your checking.

      You have to arrange to have exactly $160 in PayPal every month, or else you won't get that $40 outflow from checking. Either that, or you have to explicitly transfer $40 to PayPal every month so there is at least $200. By putting PayPal on-budget, it doesn't matter how you pay.

      If you want to leave PayPal out of YNAB, that's your call. It just complicates this (and other purchases), IMHO. If so, then I suggest a recurring transfer from checking to PayPal via your bank's bill-pay service. (Don't let PayPal pull it implicitly during the $200 transaction.) You can then record this $40 outflow categorized to the Practice Space Rent directly in your YNAB checking account.

      At your discretion, you can pull back the extra $160 that was originally pulled by PayPal and hope they continue to pay in advance. Categorize this inflow to the Reimbursement category, and consider reallocating from there to anywhere else in the budget.

      Like 1
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 1 mth ago
      • Reported - view

      xan_g If you are going to use paypal to hold money and pay transactions that are part of your budget, it just needs to be treated like another bank account in your budget. The movement of money between budget accounts doesn't affect your budget.

      Like
  • xan_g said:
    My goal is primarily that I have a new job with a new salary and I want to be able to track saving for big expenses (down payment on home, engagement ring, emergency fund, etc) and was hoping to use YNAB to more easily visualize my monthly obligations

     I would say that YNAB is perfect for that - especially naming, contributing to, and protecting those savings goals while accurately planning for monthly obligations. It's also the best I've seen for providing flexibility for inevitable changes in priorities. The reason YNAB does such a good job with these things is because it's an envelope method - or a spending plan for the money you currently have.  You literally (or digitally) take the money you have and put it in categories to do jobs until you get more money. You save every time you don't spend - some categories, like groceries will be spent from frequently. Other categories, like the loss of income fund you hope to never spend. Of course, there's everything in between, like a ring.

    This is likely a paradigm shift from your current (seemingly successful) method, but the advantage of intentionally allocating dollars you know you have means that you don't have to always second guess or recalculate your spending/saving. Because it's a different way of thinking, there will be a learning curve of the method as well as the software, and that's ok. You're a musician. You can handle it. :) Also realize that starting a new job can sometimes be overwhelming, so give yourself a little grace and be realistic about having time to learn the program. 

    Based on your questions/comments, my assessment is that you don't know the method or software: you think budgeting $200 this month is a global action (it's not), and you're operating with negative category Availables/ To Be Budgeted. You keep asking what you're missing.  Now, the forum people could spend time explaining how everything works, but there are already training materials out there. Read the help docs, watch the YouTube videos, take some classes if you can. Start with the Four Rules, Setting Up Your Budget, Budgeting When You're Broke (you don't have to be broke to benefit - I think this video/class does the best job of overviewing/putting things together), and any others that interest you, like the savings one. These classes are offered live with Q/A as well as on YouTube with just demos.

    You'll probably figure out how to use YNAB in your situation better after that, but you can always come to the forum for confusing points or best practices. There are a lot of people on here who've practiced using YNAB enough to know the most efficient, best data-generating, and least error-prone workflows. 

    So, is YNAB more complicated than you thought? Perhaps. Perhaps it's just different. However, will you be able to save so much more for those big goals you have? Definitely. The clarity is powerful.

    Last point - The only reason I tried YNAB (after about 3 years of my friend pestering my to try it) was because I got married and was terrified that my spouse and I would look at a certain chunk of money and visualize it doing two different things, which of course is impossible. Aside from the immense decision-making clarity YNAB provides, it has acted as an invaluable interface for talking finances as a couple. If you're not ready for it now, I highly recommend coming back to it (and then you'll wonder how much you would have saved if you started now 😋). 

    Anyways, good luck. Your first month will have skewed numbers, but push through with using the method correctly and it will start to look normal. 

    Like 3
  • Superbone said:
    You are not using the app as designed. Have you read any of the getting started materials?

     Nope. I signed up for the app, it walked me through how to link accounts and set goals and sent me on my way. Had no idea there were any "getting started materials" to read! Would have been helpful!

    Like 1
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