Negative Cat. from last month

Maybe I'm too curious. I've been reading about YNAB not rolling over negative categories at the end of the month. I wanted to see what happens and didn't take the time to create a play budget, so I used my real budget. I made 1 cat. go a negative $5.00 on a cash transaction on the 28th and didn't fix it. April came and nothing really seemed to happen. The -5 is still in last month's cat. TBB didn't change (still 0 for last month) and was 0 for the start of April. Now I want to clean this up. I tried to reduce a cat. in this month, creating a $5 TBB and went back a month, but last month TBB still 0. So, that's not how to clear it up. After undoing that, I tried to budget $5 more to the cat. in last month. There was $15 budgeted to this cat. and I changed it to $20. Here's the strange thing, the -5 in the cat. went away, but TBB didn't change! I undid that as well, I doubt that was the right path. How can I clear this up? Do I have to back date a transaction into last month? 

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    • Khaki Storm
    • YNAB book topics online: https://support.youneedabudget.com/r/q5w48j
    • Khaki_Storm.1
    • 6 mths ago
    • Reported - view

    I think I got it, but not the most straight forward approach. I clicked on the -5 cat. balance and a "Cover this Expense with.." came up. I selected a cat. that has more than $5 in it at the end of the month. That cat. (food) went down by $5 and the -5 cat. went to 0. Then in this month, food was also down by $5. 

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  • Was the -$5 orange or red??  It’s sounding to me like it was credit card overspending and not cash overspending. 

    Reply Like 1
      • Khaki Storm
      • YNAB book topics online: https://support.youneedabudget.com/r/q5w48j
      • Khaki_Storm.1
      • 6 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      satcook It was red. Cash. 

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  • Cash overspending pulls money from TBB in the farthest out month you have money budgeted in. So, for example, if you've budgeted to rent for the next 6 months, then September will show as $5 overbudgeted.

    This is one of the reasons why experienced budgeters just recommend the one month at a time approach and instead build up an emergency fund rather than spreading out months in advance. Too many places you have to hunt for errors.

    Reply Like 2
      • Khaki Storm
      • YNAB book topics online: https://support.youneedabudget.com/r/q5w48j
      • Khaki_Storm.1
      • 6 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      nolesrule Oh, I didn't look outward. I'll check to see what happened there.  Yes, it was out there. 

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      • bevocat
      • Sometimes, It Just Sucks to Be You
      • bevocat
      • 6 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Ben Khaki Storm Congratulations. You have just experienced stealing from the future.

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      • Khaki Storm
      • YNAB book topics online: https://support.youneedabudget.com/r/q5w48j
      • Khaki_Storm.1
      • 6 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      bevocat here I just thought it was a concept, like if you eat that snack now you'll spoil your dinner. 

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      • bevocat
      • Sometimes, It Just Sucks to Be You
      • bevocat
      • 6 mths ago
      • 5
      • Reported - view

      Ben Khaki Storm Uh, no, it's been heavily documented that this is a bug feature of the web version, that the software does this for you, silently. As if they used a Star Trek transporter to beam that snack into your stomach without you even realizing that your dinner was being spoiled.

      Reply Like 5
  • I wonder if playing with the $5 in March is changing the TBB in April, or in a budgeted category in April?

    I experienced this (not on purpose, very stressfully) when I started YNAB last year.  I had chosen to budget half of groceries/gas to each month per paycheck (paid on 15th) so that I would not spend the entire $500 in the last half of the month and have to eat ramen for the first half of the month.  However, as other expenses changed my priorities, I wasn't always using the "cover overspending" button. Instead, I was trying to budget to zero; it was no fun.  Luckily, I only had 4 categories funded for the coming month, so when I happened to look at them and saw they had the wrong balance, I figured out how not to put myself in that situation. 

    Namely, have all needed next month expenses in a category called Next Month Gas/Food/etc, and never change previous months once you've budgeted in the next month.  This makes me sad, because sometimes I see a better way than what I first thought, and want to fix October to make my reports more accurate.  Bad story.  Just avoid it.

    *edited for grammar

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      • Khaki Storm
      • YNAB book topics online: https://support.youneedabudget.com/r/q5w48j
      • Khaki_Storm.1
      • 6 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Move Light Sound Life That is some crazy logic to follow and troubleshoot! 

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    • Ben Khaki Storm nolesrule explained what happened pretty clearly, without my stress-filled story.  It's definitely more exciting if you have no idea which numbers are changing invisibly.  I felt redeemed by my insistence of triple checking everything we did at the beginning.  Now, I just try to prevent such extra work and headache.  

