What causes a credit card's "Budgeted" column to be positive/negative if I always budget for it in full?


While working on some other YNAB entries today, I noticed that some months have a positive or negative "Budgeted" column for our credit cards. My wife and I always budget for our cards in full which, as I understand it, happens automatically by spending money from something like our Grocery or Spending Money budgets with a credit card; then YNAB moves money from that category's "Available" column to the credit card.

Most months in our YNAB history have $0 in the "Budgeted" column for our credit cards, we do not manually budget money towards our credit cards. We also do not manually budget money *away* from a credit card. I did just make another forum post about issues with badly categorized credit card rewards; for example, a statement credit that was marked as "Inflow" to a credit card account but categorized as "Spending Money" instead of "To Be Budgeted". Would this kind of transaction cause the "Budgeted" column of a credit card to go negative? What causes it to be positive?

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  • Matt Boomer said:
    We also do not manually budget money *away* from a credit card

    A negative budget entry is exactly that. However, it's typical to do this when you have a CC purchase rewards, which is normally categorized as Inflow: To Be Budgeted. That credit reduces the debt, but not the amount reserved for payment, leaving the latter to be done manually.

  • Matt Boomer said:
    What causes it to be positive?

    Make a positive budget entry if you need a larger payment than the automatic amount that would cover recent budgeted purchases. This is typically done for the starting balance on the card or overspending you couldn't cover in a previous month.

    • dakinemaui we didn't ever need to budget for overspending on our cards because we always have enough in each category to cover things in full, and we move money into categories if we overspend in them to compensate and correct. We have never manually budgeted for overspending.

      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 3 mths ago
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      Matt Boomer those are great habits to have! You should understand that budget entries are strictly a user input. (YNAB never changes them due to transactions. That happens in the Activity column.) So the answer to your question is you (or someone with access to the budget) made the entries.

      Assuming it's not simply a mistake, a positive budget entry would be the result of someone correcting for a category balance (Available) that is low. The ONLY reasons this happens are:

      * starting balance

      * overspending - which you addressed

      * uncategorized transactions - a form of overspending, so probably not it

      * outgoing transfers to other on-budget accounts (e.g., gift card account, mixed funding splits) 

      * taking the account balance positive - also a form of overspending since the Payment category will usually turn red/negative

      * reconciliation adjustment resulting in an outflow

      * occasionally a return/inflow to a category that has transactions from more than one card - a bug will sometimes impact two CC payment categories: one is higher and one is lower

      Again, all these impact the Available column. Positive budget entries to a CC Payment category are either from a user dealing with that impact or a user making a mistake.

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