Carrying a negative balance

Last month, I overspent on two budget categories with the knowledge that I would be able to budget more dollars to them this month and next to essentially pay them off.  I thought the overdrawn budget balances would carry forward to this month just as a surplus does but this didn't happen.  Question 1) why didn't they carry forward?  Question 2) Can they be carried forward if I enter them differently?  Question 3) If they can't be carried forward, how do I achieve my end goal of spreading a current expense over multiple months?

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  • did you overspend with credit? if so, it just carries over as debt. 

    if you overspent with cash (eg. used overdraft or a cheque that hasn't yet gone through, or if you have dollars in other categories you aren't going to move/WAM to cover this overspending) then it will subtract from what you have available to budget the next month. 

    Like 1
  • YNAB has some Rules because it is an allocation budget system, and the software is designed to support those Rules. These Rules are a structure for living below your means. Trying to carry negatives over time is a mind game to convince yourself you have more money than you really do.

    Rule 1 is to give every dollar a job. That also means don't give jobs to dollars you don't have, and it means don't give more than one job to the same dollar. When you have a category that has gone negative, you have in fact given your dollars more than one job, because you have more money assigned to your positive categories than you have in your accounts.

    That's where Rule 3 comes in. Roll with the Punches. Sometimes you decide you want to spend more money than you have in a category. Priorities change. Your budget isn't static, and is meant to reflect your priorities. As a result, you should move money from other categories into the overspent category to bring it back to zero. This allows you to continue following Rule 1 as I described in the first paragraph.

    if you do not correct the overspending by the end of the month on your own, YNAB does it for you. If it was cash overspending, then it reduces the amount of money you have available to add to categories in the next month. If it was credit card overspending, this will be reflected in the fact that no money is reserved for paying the part of the credit card balance that was caused by the overspending, and you will then increase your debt on the card.

    Like 10
  • This all makes sense.  I understand the rules and appreciate #3 as I'm ok allocation future dollars to today when I have visibility on supplemental income, for example.  In theory, I also understand how YNAB either reduces the available cash or increases the debt in the next month (I used my credit card in this case), but I've yet to attempt to reconcile that it is actually taking place.  My preference would be to see that my budget for clothing, for example, is negative $200 because I overspent last month and so I can allocate $200 this month and bring it back to zero without actually buying any clothes in the current month.  Make sense?

    Like 1
    • Hi Orchid Lobster !

      I understand what you mean, but there isn't a way to carry those negatives forward in your budget. This is because we want to keep your budget as accurate as possible.

      For instance, if your Grocery category says $200 but your clothing category is -$200, you don't truly have that $200 Available for Groceries.

      Credit spending is a little different, as that cash isn't gone until you pay the bill, but instead of viewing the negative in your Clothing balance you'll see the increase in your Credit Card balance. At that point, you can set a Credit Card Goal to pay off that -$200 over time (YNAB will then prompt you to budget that $200 towards your credit card category instead of your clothing category).

      I hope that helps clear things up! The amounts are still accounted for, you'll just budget towards your credit card category instead of your Clothing category. If you still have questions, just let me know! :)

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

      Orchid Lobster In that case you fix it in the month of the overspend, and then don't budget more money into that category for an appropriate amount of time.

      If you are at -$200 after the spending, and you typically budget $100/month to the category, fix the overspending, and then in the next two months budget zero to the category. After that you can resume budgeting the standard amount.

      Or you can just admit that clothing is a priority and continue to budget the regular amount to the category every month... but you still need to fix the overspending.

      There are ways to handle it that don't involve leaving you with an inaccurate budget.

      Like 1
      • Patzer
      • Retired at age 60. Thank you, YNAB!
      • Patzer
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 10
      • Reported - view

      Orchid Lobster Suppose there were a way to do what you propose.  You would, in effect, be spending future budget dollars today.  That's a way of saying, you'd be spending more than you budgeted.  Maybe you have a lot of money in your budget, and you don't notice.  If this is the case, you're really borrowing from the vague "rest of the budget."  If the rest of the budget is big enough, and has enough categories that don't need to be spent right away, it won't get you in cash flow trouble.  (Note the key word, "if".)

