Monthly Carryover / Windfall Accounts

In my previous budgeting life, we used windfall accounts which built month by month until we needed the money. YNAB seems to function for this as long as I don't spend myself into a deficit in a category, in which case it seems to wipe the slate clean the very next month. I'd like to see that red number carry over to the following month and our budget for the month to be set against it until we "catch back up." Is there any way to make YNAB do this or must I find the money somewhere in the month in which the expense comes to cover the expense and not carry a negative balance in that category over to the following month?

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  • No. There is no way to have YNAB automatically carry forward a negative in a category from month to month.  You can do it by manually entering a -$X amount in the same category when the month rolls over.  It's not recommended practice because for those with limited account liquidity, creating false category balances can cause them to inadvertently overdraft or NSF an auto-payment.

    I would encourage you to always have positive real numbers that you can totally rely on in your budget.  Pretending you have $1,000 in category A, while telling yourself you "owe yourself" $1,000 in category B of future income or future restricted spending, is just a lot of math games.  Much better to display zero in both those categories, so you can see exactly where you are at all times.

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      • Dustin Baker
      • world's worst accountant
      • dbakerps15
      • 1 yr ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view

      HappyDance thank you. I am not a fan of math games, but while we are transitioning into using YNAB there are a couple of funky little hurdles we have to get over to get everything working. Our travel budget is one of those we hit occasionally, but it just so happens we are hitting it in the first month of using this, so it cannot rightly roll month to month. Fortunately, we have a nice buffer built into the bank account, but I just will have to figure out how to deal w/ the issue when it comes up. But you have given me the answer I needed. Thanks much.

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      • HappyDance
      • YNABing consistently since 2014
      • HappyDance
      • 1 yr ago
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      Dustin Baker 

      The transition can be challenging.   Good luck. 🙂

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  • In YNAB 4 I make use of the “carry over” feature occasionally when a transaction fell on the “wrong side” of the month — e.g. an auto payment scheduled for the 1st of every month fell on the last day of the previous month because of a holiday or some other reason that led it to be processed a little early.  I take it this feature is totally gone from the current YNAB, and is one of the reasons I’m still a YNAB 4 user and will be until it totally breaks.  (The other reason is the current version’s inexplicable inability to forecast bank account balances based on scheduled transactions.  That’s still a thing, right?)

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      • HappyDance
      • YNABing consistently since 2014
      • HappyDance
      • 1 yr ago
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      Cadet Blue Stallion 

      Interesting. I've never had an auto-payment come out earlier due to a weekend, but I have had my salary deposited earlier but with a future date. I always find that incredibly weird too. The funds are there and can be spent, but the deposit date is in the future.  Any auto-payments that fall on a weekend or statutory holiday come out the next business day in my accounts.  What would your bank do if you didn't have sufficient funds in your account the day before your auto-payments are due?

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      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 1 yr ago
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      Cadet Blue Stallion If the money is already there next month, I'd probably just fudge the transaction date.

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    • nolesrule If you fudge the transaction date, you can't reconcile your bank statement with YNAB, since your bank says it happened during the statement period and YNAB says it didn't.

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      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 1 yr ago
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      Cadet Blue Stallion You can fudge and un-fudge the date to manage reconciliation.

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  • YNAB is an allocation budget, or more accurately an electronic version of envelope budgeting. When your money is physically divided up and put into envelopes, it's not possible to spend more than is in the envelope. So that means you need to use the same solution that a physical envelope budgeter would use. You must pull the extra money needed from some other envelope.

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  • YNAB4 used to allow this.  There are plenty of examples where you would want a negative balance.  For example, you have an annual bill, and you want to reflect that you are putting money in the envelop leading up to when the bill is due (and hence you have enough to pay the bill).  Or, you overspend in one month, you don't have the funds in that month to cover, but you adjust in the next month.  By wiping out the negative balances, I have no way of seeing where I am......as I was able to in YNAB4.  

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      • satcook
      • satcook
      • 4 mths ago
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      Gray Wrench I am confused by your annual bill example.  No negative balance is needed there.  You fund the bill for the 12 months before you pay it......

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      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 4 mths ago
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      Gray Wrench I am confused by your overspending example. The money's gotta come from somewhere, so the best thing is to plan to spend less in a lower priority category. It is unlikely that is the same category as was originally overspent. (It was clearly important enough to blow off the original spending plan in that category, right?)

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    •   If I overspent on vacation, for example, and don't have money in current envelopes, but will pull from future month envelopes by adjusting my future spending, the negative balance would be "paid off".   YNAB4 worked this way.

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      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 4 mths ago
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      Gray Wrench nYNAB works by paying off the negative immediately, which adjusts your future spending plans (immediately). Same end point. 

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      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 4 mths ago
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      Gray Wrench In the real world, envelopes can't have negative balances. Carrying over negative to reduce usage in future months is borrowing money from the future... money you don't even yet have in your possession.

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    • nolesrule In the real world, there are credit cards, which ideally factor into the use of traditional envelop budgeting, and hence the "borrowing" money from next month's planning to cover last month's overages.  Irrespective, the fact that the feature was removed from YNAB4  makes it impractical.  

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      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 4 mths ago
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      Gray Wrench The budget is a plan for your CASH alone. Purchases on credit always incur debt. YNAB will warn you that you don't have cash planned to pay off that debt, but it's not going to hold that over your head past the end if the month.

      Debt is debt, regardless if how it got there. You can budget for a larger payment in a later month if you want to reduce it.

      Like 3
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