Using YNAB to plan ahead+ future transactions

Hi YNABers!

I have been using YNAB seriously for a few weeks now. I cant connect the app the my bank or credit card providers , so what I do is this:

Twice a week i log onto my credit card providers website and manually enter any new transactions I made since the last time I logged in. The idea here is to keep an eye on my spendings all thr time not just once a month when the credit card is due.

When I enter the transactions into my ynab account i use the future transaction(since the credit card only has a once in a month payment). 

I enter the spending in the correct category. I was hoping that I will be able to scroll forward to next month and see how my budget is doing according to those new spendings. What I wanted to do is see how much money from each category will be spent, according to the credit card transactions. Unfortunately, this is not the case, because when I scroll forward to next month, it doesnt show me the future spendings I entered. I guess this is because they only show up at the specific credit card payment date I entered. 

I was hoping to use YNAB as a tool that will also help me plan ahead. It seems that I am doing something wrong. Can you guys help me understand how to do it right?

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  • You should enter the credit card transactions for the date they occurred, not the date in the future that you are going to pay your credit card bill. If I'm buying groceries on April 28 it needs to impact the April grocery category, not the June grocery category (based on when my credit card cycle closes, a charge on April 28 will be paid on June 4). YNAB is a plan for the money you have right now so you need to see your categories reducing right now.

    I choose not to link my accounts and enter manually on a daily basis (this takes a max of 5 minutes a day in my personal use case). But once a week is probably fine (I personally wouldn't want to spend the consolidated chunk of time to enter all my weekly transactions at once when I could take just a few minutes a day, but that's me).

    There are a lot of helpful getting started materials and free online classes that will show you how to use YNAB.

    Like 3
  • thanks jenmas!
    I still don't understand something: if I enter the transaction for the date it occurred, I'll end up pretty quick with a "loss" or underbudgeted account, since we get a paycheck every 10th and the credit card pays every 15th). So what we do is "overspend", i.e- no money in bank. use credit card, and before the credit card is due we get a paycheck. What I wanted to use YNAB for - is making sure we don't spend more then our due paycheck.
    Is your suggestion still the same? I guess we can still make sure by looking at the "minus" in the account and making sure it's not bigger then our due paycheck

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      • MadDog
      • Navy_Blue_Pegasus.2
      • 4 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Dan you will want to do some reading on the credit card float. if you are overspent, that means you are spending money that you do not yet have and are creating debt. You should at all times have enough money to pay your credit card (the available amount should be the equal amount of the account balance but with a positive sign: CC account balance -$100 and available amount is +$100 (green)). But, you will only pay the statement balance on the 15th. The statement balance will be different than your account balance as it will not include items that you have charged on the credit card after the statement cut off date. 

      As an experiment, you should be able to switch between using a debit card and a credit card with no difference to your budget at all other than with the debit card the money leaves your account immediately. If you cannot do that, then you are spending more than you earn.

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      • Dan
      • dan.1
      • 4 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      thanks MadDog 

      How can I make the change you suggest, if I currently am working with a debt which is created and 'erased' each month? I don't have available cash to pay everything we need immediately when we purchase it.  We already cut off all non-essentials, especially with covid (that helped a lot :)

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      • Bruce
      • Software Engineer
      • Bruce
      • 4 mths ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view

      Dan Just work it down as time goes by.  As long as you keep using the card, you'll be OK, because the expense doesn't come out of your checking until you have money in there from paycheck.  But if you have a little extra at the end of the month left over, you can put it towards the CC payment, which will slowly bring it closer to being "Paid in Full" and reduce the float.  

      Unless you have a large amount in Emergency Fund or something that you wouldn't mind moving from there to CC payment all in one big chunk, you'll just have to do it over time.

      Like 3
      • MadDog
      • Navy_Blue_Pegasus.2
      • 4 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Dan Like Bruce said, you have to work at it over time. Here are a few links to things that may help

      https://support.youneedabudget.com/t/m1hhm5f/march-is-get-off-the-credit-card-float-month

      https://support.youneedabudget.com/t/83hqzva/what-is-the-quickest-way-to-get-off-of-the-credit-card-float

      Use the search term "credit card float" (including quotations) and it will bring up lots of other examples.

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      • Dan
      • dan.1
      • 4 mths ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view

      MadDog Bruce thank you both!

       I totally understand now. I'm on my way to getting off the float! :)

      Like 3
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