Negatives in Budget Amounts

Why do I sometimes see negative amounts in the Budgeted column?  I wouldn't have ever budgeted a negative amount.  Is that from a move?  Also is there a master log I can see what happened in order?  So if necessary I can unravel the whole thing?

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    • eloquentz
    • Numbers Wizard (Accountant), Acoustic Artist (Musician) and Jill of all Trades (Wife & Mother)
    • eloquentz
    • 3 yrs ago
    • 2
    • Reported - view

    Yes, if you had to move funds from the category (say you had $100 available but have budgeted nothing yet this month), the budgeted column will be negative.

    Like 2
  • Thanks, that's what I thought.  I do wish there was a log to see everything that happened

    Like
  • An Audit Trail would be a super useful feature to have for times like these examples! My budget isn't quite stable yet, so plenty of rolling with the punches, an audit trail would be great to see how things move about over the month. 

     

    I've seen some users comment that they enter a note into the category note section explaining any changes  

    Like 3
  • Hi Money's Boss !

    eloquentz is exactly right - those negatives are caused by moving money in-between your categories and they're not a bad thing at all! :)

    I went ahead and sent your log request, along with BritishMuseum 's Audit trail idea, over to our development team for further consideration!

    Like 3
      • Vibrant
      • No more counting dollars, we'll be counting stars
      • vibrant
      • 3 yrs ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view

      Faness at YNAB You can add another tally mark for a desire for an audit trail. :D

      Like 3
    • Vibrant Done and done - Tally added! ;)

      Like 1
      • Gel Jones
      • Geljones
      • 3 yrs ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Faness at YNAB One more for audit trail!

      Like 1
    • Gel Jones Tally is steadily growing! Got it! :)

      Like 1
      • compuls1v3
      • Tinkerer
      • Khaki_Lobster
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Faness count me in too

      Like 1
    • compuls1v3 Consider it done! We've also created a Feature Request form since this thread was created. You can let our developers know what you'd like to see directly! :)

      Like 1
  • So how do I think about this negative number in my Budget column?

    For example, last month I had $811 in my Buffer category available to move to other categories this month. After I moved it all, my Buffer category shows -$811 in the Budgeted column and $0 in the Available column. I would like to budget $100 to my Buffer category this month. But that makes the Budgeted column -$711 and the available column $100.

    How do I think about that -$711 Budgeted amount when I actually am budgeting $100 for the Buffer this month?

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      • Jeff Reetz
      • Electrical Engineer
      • jefflilj
      • 3 yrs ago
      • Reported - view

      Granny Bogle 

      by moving funds ($811) from your buffer available or by adding -$811 in the budget (same thing) is basically just releasing your buffer money (the $811 in available) to be able to budget those where you want. Hence available goes to $0. 

      Now you are adding $100 back into the buffer category making the budget -$711 and the available $100. 

      I would look at it this way, you didn’t need the entire buffered $811 to cover what you wanted to budget this month. You only needed to release $711. 

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      • Granny Bogle
      • Still Workin'
      • Grannybogle
      • 3 yrs ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Jeff Reetz 

      So basically you and Faness at YNAB are saying, "Don't worry about negative numbers in your Budgeted amounts." This is my first month rolling over into a new budget. Maybe something happened that I just don't understand. Right now, I'm looking at that -$711 in my Buffer category budget, thinking Wha??  Am I just supposed to pretend that's not a problem?  Sorry. Newbie here.

      Like 1
      • Patzer
      • Retired at age 60. Thank you, YNAB!
      • Patzer
      • 3 yrs ago
      • Reported - view

      Granny Bogle If the negative amount budgeted to Buffer really bothers you, there is a workaround to avoid seeing it.  There are advantages and disadvantages to doing either.

      Instead of dragging $811 from Buffer to various categories, or from Buffer to TBB then budgeting to various categories, you can "spend" the Buffer.  You would create a split transaction, total zero, $811 outflow from Buffer, $811 inflow to TBB.  Then you budget the $811 to the categories where you need it, and you don't show a negative budget amount in Buffer.

      Issues:  The workaround is more keystrokes and mouse clicks than simply dragging money.  The workaround inflates what web YNAB sees as income and the total amount budgeted by $811, which can be bothersome if you want to look at reports including income or amount budgeted by month.  Dragging money leaves income and total budgeted where they were before, at the cost of seeing that negative budget amount for Buffer.  Either method gets your category balances to the same place, and the category balances are what you need for spending decisions.

      You pick which way makes more sense to you for your specific situation.

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      • Jeff Reetz
      • Electrical Engineer
      • jefflilj
      • 3 yrs ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Granny Bogle 

      it’s not a problem though. It’s just how you look at it. You didn’t need to set up a buffer category, some do some don’t. But if you do make sure you understand why you are. 

      You could have not set one up the previous month and just budgeted that $811 in the TBB the following month (current month) now since you have extra $100 after budgeting this month, you could just go to next month (March) and start budgeting that $100 there. 

      But since you set a buffer category up, you have to look at it as in the first month you added your extra buffer money here by budgeting $811. So now $811 is available there and rolls over to the next month. Now your budget is $0 and available is $811. To use that money for other categories you have to release it. Think of it as an envelope that says buffer on it. If you need $711,  To release that you would subtract $711 from envelope (-$711 in the budget cause that’s what you did to the envelope) and now have that on hand (TBB) and $100 left in envelope (available).  

