Reconcile early, reconcile often

Hey everybody,

I've been using YNAB since 2013 and my budgeting road to where I'm finally happy with my finances, my budget and my use of YNAB has been long and bumpy. Frequent reconciliation has been one of the keys for me to get there.

Do it. Sit down every few days, at least once a week, and reconcile all your accounts. The more often you do it the smaller the chance you've got to hunt for mistakes and the smaller the chance you took balances tainted by those mistakes as a state to base financial decisions on.

I enter my transactions manually because there's no import for me, and I do that every 1 - 2 days. I then proceed to reconcile the balance right away, so my accounts are reconciled multiple times a week. As a result I'm almost never in a situation where I need to fix some error, and if I am the error has to be in the last 5 transactions, which is a breeze to find and rectify. Bye bye automatic balance adjustments.

So if you're not in the habit yet to reconcile often give it a try, make it a habit and see how satisfying it is to just tell YNAB "Why yes, this indeed IS my current account balance. Thank you" in the smuggest way you can.

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  • I enter manually and use file-based import to speed up clearing of my high-traffic account. (Plus YNAB doesn't make matching mistakes.)

    Like 1
      • Peppr2
      • peppr2
      • 3 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      dakinemaui What do you consider a matching mistake? I have been annoyed that auto import on my Capital One CC has only been working every 2 days, but this morning it "updated" without actually importing my cleared transactions. So I decided to give file import a try for the first time. I had four cleared transactions that hadn't come through, but set the file to go ahead and pull all of May, which was eleven transactions. YNAB pulled in all eleven transactions as new, and did not match any of them up to previous manual transactions. At that point I deleted all eleven (instead of trying to figure out which ones were wrong and which were my legitimate four, and because I was irritated), and decided to wait until Monday, since YNAB imports over the weekend seem to be shakier than during the week. I would have called that a matching mistake, but maybe I'm not thinking of it the way that you are, since it's my first time with a file import?

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      • Peter
      • Professional Designer, Web Developer
      • lasty
      • 3 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      dakinemaui I would have to write a script that prepares my account's data into a form YNAB liked and since I can't be bothered I'm remaining on manual input.

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      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 3 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Peter I'm surprised your bank doesn't support one of the standard formats. OFX, for example. European banks are usually very up to date.

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      • Peter
      • Professional Designer, Web Developer
      • lasty
      • 3 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      dakinemaui oh they support the format. With form I meant that I'm treating two sub accounts between which I frequently transfer funds as one in YNAB and I can't teach YNAB to import transactions of two accounts into one or teach my bank to export the transactions of two accounts as one

      Like
      • Herman
      • herman
      • 3 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Peter I don't think ynab would prevent you from downloading and importing a file from each account and dropping it in the single account in ynsb would it!

      Like 1
      • Peter
      • Professional Designer, Web Developer
      • lasty
      • 3 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Herman the main problem is that when I do it that way it contains all the transfers between the sub-accounts as inflows and outflows, which is a royal pain in the a** to clean up since concerning ynab these transactions are totally irrelevant and they clutter the overview. It's so much simpler for me to just enter none to five transactions per day manually (the ones that actually left and entered the overarching account)

      In addition to that my bank uses preliminary exchange rates for purchases in foreign currencies that it later adjusts once the transaction went through, often lowering the final price according to the exchange rate at the time. In the bank's interface this is displayed as one transaction but these transactions show up as three separate items in an export. The original transaction and once it clears a refund for the original transaction followed by the final amount. Since I'm in Euro territory and I occasionally order or pay for online services in USD this happens fairly often. I really really do not want that to show up in YNAB

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      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 3 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Peter what do the sub-accounts give you that categories do not? It's a lot easier to transfer between categories as well.

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      • Peter
      • Professional Designer, Web Developer
      • lasty
      • 3 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      dakinemaui I use the sub-accounts for physically fencing off money. Once I moved it from sub-account A to sub-account B it's physically no longer available for the debit and credit cards connected to A as well as for direct debits (we pay a lot of things with direct debits in Europe). So when ever something goes wrong or a company with a direct debit mandate goes rogue, there's only so much money they'll be able to get. Also I can freely assign cards to sub-accounts so I can hand one of my cards over to my housemates or friends to pay for, say, groceries, medicine or other supplies, and limit the amount they can spend with the balance of the sub-account.

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      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 3 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Peter Makes sense given your debit card emphasis. I would just make an account in YNAB for each sub-account. You get separate balances and lists of transactions, right? If it looks like a duck... 🙂

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      • Peter
      • Professional Designer, Web Developer
      • lasty
      • 3 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      dakinemaui I've been thinking about the way to approach this a lot. I've decided against treating them as separate in YNAB because I would lose the quick and clean overview over my checking transactions. When I enter transactions manually or recurring transactions I'd always have to think about which card this was and which sub account that comes out of. 

      The mental load required for separate accounts in YNAB seems much higher for me than just entering and clearing a couple of transactions by hand regularly in one account.

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      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 3 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Peter thanks for the elaboration.

      Like
  • Peppr2 said:
    What do you consider a matching mistake?

    For example, when *I* clear a transaction I manually entered as 23.31, but the actual transaction on the bank's website was 23.13. YNAB doesn't make those type of mistakes.

    There are issues between Direct and File-based imports. Importing will only match a manually entered transaction, so if it's already been matched via Direct Import (or something was entered by DI), the FB import won't match it. Design flaw, IMHO. You can mitigate this with a suitable choice of download window, but it's probably best to stick to one or the other long-term.

    Edit: it's OK to run the File-Based import twice (e.g., pull in all of May now, and then pull all of May next week). A re-import will ignore something previously imported.

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      • Peppr2
      • peppr2
      • 3 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      dakinemaui ok, so the issues arise when there's a mix of direct import and manual entries, I guess. I can easily enter these four transactions, but I wanted to see how file import worked. I definitely do not like that YNAB shows zero transactions from a successful connection, when there are cleared transactions waiting, but I kind of remember that it's happened on the weekend for me before and cleared up on the Monday, so we'll see. Thank you for answering my question, I appreciate it!

      Like 1
  • I use manual entry and manual reconciliation all the time, it just seems better for me to stay actively involved.  I feel that reconciling every day is the best option since you keep the number of transactions to a minimum and it is easier to find reconcillation errors.  It only takes a few minutes each morning.  I, however, do use a password manager to facilitate quick login to accounts.  

    Another advantage to actually logging into each account daily is I can review pending transactions and quickly spot fraud or mistakes.  

    Like 2
    • ynaber2613 well said 🙂. I do exactly the same for exactly the same reasons.

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  • I reconcile every morning. I generally look forward to it.

    I also manually enter transactions and check my bank accounts by just having two desktop windows open. Since the latest import update, I have had a rough time with importing from Wells Fargo (US bank). I have to log in and then go through two mobile authentications and even then sometimes it doesn't work.

    I prefer the accountability that manual entry brings. Also it reminds me why it is great to have less debt (and therefore fewer accounts to check each morning).

    Like 2
  • In another thread, there's a $6000 reconciliation adjustment outflow that has to happen because of the lack of reconciliation. My heart goes out to that poor fellow. 

    Like 2
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