Ynab uses IRA balance, in TRACKING ACCOUNTS, in budget

Last year we put a significant amount into two new IRA accounts.  The money came from the sale of a house and we wrote checks from our checking account, which is tracked/linked by ynab.  I needed to show where that money went, so I added (but did not link), 2 IRA accounts to our account list, and showed the initial amount  in each one.  Then I categorized those two accounts as "Tracking accounts", NOT budgeting accounts.  I have not updated the balances, because I don't need to use ynab for keeping track of those accounts.  I only created them to have a place to show where that money went.

As I use ynab more, I am trying to figure out how to make it work for me.  It appears that ynab includes the balances in those two tracking accounts as part of my budget.  It's not supposed to, but it does.  So, here's the problem:

When I add up all the money that is in my three linked accounts: savings and checking, and credit card (of course subtracting the balance of my credit card, not adding),  the AVAILABLE column amounts do not add up to the total in my savings and checking accts minus my credit card balance.  It adds up to much more than I actually have available in my savings and checking accounts.  Shouldn't the total of available money equal the amount I really have available?

How can I fix this?

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  • I would contact tech support, as they can log in to see your actual account and give you specific help.  Tracking accounts are supposed to be off budget, so I'm not sure what is going on there.

    Like 1
      • Tan Wrench
      • Tan_Wrench.9
      • 2 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      PhysicsGal Thanks.  I haven't had much luck getting help from tech.   Seems like we are speaking different languages, and they often answer questions I haven't asked.  I've never gotten a straight answer from them yet, but maybe I'll try again.

      Like
  • It sounds like your tracking account really isn't a tracking account. Is it showing up in the tracking account section? Also, if you don't want to track the IRAs balances, you don't need to add them to YNAB at all. You don't need to show where the money went. Just use the IRA category and a memo saying you moved these funds to your IRAs. This will reduce your budget by the amounts moved to IRA accounts.

    I have an IRA category that builds up to the maximum every year by the end of the year. Then at the beginning of January, I transfer the funds out of my budget into my IRA. Rinse and repeat.

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      • Tan Wrench
      • Tan_Wrench.9
      • 2 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Superbone Thanks, yes my tracking account is showing up in the tracking amount section.  I think I was wrong:  the issue isn't with the tracking accounts, but with the way ynab keeps track of credit cards, which I have never understood and can't get an answer from tech support about how it works.  I'll watch more videos and read more about it and maybe I'll figure it out.  Thanks!

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

      Tan Wrench Gotcha. Yeah, the YNAB credit card handling can be tricky. Since my CC spending is backed by cash and I always pay off my statement balances, I don't use YNAB's CC handling and instead converted my accounts to checking accounts which is much more straightforward.

      Like 1
      • Tan Wrench
      • Tan_Wrench.9
      • 2 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Superbone thatSuperbone That's very interesting.  I pay off my CC about once a week, with a transfer from my checking account.  (cc is with my bank).  I NEVER carry a balance.  I use the CC because it has a great rewards plan.  I tried to talk to Ynab about not using their CC handling, but just got an answer about how great their CC handling is.  Are you saying you just took your CC account off ynab?  When you say you converted your accounts to checking accounts what exactly do you mean?  I want to keep track of my spending on CC in my budget, but don't want to participate in their tricky way.  I think they are set up for people who have cc debt and have trouble with cc's, but I am not that way.  Let me know if you have ideas for how to deal with this. thanks!

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      • Superbone
      • YNAB convert since 2008
      • Superbone
      • 2 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Tan Wrench You will like this then. Your CC is still in your budget but it doesn't use the YNAB CC Payment system. It works just like it did in previous YNABs before they added this new CC system. Here's how to convert your CC accounts to checking accounts:

      Convert Credit Card to Checking

      1. Create a new account to replace the current one by clicking Add Account > Unlinked.  Select Checking, give it a nickname (it will need to be slightly different than the original account), and enter 0 for the balance.
      2. Go to the original account, select all of the transactions, and move them to the new account using the Edit menu. The next step will be to delete the original account. First check the Notes area for the credit card payment category in case there’s anything there you want to save.
      3. Okay, it’s time to delete the original account. Click the Edit icon next to the account name in the left sidebar, and you’ll see the Delete Account button. Be sure to save any text in the Account Notes field if needed.
      4. Now, you can edit the name of the new account and/or link the account if you'd like.
      Like
      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 2 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      You should understand it's impossible to float anything using a checking account representation. Reimbursements, for instance, should use methods that are appropriate for cash spending.

      If you want to float, for whatever reason, you'll need to make a balance transfer from a real CC account, and transfer back after paid-in-full status is restored.

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      • Superbone
      • YNAB convert since 2008
      • Superbone
      • 2 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      dakinemaui You make it sound like floating is a good thing. You did read that the OP pays off their CC’s entire balance weekly, right?