      Think of it that’s what you did to the category (envelope) as what number is in the budget column. Positive $ you added to it for the month, $0 means did nothing to it, and negative $ means you took/Released money from it. 

      Like 1
  • Thanks for your detailed explanations, Patzer and Jeff Reetz .  I reread them several times and can't figure out what you are saying at all. I never had trouble with these things in YNAB4. I wonder what changed. I don't remember having negative numbers in the budget.

    The envelope metaphor breaks down when you think of having minus $711 dollar bills in a paper envelope!  There's something counterintuitive about negative numbers in a budget that keeps me from seeing the logic of this. 

    I wonder if the problem is that we no longer can assign income to the next month. 

    Like 1
      • Patzer
      • Retired at age 60. Thank you, YNAB!
      • Patzer
      • 3 yrs ago
      • Reported - view

      Granny Bogle 

      Granny Bogle said:
      I wonder if the problem is that we no longer can assign income to the next month.

       That is exactly the problem  design feature of nYNAB that putting money in a buffer category in January then releasing it in February is meant to overcome.

      Like
      • Jeff Reetz
      • Electrical Engineer
      • jefflilj
      • 3 yrs ago
      • Reported - view

      Granny Bogle 

      patzer is correct. 

      Also, you don’t have minus dollars in the envelope. The budget is just the act of what you are doing to the envelope. Not what’s in there. Adding, subtracting or nothing. The availabile is what’s actually in the envelope. 

      Ynab 4 could do the same thing as well. Go try it. Budget a negative number in a category and see what happens to the available and TBB amount. 

      Like
  • I think maybe my problem with negative numbers is that I am so used to traditional budgets being Budget-Actual-Difference.  The budget column is either a positive number or zero. Negative numbers only appear under Actual or Difference.

    So when I rolled over my buffer to the next month, distributed all my available funds to other categories, and ended up with a negative number under Budget instead of zero, I couldn't get my head around it. I still can't! Maybe next month it will sink in.

    Patzer  and Jeff Reetz , thanks for confirming that the problem is actually Stealing From the Future and limited ability to put funds into future months. If I could do that, I wouldn't even need a buffer. 

    Like
      • Jeff Reetz
      • Electrical Engineer
      • jefflilj
      • 3 yrs ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      Granny Bogle 

      no problem. 

      Also, think of an emergency fund category. In case of lost job/income. Say you built up $20,000 in there. Your available will keep carrying over with $20k every month. If you add more to it in a month like $1000, then the available will be $21,000 and that keeps carrying over. 

      But now you lost your job/income. But you still have to pay basic bills. Since you have no income coming in TBB you have to use your emergency fund category money. To release those you have to put in a negative amount in the budget (or move money from the available which does the same thing to the budget column) of how much money you need to pay your bills that month. 

      Thus you will have a negative in budget for that category that month. 

      Like 2
      • Ceeses
      • Ceeses
      • 3 yrs ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view

      Granny Bogle Actually the envelope comparison is exactly what you need to understand the negative budgeted amounts. Here is an example. You have 2 empty envelopes. One is for groceries and one is for clothing. Now you have $200 and put $100 in groceries and $100 in clothing. In YNAB, that means the budgeted column shows $100 in both categories, right? 

      Now, it happens that one day you realise you need to buy more than $100 worth of groceries. You look at your envelopes and think you won't need to buy clothing. So you take $100 out of the clothing envelope and put it in the groceries envelope. In mathematical and YNAB terms it means you budget -$100 to clothing and +$100 to groceries. That's the good old WAMing process.

      Now, if this happens on the same month you initially budgeted your $200, you would get:

      • $100 + $100 = $200 in groceries budgeted column
      • $100 - $100 = $0 in clothing budgeted column

      If that happens in a different month, you'd get:

      • $0 + $100 = $100 in groceries budgeted column
      • $0 - $100 = -$100 in clothing budgeted column

      So the budgeted column can definitely have negative amounts, it simply means you repurposed the money in a different month you had stashed it in before.

      Like 3
  • Jeff Reetz said:
    Also, you don’t have minus dollars in the envelope. The budget is just the act of what you are doing to the envelope. Not what’s in there. Adding, subtracting or nothing. The availabile is what’s actually in the envelope. 

     Granny Bogle This is really important. You don't have negative dollars, it means you took money out of that category. So if you have $100 in a category and you enter -$25 in the Budgeted column, $25 will go back to your To Be Budgeted and there will be $75 left Available. 

    Nothing is wrong with your budget, it's just letting you know the changes that have been made to your categories. :)

    Like 1
  • Thanks Faness at YNAB

    It seems to me that you have a deep understanding of nYNAB and I really appreciate that and want to learn.

    I can't stop thinking about this and what's going wrong. I've been treasurer of several organizations, and I shouldn't be struggling with this at all. 

    I'm starting to think that YNAB has made an error in labeling columns Budget,  Activity, & Available. I think I'm starting to get what you are trying to do, but it is so counterintuitive, so far away from standard accounting, so weird that negative numbers appear when you thought you were budgeting money for something. 

