What do you use payee for?

I pretty much always leave the Payee field empty when entering transactions since I don't see any use for it, but I am sure there must be a reason it's there, I just don't know it yet. So what are some good reasons to start filling this field? What use do you get from it?

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  • Where did the money come from, that you are entering? More important, where did it go? Whom did you pay? Your categories don't always show those bits of information.

    Reply Like
    • Voracious Reader
    • YNAB broke is not the absence of money, but rather the judgment that it has something more important to do.
    • Orange_Cheetah.3
    • 6 mths ago
    • 2
    • Reported - view

    1. It helps me identify the transactions if there is ever a disparity between what my bank thinks I have and YNAB thinks I SHOULD have.

    2. It speeds up my tracking...YNAB "remembers" your payees and will suggest budget categories based upon which payee you choose. If the payee is my landlord, I'm always assigning that transaction to the "rent" category.

    3. It raises my awareness of what's happening to my money. Eating out has always been a problem area for me, but when I saw my payees in front of me, I realized my REAL problem is the work cafeteria. Over and over and over the same payee. So I need to address that by pre-planning and organization (packing snacks and a lunch) as opposed to if it were all late night trips to Taco Bell...which based upon my college years, would mean I'd need to drink less! 

    Reply Like 2
      • mamster
      • mamster
      • 6 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Voracious Reader To add on to #2: if you use the phone app and have location services turned on, YNAB will remember the payee from last time you entered a transaction at the same location, which makes it really quick to enter.

      Reply Like 1
      • Voracious Reader
      • YNAB broke is not the absence of money, but rather the judgment that it has something more important to do.
      • Orange_Cheetah.3
      • 6 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      mamster That IS pretty cool. I usually keep location off on my phone but that's actually a decent reason to consider turning it back on.

      Reply Like
    • Voracious Reader said:
      but when I saw my payees in front of me, I realized my REAL problem is the work cafeteria

       I like this! If anything it might be an interesting to see who gets the biggest chunk of my money :).

      Reply Like
      • jesjimher
      • jesjimher
      • 6 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      mamster That's a pretty cool feature, but it's also very annoying when you want to explicitly leave an empty Payee, but app keeps trying to auto-fill the field for you based on your location. The most annoying thing is that, once filled, it's not possible to delete the payee info, so the only choice is creating some fakish "No" payee.

      Reply Like
      • mamster
      • mamster
      • 6 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      jesjimher I see your point, but I've never used an empty payee and honestly didn't realize until this thread that it was possible!

      Reply Like 1
      • jesjimher
      • jesjimher
      • 6 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      mamster I leave empty payees all the time, when I'm inputting purchases in places I'm certain I won't come again, like a soda in a random bar, or a parking fee while on holidays. What do you input as payee in those cases? Filling a payee every single time must end up with a huge list of payees, isn't that the case?

      Reply Like
      • jenmas
      • jenmas
      • 6 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      jesjimher for parking I just use Parking as the payee (it comes out of the same category that I use for rideshares). I haven’t encountered any issues since 2014 in having a long list of payees. 

      Reply Like 1
      • mamster
      • mamster
      • 6 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      jesjimher Like jenmas , I sometimes do general payees, like ORD for anything purchased at O'Hare. I currently have 496 payees, and it doesn't seem to cause any problems.

      Reply Like
      • monkeyhanger
      • No animals were harmed
      • monkeyhanger.1
      • 6 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      jesjimher 

      jesjimher said:
      Filling a payee every single time must end up with a huge list of payees, isn't that the case?

       Why would that be a problem?

      I get that it might not add any useful information (and I do use a few generic payees for parking, etc) but I can't think why it would be a problem.

      Reply Like
      • jesjimher
      • jesjimher
      • 6 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      jenmas My line of thinking is that a generic payee is pretty much the definition of a category :-) So why should I fill a Parking payee when I can enter directly the parking category? Having both seems redundant and unnecessary.

      But you're right in that having a lot of payees isn't actually harmful, so I suppose it's just a matter of personal choice.