      But even if it doesn't cause cash flow issues, by not covering the overspending now you lose the effect of budget clarification of your priorities.  Your proposed work flow, as I understand it, is to spend $200 more than budgeted for clothing; then budget clothing over multiple future months to pay back the category.  But what you're really doing is paying back the rest of your budget.

      Rule 3 is "Roll with the Punches."  I don't particularly like that title.  If I were to name Rule 3, I'd call it, "The Money's Gotta Come from Somewhere."  In this case, it comes from your other categories.  Let's say that your clothing purchase is really a good deal, and it reflects your real priorities, but it's $200 more than you had in the category at the beginning of the month.  That means your priorities changed.

      So it's okay to spend $200 more on clothing.  But that $200 has to come from somewhere.  Changing your priorities to spend $200 more on clothing means you necessarily changed your priorities to spend $200 less on something else.  The budget magic happens when you look at exactly what you're choosing to spend less on.  Maybe you decide you can cut $30 out of Dining this month by not eating out quite as often.  Then maybe you decide you can cut $20 out of Groceries by being a bit more frugal there than you'd like to be as a general rule.  And maybe you decide that you don't need a new car any time soon, so you're willing to take $150 from Car Replacement and be that much behind schedule funding your next car.

      So next month, you budget your normal amount for clothing, your normal amount for groceries, your normal amount for dining, and start working on paying back the Car Replacement category the $150 that you used for clothing.  You are now $50 ahead of where you would have been in your proposed workflow, because you made the prioritization decision in real time instead of deferring it to the future.

      But something else can happen.  You could find that you were $20 more frugal with groceries and *just as happy* with how you're eating.  That could mean you can put $20 less in groceries and $20 more in clothing (which is obviously important to you) *every month*.  You're $20 per month ahead of your work flow, or $240 per year.   Maybe you find that $30 less in dining is uncomfortable, but you can live with $15 less on an ongoing basis.

      If you always borrow from the future, you lose the process of decision making that clarifies where your true priorities are.  And that can be very, very expensive.

      Like 10
      • WordTenor
      • I have the honor to be your obedient servant
      • WordTenor
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 5
      • Reported - view

      nolesrule If you ever make fun of me for being long-winded again.... 😉

      Like 5
      • Patzer
      • Retired at age 60. Thank you, YNAB!
      • Patzer
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 9
      • Reported - view

      WordTenor I hadn't even considered the idea that switching from alto Sax to tenor Sax means you went to being longer-woodwinded. 😀

      Like 9
      • WordTenor
      • I have the honor to be your obedient servant
      • WordTenor
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 4
      • Reported - view

      Patzer That is an excellent pun, sir. My hat is off to you. 

      Like 4
      • HappyDance
      • YNABing consistently since 2014
      • HappyDance
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 5
      • Reported - view

      Patzer, nicely said.  

      Orchid Lobster :  I  thought as you did when I began using YNAB, but I was encouraged by forum members to just embrace the roll with the punches methodology. I also decided to not "punish" a category funding in a future month for an overspend this month, but to just go with the flow. By the end of the first year, the amount spent per category on most of my categories came in at an average per month that was almost exactly what I had initially wanted to budget to those categories. I had obsessed over the occasional overspend, but there were many underspends along the way that helped to bring the total spent for the year to an acceptable monthly average.   That got me paying attention to pacing and cash-flow timing.  There are definite repetitive patterns in my spending.

      Like 5
    • Orchid Lobster If you overspent in a category last month though, that money came from somewhere (i.e. you can not spend more money than you have), so there really shouldn't be a need to carry the 'overspend' in to the next month and make it up there. I can think of only three real possibilities about what has occurred:

      1. You overspent in one area, but under-spent somewhere else. In this case, you should move the funds from that under-spent category (within the month that the under & over-spends occurred). You want your budget to reflect what actually happened.
      2. You actually borrowed from your savings. In this case, similar to the above, you should remove the overspent amount from your the dollars budgeted to your savings and then replace them there next month instead of carrying an overspent category.
      3. You overspent via your credit card, in which case, its debt and should be handled that way.
      Like 1
  • Thanks all.  I need to spend some more time with the app to better understand how it works. 