      2nd story: I'm pretty sure this happened again, right as we paid off one of our credit cards.  At the time, I reached out to support, trying to figure out what workflow error could have resulted in the discrepancy (we were triple-checking from 3 different perspectives).  I was simply told that we were wrong in calculating how much debt we had left to pay off, and how to fix it going forward.  As a new user, I really wanted to know how to avoid that type of surprise.  After reading people's stories and answers in the forum, I believe it was this type of situation. 

      Avoid doing anything in next month.  The dominoes are hard to pick up when real life happens.

      Reply Like 2
      • Khaki Storm
      • YNAB book topics online: https://support.youneedabudget.com/r/q5w48j
      • Khaki_Storm.1
      • 6 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Move Light Sound Life But budgeting into next month is the whole YNAB way, correct? 

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    • Ben Khaki Storm 

      That's a nightmare.  As I understand, the original idea was to have enough money that you can live off of last month's paycheck, while also going for (reaching) the goal of having enough savings specifically to fund True Expenses (YNAB seems to disagree about an EFund in case of job loss/medical emergency, but that seems smart, too).  Using the software to manipulate next month's budget as a means to that end seems to be a nYNAB development.  It's only an application of the philosophy, and I still don't see the benefit of that workflow.  

      I can't wait until we're a month ahead - we'll have a line for next month's money, and we'll be able to budget once a month!  That is good for budgeting our time, as well.

      I think you've probably seen a lot of posts about this issue and its work arounds, though.  The ones I usually read end up being from Patzer, nolesrule, the ballerina girl, bevocat, and adrienne01 or something like that.  I think they've been doing this much longer than I, but I guess I felt like adding my voice to the cause, in case a support person sees, or a newbie is lost.  I've already put in feature requests. 

      Reply Like 3
      • bevocat
      • Sometimes, It Just Sucks to Be You
      • bevocat
      • 6 mths ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view
      Ben Khaki Storm said:
      But budgeting into next month is the whole YNAB way, correct? 

       Yes, except they still haven't fixed stealing from the future, so we (users) highly recommend holding off on implementing that until they really, truly have.

      Reply Like 2
  • Ben Khaki Storm I just wanted to point out that even if that $5 transaction was a cash transaction, if it was in a category where there was credit spending, YNAB would prioritize the cash spending - so what you intended to be cash overspending, would become credit overspending and thus wouldn't affect To Be Budgeted in the following month. 

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      • Khaki Storm
      • YNAB book topics online: https://support.youneedabudget.com/r/q5w48j
      • Khaki_Storm.1
      • 6 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Faness Nope, this cat is all cash spending. 

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      • Khaki Storm
      • YNAB book topics online: https://support.youneedabudget.com/r/q5w48j
      • Khaki_Storm.1
      • 6 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Faness That's even more confusing.

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    • Ben Khaki Storm If you're still having trouble getting to the bottom of that overspending, we'd be more than happy to take a closer look for you! :)

      If you’re up for it, go ahead and enable Support Access for your account. Once you’ve done that, let me know and I'll dig in!

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      • Khaki Storm
      • YNAB book topics online: https://support.youneedabudget.com/r/q5w48j
      • Khaki_Storm.1
      • 6 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Faness I think I have it taken care of, I hope. 

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    • Ben Khaki Storm If you change your mind, you know where to find us! ;)

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    • Faness Would you consider just fixing the problem for everyone rather than personally looking into individual budgets? Please?

      Reply Like 1
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 6 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      lebdavidson2 They've been considering it for 3+ years.

      Reply Like 1
      • Khaki Storm
      • YNAB book topics online: https://support.youneedabudget.com/r/q5w48j
      • Khaki_Storm.1
      • 6 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Faness Also, just to be clear, it wasn't really overspending. I had the money, I just wanted to let the situation be created to see what happened. I should have done it in a fake budget.

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  • I would also like to add that I really want my family members to use YNAB.  It's a good philosophy.  However, this is one of the main weaknesses when I try to convince them.  Having numbers do unexpected things does not inspire confidence in the switch.  There's going to be a learning curve because they've been used to thinking about things in other ways.  But it's really difficult to learn a new approach if you can't even see cause/effect in how the tool works.  This "Stealing from the Future" is annoying to people with money, because it causes unexpected money loss through poorly informed decision making.  It has the potential to cause ruin in very tight situations.  

    Reply Like 2
  • nolesrule said:
    This is one of the reasons why experienced budgeters just recommend the one month at a time approach and instead build up an emergency fund rather than spreading out months in advance. Too many places you have to hunt for errors.

    I don’t think that’s a fair, sweeping statement to make of “experienced budgeters.” One of the strengths of YNAB, in my opinion, is the ability to give dollars jobs several months out. So long as you are aware that you need to check the TBB category in the month furthest out and ensure it’s still $0, there’s nothing to be frightened about. Amorphous “emergency fund” categories break Rules 1 & 2 IMHO. 

