401k Tracking Account: Outflows vs. Inflows

I am able to create a Linked Tracking Account for my 401k that is correctly automating the account transactions for approval. However, transactions are loading as Outflows of the account, rather than Inflows. For example, a dividend payment into the account is reducing the value of the account in Tracking rather than increasing, which I would expect. 

I know that I've correctly put the account in Tracking as investment is pre-tax deduction from my take home pay, so it not part of my Budget. 

Did I set it up incorrectly from the beginning? The Starting Balance is listed as an Inflow.

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  • Don't bother linking it. Just do reconcilliation adjustments using your end of month balance.

    Like 5
    • nolesrule i do that regardless for the Change in Market Value, which is what I"m tracking relative to the market indices (so there is a reason it is linked). So assuming that all things remain the same, I'm still looking for an explanation as to why investments into the account are being designated as Outflows by YNAB. 

      Like 2
    • Hi Jefferson B !

      Sorry for the trouble here! For many investment and loan accounts, our Direct Import partner is only able to provide your current starting balance — or only certain types of transactions. There can also be other issues, such as seeing inflows import as outflows and vice versa.

      We're looking to make improvements there, of course, but you may not find it worth setting up that Direct Import connection at this time — especially since investment and loan account balances are typically Tracking accounts (with very little daily activity), which don't affect your budget.

      If you'd like to provide details about your account (such as the financial institution who provides the account), I can check with our Direct Import partner to see if this can be addressed. However, updating the balances like this is quick, easy and prevents any direct import issues. :)

      Like
    • nolesrule I had a question about this, I just setup my IRA and another investment account, unlinked, my plan is to reconcile each month, say it grows, then I assume I can add that growth as income, and in To Be Budgeted, just assign it to my IRA. What happens if the value goes down, do I code it as an expense? But if I'm not budgeting for it, won't it just look like I've spent money? How do I account for months when it loses money, but I don't want it to "take $" from anywhere. I don't know how to describe this, maybe there is a YNAB video that explains it somewhere.

      Like
      • Superbone
      • YNAB convert since 2008
      • Superbone
      • 2 wk ago
      • Reported - view

      Blue Lion Normally, investment accounts are off-budget and have no effect on TBB.

      Like
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 2 wk ago
      • Reported - view

      Blue Lion Retirement accounts should be tracking accounts, not budget accounts. Adjustments to their balances will not affect TBB or your budget.

      If you are taklking about Taxable Investment Accounts on budget, then you need a category that's sole purpose is to absorb  gains and losses to isolate from the rest of the budget. You should not be investing budget funds unless you have a large enough padding in the taxable account first.

      Like
      • Superbone
      • YNAB convert since 2008
      • Superbone
      • 2 wk ago
      • Reported - view

      nolesrule For the (rare) on-budget, taxable investment account, it doesn't have to be its sole purpose. That's not my setup, anyway. Speaking of which, mine took a BIG hit in March as I'm sure yours did too. April was much kinder.

      Like
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 2 wk ago
      • Reported - view

      Superbone Well, no. I guess not. But if you don't want declines impacting the rest of your budget, then that's the way to go with it. I didn't bring my brokerage account into my budget until it was 2.5 times my Income Replacement Fund, and at the time it solely contained dedicated investment money and the start of our next round of car funds only.

      I have since adjusted my overall asset allocation and added calculations to invest other parts of my budget. As long as my taxable investing category balance doesn't drop to zero, the rest of my budget is safe. The difference between the account balance and the category balance is the amount of my budget that is invested within the account. I'm also still adding money to the category that has no job except to be invested, which decreases my budget risk.

      Like
      • Superbone
      • YNAB convert since 2008
      • Superbone
      • 2 wk ago
      • Reported - view

      nolesrule I'm saying it doesn't have to be its sole purpose as you specified. Mine is my Freedom Fund. It takes the hits (and positive fluctuations) but it also does a whole lot more. At 2.5 times your IR fund, I'm sure its only purpose isn't taking hits, in fact you said as much. It covers a whole lot more.

      Said another way, I have one category that takes the fluctuations but it covers many other things. It has more than one purpose. I think we're just talking semantics.

      Like
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 2 wk ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Superbone Ah, gotcha. Yeah, technically the category is not for absorbing the gains and losses, so you're right in that respect. I really don't have a purpose for the category other than just to shovel extra money into it. And the only reason it's on budget at all is a result of my "Am I holding too much cash?" thread on the old forum. Even today I'm not worried about risking some of my budget... I just don't advise it for most people.

