Consolidating categories into one for CC spending?

So, I've been using YNAB for a few months now and I've found my categories have continued multiplying, which I realize will happen, but I feel like I need to simplify in order to keep me on top of things.

One thing I've noticed is that I fund about 4 categories every month with the same amount, and inevitably move that money to my credit card category (unlinked account) and then track my monthly credit card payment from my Accounts tab. I feel like this adds extra steps.

I put all 4 of these charges on my credit card because I don't like giving out my debit card number for anything. So, today it occurred to me that I could save some money moves each month by just combining these categories into one with the total amount combined, but I'd like input from the wise YNABers here -- are there benefits to keeping it granular? 

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    • nolesrule
    • Stealing From the Future fix is an improvement but is incomplete....
    • nolesrule
    • 1 mth ago
    • Reported - view

    Are the actual charges related in some way that they should be in the same category? Categories are for the types of things you are spending money on.

    I mean, I put everything on my credit card that I can, but I don't combine unrelated bills like electricity, internet, and Hulu just because they all go on the credit card every month. On the other hand, I combine electricity and natural gas into a single category.

    But ultimately you can do whatever you want.

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      • Pineapple Gal
      • Goal-Getter
      • Orchid_Wrench.11
      • 4 wk ago
      • Reported - view

      nolesrule That's why I asked because they are, in fact, unrelated aside from all being predictable monthly charges. Two are subscriptions but the rest are just purchases I make every month on the dot (like a bag of my dog's food and her supplements). 

      I'm going to start by combining the two subscriptions into one and see how it goes but the redundancy of these charges every month has led me to believe I can simplify. I do get very granular for all of my other categories and I think I have about 40 in total, hence my desire to condense a bit. 

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  • Pineapple Gal said:
    and inevitably move that money to my credit card category 

     The question is... Why are *you* manually moving the money to the credit card category? YNAB should do that for you if you're budgeting to the original category. 

    Did you perhaps not budget for the starting balance of the card at the beginning of your YNAB time?

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      • Pineapple Gal
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      • Orchid_Wrench.11
      • 4 wk ago
      • Reported - view

      Move Light Sound Life I don't have my credit card added as an account in YNAB. I started out with it like that but I found it was too much reconciliation. I would have to go into the CC account tab and add these transactions from each category and then go into my checking account and add a transaction showing I paid my CC.

      I always pay in full, so it's easier for me to just go into my checking account and add a transaction for each category that flows out of YNAB all together. I don't personally see a need to "transfer" to the CC account and then submit a payment to it, it was too many steps and I have a LOT of categories in my budget as it is. 🙂

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    • Pineapple Gal Do you mean that in real life, you use a CC to buy dog food, then you immediately use your bank account to pay your credit card for the amount of the dog food?

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    • Pineapple Gal  Are these four things the only ones you put on the CC? If the answer to is yes, then you could probably make a "paid by cc" category and have in the notes what it's paying for.

      On the other hand, you can also bring the cc on-budget (it's currently off-budget, not unlinked - linked or not refers to direct import) and then enter the payment as an inflow to the card on the credit card account tab, where you were entering the transactions. 

      Since you seem to be entering the transactions anyway when you pay the cc, and it seems like the thing that annoys you is having to go between account screens?

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      • Pineapple Gal
      • Goal-Getter
      • Orchid_Wrench.11
      • 4 wk ago
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      Move Light Sound Life Nope, these charges go on within the first 2-3 days of each month (three of four are automatic) and I pay the full balance near the end of the first week when they go from pending status to charged. 

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      • Pineapple Gal
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      • Orchid_Wrench.11
      • 4 wk ago
      • Reported - view

      Fuzzball Meows These are the only things going on the CC so I think a "paid by CC" category is what I'll try. I don't personally see a need to have these broken out into four categories since I pay them the same way, same amount, same time every month, but I could understand if others do.

      I see no benefit of adding the CC as an account since I don't carry a balance on it. It's the same to me whether I make this payment from checking to outflow (as I'm doing now) or as a "Transfer" from checking to CC within YNAB, except the current way means one less account on the list ... but maybe I'm missing something here! 😄

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      • nolesrule
      • Stealing From the Future fix is an improvement but is incomplete....
      • nolesrule
      • 4 wk ago
      • 4
      • Reported - view

      Pineapple Gal May of us here don't carry a balance on our card. We simply pay the statement balance every month on the due date.

      I think you would be better served having the CC account as a budget account, even id you set it up as a checking account instead of the normal CC account type. Doing it the way you are trying will make it both more difficult and less informative should you use your credit card for something besides these 4 charges at some point in the future.

      The CC handling in YNAB is actually very simple. You spend from it and it takes the money out of your categories. But because it is a credit card, no money has left your bank, so it takes what was removed from the category and puts it in the CC payment category, because the cash still in your bank has changed jobs from being spent on stuff to paying back the card. Then when you pay the card, you use a transferand that transfer removes the money from the payment category.

      People get in trouble with credit card handling because they overspend and then try to continue paying the credit card back for the overspent amounts using money that isn't in the budget because of that overspending, or they make payments that include pending charges, which YNAB doesn't know about yet so it breaks the mechanics.

      Like 4
  • Pineapple Gal said:
    categories and I think I have about 40 in total

     Heehee. I just counted. I've got 109, counting Wish Farm/List, but not counting deductions.

    Some are for holding, some are for priorities I would like to afford someday, some I hardly interact with because the bills just go, some I hardly interact with because I save the money and hope to never need it, and only a few are high-frequency. 

    If you want to be granular, I don't understand why you wouldn't want the CC on budget. It actually saves work if handled correctly. 

    I would suggest either taking a class to learn how the mechanism works or (only if you don't carry debt) adding your CC as a checking account on budget. 

    If reconciling is an issue, file-based import is quite handy. It often saves going through transactions line by line. 

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      • Pineapple Gal
      • Goal-Getter
      • Orchid_Wrench.11
      • 4 wk ago
      • Reported - view

      Move Light Sound Life That is a ton of categories! I know my 40 is nothing next to some 😜 I only want to be granular where it counts, though, and I feel separating these four categories just has no benefit to me. One "paid by CC" category (as suggested above) with a note clarifying the charges seems like it will simplify it just as I need. I appreciate everyone's input on this! 🙂

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    • Pineapple Gal I think it comes down to people's brains work differently. Mine is really bad at putting things in categories, so I need mine clearly defined in ways my brain can handle. Which, for me, means each subscription needs it's open category, and would never be combined with pet stuff, because once I start doing that, everything becomes one big smush of a category. 

      For you, your brain says "these are the only things that go on the card, so I'll give them all to the on the card category" because your brain is comfortable classifying things that way.

       

      I know the goal of YNAB is never to end up with debt, but life happens. If there is any chance that you'll need to put spending on your credit card in an emergency, I recommend you learn how they work in YNAB, because handling such a thing via the existing functionality is probably easier than doing other manipulations to the budget to get around that. 

      Like 1
    • WordTenor
    • Can we agree that goals are dumb and immature? Sure.
    • WordTenor
    • 4 wk ago
    • 5
    • Reported - view

    Don’t do this. Put your credit card on budget. 

    just making sure that point doesn’t get lost in the discussion of categories. If those are 4 separate types of expenditures they should be 4 categories. It is a bad idea to have categories that are related to either the account of the transaction (you see this more often with “savings account” categories) or the payee (“Amazon” is another unhelpful category). 

    Your credit card is a type of legal tender and is an account. Make it an account. 


     

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