    Like 1
  • I really don’t like this new feature. I understand the reasoning, but if I’d like to carry a negative balance in a category, I’d like to have that option. I have several categories I call “annual expenses”, and I set a goal for what I’ll need to pay them by end of year. Some I make semi annual payments on, like auto insurance. It’s a big amount in the middle of the year, so I don’t want my running total to disappear, so I’ll know how much more I need by end of year. I really liked the arrow thing. I used it on some accounts when I wanted to, knowing I had the funds in my savings. 

    Like 4
      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      Why not move money from savings to cover the large semi-annual payment and then pay back the savings category over the rest of the year? One could make the case that you shouldn't have put that money into savings in the first place, since it was needed sooner in the semi-annual payment category.

      The fact is that cash is gone, and YNAB is doing its best to keep you from pretending otherwise.

      Like 2
  • PS, did you assign this ID of Pink Plano to me automatically? 

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

      Hi Pink Piano !

       

      Yes!  When you log in to the forum for the first time, our system will automatically assign you a name, avatar, and username as an alias. It's usually a color followed by a random thing like Salmon Wizard or Magenta Orca (to name a few of our favorites). But don't worry, you won't have to keep them!

      To change your name and avatar, click your user icon in the upper right corner and select Edit Profile. The username can be changed under the Account tab on that same page. 

      Like
  • I fully understand the rationale behind not carrying over negative balances for the primary target audience of YNAB - but, there is one use-case where having this option would make my life so much easier: Tracking "reverse debt", i.e. money that others owe to me.

    I am not rich but I have enough savings to last a couple of years without an income and I have no debt besides a very low interest mortgage. I use credit cards for convenience and bonuses but I always pay the full amount every month to avoid paying any interest.

    The reason I use YNAB is to be in full control of my money. For example to make sure that I don't forget about unnecessary subscriptions or have any erroneous or fraudulent transactions on my accounts, and to keep me disciplined to have a surplus (almost) every month. YNAB is an excellent tool for this, very powerful in its simplicity.

    Every now and then I help out friends and family by paying for something that they will pay me back "tomorrow", "next month" or "in August". Interest free of course. In YNAB4 I had a category group dedicated to tracking this, which I treated differently from the other categories (a negative balance means someone owes me money, a positive balance means I owe them). Job expenses to be reimbursed on a later salary also belonged here. It was a great system, it worked really well. It is the only feature I miss from YNAB4 but I do miss it immensely.

    Please give us back the option  to carry over negative balances for individual categories!

    Like 4
    • Orchid Pegasus  I totally agree. I’d like more options. I also have categories like this and they just don’t work like they should.  Don’t really enjoy YNAB like I used to.   

      Like 2
      • bret
      • bret
      • 1 yr ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Orchid Pegasus 

      I agree, the YNAB-4 "Red Arrow" was convenient for tracking reimbursements, and the officially recommended ways of doing that in new YNAB have some drawbacks.

      If your reimbursable spending is 100% cash-based (or you've opted to setup your credit cards as "checking" accounts in YNAB), then you can do a "manual" red arrow.  When YNAB zeros out your overspending in the new month, you can reinstate it by making a negative budget entry.

      This workaround is best if you have one (or  very few) categories that you want to give the "red arrow" treatment. If you have lots of categories you want to manage that way, it's obviously more work. (And, many would argue, a violation of the YNAB method.)

      Like 1
    • Orchid Pegasus exactly! I have a legitimate reason to carry over expenses (work reimbursable) and I am a ynab 4 user on my 2nd month of new ynab and I am super frustrated and about to throw in the towel on it. I hated entering all of our transactions by hand, thus the transition to nynab finally, but the reimbursable work expenses situation is making seriously crazy. 

      Like 1
  • I agree also. I used YNAB 4 and loved it! this new version, I'm not loving. We all use YNAB for different reasons, whether we are trying to pay down debt or to just keep track of our spending but I think we should have the options of how we want to use YNAB for our own use. I think we all understand the rules set up by YNAB but let us have the way to customize it,

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

      Gold Transistor Not just in YNAB, but at my work when software moves to the cloud, we're getting hit with a lot less, if any, customization. That's really changing the way we think about software. 