      Like 1
      • Superbone
      • YNAB convert since 2008
      • Superbone
      • 2 wk ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      nolesrule Yes, exactly. As an aside, one thing we do a little differently is that my Car Replacement has its own category. My category does have a purpose. The main purpose being financial freedom. It could be FU/retire early money. Maybe one year I want to take a rare, opulent vacation. It could be pulled from there. I also use it as an income deferral category if on certain lesser pay months I don't want to WAM from other categories. A lot of my bonuses go into this category. Basically, when I get a bonus, I go through all my categories and beef up as needed and then all the extra goes here.

      As I'm typing this, I recall how I had no taxable savings to my name when I started YNAB all those years ago. YNAB was the flywheel (thanks WordTenor) that made this all possible.

      Like 1
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 2 wk ago
      • Reported - view

      Superbone My Car Replacement was only included when I had Investing off budget. Now that it's on budget, I don't have any specific categories that are invested. i just know the amount of my investing account that is specifically for investing, so know how much of my budget is at risk.

      My brokerage account is 100% stock. But that's for tax efficiency only, as I have an overall asset allocation which includes my cash and I hold bonds only in tax-deferred account.

      Like
    • nolesrule I don't know the difference between tracking or budget accounts, or at least how to set them up in YNAB. I have an IRA, and I want to track it's progress in YNAB now. I've been using YNAB for 4 years and love it, I finally decided to put all my accounts in, but yes, I want to track the ups and downs, mostly downs recently, in YNAB w/o affecting my budget. Some months it will go up and I'll just put in the new value at the end of a month, and other months it will go down. How do I change my IRA account in YNAB so it's just tracking?

      Like
      • Blue Lion
      • fuzzy_p
      • 2 wk ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Superbone Oh yeah, I used goals and have reached them, before I'm even ready to spend that money. I was able to save $30K for my rainy day fund, $15K for my half of a new car fund, and $25k for a kitchen remodel. However, none of that stuff will be done very soon. I talked to my investment advisor at the credit union, and we decided to put 1/2 of all that amount $35K in a special low risk investment vehicle that caps losses, but also doesn't grow a lot, but it grows more than it would if it just sat in my money market account. The money is relatively liquid, I mean I have to sell, and a day or two later I have access, but that's OK because I didn't put all of that saved money in the account, so in an emergency, I still have cash if needed.

      That said, I want to track this money too, should it be a tracking account as well?

      I owe all this stability to YNAB, I'm taking these extra steps now to grow this savings. YNAB helped me save it, now that interest rates are going to stay low for awhile, I wanted a low risk way to grow this money a little, while still having reasonable access to cash if needed.

      Like 1
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 2 wk ago
      • Reported - view

      Blue Lion You can't move an account from Budget to Tracking. You have to set up a new one and choose the Asset account type. You can then transfer your existing balance their categorized to the IRA category. You can update balances for growth/losses using a simple reconciliation adjustment.

      In the future, you would then budget for your IRA contribution and then transfer it off budget when you make the contribution. You will use the category that you budgeted the money to.

      Like
      • Superbone
      • YNAB convert since 2008
      • Superbone
      • 2 wk ago
      • Reported - view

      Blue Lion Look at the left side of the web app. You'll see BUDGET underneath which will be all your budget accounts and under those is TRACKING which will show your tracking accounts. The sum of all your budget accounts makes up your budget funds while the tracking accounts are outside of your budget. Together, they all add up to your Net Worth which can be seen in the Reports.

      Like
      • Superbone
      • YNAB convert since 2008
      • Superbone
      • 2 wk ago
      • Reported - view

      Blue Lion Budget versus Tracking all comes down to how you want to handle those funds. If you want to categorize them, they have to be in your budget otherwise tracking. As a general rule, an IRA should always be a tracking account. All illiquid accounts should be tracking accounts.

      The special low risk investment account is your call. You said it caps losses. Can you handle the max loss possibility in your budget? That would mean you'd have to subtract that loss amount from your category balances if it were to happen. Most people keep even their taxable investments in a tracking account. Nolesrule and myself have been YNAB users for many, many years and only relatively recently moved our taxable investments into the budget. We still recommend putting them in a tracking account for most users. It's one of those "experts only" things if you really know what you're doing and really understand the possible consequences.

      Like
    • nolesrule Thanks, I actually set them up that way from the start, even though I didn’t know it, I just followed the steps that made sense, and after so many years of using YNAB, I trusted my instincts.

