Overspent carry over next month

I read this in the help docs: If your category had been overspent in cash (negative red Available), that amount will be deducted from To be Budgeted in the new month.

I have a problem because it doesn’t do that.

I prepaid the vacation, so I had a negative red available in December, but in fact I have 3 months to pay for it, so I expect to budget money this money and to see the “available” money be the red amount from last month minus what I budget. But it is not doing this.

What am I doing wrong?

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  • You didn’t have the money in December so you did in fact overspend the category. That is literal fact. YNAB does not let you carry over negative category balances. There is nothing you can do to change this behavior in how YNAB works. If you paid out of a checking/current account then it did take it out of TBB. If any transaction in that category was on a credit card, even if it wasn’t the transaction that caused the category to be overspent, YNAB converted the whole overspend into credit card debt when the month rolled over. 

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  • YNAB is showing you your actual situation: you prepaid money on a vacation, and that money left your budget and now can't be used for other things. This really isn't a situation where you took on debt that can be paid back later -- if you paid using a checking account or cash, that's actual money leaving your accounts. 

    When you overspend using cash/checking, YNAB will reset that category to zero if it's unfixed at the end of the month, and remove that amount from your TBB. YNAB does not carry over that overspending to the new month -- that money has been spent. Every dollar needs a (single) job to do, and carrying over overspending means the money in your actual accounts has to do multiple jobs: do whatever you've assigned them to do, and also cover for your overspending at the same time.

    Going forward:

    -- I'd suggest adjusting your category balances, reducing your emergency fund or other categories to account for the overspending. This reflects the reality: you had more money leave your accounts than you had planned for, and you have to "roll with the punches" and account for it. You can rebuild your emergency fund over the next couple months.

    -- If you are in a situation where you need to pre-pay for something, make sure you either have the money available to pay for it, or at least can pay it using credit. If you use credit, you create debt that can be paid back over time. If you use cash/debit, that's actual money you no longer have access to.

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  • Why do you think you have 3 months to pay for it? Because you're not going to go on vacation for 3 months? If you used a CC, that may be true. If you used cash -- and YNAB thinks you did since the overspending is red -- that money is gone.

    I mean, you don't go to the grocery store and walk out with food thinking you can pay the grocery store $50 next week because you're not going to eat the food until then! Same thing for vacations. :-)

    Reply Like 1
  • Hmmm I'm not sure about this. It seems like a case of YNAB thinking they know exactly how everyone should run their finances, rather than providing flexible tools so we can run them as we see fit. 

    If I want to budget £300 per month for clothes, and spend a bit more / bit less some months, there is no easy way to do this with clarity. If I overspend in one month this is not carried forward, so the following month I have to remember that, or just have it deducted from TBB which means I'm not easily managing my intended monthly spend for a particular category. It's like they want us to set rigid budgets for every single thing, every month, and spend our time constantly re-balancing this. It's silly - I know how much I earn, I know how much I want to spend on clothes in a year - YNAB won't let me allocate that money month to month with any flexibility (unless I create debt with a credit card rather than my own capital???).

    I realise the premise of 'only spending what you've got', but for anyone who may have moved beyond living month to month and has some reasonable capital to distribute, the lack of any flexibility around how category balances are handled (and various other limitations) makes YNAB a frustrating product to use at times.

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    • Silver Orca said:
      has some reasonable capital to distribute

      YNAB is simply asking you to do exactly that... distribute that capital to cover the overspending. The consequence is then, you can't use that capital for it's originally intended purpose -- that's the reality you seem to want to ignore.

      Reply Like 4
    • dakinemaui yes, but YNAB wants you to distribute the capital as you go along, every month, in and out of every category, which is tiresome.

      I know how much money I will earn, and have earned. I know how much I want to spend on clothes. If I go a little over or under each month, i shouldn't need to do a lot of pointless admin work to reconcile this.

      As for 'YNAB Methodology' - the previous version did let you carry over negative balances, and it worked fine. They appear to have dropped this (and other useful features) in the new web version. It's a shame.

      It's funny how any criticism of this software is met with such stern defense on these forums. I really like YNAB, but would like it better if it had a more flexible feature set.

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      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 3 wk ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      Silver Orca 

      Silver Orca said:
      As for 'YNAB Methodology' - the previous version did let you carry over negative balances, and it worked fine. They appear to have dropped this (and other useful features) in the new web version. It's a shame.

       They discovered people were using it to lie to themselves about the true state of their budget, so decided to eliminate it.