    I believe there must be a way to design a rollover budget that doesn't show negative numbers in the budget column when you are merely reallocating. In a traditional budget, you would move money from one budgeted amount (only if it is positive) to another budgeted amount. WAM. That's it.  The last Available/Difference column would show how much you really have. If you overdid it, the Available column would be the one that is negative.

    So it's fine if you want to be creative, but here's another problem. Move Money from Available and that could show a negative amount in your Budget column. Let's say you have been moving a lot of money at the beginning of the month. Suddenly there are all these negative amounts in your Budget column. How do you know what they mean? Did you make a mistake? Is there something going wrong? No way to find out! And since it defies logic, there is no way to guess. (Also no audit trail, but I really don't want to have to go there. It should be easy.)

    I want to reiterate that I'm new to nYNAB and maybe there is something I just don't get. But if I were totally new to YNAB, and were coming from QuickBooks or Quicken, this budget thing would make no sense to me whatsoever. I'm really curious if other newbies are struggling so much as I am. I'm going to let it rest until March :)  Thanks again, y'all.

    Like
    • Granny Bogle I completely agree with you.  I've been struggling with the negative number in the budgeted column too.  It's almost like this is a weird audit trail sort of feature? I don't need to see a constant reminder of what I originally thought I would need in a category.  I just want to be able to move the money! 

      Like
      • Jannelle
      • jannelle_ynabsupport
      • 3 yrs ago
      • Reported - view

      Hi Cadet Blue Major ! 

      Thanks for chiming in here, it's good to hear from our users about what needs a bit more clarity! It is an audit trail of sorts, in that it's just shows the calculation of what you budgeted in that category (or moved out of the category, because moving money affects the budgeted column). Negative budgeted amounts are nothing to be concerned about though -- it simply means you moved money out of the category that you budgeted into it in previous months (it only goes negative when the budgeted amount goes beyond 0.00, and in a new month it turns 0.00). Here's a quick video that explains why that happens.

       

      Anyway, I will certainly pass along your feedback about seeing the details in the budgeted column! 

      Like
      • JonR
      • anim10
      • 3 yrs ago
      • Reported - view

      Jannelle Granny Bogle Cadet Blue Major 100% agree with Granny and Cadet.  I have been using YNAB for about a year I think and I was looking at my "To be budgeted" today which has around $1500.  I was about to budget my Electric Bill,  which I have a Goal Target of $360 a month, I noticed I had a negative number.  Prior to this month (July) I had extra available money (around $434) in this category because our summer months average $150 so a credit builds up in available money.  From a YNAB perspective though I still "budget same amount each month.   

      At the beginning of July I moved all of the available money to other categories for various reasons.  What I didn't realize was that my "Budget" for Electric is now at -$434 which as mentioned above is not reality, it's really trying to show a history of what was done, which is all well and good if you understand that.  In my mind and every other financial type application budget implies "what you have planned on for a category".  If I take all the money that I have available and move it my available should change, not my budget.  I should still be at $0 for my July budget because I haven't done that yet.  So I know this confusion has already be explained and people have offered advice on how to look at the "Budget" column saying you can kind of ignore the negative numbers and all that really matters is the "Available" column but that's not true. 

      Here is where my confusion with this applications begin as it does for the previous users.  On the right where my Quick Budget buttons are I have a button that that says Goal Target: $360.34.  If I click that, about $800 comes out of my "To be budgeted" income; $360 for the current month budget AND also the negative budget money of $464.  That is where I think there is a flaw with the system.  These buttons are no longer valid because earlier in the month I have moved extra money that has accumulated in that category to things that needed it more.  Only my available should change, not my budget because I haven't budgeted yet for this month.  It's almost like Budget and Available are trying to serve the same purpose but not really.  Could you argue that the buttons are saying that to match you budget amount you need to add $800, sure, but I'm not adding $800 to my budget, I'm only trying to add my normal $360 for the month.  That is all that matters.  If I click the button to make my budget amount for the month $360 I now have $794.91 in my available column for electric.  Why would I ever want the system to do that for me when you know I have a monthly goal of $360.   If all the button still worked by adding what I said my goal was for the month maybe, and I really mean maybe, than just maybe would I be able to agree that we don't need to pay full attention to that column versus available column.

      So I know these scenarios were mentioned above but I just wanted to add a little more indication of where I think it's flawed from a "Budget" vs "Available" perspective.  

      Like
      • nolesrule
      • Stealing From the Future fix is an improvement but is incomplete....
      • nolesrule
      • 3 yrs ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      Slate Blue Grizzly 

      Slate Blue Grizzly said:
      It's almost like Budget and Available are trying to serve the same purpose but not really.

       They aren't.

      The Budgeted column shows you how much money you have added or removed from the category in the current month through the act of budgeting (or moving money). It is a net figure for all movements during the current month.

      The Available column tells you how much money you have in the category right now.

       

      It sounds like you are using a Monthly Funding goal, so yes, using that goal for the basis of your quick budget is going to want to increase the category so that the Budgeted amount returns to the amount equal to the funding goal (the amount to get it back to zero and then also to the funding goal). I would suggest not using the Monthly funding goal for quick budgeting if you are also  removing money from a category in a particular month.

