Credit Cards and YNAB

I just started using YNAB and I need some advice. I shop for most things online, as it is much more convenient for me, and I subscribe to several streaming services, all of which are charged to my credit card. I would like to get opinions on whether I should set up each vendor separately, or if it would be better to just lump everything together as a single balance under my credit card account?

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  • Well you do have to categorize the transactions.  I think the main question is can I make a main category "subscriptions" or "streaming" /whatever, or should I make separate categories for netflix, hulu, service X and service Y?  It depends on how helpful you think that is.

    If seeing one big category, and assigning the cumulative amount to it each month works for you, then that's fine.  Create a bunch of scheduled transactions, one for each service, and categorize them each to that main category.  If you think it would be more beneficial to see each category, then categorize to each individual category  Some people gain insight into the granular budget, others don't care, and just say, "Yeah, I'm paying $x for all my streaming services" and leave it at that.

    What do you feel more comfortable with?

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  • I think you may need some more clarity on the fundamentals of YNAB. Accounts are where your money lives (with some additional nuance for credit cards). Categories are the jobs for your money. And then there are, as you call them, Vendors. So I go to Whole Foods to buy some groceries using my Visa. In my Visa account register, I enter a transaction with Whole Foods as the Payee, Groceries as the category. I have some very specific categories - mortgage is only for mortgage; HOA is only for my HOA fee. I also have lumped categories like Streaming which covers Netflix and Hulu and Personal Care covers make up, massages, pedicures, etc. But I don't have categories for Trader Joe's vs Publix vs Whole Foods.

    When I added my credit card accounts to my YNAB budget, YNAB created a credit card payment category for each card. This identifies how much of my cash is allocated to paying the credit card bill when it comes due. The positive amount in my credit card payment category available balances always matches the negatives in the credit card accounts because I am a paid in full user. Meaning at any moment in time, I could pay all my credit cards down to zero. I don't because that's not particularly useful; instead I pay the statement balance on the due date.

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  • Orchid Battery Welcome to YNAB! You've gotten some great advice here. I'd like to offer some accompanying thoughts and resources! 

    You'll want YNAB to reflect reality, so you'll enter (or import) your transactions exactly as they happen in real life (and be sure to reconcile frequently, too!).

    You'll want to categorize transactions to your various budget categories, and how you have those set up is entirely up to you! In my budget, I keep a subscriptions category with details in the notes section about which subscriptions I have and how much they require per month! But some YNABers like to parse it out into categories for each thing (Netflix, Hulu, HBO, etc) - I find this can be especially helpful for YNABers just getting started! 

    As far as handling your credit cards and payment, you'll want to dig into some of our resources! 

    I hope this information helps kick things off, but let us know how it's going! 

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