      Reply Like
      • jenmas
      • jenmas
      • 6 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      jesjimher yes, but if I am using the mobile app and adding the transaction from the budget page, and type Parking as the payee, the app automatically fills in the category and account for me (I use a specific credit card for parking because it codes as travel and gets 3% cash back on one of my cards).

      Reply Like 1
      • Voracious Reader
      • YNAB broke is not the absence of money, but rather the judgment that it has something more important to do.
      • Orange_Cheetah.3
      • 6 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      jesjimher 

      I am feeling pretty unimaginative and silly now because I have always used the actual payee name even for one-off expenses just because that's how I always did it in my checkbook. I really like the idea of grouping all my, for example, fast food purchases together, but I also like being able to see at a glance where I've paid and eaten that month.

      But no, I don't have an unmanageable payee list, I just go to manage payees and hide them. 

      For me I think the optimal play starting now is:

      1. Fill in transaction, including correct payee.

      2. After the month rolls over, go to "Combine and Rename Payees" and recategorize Taco Bell, etc into Fast Food, and one time expenses into a category like Parking, and then for one-time parking expenses going forward, just use Parking.

      Reply Like 1
    • Agent99
    • Working to Get Smart at budgeting, finances and life
    • Agent99.1
    • 6 mths ago
    • Reported - view

    Uh?  Let's say you have a category, as I do, called "Home Maintenance."   I use the Payee field to record a visit to Home Depot for paint; maybe then I go to the Nursery for plants and then I make an order from Amazon for air filters.  These all transactions in the same month for the same category.  

    I personally like to know this information.  

    Another example:  Under my Master Category of "Personal Care, " I have a category called "Beauty." This could include a transaction to EJ Salon for my haircut/style;  Luxe Nails for a pedicure and Spa for a massage.  The payee describes who you are paying for the expense recorded in that category.

    Reply Like
    • Agent99 Sorry if I wasn't clear in the post - I am not asking what payee means, I just don't see any use for that information myself so I was wondering what others use it for!

      Reply Like
      • bevocat
      • Sometimes, It Just Sucks to Be You
      • bevocat
      • 6 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Maurycy Zarzycki Well, when reconciling, it makes it much easier to compare you bank's list of transactions with your account register. What if you have several transactions for the same amount all within a few days of each other?

      Maybe people who never had to keep an actual paper checkbook register are less attached to this info?

      Reply Like
    • bevocat I usually update YNAB daily and additionally tag all transactions in my bank which I already added to YNAB, so reconciliation only ever is a problem if I mess up inputting some numbers 🤔.

      But to be honest, for split payments I put the shop name in the description for the whole transaction so it's kind of as if I used payee here... Which prompts the question - what do others put as the description of a split transaction? I guess it depends a lot on the transaction and where I put payee now I could put just "groceries".

      Reply Like
      • bevocat
      • Sometimes, It Just Sucks to Be You
      • bevocat
      • 6 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Maurycy Zarzycki By description do you mean the "memo" field? I generally don't use it. I might use it to record when I buy toilet paper or shampoo or toothpaste or something I'm trying to pin down how often I need to buy it on average, if that makes sense.

      Reply Like
      • jenmas
      • jenmas
      • 6 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Maurycy Zarzycki I use the memo for a few things. In the vast majority of my transactions it is blank. If they payee is the name of my mortgage company and the category is mortgage, that's all I need to know. I use it a lot when I'm buying presents to identify what I bought for whom (I have 2 gift categories: Christmas and Birthday&Other). I have a single vacation category so I'll use the memo field to let me know what trip I was spending on (deposit for May trip due in November, that kind of thing). The use of a split transaction doesn't make me more or less likely to use the memo field.

      Reply Like
      • Agent99
      • Working to Get Smart at budgeting, finances and life
      • Agent99.1
      • 6 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Maurycy Zarzycki Well I use it to note where I spent the money - a blank payee field and "Home Maintenance" category does nothing for me.   I'm a data person so I like to know how much of each category was spent where.  It may lead me to change some behaviors.  