      Like 2
      • JonR
      • anim10
      • 3 yrs ago
      • Reported - view

      nolesrule I agree with what you are saying but isn't Rule 3 of YNAB to Role with the punches?  You mention not using the Monthly funding goal for quick budgeting if you are also removing money from a category.  My understanding of how the system works is to plan ahead and assign your money and if you need to adjust than take it from a category that has excess and move it somewhere else.  At the end of the day you are still only moving money you have.  Which I can tell you from experience and from using other applications, this way of thinking is great and why I still use YNAB to this day.  The old way of budgeting never worked for me because I always spent money I didn't have.  

      And that point in particular is where I think there is confusion and user experience deficiencies.  I move money all the time from category to category and I know I have it available because I can see my available number change. 

      All I am saying is that I don't think the budgeting column needs to show me what I have added or removed from my Available column because it is super confusing and not obvious to a new user.  It's only after we have posts like this that users understand the purpose and you can than say "Aha!, I get it now".  The problem with that is I would bet that is not YNAB's intention.  They want everything to be obvious from the beginning and to complicate matters, the quick buttons not working the way they do on any given month  because I have moved money around is not self explanatory for a user.

      My opinion, and only my opinion, is that the budget for the month should be the budget for the month and nothing more.  It shouldn't go below zero because it's what I'm planning for, not my history.  And technically I don't see the history of the moves, I only see the new number, which when negative is confusing.

      This app has amazing functionality that if I need to see the history of moving money, it should be my Available money that I see the history of.  I think a great feature would be to have a hover on the Available or a link like they do for activity that would show here is where I moved my money to from this category.  This would give you an audit trail (which I know was mentioned above) of where you moved money to or added from for that matter, as well as allowing the concept of budgeting to be what I have added to a category.

      So I understand where you are coming from but it's the one really confusing thing about this application and it's because the concept of budget having a negative doesn't make sense. 

      And trust me, I think this application is great but this would really help people I think coming from other applications!

      So hopefully the point is understood and we can wait and see how this gets addressed in future revisions.

      Like
      • nolesrule
      • Stealing From the Future fix is an improvement but is incomplete....
      • nolesrule
      • 3 yrs ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      Slate Blue Grizzly I agree wholly that there is a conflict between goals and how they react when moving around money in the budget. It's one of the reasons that goals are a poor replacement for an actual budget template. I still use YNAB4, so I don't have goals, but when I've played around with nYNAB, I never liked the goal features. I found them nagging rather than helpful.

      Personally I fund every category the same amount every month, and then I go back through and if a balance is too high I just move the money elsewhere.  It's cleaner that way.

      Like 2
    • Hi JonR !

      You're right that the Quick Budget options don't take those negatives into account - or rather, they do, which is the issue. If the goal is to have $360 Budgeted, then the Quick Budget option covers the negative first and then adds the $360 to get to the regularly Budgeted amount. Since you took money out of that category, you aren't budgeting $360, you're replacing the $360 you removed and placed elsewhere.

      In instances where you don't want that to be the case, it's better to manually adjust the Budgeted amount. You can submit a Feature Request to ask our development team to take a closer look at how the Quick Budget options are functioning but, currently, this is by design. :)

      Like
      • compuls1v3
      • Tinkerer
      • Khaki_Lobster
      • 2 yrs ago
      • Reported - view

      Granny Bogle The part that is really counterintuitive to me is this. Say I have a budget category that says -$100. If I change the budget to be $100, it says I have $200 available. This is using the phone app. I'm a newbie as well. If this was the envelope situation, shouldn't the budget now read $100 and available read $100? I know if I want the available amount to read correctly (for me) I can take the amount I want to budget then subtract (or add the negative number)  to the desired budget amount and the available will show correctly.  It just doesn't make sense that I have to do that; I feel the program should do it for me. 

      Like
      • Radar DG
      • Retired Navy/Security Officer
      • Land_locked_squid
      • 2 yrs ago
      • Reported - view

      compuls1v3 Granny Bogle A math and accounting crazy (on personal finances). I once spent three hours on my checkbook (remember those?) trying to find four cents. LOL. Wish I had saw this thread prior. I searched but didn't come across it until after posting for myself on the same subject. Because it is still making me squirrelly. After reading through a large portion of this thread, I'm apparently over concerned for nothing. it's just YNAB math at work. If it were a negative in the available, I could understand.  "Red light! OOPS! Better cover that!" But, a negative in the budgeted column still messes with my head. As the budgeted amount is based on the monthly funding goal, I would think it should read positive or zero at the lowest. Any excess funding should just show as available after the category item has been paid. Moving any excess should not have an effect on the budgeted column. As stated earlier, it is just VERY counterintuitive. 

      If I may suggest, encoding a "flag" into the program where, if Budgeted amount = zero and Move amount =< Available amount, then Budgeted = (remains) 0. Obviously can't move more than available or that will create "red overspent" situation. 

      Also, I am definitely down with the Audit trail idea. That would cover the "what the heck did I do with that left over money?! (head scratch)" after moving it from one category to another. Instead of showing a very confusing negative in budgeted.