      Like
    • nolesrule so if I choose to allocate more of my savings, to that investment vehicle, I’m all set then, transfer it from an account within the budget, to an account outside the budget, this will allow me to get an at a glance view of my financial picture, thx for the ideas

      Like
    • nolesrule said:
      And the only reason it's on budget at all is a result of my "Am I holding too much cash?"

      nolesrule Can you share the link for this thread . I would like to grasp the concept and give it a try in future. 

      Like
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 8 days ago
      • Reported - view

      Sky Blue Harp unfortunately that thread was on the old YNAB forum which was shut down at the end of last year. 

      The gist of it was that my budget grew so large I felt like I was just sitting on way too much cash. At first I picked some categories with long time horizons to also send to my brokerage account off budget but I didn't really like losing the use of YNAB categories. 

      Like
    • nolesrule Got it. You mentioned you started moving funds into budget account, once you reach 2.5 times IncomeReplacementFund.  Can you shed more details on why is that a trigger or turning point
      2.5 times IncomeReplacement is it -> 2.5 MONTHS of income-replacement-buffer or 2.5 times YEARLY-income-buffer?

      Like
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 8 days ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      Sky Blue Harp I wasn't a trigger point, but more like a realization.

      What I said was I brought my investment account into my budget when the value of the account was 2.5x the size of my Income Replacement category. However, at that point almost all of the money was pure investing money with only a little bit mixed in from a long term savings category. I realized I had plenty of cushion for absorbing potential losses and that having it on budget would not put my budget at risk even if I put some regular budget money into the account.

      For this to work you can't just put it on budget. You need to develop a portfolio asset allocation you are comfortable with that takes your budget cash into consideration. The reason for this is to be able to maintain the risk profile of your portfolio in order to keep your cash safe. If you don't have an IPS and asset allocation, you won't know when you need to rebalance. My brokerage account holds only stock index funds for tax efficiency, so if I put a bunch of money into stocks and deplete my cash, it means I may need to switch some stocks to bonds in one of my retirement accounts.

      Nowadays I still budget money to my investment category, but because it's on budget I only transfer money to the investment account based on my formula. Right now my formula actually has a negative number, but I only transfer at the beginning of the month.

      Like 2
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 8 days ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      Sky Blue Harp This is one of those advanced concepts, both in using YNAB and in investing. You need to have a really good plan for what your are doing in both or you should not attempt it. I've been using YNAB for 6 years, and I've been following the Bogleheads approach to investing for almost as long, so I know what I'm doing. So you need a plan, you need to know what you will hold in which accounts, and you need to know how to maintain that plan with lots of moving pieces.

      Like 2
  • I'm having the same issue with our Vanguard investment accounts (Roth IRA's, etc.): Dividends and contributions (direct import, tracking accounts) listed as outflow instead of inflow. 

    I'd love for this direct import issue to be fixed as I'm trying to do as little manual adjusting as possible over time.

    One of the main reasons we switched from Mint.com to YNAB was because Mint.com was requiring lots of manual adjustments. I'm hoping over time YNAB will require less and feel worth paying for.

    Thanks!

    Like 1
    • Aquamarine Mermaid Sorry for the trouble! We're still looking for ways to improve connections with investment accounts. The easy update for the account balances can help for the time being, but we're still hoping to see more in the future! :)

      Like
  • I am having this same problem with both Vanguard Roth IRA and a John Hancock 401K. All contributions show up as outflow for some reason.

    Like 1
    • Hot Pink Mermaid Sorry for the trouble! We asked our Direct Import partner to look into this issue with investment accounts and were informed that because of the formatting of investment accounts, they aren't able to prevent those swapped amounts. We're looking into ways to improve investment connections!

      Like
  • Please fix this issue.  Some people don’t use the budgeting aspect of ynab.  Being able to import investment account transactions is important.  I’m in my one month trial period of ynab.  This may be a deal breaker.

    Like 1
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 1 yr ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view

      Gold Hammer 

      Gold Hammer said:
      Some people don’t use the budgeting aspect of ynab.

       Then why would you even use YNAB? There are so many better alternatives if you just want to track accounts. Many are even free.

      Like 3
    • Hi Gold Hammer !

      Sorry for the inconvenience! Our Direct Import partner has let us know they aren't able to reverse the formatting for investment accounts. We're looking into alternatives, but this is currently expected behavior.