      Reply Like
    • Voracious Reader
    • YNAB broke is not the absence of money, but rather the judgment that it has something more important to do.
    • Orange_Cheetah.3
    • 6 mths ago
    • 1
    • Reported - view

    Wow, I have spent a lot of time on these boards today. That's what happens when you are living away from home and have nothing better to do, I guess. One more post and then I am  leaving for work so I will actually have some money to budget!

    I find it really interesting what seems like too much work to different people. It frankly would never have occurred to me not to enter my payees. But I grew up with a checkbook register, like bevocat.

    Split transactions, though? I experimented with them when I would go to WalMart and buy groceries, paper goods, soap, and cat food. My conclusion...ain't nobody got time for that. 😊

    I decided I was comfortable enough with what I spend on toilet paper and shampoo that I didn't need to track it separately. Right now I put everything from WalMart in Groceries/Toiletries/Pet Supplies and call it good.

    Reply Like 1
    • Voracious Reader You should've seen my category list back when I started with YNAB. I had a separate category for every type of grocery and painstakingly inputted everything. Attached is the biggest transaction in my history - be aware that it's all in Polish and a few days ago I did a cleanup of old categories and moved all of the old ones to a single one.

      I don't mind using split transactions, it doesn't make things significantly slower and I appreciate knowing the detailed numbers. Also entering payee is not too much work - I just never understood what I might need it for.

      That being said, after reading other replies in this thread I am going through the history of my transactions and adding payee everywhere D:

      Reply Like 1
    • Maurycy Zarzycki I definitely split categories for household/groceries/pet/home maintenance. I use the memo on the splits to say what items I got (or groups of items). I don't use the memo for the whole transaction in these cases. 

      I used to use a spreadsheet for grocery/household items that included date, price, item, brand, size, and a larger category so that I could see what I needed to focus on getting in bulk or cheaper or on sale,  etc.

      While I never want to do that in YNAB, I'm considering trying something like that again at some point in the future.

      Reply Like
      • bevocat
      • Sometimes, It Just Sucks to Be You
      • bevocat
      • 6 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Maurycy Zarzycki Yeah, I can't see getting as granular as even that (even though Polish is not nearly as close to Russian as I had imagined, I can still see repeated categories within one transaction). I can't see ever having more than one line item for each category in a split transaction, unless you're buying something for someone else and you want to keep track of the amount, maybe.

       I get pretty darned granular. Non-essential groceries are things that are just wants, like soda and cookies, and not basic things I would still buy if I lost my job, like basic produce and meat. Home supplies are things like tin foil and dishwasher tabs, etc. The chicken thighs I bought to make cat food, I separated out from my essential groceries because they're pet supplies. Plus I was out of grocery money for the month, or I might have just let it ride because if push came to shove I could feed that to us instead of the cats.

      It's all about what information it provides that is useful to the person recording the transaction. I want to know how much I need to expect to spend on groceries if I lose my job, so I have to get that granular.

      Reply Like
    • bevocat The repeated categories used to be separate ones - what is now "Jedzenie" (food) was broken down into: breads, spreadables, veggies, fruit, dinner meat, dinner fillers, ketchup & co, eggs, dairy, etc. The idea was I wanted to know if we're not wasting too much money in any of those categories but after tolerating this for ~2 months I was confident enough that in that sense our spendings are fine. One thing I noticed though was that we too often bought premade food.

      Reply Like 2
      • bevocat
      • Sometimes, It Just Sucks to Be You
      • bevocat
      • 6 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Maurycy Zarzycki Ah, I get it! And you went through and recategorized them all as "Jedzenie" (oh, like "еда", I see it now!) instead of collapsing them down into only 7 splits?

      Edit to add: now that I've played in Google Translate and had it read these words to me, I realize it's not that different; I'm just illiterate! 😄

      Reply Like
    • bevocat I deleted the categories and when it asked me which category to assign them to, I selected "Jedzenie" and YNAB did the rest :). 

      And Russian is both pretty different and pretty similar, it's all Slavic languages :). 

      Reply Like 1
  • Payee is where I put the name of the store/entity who is getting my money. If you use the toolkit, it has a spending by payee report that I find somewhat interesting.

