Negative amount in Budgeted column-Why?
I have been using YNAB for a few months now and have noticed that when I need to move money from one category to another to cover overspending or maybe rethinking my amounts for things, I end up with a negative number showing. Why is that? And if I add money to that category then I get a positive amount in the Available category that is the negative number plus whatever money I've added. That makes no sense to me. I have not seen an explanation of this in the videos either. I tried to ask on a webinar and they blew me off and said to contact support, however this seems like a fundamental part of the system that I don't understand, not a problem or bug per se.
Any help or links to explanations of why this works this way would be appreciated! Thank you!
I believe I understand your question and I'll do my best to answer it. Please forgive me if I also go over stuff you already know.
If a category has an amount in your [available] column that is greater than the amount in the [budgeted] column (you'd get this often if you have money "leftover" from the previous month) then you can either ADD or SUBTRACT from the budgeted column. This is what happens when you use a category to cover overspending with another category.
Let's say I have $35 Available that is leftover from last month in my Entertainment category and I haven't budgeted any this month. If I overspend by $12 in my Fuel category I'd have available -$12. YNAB's "Cover this overspending with" feature can SUBTRACT $12 from Entertainment and ADD $12 to Fuel. This will show -$12 budgeted for entertainment only because I had not budgeted anything yet. If I had already budgeted $5 for Entertainment (giving me $40 available) it would show -$7 budgeted.
I like to think of the three columns (Budgeted, Activity, Available) as (My Plan, My Actions, My Result). If my actions don't go according to my plan I must tweak that plan to leave a balanced ($0) or positive result.
I hope this helps, I'm sorry if it's not clear yet. I'd be happy to make you a video explaining this tomorrow. For now, I must get some sleep. Let me know if you still need some help!
I think what you are wanting to see is the changes made in the budgeted cell this month, what was added, then reduced, and what was withdrawn from total category balance. YNAB just displays the final result.
Another of my long-winded examples as a means of explanation
On the first of the month I budget my monthly amount of $50 to clothing, bringing the category amount to $500. I've been budgeting $50 every month and haven't gone shopping for 9 months.
The next day, I run into a change-of-plans scenario that requires I free up $100 extra dollars from anywhere in my budget quickly for an entertainment expense because I have zero left in entertainment. I begin looking at my categories. Hmmm. Clothing seems like a category I can reduce by $100 and still have adequate funds for my immediate clothing needs. I won't take it from my emergency funds for a non-emergency expense. I move $100 from clothing to entertainment. This results in a -$50 in the budgeted column.
+$50 (originally budgeted this month) - $100 (moved) = -$50
Not only did I not add $50 to clothing, I actually pulled out $50 previously added to the category in another month. My new category balance now reads $400. ($500 - $50(not added this month afterall) - $50 more (for the $100 I needed)
Because the budgeted amount is negative, it's like an ATM withdrawal. It withdraws $50 from the category balance I've been building.
The budgeted column number simply reflects how much you have added or removed from a category via budgeting in a given month.
The activity column shows how much you have spent from the category via transactions in a given month.
The available column shows how much you currently have available to spend in that category in a given month.
I am just trying out YNAB and hit his issue. The thread above just does not answer the question. I have been a Finance Director for 30 years so cant quite believe I cant fathom why YNAB is trying to do.
All I really want to do now is ZERO everything in YNAB except the transaction history which has all my categories so I can start again with the budget bit. There seems to be no option to do this so I wont carry on after trail. Fancy graphics and animations but unusuable help.
Hi Slate Gray Sound and Turquoise Chef ,
Michael is definitely on the right track with his explanation! The negative number happens because you've subtracted the budgeted amount. If there wasn't anything budgeted to that category in the first place (as in, the funds rolled over to a new month so only the Available field has an amount), then moving those funds subtracts from the $0 budgeted and gives you a negative amount. Here's a video showing what this looks like in the budget. Does that look like what you're seeing?
And HappyDance dance is spot on! If you use in-line calculations to add a new budgeted amount, things should add up correctly in the Available field.
Turquoise Chef , can you tell me a little more about wanting to zero everything out? Is it because it's a new month or was there something else going on? I'd love to help.
I guess what is causing this confusion for new user is that we get different experience in budgeting for the first time and the following month where there is a positive rollover in category. Let me illustrate using the scenario below and be advised that this is going to be a long winded one.
When I first started using YNAB in January, I understand the workflow pretty well, paycheck comes in to ‘TBB’, plan for your budget and give every dollar a job, and the task is done when ‘TBB’ reached zero. The objective is clear, I plan ahead the budget and allocating them to categories e.g. Food, Fuel, Entertainment etc. and I see clearly that I have budgeted $100 for entertainment for my spending in Jan until the next paycheck.
Now comes February, all figures in the budgeted column reset to zero and since I am getting paid on the 15th, I am still spending my paycheck in January and I don’t plan to do budget until I receive my paycheck on the 15th. Due to busy work life I didn’t get to spend my $100 in Entertainment, and I decided to move this to cover my overspent in Shopping category, now, the figure in the budget column of Entertainment has now changed to $-100, the available column is zero.
