Overspending credit card, turn of automatic movement of money

Is there any way to stop YNAB from moving money to the credit card when a new month start if there are some categories that are overspent with credit? Since the credit card pay cycle is not aligned with the months (what I spend the end of august I have  to pay end of September), overspending with credit is not usually actually overspending. This is particularly problematic when I use my credit card to pay bills that I will be reimbursed for. The advantage of this is that I actually do not have to move money from another category and then move it back later, because by the time I have to pay the bill my employer will have paid me back the appropriate amount. 

It is really very inconvenient that YNAB decides to "solve" this problem for me by automatically moving money at the beginning of the month (this is to some extent also true for categories that are red at the end of the month, btw). It already has a few times made me think I had more money to budget than I actually had. Is there any way to turn this off? If not, could you please implement this feature, so that I don't have to manually check and move everything back at the beginning of the month? Given the amount of posts I found about people confused about red credit card categories after they paid off their depths I imagine I am not the only one who struggles with this.

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  • You are not the first person to have trouble wrapping your head around the way that YNAB handles credit card spending and where the funds go, and into which categories at which time. You won't be the last person, either, I'm sure, since YNAB doesn't seem to have an issue with this challenge that many of us struggle with.

    I'm not sure I totally understand exactly how you are handling it, but I do have a few tips that I have learned to work with in order to deal with a few of these challenges.

    Firstly, a better way to handle reimbursements is something that many people have wanted for a long time. It's not here yet. So you have to get a little creative. The smartest thing that I have done is to put all my reimbursements into one category. So all of that spending gets put into a single category. Ideally, YNAB would want you to pre-fund that category "just in case" you don't get refunded by whomever owes you. I, frankly, don't have the funds to prefund reimbursable purchases that are being made on a credit card. SO, the easiest thing to do is to put all of those purchases into a single category marked 'reimbursements' or 'work' or something equally notable that makes sense to you. Then make the purchases into that category only, knowing that it will be over spent, and knowing that that balance will disappear at the end of the month. But when you do get paid by your employer, you will know that the total should equal the over spending balance from last month and any spending for this month combined, and you can apply that directly into the reimbursement category (instead of putting it into To Be Budgeted). When it is there, you simply move whatever shows up green up to the credit card to be paid with your next bill.  That is the cleanest way I have found to manage it, and it keeps the math simple, and keeps the money from "disappearing" into somewhere else, which is bad for the budget!

    This is mostly a matter of wrapping your mind around how YNAB organizes and categorizes things. A little shift in thinking will help you work around this.

    Like 2
    • farfromtheusual Thanks! That sounds like a reasonable way of handling it. Let's hope YNAB at some point decides to implement something that allows us to handle this in a more intuitive way.

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      • MXMOM
      • MXMOM
      • 1 yr ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      farfromtheusual I do this and use the coloured flags to keep track of the ins and outs. So if I go on a trip and spend on food, hotel, car rental, airfare, taxis, parking, etc. I enter each transaction to the same "work" category with a blue flag. Then I can filter on just the blue flag and get the total that I need reimbursed. Then I record the expected reimbursement also with a blue flag for a net zero amount. If you export the budget to excel you can filter on the blue flag and create an expense reimbursement summary.

      Like 1
    • MXMOM That's a great method! Are you applying the blue flag in the app when you record a transaction? I don't see a way to do that while logged in online, or to search for only the blue flags through a web browser.

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      • MXMOM
      • MXMOM
      • 1 yr ago
      • 1
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      farfromtheusual yes it works in the browser.  Hopefully these screenshots will help. The first is my whole account open. You will see some have a flag and some don't. The second pic shows just the yellow flagged items. And the third pic shows how the dropdown will pop up the flag as a search option when you start typing the colour name.  When you search by the flag it will bring all of them up so since I reuse the flags there may be some from a trip last year but I just ignore those when I am totaling. Come to think of it, I seem to recall there may be a way to #tag a transaction. At a minimum you can put that in the memo and then search by that. ie. #charlotte2019  I like the flag because its quick and easy especially when using the phone app.

      (I hope the pics make sense. I am fighting the forum demon that is not letting me post this twice now).

      Like 1
    • MXMOM I do similar, searching for the Reimbursement category rather than flags.

      Like 1
    • MXMOM Ooooooo I see them now. D'oh. it was right there all along.
      Now I have more things to play with!