    Reply Like
  • Is this a trick question?

    Reply Like 3
    • Superbone No, though I guess a lot of people misunderstood me thinking I don't know what "payee" is while I was wondering what use people get from filling it. I wasn't clear enough in the main post :(

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

      Maurycy Zarzycki I think there are two things going on here. A communication issue and a generational issue. All account registers always include a payee/payor. Let me ask you the opposite question, why wouldn't you want to know who the payee/payor is?

      Reply Like 2
    • Superbone I don't need to know this information to know if I am on track with my budget because the values on the Budget screen tell me that. If I've wasted too much money in any of the categories I wasn't interested about where I left the money but what I got, at least so far. And for that I need the memo where I put that information.

      If there'd ever be a situation where I would have to know where I bought something I can easily look it up in my bank application, or in case of groceries I put the shop name in the memo/description field since I don't have a better idea what to put there.

      So I haven't cared about payee so far because I didn't have any use for it.

      Reply Like
      • Superbone
      • YNAB convert since 2008
      • Superbone
      • 6 mths ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view

      Maurycy Zarzycki Ah, so I think we're finally getting down to what you're really asking. No, it's not really related to budgeting but it is standard to account registers. Your YNAB account registers should match your online account registers so you shouldn't have to refer back to your bank application. As for the description, you don't have to put anything there unless you need further clarification. The shop name is better suited to the payee field than the memo field.

      Reply Like 3
      • monkeyhanger
      • No animals were harmed
      • monkeyhanger.1
      • 6 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Maurycy Zarzycki 

      Maurycy Zarzycki said:
      I put the shop name in the memo/description field since I don't have a better idea what to put there.

       The more usual place to put it would be the payee field. If you're going to record it, it makes sense to put it in the column designed for that information. 

      I think I use it out of habit (accountant) but also because it eases reconciliation and lets me splice and sort data in different ways. I usually am fairly specific with my payees on bank accounts but may be more generic on things like veg stall, farmers market, coffee stall etc that are generally paid for with cash.

      I have found the Toolkit spending by payee report useful. Similarly, drilling down into my food categories and realising a particular coffeeshop is my downfall or I'm overspending at farmer's markets etc is really helpful.  Yes, you can note the payee down in the memo column but that acts as a catch all for any other information people want to record so it can get a bit lost.

      As an example I often leave the memo column blank but will sometimes record, for example, what item of clothing I bought, why I had to eat out, which trip I was on etc. Other people record check numbers there but I'm in the UK so I can't remember the last check I wrote.

      Reply Like
    • monkeyhanger 

      monkeyhanger said:
       The more usual place to put it would be the payee field. If you're going to record it, it makes sense to put it in the column designed for that information. 

       Oh, absolutely. I guess how it worked was:

      1. Oh no how do you use YNAB
      2. Okay, I guess I want to put what I bought into memo/description
      3. Oh no, I have a split transaction, how do you use YNAB
      4. Okay, I guess I want to put under each item in the split in the memo/description what it was I bought
      5. Oh no, now the first line in the transaction has no memo/description
      6. Oh no, it feels so wrong to have a transaction with no memo/description, I'll just put the shop name there
      7. Oh no what do I put into the description for this fast food purchase. I guess I'll put it in memo/description.
      8. Oh no, why would you bother filling payee?
      9. Okay, I guess I'll ask in the forum
      10. Introducing: present times

      I use memo strictly to put what I bought, but I don't track it for all categories, and for the ones where I don't track it I just put the category name or something funny to make my future-self laugh; I don't like having gaps in the memos.

      Reply Like 1
  • If why you would want payees is not obvious, you probably have too many categories. 

    Reply Like 3
    • WordTenor I don't think I have too many categories, I just don't (didn't, since some people in this thread have mentioned interesting ways to use it) know what benefit it would give me to have this information, especially considering I manually input everything anyway. 

      Reply Like
      • WordTenor
      • Arranged the menu, the venue, the seating.
      • WordTenor
      • 6 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Maurycy Zarzycki If you don’t need the payee to distinguish different kinds of payments within one category, you probably have too granular of categories. For example: I have “Dining out.” Even though I use relatively generic payees, I still might want to know if my Bar spending is going up or down relative to my Restaurant spending. So the Restaurant and Bar payees are important. 