      We believe very deeply that YNAB is worth the cost without Direct Import, though. Since we advise adding investment accounts as tracking accounts, they shouldn't affect your budget and usually contain less activity than actual budget accounts. If this one feature causes more trouble than it's worth, you can absolutely use YNAB—and get the full benefit—without it. There are many other ways to get your transactions, including entry on your mobile device and File Based Importing

      If those options are not satisfactory to you, I understand that as well. Given the imperfect nature of transaction aggregation, it might mean that YNAB just isn't the best option for you. We'd hate to see you go, but if YNAB doesn't suit the financial needs of your budget, we completely understand.

      Like 1
  • I love the budgeting with YNAB, but I'm seeing the same 401k import issue with an Aon Hewitt account.  There could be lots more people singing the praises of YNAB if that Direct Import partner of yours fixes the issue that most other online personal finance providers seem to have no issues with.  After all, the reason we are budgeting is to increase (not decrease) our Net Worth, right?

    Like 2
    • Hi Silver Bat !

      I completely understand and agree with your Net Worth comment! The inverted inflows and outflows is common amongst investment accounts because of how they're formatted. We're looking into alternatives, so hopefully we'll see improvements here in the future! :)

      Like 2
    • Silver Bat well put. Add another vote in favor of enhancements here please!

      Like 3
      • Silver Bat
      • Magenta_Panther.8
      • 1 yr ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view

      Thanks for the quick reply, Faness -- I appreciate the support and look forward to seeing the new YNAB awesomeness in the near future!  ❤️

      Like 3
    • Faness Please keep looking into alternatives; it would be so beneficial to be able to have investing accounts as linked accounts. All of mine have inverted inflows/outflows as well and it's driving me crazy.

      Like 2
    • Hi Slate Gray Orca !

      Sorry those transaction imports are less than ideal. We haven't given up the search for alternatives! We don't have a time frame, but we're hoping to see a number of improvements for direct import in the future. :)

      Like
  • Faness mine are all inverted as well. :( To correct for the time being, can I just unlink, delete the transactions and auto correct via reconciliation or do i need to delete the account and start over? Really bummed to see this aspect not working. Is linked accounts a new feature?

    Like
      • Superbone
      • YNAB convert since 2008
      • Superbone
      • 1 yr ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      RIP_MSMoney Yes, it’s currently best to have investment accounts as unlinked tracking accounts and then make manual adjustments on a frequency that works for you. No need to start over with a new account. Like you said, just unlink the account and delete the wrong transactions. I adjust mine once a month by right-clicking on the account and modifying the balance. YNAB will then create an adjustment transaction that you can then modify to your liking.

      Like 2
      • RIP_MSMoney
      • FinTech Programmer
      • rip_ms_money
      • 1 yr ago
      • 4
      • Reported - view

      Superbone Thanks! I watched the video Faness referenced. I did unlink one account to test out and it worked fine. 

      I don't get it, how long has the feature of linked accounts been around? How long has this been an issue? Pulling transactions seems like a fairly important aspect to have right. 

      I am starting to get a little concerned as I keep hearing "We are working on it" but that doesn't align with comments of "This has been this way for years". 

      Are linked accounts a new thing? 

      Like 4
    • RIP_MSMoney Direct import has been available since we launched the online version of YNAB, but our current, preferred Direct Import partner is relatively new.  This inversed transaction issue affects a relatively small subset of investment accounts, and it is something our Direct Import partner has been working since we've brought it to their attention, however, because YNAB is focused on budget accounts first we're working on those improvements with more of an aggressive priority list. 

      Like
      • RIP_MSMoney
      • FinTech Programmer
      • rip_ms_money
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Chrissy is there a list of which ones work and dont? Are some easier to fix over others? Is it worth informing you guys on the ones that are not working for me? Thanks

      Like
  • Seeing same problem here with Boeing Company 401K.  It's definitely possible to track this correctly as Personal Capital is tracking it exactly.  Would be nice to get this resolved!  Will reconcile manually for now.  Thanks.

    Like
    • jamesx4 Thanks for letting us know! It is something our import partner is working on. At this time, for many investment accounts, only the starting a balance or certain types of transactions are made available to import in YNAB.

      Like
  • please update this my networth is off because of it

    Like
    • Hi Magenta Ink !