    Reply Like 1
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 6 mths ago
      • 7
      • Reported - view
      Gray Violin said:
      Amorphous “emergency fund” categories break Rules 1 & 2 IMHO. 

       I don't see how it applies to Rule 2, and it's not a violation of Rule 1 at all.

      Interestingly, I use that term as short hand. I don't have an emergency fund. It's called Income Interruption Fund. I have individual categories for other things people tend to lump into the emergency fund, so it's not a single amorphous category. If you know how much you need to fund for 6 months, it doesn't matter if it's all sitting in one category just in case it needs to be deployed or if it's spread out among many categories and many months. As long as you have income, you don't need to deploy it.

       

      Gray Violin said:
      I don’t think that’s a fair, sweeping statement to make of “experienced budgeters.” One of the strengths of YNAB, in my opinion, is the ability to give dollars jobs several months out.

       Actually, it is fair, for a couple of reasons.

      1) Budgeting into the future creates the Stealing from the Future problem  which is one of the side effects of this topic, unless you use work arounds to wall your months.

      2) The future isn't predictable down to the penny. When Netflix or your cable company or your cell phone company decides to jack up their bill by small amounts every so often, or you get a raise and you want to give yourself an extra $5 spending money every month you have to change the category in every future month it's been budgeted to, as well as adjusting other categories to offset in every month you budgeted to in order to keep things even. The extra work gets tiring after awhile.

      Therefore the experienced budgeter understands that there is no practical reason to budget more than a month out (The old YNAB Rule 4), and would store the money that might fund those future months in an Income replacement fund.  Just because YNAB opened up the ability to do more than Income For Next Month because of demand from their customers doesn't mean it was a good idea. Afterall, they replaced the old Rule 4 with a useless metric that doesn't mean what people thinks it means.

      I've been having this conversation for years. I've been using YNAB for 5 years. The experienced budgeter knows I'm right. If one doesn't get what I'm talking about, I'd say that the budgeter has much to learn and is not experienced enough.

      Reply Like 7
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 6 mths ago
      • 5
      • Reported - view

      Additionally, from a practical point of view, the entire purpose of budgeting one month out is from the old YNAB Rule 4, which had you budgeting a month using only the previous month's income.  It meant that instead of having to budget paycheck to paycheck and income event to income event, you could store up this month's income and then budget it in the next month in a single go.

      While Rule 2 does stop you from living paycheck to paycheck, being able to budget with last month's income in one go allowed you to stop budgeting paycheck to paycheck, and when you do that you can make better overall decisions on what to do with your money.

      The change in nYNAB takes away the previously built-in functionality, and the result is people trying to budget paycheck to paycheck forever which doesn't help get out of that paycheck to paycheck mindset. At what point is enough enough?

      So, what have we learned?

      1) The future budgeting goal should be to budget next month using only current month income, so that you can budget an entire month in one go. This is actually the end-goal. Once you've accomplished this, you are going to be in very good shape going forward.
      2) One does not need to budget into the future ad nauseum. If one knows how much money they need per month, they can store it in a single category to make modifying the budget easier and keep the money out of the way so they aren't constantly having to tinker with multiple months.

      Reply Like 5
      • adriana01
      • adriana01
      • 6 mths ago
      • 5
      • Reported - view

      nolesrule  agreed. Even in the two use cases that I found slightly plausible as a reason to budget further out (single paycheck at end-of-month saved for the month after next and saving for seasonal gaps in income) putting the money in a category to wait until the month you budget in is still generally better because you are making the budget decisions at the time when you have all the info needed, not several months in advance.

      Reply Like 5
      • Patzer
      • Retired at age 60. Thank you, YNAB!
      • Patzer
      • 6 mths ago
      • 7
      • Reported - view

      Gray Violin 

      You have no idea to whom you are speaking.

      People who used prior versions of YNAB recommend only budgeting one month out.

      People who started with the web version, tried budgeting multiple months out, and ran into the very issues nolesrule describes talk about how a holding category is easier.

      People who get a little bit ahead say things like, "I just dump it all into my mortgage category, then reallocate it when I do next month's budget for real."

      People who are still living paycheck to paycheck say, "I'd like to be able to budget 3 months ahead, maybe 6."

      Who is the experienced budgeter?

      YNAB as designed is a great system for managing your money when you're living paycheck to paycheck.  Unfortunately, with the move to the web YNAB threw away many of the tools that are very useful for people who are no longer living paycheck to paycheck.