      Reply Like
    • eloquentz
    • Numbers Wizard (Accountant), Acoustic Artist (Musician) and Jill of all Trades (Wife & Mother)
    • eloquentz
    • 6 mths ago
    • Reported - view

    I use the store name which usually jogs my memory on what I purchased there.

    Reply Like
  • Thanks everyone for suggestions! I am posting this reply here because I can't edit the main post anymore - my intention when making this thread was not to ask what you should put into payee, but what use you get from filling that information.

    Got some interesting insight, my favorite is Voracious Reader 's suggestion to use it as a way to just better see where you're spending the money in a given category if you think you spend too much in it. Also props for mentioning reports-by-payee in Toolkit mentioned by Move Light Sound Life .

    I am now on a quest to update all of my past transactions with payee because I guess I hate having free time? :D

    But if you got any other novel ways to use it or want to share how it helps you with budgeting I am all ears eyes!

    Reply Like 4
  • My spouse wants to put down every single different name.  I myself care not that we bought fast food at 3 different food trucks last weekend, I just want to see Fast Food as payee, because then I can track that we spend $50 on fast food this month.  I use Grocery for all grocery shopping except stores like Target and Costco because the possibility for, hmm, unnecessary budget-busting spending is much greater at Costco than Aldi.   I tend to use the memo field for things like names of grocery stores.  Or for Car master category transactions, I put down the vehicle in the memo, because I'd like to be able to, if I wanted to, to track gas purchase between the vehicles.  

    Reply Like 1
  • This is actually kinda funny to me, because you’re like my boyfriend and I’m like everyone responding in this thread.

    He wasn’t inputting his payees and I got, basically, culture shock.

    Sometimes I use a “generic” payee (like corner store) but for other things I don’t.

    It helps me tell where, specifically, I may be ‘blowing’ money, so as to brainstorm ways to cut back

    Reply Like
  • Is there any possibility you’ve misunderstood what split transactions are for? For most people, they are on the rarer side—most of the time when I make a purchase somewhere, the entire purchase belongs in one category. If I go to the bar, the whole thing is Dining Out. If I go to the mechanic, the whole purchase is auto maintenance. I didn’t even realize that screenshot was a split—that is a very (I would say excessively) detailed split. 

    The structure of a transaction comes from the days in which paper checks/cheques were used. You must fill out the date, the amount, and the payee. Then there was a memo field which occasionally gets used to remind yourself why you wrote that check, or to communicate information to the payee, like your account number. But it is the one that is least used. 

    In a split transaction, unless you need to make a transfer, the payee is always the same—the name of the shop or person who received the money. Then you split according to categories. So if I go to the mega shop and buy groceries, birthday gifts, and towels, I create a three way split, but all the groceries, all the gifts, and all the towels are under each split. It looks to me like you are creating a split for every single item on a receipt. 

    So no, you don’t need a payee for each line of a split. But it looks like you are using splits where you should either be recording multiple transactions or at a minimum, grouping like categories together. 

    Reply Like
      • WordTenor
      • Arranged the menu, the venue, the seating.
      • WordTenor
      • 6 mths ago
      • Reported - view

       Upon further reflection with Google Translate:  you do have individual splits for individual items. Unless there is some material difference for you between prawns and carrots,  for instance, you get reimbursed for prawns but not for carrots,  these should both just be “food.” 

      This is probably why payees are confusing you. Carrots and prawns likely have the same payee. 

      Reply Like
    • WordTenor I think you looked at the picture I pasted above but didn't read all the text around it (which is okay, I put a lot of text there and it was a different branch of the thread).

      tl;dr is, I know what splits are for, no worries; the reason I had single items as separate rows in the split was because when I started with YNAB I wanted to know how much money we spend on each category of foods, so I had separate categories for veggies, dinner fillers, dinner meats, spreadables etc. I consolidated them all into a single "Food" category after a while and that split is just a window into the past.