      Like
      • Radar DG
      • Retired Navy/Security Officer
      • Land_locked_squid
      • 2 yrs ago
      • Reported - view

      Radar DG Faness Hi Faness. Meant to add you to my above reply.

      Like
    • Hi Radar DG !

      I must admit, I have spent my fair share of hours tracking down discrepancies as well! ;)

      It's not that the Budgeted amount is based on the monthly funding goal, it's that the monthly funding goal is based on the budgeted amount. I know you mean that you're trying to reach your goal by using the Budgeted column, but the goal is a result of the budgeted column - so addressing the budgeted column and the math there takes priority.

      You actually can move more than you have available. If an account is overdrawn, overspending may be unavoidable. If there was spending done on a credit card, the overspending would be orange and essentially that's telling YNAB that instead of paying your credit card, you need those funds somewhere else at the moment. 

      If you focus just on the math in the Budgeted column - negatives plus positives, or vice versa - the amount in the Available column will respond accordingly.

      Like 1
      • nolesrule
      • Stealing From the Future fix is an improvement but is incomplete....
      • nolesrule
      • 2 yrs ago
      • Reported - view

      Radar DG 

      Radar DG said:
      If I may suggest, encoding a "flag" into the program where, if Budgeted amount = zero and Move amount =< Available amount, then Budgeted = (remains) 0. Obviously can't move more than available or that will create "red overspent" situation. 

       This is not mathematically possible. Your numbers will not balance if you pretend a negative number is zero, and will cause issues with future modifications to the budgeted amount.

      Like
  • Granny Bogle said:
    How do I think about that -$711 Budgeted amount when I actually am budgeting $100 for the Buffer this month?

    That's what the available column shows.   If you think if budgeted as "amount to spend", then you should be looking at the available column.  To follow up on the envelope analogy: the available column tells you how much is in the envelope ready to spend (at the end of last month & at the start of this month before you put anything in the budgeted column); the budgeted column shows the net amount you put in/took out of the envelope (like a note you may have written on the outside of the envelope).

    To use your example:

    You had $811 in the envelope = $811 in available column before budgeting.

    You took out $811 from the envelope = -$811 in budgeted column (negative because you took it out); available shows $0 b/c your envelope is empty. (There's no money available to spend - what I think you mean by "budgeted".)

    You add $100 back to the envelope: -$811+100 = -$711  in budgeted column (negative because you took out more than you put in; this is the net result of what you did); the available shows the $100 you put in the envelope (as you said:,"$100 I budgeted for the buffer").

     

    Another way to look at your example: 

    You had $811 in the envelope = $811 in available column before budgeting.

    You took out $711 from the envelope = -$711 in budgeted column (negative because you took it out to put in other envelopes); the available column shows the $100 you left in the envelope.

     

    Speaking of notes, until you get the hang of it, you could put a note in the notes section of what you did (for example: "FEB: started with $811 from Jan; removed $811 then added $100 back). The notes carryover month to month so that might help you see how it all works.

    Like 1
  • I know I just replied to the topic above but because your example is very clear as to how to look at the columns I just wanted to make a quick comment here as well.

    After reading your example I completely understand what YNAB is doing and it totally makes sense if you understand the intention of the columns.  Note "the intention" does not follow normal budget column purposes.  I was just as confused as the other users and this is where I think the application could improve for user and help with these kinds of scenarios.

    Everything is YNAB is quick and easy to do.  This application is 100% user focused which is one of the main reasons I love the application.  note: I am also a software developer who focuses on UI/UX (User Interface / User Experience so I appreciate the flow of everything probably more so than a user who just wants the app to do what it's supposed to do.

    That being said, but changing how  a budget column works, meaning they gave it extra functionality by allowing it to theoretically show that I have removed from my budget, it breaks the usability of the buttons and the efficiency of the application for budgeting purposes.  For example, to just set up my normal $360 month payment for this month (see previous post above for details) I now have to use the budget column calculator features to make my available column show $360. So for the next two to three months I will no longer be able to use the Quick Budget buttons because until I am out of the negative in my budget column they are inaccurate as to what funds I am trying to apply to my monthly bill.

    So although your explanation is perfect in explaining "what" is happening, I think YNAB is breaking it's User Experience for Budgeting vs Available.

    Thanks @Gbr for a clear explanation and hopefully these post head us all in the right direction

    Like 2
      • JonR
      • anim10
      • 3 yrs ago
      • Reported - view

      JonR Sorry everyone, one last thing I just realized as well now that I am adding my normal $360 for my Electric using the addition feature in the budget column, my Available column is still Orange because it's being calculated from the budget column, not from the available column.   (Which I know there are reasons for that also but it only compounds this scenario)

      So because I have moved money from my available category and made my budget column negative I now will not be able to have a Green icon for Available funds even though I have enough money assigned to pay that bill based on what I have set my monthly goal to, which is not great because that is how I would quick scan to make sure I have everything budgeted for a given month.

      Just wanted to point that out for any other users that find this post and might not understand why something doesn't look like they expect it to.

      Like
  • I HATE this feature!! Everything about the YNAB app is perfect, except this. I would rather have all the money go back into to TBB than to have to deal with the negative numbers. It makes sence if you follow the logic. But it makes me want to cry. I can't figure out how to make it not do that.... I might have to delete the app... GRRRRRRRRRR

    Like 1
  • The only way that I am aware of preventing this from happening is to go back to the previous money where you had the cash flow excess and move it back to the to be budgeted. 