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      • MXMOM
      • MXMOM
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      dakinemaui  Yes I have one category called work/home office and then I use the flags to group them by trip. My husband never thinks to expense the coffee and bagel he buys on the trip saying he has to eat anyway. My philosophy is I submit every expenditure (aside from purely personal things like bringing back bourbon or going to a theme park). This way I can gather them all up and make a simple report for him to take in and do his expense report. Never leave money on the table!

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  • YNAB does not move money to the credit card payment category if you leave a category overspent. You will have to budget to the credit card payments section in order to have enough to pay the balance. 

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  • Yes, you're overspent. Any negative category is overspending, so own it.

    That said, because these charges on a CC do not need to be paid back for at least 4 weeks, giving you plenty of time to be reimbursed. FYI, the YNAB docs (Temporary Overspending Section) make this harder than it needs to be and skew spending / income reports as well.

    1. Categorize all relevant transactions, both outflows and inflows, to a Reimbursement category

    2. If the reimbursement category ever turns green (positive balance), move those funds to the CC Payment category. (Click on the Green Available to access the Move Money tool.)

    This simple approach covers all the cases, including reimbursement in a later month than the outflow as well as further outflows in that later month. The pending total is easily seen by searching for the Reimbursement category in All accounts.

    Like 2
    • dakinemaui Thanks! I find it indeed unnecessarily complicated, just allowing the amounts (both positive and negative) to move to the next months would pretty much solve this problem. Your approach sounds like a reasonable solution, I will try it :).

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    • dakinemaui you explained it far simpler than I did!

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  • Hi Salmon Guitar !

    Here's an article about what happens when the month rolls over - I think it'll help! :)

    When a new month starts, negative amounts are removed from your categories. If it was cash overspending, the negative amount is applied to the new month's To be Budgeted balance. If it was credit overspending, the negative amount will show in your credit card debt balance.

    In the new month, you'll need to add funds directly to the Credit Card Payment category to pay back that debt.

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    • Dear Faness  ,

      I'm afraid you did not understand well my question. I do know how it works, I'm asking if there is a way to turn it off, and in case there isn't, I'm requesting you build a feature that allows people to keep both positive and negative balances in their budget when the month rolls over. I'll explain to you why.

      This means that when I make a credit card payment, it sometimes doesn't matter that it is 'over budget', because I will be reimbursed before I will actually have to pay the bill. When this reimbursement is within the month, YNAB doesn't give me any trouble, because it actually allows me to have negative categories in my budget. This allows me to see where I still will receive money, and makes that I do not artificially have to move (often large amounts of money) from other budgets to cover this, and keep track of where I have to move it back when the money comes in. Currently, before the month rolls over, I have to write down all negative categories, so that I can move them back accordingly, because YNAB will automatically move money from the "to be budget category" (and as far as I know there is no easy way to discover how far the category was negative).

      I have the suspicion you might say, that this is the YNAB philosophy and that everything needs to be accounted for, but actually this is only true when the month rolls over. All other days YNAB let's me have my red or yellow categories. The first of the month is not really any other day than the other months though.

      So, I will repeat my request (which, judging from the responses above I already got within one day would be very much appreciated also by others): would it be possible to implement a feature that allows you to keep both negative and positive balance when the month rolls over, so that we can have full control over where we move our money, instead of having it done for us.

      Many thanks in advance.

      Like 1
    • Salmon Guitar Don't waste your breath. This has been hashed over and over, and YNAB refuses to budge on it, claiming that it is too easy to "cheat" and ignore the over spent categories rolling forward.

      I have discovered it is just as easy to "cheat" and ignore the fact that the credit card has a balance on it that is rolling.

      Really, it is all in how you wrap your head around it. Some of us would prefer to see the debt moving forward into a new month in the budget in the category where it belongs. For some people they could cheat that way. Some people would do better seeing the debt mount up on their credit card balance. Some of us can more easily ignore that number that way. It just depends on how you process numbers and what 'triggers' you into action/awareness. YNAB thinks that there's only one way.

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    • The function made me actually unwantedly "cheat" because I have the credit card balance category hidden (why would I need it, the money should all be accounted for in other categories). Because I didn't know at first that YNAB automatically takes care of overspending in the next month, and I didn't see the credit card go negative because it was hidden, I thought I had more money than I actually had and restoring that wasn't easy! Faness you can understand that is not a good situation.

      Now that I understand better this probably won't happen again, but it is still very inconvenient and disappointing that it cannot be considered to make this optional. I'll see  I find the work-arounds convenient enough to keep using the app and otherwise I'll just check if I can find another one.

       

      Thanks for responding farfromtheusual

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    • Salmon Guitar I totally understand. YNAB doesn't seem to recognize that different people have different mental processes about certain things, and would prefer to work with money in a different way.