      Like
    • Ben K.  Yes, last decade's trend of removing customization options and forcing people into narrow work flows decided by some visionary loudmouth middle management people is a causing real problems. At least YNAB is not struck by the overuse-of-whitespace disease, the hidden-UI-components-appear-on-hover disease and the gestures-instead-of-buttons disease. I applaud them for that.

      I miss the days when I could tweak almost all software to make it fit my personal work flow. I miss the middle ground between DIY spreadsheets loaded with macros and today's ultra-streamlined single-usecase "apps".

      Like 1
      • Khaki Storm
      • YNAB book topics online: https://support.youneedabudget.com/r/q5w48j
      • Khaki_Storm.1
      • 1 yr ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view

      Orchid Pegasus We have any shoe you want, all in size 11.

      Like 3
  • Same here. Was a YNAB 4 user, and used negative carryforward all the time, primarily for expenses that will be reimbursed. 

    I have read through the comments and discussion - the proposed workarounds do 'work', but not for me. I do not like co-mingling 'pass-through' negative balances with my own occasional overspends. Part of the draw of YNAB for me is the ability to separate a large credit card bill into meaningful information. Folding an 'overspend' into a debt balance destroys information rather than creating it.

    I fully acknowledge this is more of an accrual-based accounting that is not the main focus of YNAB, but if this feature is not to be re-enabled I'll be moving on, as I certainly won't pay $80/year for software that takes away features I like and use. 

    Can anyone from the YNAB team confirm that this is NOT being turned back on? 

    Like 3
      • satcook
      • satcook
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Pink Stallion your credit card bill is still separated into meaningful information. You don’t lose that. 

      Like
    • satcook for the purpose of separating out reimbursed expenses that need to roll over, you can't go back through a credit card statement and keep up manually. Once it rolls in nynab it all is clumped together, unlike ynab4.

      Like 1
    • Hi Pink Stallion !

      A fundamental element of the YNAB method is working only with the money you have right now. Turning the red arrow to the right in YNAB 4 made it easy to hide that those dollars were spent.

      You couldn't fully trust your budget, because some of the dollars in another category were actually gone, even if just temporarily. That's why Rule Three is really a rule in the new YNAB. 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 know this is a transition, so let us know if you have any questions!

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

      Maroon Trombone I’ve been using nynab for 2+ years and YNAB 4 before that. I have $1-2,000 in reimbursed expenses every month and still know exactly what those expenses were. Have you tried nynab?

      Like
    • Nicole at YNAB So basically you are saying it isn't for responsible adults to use as they please, it is for those who don't have the self control to not spend money they don't have? That sort of narrows down your clientele pool then, and is unfortunate since I have been with ynab for years.

      Like 4
    • satcook what method are you using to roll you unreimbursed expenses at the end of the month? I am really trying to make nynab work, but it is frustrating.

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

      Maroon Trombone agreed, need some flexibility. 

      Like 2
    • Hi Nicole at YNAB ,

      Thanks for your reply and the link. I think this line from the Transition Guide sums it up for me: "For people close to the financial edge, this is downright risky." 

      I absolutely agree, but this is also not a category I have placed myself in for a long time, and hence another budgeting method altogether is better for me.

      Best Regards,

      Chris (aka Pink Stallion?)

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

      Pink Stallion Users have come up with some creative ways to track reimbursements in YNAB, though it'd be nice if they came out with functionality that allowed one to do this while still keeping things positive overall (there have been some suggestions of methods to do that using emergency funds to offset).

      Alternatively, one could track reimbursable expenses outside of YNAB. I do that with medical/dental/vision expenses, because we have an HSA and LP FSA, as well as the fact that my state does not recognize HSAs so I can take a medical deduction on state taxes... which means I have to track these expenses in 3 different ways simultaneously.

      Like
    • Maroon Trombone We want your budget to be honest, not because of issues with self control but because we want the information displayed to be correct. If there's overspending in one category, there's less in another. We don't want to inflate your categories by not reflecting the spending once the month rolls over.