    So I'm guessing that be it's August 2nd now you had extra money in a category that you want to use for other stuff this month; sounds reasonable.  The problem arises when you move that money back into To Be Budgeted and now all of the sudden your $0.00 become $-15.57 or some amount that you have moved. And now to get to your normal "Budgeted" amount you now need to budget an extra $15.57 to make it right, which just means next month you will have the same problem and this feature will never work correctly again.  I feel your pain!! 

    So to be clear on how to fix this, now that we are in August, go back to July and move the excess $15.57 from that month back to "To Be Budgeted" and now when you go to August whatever category you were using will now have the $15.57 subtracted and you won't have to worry about going into the negatives.  I guess in reality your "July" budget will technically not have been covered but now that we are in July you should be able to ignore that month, at least from the budgeting perspective because you have already paid all of those bills. 

    I totally agree with you that it is probably the only negative feature about YNAB and yet because it's a main part of the app (Budgeting) I understand wanting to move on.  Hang in there because it is a great application.  I'm hoping they will address this in a future update and make it a "monthly" budget but for now you can use the work around.  Hope this helps!!

    Like
  • JonR Lavender Tugboat  The key really is that the "budgeted" column does not represent what you are thinking it ought to. 

    In a backward-looking, get-spanked-for-being-bad budget, "budget" is "This is how much money I'm spitballing for this category." The only purpose of the budget column is to give you a yardstick so you can feel good or bad about meeting the yardstick with your spending. 

    In YNAB, the budgeted column is "this is how much money has been added to this category in this month." The purpose of it is not to estimate a budget amount, but to actively add money to the existing available balance for that category. If you think back to fifth or sixth grade, you had a moment when your teacher pointed out that there is such a thing as adding a negative number. I bring up sixth grade not meaning "you're stupid; this is sixth-grade math," but because you may be like me and remember that as a "mind blown; nobody told me this before" kind of moment. 

    It is possible to "add" a negative amount to a budget category. This is the same as subtracting money from a budget category. It means nothing with respect to your budget except that it shows you a bit about how money moved. The column that matters is the "available" column. One reason it's confusing is that in your first month using YNAB, your "budgeted" column and your "available" column will match perfectly. So it feels like YNAB is just like every other type of budget. But it's not. It's an envelope budget, and in later months, you will probably end up taking money out of an envelope that you put it in. 

    When you try to make the budget column not have any negatives, you are adding unnecessary complexity to your budget for no benefit. Understand that all a negative number means is "You removed money from this category" and keep on budgeting. 

    Look again at Ceeses explanation above. Try it out with some real cash or monopoly money and some real paper envelopes. This is a situation where a slight change in thinking is going to solve the problem completely. 

    Like 5
      • compuls1v3
      • Tinkerer
      • Khaki_Lobster
      • 2 yrs ago
      • Reported - view

      WordTenor  The part that is really counterintuitive to me is this. Say I have a budget category that says -$100. If I change the budget to be $100, it says I have $200 available. This is using the phone app. I'm a newbie as well. If this was the envelope situation, shouldn't the budget now read $100 and available read $100? I know if I want the available amount to read correctly (for me) I can take the amount I want to budget then subtract (or add the negative number)  to the desired budget amount and the available will show correctly.  It just doesn't make sense that I have to do that; I feel the program should do it for me. 

      Like
      • WordTenor
      • Can we agree that goals are dumb and immature? Sure.
      • WordTenor
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      compuls1v3 The budgeted column shows how much you have added to that category this month, and it is possible to add a negative number (in other words, to subtract). Think back to 4th grade arithmetic, when you first learned negative numbers. If so far you have added -100 to the category, and you change this so that you have added positive 100, you have added 200 to the category: the difference between 100 and -100. -100+100=0, which is what should appear in the budget line if you only want to add 100 . 

      In the software, you can have the software do the math by either adding a + to the end of the budgeted line, or by using the move money tool. Or you can do the negative + positive math in your head and put the result in the budget column. But if you choose to replace the number in the budget column, you have to take into account the math involved with a negative number and put the result of the calculation, not just the number you wanted to add. 

      Like 1
      • jenmas
      • jenmas
      • 2 yrs ago
      • Reported - view

      compuls1v3 You've told us what was in the budgeted column (-$100) before you added $200 to get it to positive $100 in the budgeted column. But what was in the available column? If the available column was also -$100, I can see your confusion and there is indeed something buggy. But if they available column was at 0 and you added $200 to the budgeted column (-100+200=100), it is mathematically correct that there is now $200 in the available column.

      Like
      • compuls1v3
      • Tinkerer
      • Khaki_Lobster
      • 2 yrs ago
      • Reported - view

      WordTenor 

      WordTenor said:
      But if you choose to replace the number in the budget column, you have to take into account the math involved with a negative number and put the result of the calculation, not just the number you wanted to add.

       Correct.  This is the part I don't like.  So to be clear, I have a negative (-$100) amount in my budget column, and $0 in my available column.  If this is an envelope system, and I put $100 in my envelope, I would expect my budget to read $100 and my available to read $100, not add the (-$100 + $100 = $200???)  That doesn't make sense to me.