      Thanks for weighing in here! Unfortunately, this behavior with investment accounts is currently expected. We're working with our import partner to improve this option, but we're expecting this to be a long term occurrence. In the meantime, updating the balances like this is quick, easy and prevents any direct import issues. :)

      Like
  • The inflows and outflows being switched on direct import is also an issue for my 401k investment accounts with Wells Fargo and Charles Schwab.   

    Since this apparently is a low priority, is there some other workaround besides what is listed previously, such as being able to select a range of transactions and click "Switch Inflows and Outflows"?  That would help.....!

    Like 1
    • Hi Steel Blue Octopus ! The data for investment (and loan) accounts is handled differently than that of checking/savings/CC accounts, so these accounts have always proven a bit difficult when it comes to direct import.

      We’re currently looking into ways of improving that handling on this end!

      Like
    • Hi @Nicole, yup I see that stated on this thread more than once.  Here's my suggestion for a quick fix that would correct our balances without having to edit each transaction individually:  add an option in the account screen to select a range of transactions and click "Switch Inflows and Outflows."  What do you think?

      Like 1
    • Hi Steel Blue Octopus !

      Currently, there is a Switch Inflows and Outflows option, but only when using File-Based Importing, which allows changing that information before/during the import. There currently isn't a way to automatically switch that information after an import has been done.

      If you’d like to submit this idea for consideration to our product team, please submit a Feature Request. :)

      Like
    • Faness Alright, I've submitted it, thank you.

      Like 2
  • My TIAA tracking accounts swap inflow and outflow incorrectly as well.

    Like
    • Hi Aquamarine Clarinet !

      Since the data for investment/loan accounts are handled differently than that of checking/savings/credit card accounts, these accounts have always proven a bit difficult when it comes to direct import. We’re currently looking into ways of improving that handling on this end, and we won't give up! As of now though, if the transactions import incorrectly (or don’t import at all), that’s expected behavior.

      The good news is since investment/loan accounts are typically (read: recommended) added as Tracking accounts, they don't affect your daily budget! With that said, we certainly understand the motivation for tracking your net worth, so here's an easy way to manage them without direct import:

      1. Set up the account as an Unlinked Tracking account, if you haven't already (Tracking > Asset or Liability).
      2. Create a Scheduled Transaction to show your regular contributions or payments. Or, if you have a lot of activity in the account, give File-Based Importing a try in the web app!
      3. Update the balance like this as it changes, as frequently as you wish.

      Let me know if you have any questions at all! 

      Like 1
  • My girlfriend has this same problem as well. It would be great to get this fixed YNAB!

    Like
  • +1

    Like
  • +1. This isn’t working for my Schwab, E*Trade, and Fidelity accounts. My first big disappointment with YNAB. It should not be difficult to keep the account value’s accurate via direct import. This isn’t rocket science. YNAB should make this a priority on their roadmap IMHO. 

    Like
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 2 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Sam Biller Brokerage accounts don't provide the data to the import process in a manner that is easy to do this, as YNAB is not designed to track individual investment transactions. Additionally, market fluctuations are not transaction-based.

      Like
  • +1, Schwab 

    Like
  • nolesrule said:
    My Car Replacement was only included when I had Investing off budget. Now that it's on budget, I don't have any specific categories that are invested. i just know the amount of my investing account that is specifically for investing, so know how much of my budget is at risk.
    My brokerage account is 100% stock. But that's for tax efficiency only, as I have an overall asset allocation which includes my cash and I hold bonds only in tax-deferred account.

    That's all true for me too but that doesn't preclude somebody from having a Car Replacement category. I like to know how much specifically is for car replacement, that is one of the main reason that I DID add my taxable investments to my budget.  It sounds like my Freedom Fund has a much more limited scope than your equivalent category does.

    I had Car Replacement both before and after moving this account into the budget. Before, it was just a monthly amount that moved off-budget every month. Now, it's the total amount and I add to it every month.

    Like
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 2 wk ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Superbone Maybe I wasn't clear. I still have the car replacement category. But now instead of transferring the money to my off budget investment account every month, like you it's an accumulating category. When I brought my investment count on budget, I put back all the money for that category that I had moved out.

      The money that goes into the investment account now is based on a mathematical formula I developed in Google Sheets using input from the YNAB API (I exclude certain categories from my asset allocation). The money that goes into the investment category is still just budget leftovers.

      Like 1
      • Superbone
      • YNAB convert since 2008
      • Superbone
      • 2 wk ago
      • Reported - view

      nolesrule Ah, then we are on the same page other than your mathematical formula versus my intuition method of investing taxable funds. 😄

      Like
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