       

      Silver Orca said:
      YNAB wants you to distribute the capital as you go along, every month, in and out of every category, which is tiresome.

       You don't have to manage it. YNAB will do that for you with their end of the month rollover handling by taking it out of TBB (cash overspending) or not increasing available payment to credit card (CC overspending). Again, this is a last resort autocorrection to keep people from lying to themselves about their budgets.

      YNAB is an allocation budget system, not a free for all, and you can't allocate money more money to categories than you have on-hand, because it makes the actual category balances invalid. If you want a forecasting/tracking budget system, there are a lot of tools out there that will do that for you... and some of them are even free.

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      • bevocat
      • Sometimes, It Just Sucks to Be You
      • bevocat
      • 3 wk ago
      • Reported - view

      nolesrule Which probably means they're worth what you paid for them. I used Mint for a year and a half and all I had to show for it was a dozen accounts I didn't need (for goals, don'tcha know) and a mess, because it doesn't allow/force you to roll with the punches.

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    • nolesrule I don't want to allocate more than I have on hand. I have plenty on hand, it's really not a concern.

      I want YNAB to allow me to go over and under a budgeted figure per category, month to month, like it used to, without me having to adjust figures up and down all the time. Like how budgeting is done commercially. I realise YNAB isn't a commercial accounting system, it's personal finance system, but it is a mature product, and they could maintain a feature set that allows some flexibility thereby pleasing more of their customers. These forums are all the proof you need that there are lots of different preferences over how people want to use the system. Why not let people who want the flexibility have it? And everyone else can just stick with the defaults.

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      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 3 wk ago
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      Silver Orca I understand what you want to do. However it goes against the YNAB budgeting method. The software is written specifically to support the method. The Red Arrow in YNAB4 actually was a violation of the method and that's why it was eliminated in the new version.

      Reply Like 4
  • Silver Orca said:
    If I overspend in one month this is not carried forward, so the following month I have to remember that, or just have it deducted from TBB

     Or option C -- the recommended approach -- you reallocate from a lower priority category making your budget a more accurate reflection of your priorities. Hindsight is 20/20 after all.

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  • Silver Orca said:
    Hmmm I'm not sure about this. It seems like a case of YNAB thinking they know exactly how everyone should run their finances, rather than providing flexible tools so we can run them as we see fit. 

     YNAB is providing a tool that is specifically designed to work with the YNAB methodology. It's always been a methodology first and a piece of software second. Is the method for everyone? No. And that's okay. But it is doing exactly what it was designed to do - run a zero based budget by using electronic envelopes.

    Reply Like 6
  • The more and more I read these types of posts, the more I understand why they chose to eliminate the red arrow.

    Reply Like 5
      • bret
      • bret
      • 3 wk ago
      • Reported - view

      nolesrule 

      I sure wish I had that red arrow for simpler reimbursement tracking though. :( 

      Have you heard any hints about whether/how YNAB intends to address that? I don't track these forums very closely, but I could have sworn the company acknowledged it years ago and claimed to be "working on it..."     Should I give up hope?

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      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 3 wk ago
      • 3
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      bret I'm not sure they are working on it. Yes, there should be a reimbursement tracking mechanism, but it should be a category group that is backed by category within that's positive. This would, hopefully, limit the use, but it could still be open to abuse.

      Reply Like 3
      • bret
      • bret
      • 3 wk ago
      • Reported - view

      nolesrule 

      Is that a community idea or something you heard from a YNAB representative?  It sounds like a great idea!

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      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 3 wk ago
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      bret It's been suggested by dakinemaui . I've not heard of YNAB mentioning any solutions to date, and they've been completely silent on the issue since they mentioned way back when that they were going to address it.

      Reply Like 1
  • Silver Orca said:
    It's funny how any criticism of this software is met with such stern defense on these forums. I really like YNAB, but would like it better if it had a more flexible feature set

     Agreed on both points. There needs to be options like in the toolkit, but more fundamental functionality. 

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  • But this isn't an oversight. I understand it's not your preference, and you liked the way you were using it before, but this was a conscious decision on the part of the developers not to allow anyone to use their product that way anymore. If the product doesn't meet your needs anymore due to their conscious choice, then it doesn't make sense to keep paying for it.