      Like
    • Faness my reimbursed expenses are not in my personal budget at all...I just need to track them in the program because that works for me. I don't add my personal money to cover them. I wait to be reimbursed. So no, it doesn't need to come from another category.

      Like 3
      • jenmas
      • jenmas
      • 1 yr ago
      • 5
      • Reported - view

      Faness more than three years ago Jesse specifically and publicly stated that a fix for people dealing with reimbursements was coming "soon". It sure would be nice if we could get an update on this feature.  

      Like 5
      • bevocat
      • Sometimes, It Just Sucks to Be You
      • bevocat
      • 1 yr ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Maroon Trombone If they're not in your personal budget you could use a tracking account, no? At least that way it's not affecting your budget categories?

      Like 1
    • bevocat do you mean an off budget account? I don’t really  know if that would work but maybe! I will have to try and play with that. Thanks for the suggestion. 

      Like
      • bevocat
      • Sometimes, It Just Sucks to Be You
      • bevocat
      • 1 yr ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Maroon Trombone Yes. I personally don't advocate it, but if you're responsible enough to put funny money in your budget categories and keep track of it, I'd think that's one way to do it.

      Like 1
    • Pink Stallion I agree 100%. I love the automatic trx downloads from my many accounts - but HATE the missing functionality that was provided in YNAB4 to carry forward (optionally) the negative balances. I used that for a very simple way to track my kids personal loans, where I lent them some money and they would repay me every month. In YNAB4 this was so simple and effective. Here....not at all. It's almost a deal breaker for me. I'm looking for alternatives....

      Like 1
      • Beige Boa
      • Beige_Boa.9
      • 10 days ago
      • Reported - view

      Spring Green Violin I feel the same!  YNAB$ was so simple and effective.  I'm currently looking for an alternative as well.  As soon as one comes out that offers the red arrow forward feature I'll be switching over.

      Like
  • When I spend something on a personal card that will be reimbursed, I don't want it to show up in my monthly reports since it makes it difficult to accurately gauge my actual personal spending. In some months, my cash flow is actually dominated by reimbursements (for those concerned about my being taken advantage, I own >30% of said business). 

    After some more digging, I found a solution that works for me. Fair warning, I would not do this if you are at all at risk for overdrafting. Instead of a different category, I create a different account (specifically, an un-linked credit line). 

    Now when I spend something that will be reimbursed (which is almost always on a credit card), I re-categorize it as a transfer to to the credit line (which is named 'receivable' or 'reimbursements'). This will show up as a positive value in the credit line. Note that my net worth hasn't changed at all, no spending has been logged in my report, and by credit card balance is still accurate!

    Later, when I deposit the check from the reimbursement, I do the same thing - flag it a transfer from the credit line account. The final step in the new YNAB is to budget that amount towards paying the original credit card in the month I'll be paying it (almost always, the next month). While this is a manual step, it should only happen once per month. At the start of a new month, I reconcile the total in my 'credit line' against the expense report I am submitting to the company's accountant, and as long as it matches, enter this amount as budgeted for paying down the credit card it originated from. (Obviously, this gets more complicated for multiple credit cards involved, but I don't have this problem since I always put my reimbursements on the same card - the one with the good rewards 🙂).

    Your mileage may vary, use at your own risk.

    Like 2
    • Pink Stallion Thanks for the tip! I can use this workaround for now, it's the best alternative we have.

      Like
    • Pink Stallion  thanks for sharing!

      Like
      • JBCampo
      • jbcampo
      • 1 yr ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Pink Stallion Wow, this is a lot of work. I have an HSA medical plan and want to track medical expenses for which I will reimburse myself. Just discovered can no longer red arrow them to the future. I want to track them outside the budget because I know they should zero each other out, eventually, when they catch up. I don't like that I can no longer red arrow items to keep a running negative, then pay myself back. i'm not kidding myself YNAB. I know i have to pay these expenses out of current funds, but I don't want the reimbursements to show as Income earned. frustrating.

      Like 1
  • I find the new ynab aggravating due to no flexibility. I loved the red arrows because they were just easier to understand. Also have to enter the budgeted amounts every month. They don’t automatically fill in like they used to, unless I’m doing that wrong.  I really did like the original ynab. This one, not enough.   I don’t think I will be renewing next time, unfortunately. 