      It is their program, though, and so they can set it up how they please. I am with you, though, there have been enough people asking to have the flexibility to be able to work with it in a way that conceptually makes sense that it seems they would at least allow the option. *shrugs* They don't seem to agree.

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    • Salmon Guitar Sorry for not understanding initially! What farfromtheusual said about carrying over negative balances is correct. This was a feature in a previous version of YNAB that we chose to remove - it made it easy to hide overspending, which meant your budget was lying to you.

      If you have $50 Available in Dining Out, but -$40 in Fun Money, you really only have $10 that can be spent, not the full $50 that's showing in the Dining Out category.

      We want to make sure your budget always reflects reality, so the new YNAB is more honest in the information it provides, and is better aligned with the YNAB method. We suggest covering overspending immediately by moving money from other categories, even if you'll be reimbursed later. I understand seeing that as an extra step, but it keeps your budget accurate. 

      We are looking into a way to improve the handling of reimbursements, but we want to find a way to do so without carrying negatives from month to month. 

      Like 1
    • farfromtheusual True, it seems a bit inconsistent to me still (especially since red amounts *are* allowed, just they are every now and then removed). If this feature was here before, as Faness says, I think we can indeed be sure that they won't re-introduce it. Pity but indeed it is their choice and up to me if it is enough an inconvenience to decide to switch apps. In any case, farfromtheusual thanks for sharing!

      Like 1
    • farfromtheusual "Flexibility" is at odds with the desire to have accurate category balances at all times. Thus the hard stop on YNAB's part. They might implement a more automated reallocation system (e.g., from a category of your nomination), but that requires money in that category. Realistically, anyone in that situation can (and probably has) already carved off enough cash to offset the category because it makes tracking reimbursements quite trivial.

      The people who can't do that employ the Temporary Debt approach, and these are the people who need a better solution. An automated reallocation system pulling from the CC Payment categories -- even to cover cash expenses -- would work quite well. The debt could be shifted to the CC whose payment occurs "later", leveraging the principles of "riding the CC float" among the pool of cards with budgeted spending and the fungibility of the cash backing those purchases.

      The user would have a minimum of 30 days after the purchase to be reimbursed. (Those who use CCs for budgeted purchases might have more time, depending on whether their spending exceeds the pending reimbursable amount, however, that's a side point better known as "riding the CC float".) It would be clear, however, how much they can send to the CC Payment category without causing other categories to be overstated.

      (It might be confusing that the CC Payment categories self-adjust, but given YNAB is shifting money toward the card that must be paid sooner, perhaps they could learn to accept it.)

      The biggest issue is user education -- many people with limited cash reserves still want to run red categories at present. They want to "remember" that they went over in whatever category rather than acknowledging their initial guess was off. They simply don't understand the ramifications of red categories. Others take TBB grossly negative. Still, these are not new issues. The existing approach of taking it out of next month's TBB is fairly effective.

      So yes, an approach that maintains an "honest" budget as well as tracks reimbursements without the user having to "maintain" the CC Payment category is quite doable. (At least as honest as it is at present when confronted by users who intentionally disregard the methodology.)

      Unfortunately, this would substantially impact the CC handling. YNAB won't even put an overspending indicator on the GUI, so I highly doubt they would tackle anything as complicated as self-maintaining CC categories to offset reimbursements.

      Like 2
    • farfromtheusual said:
      YNAB doesn't seem to recognize that different people have different mental processes about certain things

      I think it's more that they prioritize the greater number of users for whom overstated balances would be a serious problem. Yes, carrying a negative balance forward was once a feature, and it was by far the most common problem plaguing the community. YNAB clearly learned their lesson there (due in no small part, I suspect, to the support costs).

      They're simply not going to expend money/resources for something that would potentially harm the majority just to make things a little convenient for the minority. And apparently they are not creative enough to make it convenient AND unharmful.

      Like 1
    • Salmon Guitar said:
      especially since red amounts *are* allowed

      The user is supposed to fix this ASAP. The periodic removal is simply the backup plan. The fact they let it slide cannot be used as justification to let it slide even longer, lol!

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    • dakinemaui Ehehe whoops 😂 

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    • dakinemaui I appreciate your explanation, which makes more sense than what most have said. The interesting thing is that I don't feel that I'm in a minority when I have raised this issue, and seen it raised numerous times. There is a gap that is still allowing things to slip through, and I don't really have an answer as to what would be better, I just know that I would appreciate some more experimentation on YNAB's part to help close that gap.