    I'm mad that Coke Zero changed their formula and now it tastes exactly like generic Coke Zero, which isn't good enough for me (don't get me wrong; I'm the generic queen, but this and Charmin are my two exceptions!). I complained, they're not going to change the formula, so now I get to save my money on Coke Zero.  I'm cranky about the fact that there's no alternative to give me what I want at any price, but that's not going to get Coke to change the formula back.

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      • adriana01
      • adriana01
      • 3 wk ago
      • Reported - view

      bevocat there's a generic Coke zero?!? That would save me a lot of money!

      Re the actual topic, YNAB used to say they were primarily about the method. Things that break the method (in their opinion) aren't likely to get added.

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      • bevocat
      • Sometimes, It Just Sucks to Be You
      • bevocat
      • 3 wk ago
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      adriana01 for example, if you buy the SodaStream version of Coke Zero (as opposed to their version of Diet Coke; they're different), or a store brand version. My store brand has a diet cola, caffeine-free diet cola, Diet Dr Pepper knock-off, and a Coke Zero knock-off. None of these taste as good as the old formula Coke Zero or Caffeine-Free Coke Zero. Coke Zero became Coke Zero Sugar a while back, but the caffeine-free version took a little while to run out and have them start stocking the new formula. Now it's here and it's yuck. I'm drinking my generic diet grape, strawberry, orange, root beer, pineapple, and lemon-lime (this one is surprisingly good) but I am really, really jonesing for a perfect cola taste!

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      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 3 wk ago
      • Reported - view

      bevocat I thought SodaStream stopped making their version of Zero. I haven't seen it in a couple years.

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      • bevocat
      • Sometimes, It Just Sucks to Be You
      • bevocat
      • 3 wk ago
      • Reported - view

      nolesrule I guess I should've mentioned that I haven't used my sodastream very often lately. I had no idea.

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      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 3 wk ago
      • Reported - view

      bevocat I use mine but haven't bought any of the syrups lately. I buy Squirt mix-ins (for regular water bottles) on Amazon and use two per liter pre-disolved in 1/4 cup of warm water. 10 calories. It's my favorite soda. Also I drink plain carbonated water.

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      • adriana01
      • adriana01
      • 3 wk ago
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      bevocat I haven't looked at the generic sodas available near me lately. Most of the generic colas taste more like Pepsi to me, which I don't care for.

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      • Ben Khaki Storm
      • YNAB book topics online: https://support.youneedabudget.com/r/q5w48j
      • Khaki_Storm.1
      • 3 wk ago
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      adriana01 of course all personal choice, but no regrets here at giving up soda. On the rare event I have one, I end up thinking, why did I every like this? 

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  • I have medical expenses in January. They are reimbursed in February. So there is a negative medical balance at the end of last month, and now there is too much in medical expenses for this month. What would the workaround be in this case? 

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      • bevocat
      • Sometimes, It Just Sucks to Be You
      • bevocat
      • 3 wk ago
      • Reported - view

      Beige Lion Cover it with money from another category, then pay back the category when you get reimbursed. Because that is what is happening in the real world. (Edit to clarify: I meant that you should do that in January. It's too late to do anything about it now.)

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      • Beige Lion
      • Beige_Lion.3
      • 3 wk ago
      • Reported - view

      bevocat Okay, thanks. That's what I'll do.  That said, this does not really reflect the way the money is being spent.  For instance, "Medical" is a tax-related category and at the end of the year I will not know how my money is really being spent.  I'm not sure if it's just my discomfort with something new, or if the software's design philosophy is just a bit too rigid. However, I appreciate your help and the always fast response.

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      • WordTenor
      • Your lieutenant, when there's reckoning to be reckoned.
      • WordTenor
      • 3 wk ago
      • Reported - view

      Beige Lion If you're concerned about having a fixed amount budgeted to medical, you can always offset your move by moving money in a later month from medical to another category. I just did this with gas I bought on Feb. 27.  In February's budget, I moved money to cover the gas. In March's budget, I budgeted less in gas so that I would have money to fill up the other category. 

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      • Beige Lion
      • Beige_Lion.3
      • 3 wk ago
      • Reported - view

      WordTenor Thanks for that - it's a workaround for sure. 

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      • Tif_Ann
      • Tif_Ann
      • 3 wk ago
      • 2
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      Beige Lion it's not a workaround, it's reality. You spent the cash in January. If you didn't have money in the medical category, you spent cash meant for something else so it isn't there. So you move the cash from the other category and when you are reimbursed, that cash can now go anywhere. 

      Your spending isn't affected by where the money comes from. If you categorize medical spending then you will know how much you spent on medical.

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