      And like I mentioned a couple of times in different replies, the problem was not that I did not understand what should be put into payee, but rather what value it brings, eg. here :).

      Reply Like
  • Maurycy Zarzycki said:
    I had separate categories for veggies, dinner fillers, dinner meats, spreadables etc.

     Thank you! I no longer feel like the most anal-retentive person in existence. 😎

    Reply Like 3
    • JoeDid It was a very unsustainable idea in the long run though, at least for me. I am happy to just put everything into "Food" noways 😏

      Reply Like 2
    • Peter
    • Professional Designer, Web Developer
    • lasty
    • 6 mths ago
    • Reported - view

    I guess I have to ask myself the opposite question: Why DO I enter my payees? I use generic payees like "Supermarket" or "Delivery", but thinking about it I almost never referred to them after the fact. I might just stop entering them

    Reply Like
  • Here's one... I'm looking at my scheduled transactions and see that I entered one to Itunes, and then at some stage when it got paid out on a different day I set *that* to recur too and so I had double entries. Wouldn't have spotted it without the Payee field...

    Reply Like 1
    • lindsay_g Wouldn't you spot it when reconciling?

      Reply Like
      • lindsay_g
      • Beige_Banjo.3
      • 6 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Maurycy Zarzycki Yes, after dragging back through every transaction since. Reconciling usually takes me two clicks - 'is your balance this?' 'Yes'.

      What's wrong with seeing it easily ahead of time and correcting it before it happens?

      To be honest, I really can't understand what's wrong with seeing who you gave your money to.

      The recurrence of <my work>Canteen on my transaction list has got me back into the habit of making my own lunches after a lapse, because I hate giving those bar stewards money (and the food isn't even healthy, it's all crisps and chocolate...)

      Reply Like
    • lindsay_g said:
      To be honest, I really can't understand what's wrong with seeing who you gave your money to.

      I am not saying it's wrong, I am/was trying to understand how can I use it for my benefit. I explained things more here and here if you'd like to understand the context better :).

      I have the same with reconciling, though maybe I cheat because I don't click "reconcile" unless I compared the number next to the account with the number in my bank account 😏. But I also reconcile every 1-4 days nowadays and input everything daily.

      Reply Like
      • lindsay_g
      • Beige_Banjo.3
      • 6 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Maurycy Zarzycki We are having a translation error. 'I really can't understand what's wrong with...' is a roundabout English way of saying 'the obvious and full benefit of doing this is....'

      So I'm telling you that the benefit is you see who you have given your money to.

      Currently I give too much back to work in the canteen and I know this for a fact because the words 'Work: canteen' keep appearing in my payee list under the category 'Eating out'. Well, it's one thing to spend my hard earned cash on a steak dinner in a nice restaurant but it's quite another to give it back to my employer in return for a crappy chicken wrap.

      That's the benefit.

       

      As for cheating on reconciliation, you are supposed to check your bank account. I look at my bank on my phone and my YNAB on my computer and they match, so I click. When I miss a payment out or something slips through (usually duplication due to a combination of manual entry of every transaction plus some automation of standing orders) it can be very boring indeed finding it. Having Payee, as well as amount, and category, to look at speeds that up somewhat.

      Two benefits.

      Reply Like
    • lindsay_g said:
      So I'm telling you that the benefit is you see who you have given your money to.

       The whole point of this thread is that it's not a benefit in itself. I was aware from the very beginning that filling payee will allow me to know that, but I was not sure how I can use that information. So suggestions like the next paragraph in your post is what I was looking for, I was just not precise enough in how I phrased the question in the first place, and by the time I realized people are not understanding my question it was too late to edit it.

      lindsay_g said:
      As for cheating on reconciliation, you are supposed to check your bank account.

      I used the word cheat there as a joke, sorry if it was not obvious enough :).

      lindsay_g said:
      Having Payee, as well as amount, and category, to look at speeds that up somewhat.

       A lot of people have said that they use payee to make it easier to compare against their bank account, but whenever I had discrepancy I found comparing dates and amounts to be the easiest and fastest for me.

      Reply Like
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