Fast forward to 15th, my pay day, I received them and put it in TBB, I am ready to start budgeting, and I plan to continue to allocate $100 to Entertainment, now here is where people like me get confused, the first month is clear, I budget $100 for Entertainment, and I assigned $100 to the Budgeted column, and I can see it is showing $100 in that column, but for February, since I moved the rollover $100 to shopping, I see $-100 in the budgeted column, 2 problems occur, the first one being if I overwrite that $-100 with $100, the available amount will show $200. The second problem has no relation to the first one, in this scenario, I move the amount directly from ‘TBB’ to Entertainment, now, I can see the Available amount is showing the correct budget of $100, however, the budgeted column will show zero since $-100 + $100 = 0. The creates the confusion whereby it didn’t show what I plan (budgeted) for Entertainment on February 15th, in my mind it was clear that I budgeted $100 for it, but when reading from the budgeted column it’s saying zero, and this is where I have a difference in experience compared to January where the budget column shows exactly what I budgeted.
I agree that the available amount is showing the correct budgeted amount, in the above scenario it’s showing $100, but I just find it hard to grasp and keep track of the actual amount that I plan for in February since the budgeted column is showing zero.
Could someone advise if we should have a different angle to understand the logic behind so that it would make sense?
My simple explanation: you are dealing with adding and subtracting with both positive and negative numbers. (MATH: -$100+$100=$0; But if you type in the budget column that was -$100 to +$100, you have to add $200 to do that -- there's $100 between -$100 and $0 and a SECOND $100 between $0 and $100)
My long winded version: You are trying to use the "budgeted" column to reflect only half of what you did that month. It just frankly, doesn't work that way. When you use money from one category to cover spending in another, it shows as a negative number in the budget column (this is to tell you that you moved money). When you go to budget your monthly $100 to that category, you have to make a choice -- (A) am I going to return this category to its "Pre-WHAMed" amount (my brains thinks of this a category float -- like a credit card float, but within my categories) OR (B) am I going to acknowledge that I needed that $100 elsewhere and only budget the monthly $100?
A) Then you enter +$100 in the budget category, effectively adding $200 to the category BECAUSE you are covering the January $100 you 'borrowed' and the February $100 you are budgeting.
B) Then you set the budget category to $0 because you have effectively SPENT $100 and Budgeted $100 in the same month. It's just that your SPENT isn't activity -- because it was re-allocated inside your budget and not to a payee.
Here's another way you can think of it (though, I'd tell you on the front end that it is over complicating it):
Following your outline -- instead of using Move Money to cover the over spend in Spending with Entertainment, split the transaction when you enter it to pull $100 from Entertainment (WARNING: This will totally screw up some of your reports). But what you will see is that the spending will stay in the activity column and your budget will reflect that you put $100 in February when you do that on the 15th.
I had really been struggling with this too, but I made a mental connection that might help people.
The thing that really frustrated me after the month switched is that "Okay, I don't really care that I'm not budgeting $10 dollars for Dining Out any more that was left over from last months incorrect spending guess" -- but setting the "-10" budgeted amount to 0 raised many worse flags... And importantly, doing so showed that I suddenly had $10 more available in that category, which was absolutely not the case: that's money I don't have. I just wanted it to look like 0, like the rest of my categories, and not feel like I'm being punished for "rolling with the punches" over an arbitrary date change that has no correlation to how I spend money.
This is when I realized that the column for budgeted is not only for "planning to add money to spend" but also the "plan to spend money I've saved" -- having a negative budget is totally acceptable if you plan to spend that saved money. It just shows that you've planned to reduce that savings amount this month by however much. The folks above tried to hint towards this, but it didn't ring up for me until I noticed that 0'ing out my negative budgeted amount also unexpectedly was giving me money to spend for that month.
I now realize the negative number isn't nagging me to say "You better put that money back!" -- it's just there to say "You've planned to spend 10 you have previously saved."
Because of your explanation, I finally get it!! It's like YNAB is telling me, hey, what you had leftover last month should be replaced. I need that feature!!! Right now, I'm showing negative because I had funds in a category from last month that I had to use earlier this week. When I saw negative, I came right here and searched. Now I know, when I go through my budget process that to make it so my budgeted is positive again, (which isn't mandatory but will help me feel better about the now negative category) I will have to buget what was lefy last month and try to add a bit more to keep myself on goal. I LOVE THIS! Thank you so much for your explanation Michael
The budgeted column number simply reflects how much you have added or removed from a category via budgeting in a given month.
This is super helpful. I wish YNAB would add this as a hover tooltip to the BUDGETED column header! Thank you!
In a previous month: In Films & TV I moved 7.750 to another category, spent nothing, and I had 9.500 left to spend. On the internet, I budgeted 20, spent 20 and I had 2.000 left from a previous month. In Next month I budgeted 1.000 (okay, it's an experiment!!), spent none and ended with 4.000 available. In Petrol I moved 5.000 out to another category, didn't spend any (my car was off the road) and had 8.000 left for the next month. Finally, in Phone I budgeted 40.000 (I expect that's where all those moves went!), spent 40.000 and had nothing left at the end of the month.
So there are negatives in Budgeted but it all makes perfect sense. Except, where did all that phone money go??? I must have been talking to my mum... :)
I have read all these threads and still just do not get it. 😣 I just started YNAB in May. At the end of the month I had $150 balance in "savings". I have a monthly funding goal of $50.
June is showing budgeted amt $-25... You're $75.00 short of your goal for the month.
Budget another $75.00 to keep on track.
My sidebar says:
"left over from May" $150
"Budgeted this mo" -$25 ---- How do I tell where this money went???
"Cash spending" $4.44 (interest earned)
"Credit spending" $0
What is confusing me is ...
1. how to tell where the $25 went and
2.) if I have an avail balance of $150 and I use $25 due to an unexpected event.... per YNAB, I am falling behind for using any of the available balance???? Hence, the "your $75 short!"
Thanks for any help.