      If I have orange/red over spent categories that raises much more awareness than having the over spending just disappear at the end of the month. I can feel so much better about myself when the only indication that I am carrying a balance on my credit card is the number next to the budget, and I can ignore the fact that the number there and the number next to the credit card payment category do not match. It would be nice if the difference (i.e. the actual amount of float) was posted somewhere in writing. Currently it does not exist, and so myself, and others have to work to double check what that number is (if we care, anyway). It's simple math, so YNAB shouldn't have an issue doing it, but it isn't anywhere in the program.

      Like 1
      • monkeyhanger
      • No animals were harmed
      • monkeyhanger.1
      • 1 yr ago
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      farfromtheusual I don't know whether you use the Toolkit but this is somewhere that can help. Paid In Full Credit Card Assist does two things. Firstly, if the balance you have available to pay the credit card is less than the credit card balance, it will be in an orange bubble not green as in native YNAB. Secondly, you see a rectify difference quick budget button in the inspector for each credit card. This essentially does the maths for you and quotes the difference in the button.

      Like 2
    • monkeyhanger I haven't used the toolkit, and I wish it didn't have to exist, there are so many logical things that would make sense to YNAB to implement, but they choose not to for some really strange reason (like goals being the same color as over spending on credit cards. SMH. I mean really). The toolkit only functions on the computer that you load it on and in firefox, correct?

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    • farfromtheusual said:
      If I have orange/red over spent categories that raises much more awareness than having the over spending just disappear at the end of the month

      My speculation as to YNAB's view: they are more focused on having you move forward rather than heightened awareness of past mistakes. Their fundamental goal is to provide guidance for your next purchase. That's the awareness they want to provide. What can the money you have right now do for you?

      That's a very forward-looking viewpoint. If you don't subscribe to that view, however, you're not going to like it. But I don't think they care. Dwelling on the past is the last thing they want you to do. In their mind, if you could have fixed it, you would have; and the corollary, you didn't fix it, so you must have been unable to do so, so let's move on.

      It's that latter piece with which I have an issue. There are other reasons than lack of money it wasn't fixed. (An easy example is that you just missed it under a collapsed group or in a sea of underfunded, identically colored goals.) And yet, feature requests to make overspending more obvious go unimplemented.

      Again, my speculations for why things are the way they are. Almost certainly this is not the entire reason, but I think it figures pretty heavily into the truth.

      Like 1
    • farfromtheusual Toolkit works in Chrome as well, but yes, you have to install it into the browser.

      It's a mystery why YNAB doesn't implement some of these seemingly obvious ideas. Initially, they were trying to implement the minimum viable product to get into the market quickly and start earning money. However, several years later, here we are, still wishing. But hey, at least we get a new CSV Import Doodle. 🤔

      Like 1
      • monkeyhanger
      • No animals were harmed
      • monkeyhanger.1
      • 1 yr ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      farfromtheusual I only use it on my laptop so can't answer the first one definitively. I do 99% of my manual entry and all other functions on the laptop so haven't had to think about anything else. I use Chrome as my browser for YNAB and the Toolkit definitely works on there.

      I think some of the things on it should be native in YNAB but definitely not all particularly if you take the view, as YNAB have, that they don't want lots of toggle on/off functions. The main thing that I'd like in YNAB that isn't there is a running balance. Not critical but I prefer it. I also like the ability to change the green bubble to orange in the PIF instance and the ability to change orange bubbles to blue when they're not overspending BUT I'd equally happily just turn all the bubbles off and the goals and go back to a cleaner screen. The -ve sign should be the key thing to identify overspending after all. 

      I don't actually use the rectify difference button - my credit cards are PIF or a 0% treated with goals - but I knew it existed somewhere.
       

      Like 1
    • dakinemaui This is a great explanation of the philosophy. But my ADHD brain looks at it and says "Oh good, the mistakes are gone, I'll just ignore the fact that they're still there hanging around..."
      In my mind not having any awareness of the over spending means the difference between funding debt repayment vs funding something that could wait. While I understand that self imposed goals are supposed to take the place of that, I guess it would be helpful if it were just a tad clearer. A good example is working with the Debt Smackdown challenge. If I over spend and push my debt further into the negative I have to do some math to figure out how much I've over spent from one month to the next. I really shouldn't have to do that to figure out what my float is. In an ideal world, yes, I'll always pay to zero and never have extra debt, but I'm not there yet. I don't want the debt hanging over my head (that's just as bad, and I'm totally aware of how much my mindset affects my ability to pay off the debt), BUT clarity is super helpful!
      Yay CSV Import Doodle I guess....