      Like
      • compuls1v3
      • Tinkerer
      • Khaki_Lobster
      • 2 yrs ago
      • Reported - view

      jenmas I didn't add $200 to the -$100 to make $100. I added $100 to the budgeted column, with available being $0, expecting to have $100 available, since the current available is $0.  I'm basing this off the assumption that I read earlier that this "Budget" column is just an envelope, showing what's been put in and taken out.  If I have an envelope with no money in it, (available $0), and I add $100 to the envelope, I expect the available to be $100.  I guess I just don't understand the Budget column yet.

      Like
      • jenmas
      • jenmas
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      compuls1v3 then I completely misread what you wrote:

       

      compuls1v3 said:
      The part that is really counterintuitive to me is this. Say I have a budget category that says -$100. If I change the budget to be $100, it says I have $200 available.

       I read it as saying that the budgeted column said -100 and you changed it to read +100. The only way to do that is to add 200 to the budgeted column. And if the available column had been at 0, then it would make total sense that it now said 200 because 0+200=200.

      Like 2
      • WordTenor
      • Can we agree that goals are dumb and immature? Sure.
      • WordTenor
      • 2 yrs ago
      • Reported - view

      compuls1v3 It is just math. There's nothing to like or dislike. The difference between +100 and -100 is 200, not 100. You've crossed zero on the number line. Do you understand how to use the software to accurately add $100? 

      Like
      • nolesrule
      • Stealing From the Future fix is an improvement but is incomplete....
      • nolesrule
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      compuls1v3 You replaced -100 with 100. The delta between them is 200, so your available increased by 200. If you had -100 and added 100 to the budgeted column, the budgeted column would be ZERO and the available column would increase by 100.

      Like 2
      • compuls1v3
      • Tinkerer
      • Khaki_Lobster
      • 2 yrs ago
      • Reported - view

      WordTenor I do know how to make it read the correct available number, as I've stated earlier.  I just don't like the way the software works. I can have an opinion on that.

      Like
      • WordTenor
      • Can we agree that goals are dumb and immature? Sure.
      • WordTenor
      • 2 yrs ago
      • Reported - view

      compuls1v3 I can’t read your mind, I’m sorry. I can only read what you write. You keep writing that you don’t understand why changing -$100 to positive $100 means your available goes up by $200 so we keep trying to explain to you why. If you understand that you are adding $200, then you get it and you know to change it to $0 to result in $100 being added. 

      Like
      • compuls1v3
      • Tinkerer
      • Khaki_Lobster
      • 2 yrs ago
      • Reported - view

      jenmas Thanks for the explanation. I wasn't understanding the budgeted column, it's just not how I want this software to work. Apparently I have no choice though.  Thanks for the help!

      Like
  • compuls1v3 said:
    So to be clear, I have a negative (-$100) amount in my budget column, and $0 in my available column.  If this is an envelope system, and I put $100 in my envelope, I would expect my budget to read $100 and my available to read $100, not add the (-$100 + $100 = $200???)  That doesn't make sense to me

     The Available column is your envelope. The Budgeted column shows the net change of how much you have put in or taken out of the envelope (to move to a different envelope) during the month. 

    In order to create the scenario you described, you must have started the month with $100 in your envelope (Budgeted = $0, Available = $100). But at some point you took out the money and moved it to a different envelope. The net change of the contents of the envelope is now -$100.  (Budgeted = -$100, Available = $0].

    If you put $100 in the envelope, your Budgeted column is going to display the net change: Available = $100, Budgeted = $0.

    However, because your envelope is smart, if you cross off "-$100" and write "$100" on the envelope (Budgeted = $100), your envelope is going to assume you put $200 in (Available = $200), because that's how you get a net change from -100 to +100. 

    Like 2
      • compuls1v3
      • Tinkerer
      • Khaki_Lobster
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Vibrant Your description of this is the closest thing that makes sense for me.  Again, it's just my preference to NOT have the budget assume anything. In my mind, adding $100 to a Budget of -$100, with availibilty of $0 should make the budget read $0 and available $100. Again, I understand how it works, I just don't  like it. I'm probably in the minority. Thank you and everyone else for explaining how the software works.  I am very appreciative to all. 

      Like 1
      • nolesrule
      • Stealing From the Future fix is an improvement but is incomplete....
      • nolesrule
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      compuls1v3 If you want to add, use the calculator function built into the Budgeted cell. Don't replace the value with another value.

       

      Current month Available = Last Month Available + Amount shown in Budgeted Cell + Amount shown in Activity cell

      This equation would break (and the universe would explode) if it behaved how you want it to behave.

      Like 2
      • compuls1v3
      • Tinkerer
      • Khaki_Lobster
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      nolesrule Now this I can do.  I just learned how to add properly to my budget with your comment.  Thank you!! 5 stars for this online community!

      Like 1
      • Radar DG
      • Retired Navy/Security Officer
      • Land_locked_squid
      • 2 yrs ago
      • Reported - view

      nolesrule I don't think the universe would explode. I think it is more a matter of implementing the right program code to prevent the negative from happening.