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      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 2 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Superbone Just making full disclosure to facilitate an informed decision.

      Yes, though, I think float *can* be a good thing on occasion. Large reimbursements for work, for instance, are especially common to float on credit. I'm also sure there are any number of  cards that had paid-in-full status at one point that no longer do (especially given recent events).

      My point was really that there's no real downside. It's simple to temporarily "undo" this decision IF the need ever arises. 

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      • Superbone
      • YNAB convert since 2008
      • Superbone
      • 2 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      dakinemaui Gotcha. I don’t deal in reimbursments and even if I did, I would just back it by my own cash. I guess I’m just thinking from my own experience. I haven’t floated anything for the last 10 years or so and I can’t see myself ever needing to do so.

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      • WordTenor
      • I have the honor to be your obedient servant
      • WordTenor
      • 2 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Superbone yeah, this is why I've kept the default setup. In nonpandemic times about 10% of my total budget can be on hold because of reimbursements, and the most expensive ones are often floated the longest--if I'm flying overseas for a conference, I book a $1000+ plane ticket 4-6 months before I get the reimbursement for it. I have the category seeded with some money but there's a lot of moving back and forth if I attempt to keep all float out of my budget. 

      Like 1
      • Tan Wrench
      • Tan_Wrench.9
      • 2 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

       Superbone Thanks for this info.  I'll try it.  Also, I have no idea what "floating" means.  I am retired and do not receive reimbursements for expenses.  (this is in reply to dakinemaui's reply).  I just keep it simple.  I think that changing the cc account to a checking acct. will be the best options.  But...would it not work to simply rename that account a checking acct.?  I really appreciate that you are reading what I say and responding to who I am and what my needs are.  Thanks!

      Like 1
      • Tan Wrench
      • Tan_Wrench.9
      • 2 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Superbone One more question:  If I do the above steps, doesn't that create a "checking account" that is mostly going to be in the red?  It will show an account that is in the red until the weekly payments that pay off the balance, but will never be over zero.  Does that cause any problems with "available amounts" or budgeting?  

      Like
      • Superbone
      • YNAB convert since 2008
      • Superbone
      • 2 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Tan Wrench No, YNAB doesn't work that way. The account type is fixed once you create an account.

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      • Superbone
      • YNAB convert since 2008
      • Superbone
      • 2 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Tan Wrench Nope, it doesn't cause any issues. It represents reality. The money on the card is money you owe so it's negative. The only time your account would be positive is if you got a credit larger than your current balance.

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      • Superbone
      • YNAB convert since 2008
      • Superbone
      • 2 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      WordTenor OK, good to know. Reimbursements is a whole different beast. I'll add that to my spiel. 😁

      Like
      • Tan Wrench
      • Tan_Wrench.9
      • 2 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Superbone Thank you so much!  I followed your directions and now the "amount available" matches the actual amount I have in my accounts.  YNAB was showing, before I did this, a higher amount available because it was somehow adding credit from my credit card.  (I will never understand, and don't want to try to understand, how their squirrelly CC system works.)  Such a relief to have finally designed my personal ynab page to meet my needs.  Your help was clear and exactly what I needed.🎉

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

      Tan Wrench I'm so glad you like it! I tried the stock CC handling for about 6 months or so and got tired of babysitting the Payment category. It's so much more straightforward this way for us PIF CC users. Cut out the middleman, is what I like to say. Enjoy!

      Like
  • Hi Tan Wrench !

    If you're willing to give support one more shot, I'd be more than happy to take a look! Are you seeing a positive balance on that credit card included in your budget totals, or does something else seem out of line?

    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
  • Tan Wrench said:
    When I add up all the money that is in my three linked accounts: savings and checking, and credit card (of course subtracting the balance of my credit card

    You should NOT include your CC balance if it is negative. The budget is the plan for your cash, and debt is not cash.

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  • Tan Wrench said:
    Shouldn't the total of available money equal the amount I really have available?

    Yes, the total cash in accounts equals the total funds in the budget. The latter includes the money in categories (including in future months) and TBB.

    Be careful about using the Total Available shown on the right side of the budget. It includes yellow/credit overspending which signifies debt. Again, debt is not part of budget funds. It's best to use Total Available in the future-most month, which is uncorrupted by credit overspending.

    Like
      • Tan Wrench
      • Tan_Wrench.9
      • 2 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      dakinemaui Thanks.  I have no debt, pay off my cc weekly,  and am retired so don't receive reimbursements.  I appreciate your help.

      Like 1
  • Tan Wrench said:
    How can I fix this?

    Nothing to be fixed. YNAB maintains the agreement between account cash and budget cash at all times.

    If you feel categories (in the future-most month) total more than your checking+savings, then you must have a positive credit balance (which is effectively cash since it doesn't need to be paid back).

    Like
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