      Reply Like 7
      • bevocat
      • Sometimes, It Just Sucks to Be You
      • bevocat
      • 6 mths ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      adriana01 Agreed. This was me when I started YNAB. Now that I have pulled in a lot more income events during the month (another person's inflows, a second job that pays fortnightly, interest income, etc.) it feels even more important to me to put that money in a holding category. Its job this month is to wait until next month when it will be budgeted out to categories as appropriate. And I don't have to (well, get to, in my case) tinker with the category budgets all month long.  One and done.

      Reply Like 2
    • Khaki Storm
    • YNAB book topics online: https://support.youneedabudget.com/r/q5w48j
    • Khaki_Storm.1
    • 6 mths ago
    • Reported - view
    Gray Violin said:
    Amorphous “emergency fund” categories break Rules 1 & 2 IMHO. 

     That seems like a correct statement. 

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      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 6 mths ago
      • 6
      • Reported - view

      Ben Khaki Storm Shorthand. People use the EF phrase because that's how they think of it. However, having 6 months expenses sitting in a single category doesn't mean you should fill your budget with it 6 months out instead. There are practical reasons why that's a bad idea.

      Also, it's not a correct statement. Rule 2 isn't applicable here. And as for Rule 1, as long as you continue to have income, then the money's job is actually to wait to be deployed in case your income is interrupted, so there's no reason to actually spread it out in the budget.

      Reply Like 6
      • Gray Violin
      • Geriatric musician
      • Gray_Violin.4
      • 6 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      nolesrule I think it’s fair to say there are different approaches that work for different YNABbers. For some, storing future month expenses in a holding category is the way to go; for others, actually funding expense categories in future months is, for them, the best approach. I think we can all agree there is no one way to use YNAB properly.

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      • bevocat
      • Sometimes, It Just Sucks to Be You
      • bevocat
      • 6 mths ago
      • 6
      • Reported - view

      Gray Violin I can certainly agree that there are multiple approaches that can work well, but an approach that sets you up to be silently smacked by a bug and also creates more work for you is objectively a worse way.

      Reply Like 6
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 6 mths ago
      • 5
      • Reported - view

      Gray Violin Budgeting multiple months is objectively not the best approach. Ultimately they will stumble into the issues I have outlined and will realize that. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but eventually.
      Budgeting into the future doesn't even work well for the scenario it's supposedly protecting against... of losing a job. Most people tend to cut back when that happens to make their money last longer, because they don't know how long the situation will last. So they would end up having to make mass budget edits to many months anyway.

      Reply Like 5
      • Gray Violin
      • Geriatric musician
      • Gray_Violin.4
      • 6 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      nolesrule Gosh, I thought I'd be able to come into this forum, share ideas and thoughts and learn some stuff along the way. If I'd known beforehand it was full of a bunch of know-it-alls, I'd have stayed away in the first place. Now, I know. Happy budgeting, wise guys!

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      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 6 mths ago
      • 4
      • Reported - view

      Gray Violin We don't tolerate people recommending other people shoot themselves in the foot intentionally around here. Just because you can do something doesn't mean it's a good idea.

      Reply Like 4
    • Gray Violin I don't think the intention is to be negative. Everyone here is genuinely interested in being a positive part of this community.

      I think the issue is that what you are proposing is a known pitfall that could easily cause problems down the line. 

      You can definitely choose what advice to follow, it's just that others will also read these forums and I think we all want to stress the point that your way (though it may work for you) may cause unnecessary headaches down the line.

      At the end of the day while your way may be preferred I think we all want to recommend what is considered the best practice. Otherwise we'd just be enabling something that we don't agree with. 

      Try not to take offense. It's just advice that you may choose to accept or ignore. Good luck! ☺️

      Reply Like 6
  • Is negative cat the same as grumpy cat? 

    Reply Like 2
      • bevocat
      • Sometimes, It Just Sucks to Be You
      • bevocat
      • 6 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Purple Admiral bevocat is not amused. 😤

      Reply Like 1
      • Technicolor Cheetah
      • Not sure when I became a cheetah...but I'll run with it
      • technicolor_cheetah
      • 6 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Purple Admiral 

      Technicolor Cheetah has better colors but is envious of the ability to express disapproval without really swiveling the ears.  

      Reply Like 1
  • Just to add my two cents...

    For me, it's a decision on how efficient I want to be with my budget. Since we can't predict the future, there's absolutely no way to know for sure how much I'll need in any specific category. Things can always change for whatever reason.

    So is it more efficient to budget what I think I'll need for my budget 6 months out and then adjust ad nauseum for every little unexpected thing that comes up?

    Or should I give my excess dollars the job of waiting to be budgeted in a buffer category until I'm in a more reasonable position to determine what their future job will be. 

    For me, option two seems to be the more efficient course of action.

    Reply Like 5
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