      But, I think this thread will, at least, keep my head from exploding. LOL!

      Like
      • nolesrule
      • Stealing From the Future fix is an improvement but is incomplete....
      • nolesrule
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      Radar DG The negative has to happen. It's a mathematical reality of the formula.

      Like 2
      • WordTenor
      • Can we agree that goals are dumb and immature? Sure.
      • WordTenor
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      nolesrule I remember which teacher taught me adding positive numbers to negative; it was definitely 4th. Adding negative to positive I think was 5th. 

      Like 1
  • compuls1v3 said:
    I'm basing this off the assumption that I read earlier that this "Budget" column is just an envelope, showing what's been put in and taken out

     Perhaps this is the confusion. “Available” is the envelope. It shows how much is in the envelope. “Budget” is the math that shows how much has been added/subtracted from the envelope this month. Read again my big post; perhaps it will click. 

    Like
      • compuls1v3
      • Tinkerer
      • Khaki_Lobster
      • 2 yrs ago
      • Reported - view

      WordTenor  @Vibrant got through to me by pointing out that "Available" is the envelope.  Again, thank you and everyone else!

      Like
  • I'm a newbie and have been so excited about YNAB. I also got my 17-year-old son to start using it.  Now it's a new month, and my son was trying to move $10 in the available category from dining out to Uber via the iPhone app, resulting in a negative number in the budget column, which was very confusing. We spent a long time trying to adjust everything, and the numbers were bouncing around from -$10, to $10 to $20, in the various columns and also  To Be Budgeted. It was a disappointing moment. In my first month of YNAB, I played around a lot with the amounts I was budgeting, and I never had a negative number. I just want to add my voice to saying it's a bummer. At the very least, there should be a little popup explanation the first time you get a negative number in your budget column. The same kind of alerts for when you overspend, or the little animations showing you money moving between categories. I don't like the negative number in the budget column, but to save the user the experience of banging their head on the wall and reading through all this, walk me through it in the program. Maybe the first time you go through a roll over of the month, there could be a pop up to say, "Hey, welcome to a new month. Here are some things you may notice..." 

    Like
      • jenmas
      • jenmas
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      Ivory Elk if you have a category with 0 in the budget column and $20 in the Available column, the confusing about a negative number in the budget column when you reduce the available balance seems to represent some overthinking. That’s how the money gets out of the category- you negative budget it. It’s following the standard rules of arithmetic. 

      Like 2
  • Good grief.  Can anyone tell me how to FIX this??  I never move money around, I usually just let it roll over from month to month.  Last month however, I had an unexpected bill (new furnace) and so I basically took any "extra" money from all my categories to help pay that.  Now I have negative numbers in the Budgeted column all over the place.

    From reading through this thread I get that it's just a history of what happened and I just need to focus on the Available column.  But does this mean I am going to have negative numbers in the Budgeted column until the end of time?  Is there any way to correct this?

    I completely agree with the other newbies out there that this is confusing.   AND a pop-up or notification the first time it happens would be GREAT.  Then you would realize what you just did and could easily back it out with the Undo button.  Now I'm a week and a new month into that action and I don't know how to reverse it.  

    Like
      • jenmas
      • jenmas
      • 1 yr ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Silver Flute Yes you will have negative numbers in the budgeted column in the month that you moved the money for ever and ever. The reason is that it reflects the reality of what you did. The issue is that you assume that negative sign = bad. That is an incorrect assumption. The reality is Negative sign = I reduced the funding in this category in this month.

       

      Silver Flute said:
      Now I'm a week and a new month into that action and I don't know how to reverse it.  

       Why do you want to reverse it? Because you have decided that the presence of a negative sign means that you did something bad? Well you didn't. Because you want to change the amount of money in the category? Just make the budget adjustment. If Category A has -25 in the budgeted column and 5 in the Available column and you want there to be 10 in the available column, change the -25 to -20. But the money has to come from somewhere? What category are you going to reduce by 5 in order to get another 5 into Category A?

      Like 1
    • jenmas I guess I am attributing negative to "bad".  Thanks for pointing that out.  I guess that's fine, I will just ignore it.  I almost wish I could hide it then cause at this point - why in say 6 months am I going to care that I took money I had and moved it between categories?   I don't really get that part, but that's OK.  As long as my Available column is green I guess that's all that matters.  Thanks.

      Like
    • Silver Flute Positive entry puts money in, negative takes it out. Neither is good or bad. It's just a number.

      Look, no one is going to predict the future with 100% certainty -- which is why Rule 3 exists and why sometimes you need to take money out of a lower priority category. You make your best guess for budget allocations using information you have at the time. If "life happens" sometime after that -- which it always does -- you adapt and change the plan (a.k.a., the budget). That's not bad, that's just being sensible!

      For example, you initially planned on 10 guests for thankgiving dinner, but the RSVPs totaled 15. Are you really going to set out 10 places as originally planned?? As new information arrives, you update your plans when necessary.

      Like 2
  • I love negatives in budget categories!  It tells me a) I was able to roll with some punches without creating debt or b) I spent less than I planned and was able to put the money to better use or fun stuff or c) I had extra income I was able to defer to another month (which I do every month because at least a quarter of my husband's salary comes in 6 month increments).

    Like 4
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