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    • farfromtheusual  Yes I completely agree with you, visually the red categories make much clearer that there are some things I still have to take care of, and consciously having to move the money to cover it gives me much more responsibility (and therefore control) over it.

      Like 2
  • Salmon Guitar said:
    This allows me to see where I still will receive money, and makes that I do not artificially have to move (often large amounts of money) from other budgets to cover this, and keep track of where I have to move it back when the money comes in. Currently, before the month rolls over, I have to write down all negative categories, so that I can move them back

    May I suggest a slightly different process to address these issues?

    You do not have to move money for credit-based overspending, so try to utilize the CC as much as possible. If you must use a cash-based account (which I assume to be small amounts, since you said you need your cash elsewhere), you can usually cover the resulting red overspending from the CC Payment category (which typically has money from normal, budgeted purchases). (Tip: paying the statement balance rather than the entire account balance leaves cash in the CC category and still avoids interest.)

    If the Reimbursement category ever turns green, that positive amount is the exact amount you need to move -- no need to write down amounts. Furthermore, it always should move to the CC Payment category, so no need to write down "source" categories.

    A search for the Reimbursement category in All Accounts will show the pending total owed to you, which I find is sufficient. However, a slight variant can show this total at a glance if you record all reimbursement-related transactions as categorized transfers to a tracking account. The category Activity/Available is simply the change during the month, so don't treat it as something it's not (the cumulative total).

    Like 2
  • I'm just gonna jump in with my dirty little secret for how I sometimes handle this stuff, and see what kind of opinions I get, if any.  Dead last in my accounts list I have one called "Future Income" which is totally imaginary.  When I know I have a check in my purse that needs to get to the bank (and into the budget) I put it in there.  When I am owed money from someone that will be coming any day, I put it in there.  And occasionally, I'll put a large business expense reimbursement we're expecting.

    This keeps me from being distracted (and irritated) by yellow categories, and at the same time constantly reminds me that there is "income" there that needs to be reconciled as soon as possible.  I have to either remind my friend of the amount she owes me for whatever I picked up for her, bug my husband once AGAIN to get his reimbursements into work, or get my butt to the bank to deposit that cash or money order I can't do on my phone.  It also helps me make a note for what amount I'm expecting back from a health insurance claim so I can make sure I don't forget to check up on it if it doesn't arrive.

    There have been occasions where the month rolls over and a transaction is in it from the prior month that I haven't been able to officially move yet to a real account.  Then I move it forward to the new month and cover the overspending the month before with the new month's money.  That's my version of accountability.

    So obviously I know this will never be the official line from YNAB or even most of you, but it's my way of working out some of my budget/reimbursement issues.  It's risky as I am temporarily departing from reality, but I am so on top of my budget with manual entry and cash flow management that I know I'm not on the edge.  And I do this very sparingly.  90% of the time it's empty.  But I'd rather keep reminding myself that there is actually something I *do* need to handle or chase down, rather than become desensitized to a bogus yellow warning where I know I didn't really overspend.  

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    • Annieland said:
      It's risky as I am temporarily departing from reality

      The "risk" really depends on the significance of the error. You've obviously increased the money in the budget over that you hold in the real world. If this error is negligible compared to the total on-budget cash, then it's hardly a risk. (You'd need to spend all the rest of your cash before you're "caught".)

      In such cases, it's a matter of convenience to tolerate the error. You have the money to shift around, but it's simply easier not to do so only to shift it back in a few days.

      However, if the amount of Monopoly money you've injected is significant where normal spending might deplete all of your real cash, that's clearly a serious problem. Much of YNAB's target market falls in this category, which probably explains their hard-line stance against Monopoly money in the budget.

      For other readers, any red numbers in the budget (categories or TBB) do the exact same thing (yield overstated category balances). Thus the warnings that you can't trust your budget when red overspending is present.

      The real question is whether you can trust the budget "enough".

      Like 1
      • Annieland
      • YNABbing every day since 2009!
      • Annieland
      • 1 yr ago
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      dakinemaui Right, that's why I said I take extra care to make sure I'd never be in a position to be out of actual cash money with a bill to pay.  I just wanted to throw in the acknowledgment of the risk element for the masses.  It's a personal preference/habit/compulsion of mine to not tolerate yellow or red numbers at any time, and pretending I've deliberately and irresponsibly overspent causes slightly more cognitive discomfort than having some Monopoly money in my budget very temporarily.

      Like 1
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