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

      Pink Piano YNAB4 didn't aurofill. There was a quick budget option. The new one also has various quick budget options. The difference is you have to select the categories you want to quick budget, rather than all or none.

      Like 1
    • Hi Pink Piano !
       

      As nolesrule mentioned, there are different Quick Budget options available—if you'd like to streamline the budgeting process. Check out this video on creating a Budget Template to find out more, or if you prefer written instructions—this blog post. Let us know if you have questions!

      Like
  • Hi All,

    The easiest, most effective solution I've found is simply to MANUALLY carry over negative balances each month: when I set up a new month's budget I immediately manually withdraw from relevant categories (for me this is rarely more than one or two, so it's cope-able) to immediately re-make them red.  To reduce the negative balance I simply withdraw less than the old balance (in YNAB4 I'd budget a little towards it).

    This lets me record and track 'debts to myself' where I've KNOWINGLY dipped into savings and want to carefully monitor that I am restoring those savings by making the 'borrowing' clearly visible each month.

    It gives me constant, prominent visibility that I spent FROM MY OWN SAVINGS on a spontaneous luxury or unexpected expense and shows me how far off I am from 'breaking even' again AGAINST MY OWN SAVINGS.

    It also allows me to go back through previous months to easily trace when (and on what) the original spend occurred.

    I have ample funds to cover this, and it avoids risking me ACCIDENTALLY chewing into savings by transferring funds from my savings to cover the relevant spend category but then FORGETTING because next month everything is green and good and on track, when in fact I want to restore those savings.

    It also reminds me while I'm still 'repaying' a big spend and so encourages discipline in not making another big spend too soon.  This is all hidden when everything is green, and there is no psychological pressure not to continue using savings to cover further spend.

    Basically IT ALLOWS ME TO SAVE MORE EFFECTIVELY.

    (This MIGHT show up in the Net Worth report, but a dip could just as easily be a big planned spend.)

    Like many other others I am exasperated by YNAB's pig-headedness in refusing even to acknowledge any legitimate motivation for wanting to carry over negative balances and their refusal to try to design a genuine solution.  Instead I have this frustrating administrative overhead; but this works really well for me (far better than 'lines of credit' or 'holding budgets' or 'non-budget account transfers' or all the other various solutions - of which I've tried MANY!!!) and I like the rest of YNAB, so...

    Hope this helps.

    Thanks

    Mark

    Like 1
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 1 yr ago
      • 4
      • Reported - view

      Mark_B_UK 

       

      Mark_B_UK said:
      It gives me constant, prominent visibility that I spent FROM MY OWN SAVINGS on a spontaneous luxury
      Mark_B_UK said:
      Basically IT ALLOWS ME TO SAVE MORE EFFECTIVELY.

      These two things do not jive. You cannot save effectively if you choose to overspend on a luxury that causes overspending. You save more effectively when you choose not to spend on the luxury because you do not have the funds available in the luxury category.

      Like 4
      • Mark_B_UK
      • Beige_Motherboard
      • 1 yr ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      nolesrule If I move funds from savings to temporarily cover any unexpected expense (be that a treat or a broken boiler)  then YNAB currently offers me no way to track that temporary cover - instead I have to manually make a note that my savings are down from what I want them to be.

      If I forget to make that manual note then the next month everything is green, looks good, and YNAB tells me I'm exactly where I want to be - I'm not.  If I forget that I dipped into savings I then make no effort to recoup those savings, and my savings has gone down.

      By keeping a nice big prominent red figure visible I can immediately see there is a TEMPORARY situation which I need to stay alert to and can therefore, perhaps over several months, gradually restore my savings back to where they were.

      Therefore it allows me to save more effectively.

      Frankly it's a little arrogant to tell me I cannot save effectively if I choose to use my own savings to pay for something but then want to ensure that I restore those savings.

      This also applies to reimbursements too.

      The gap in functionality is in some legitimate way to keep track of temporary situations.

      The old carry-forward a negative balance allowed visibility of those temporary situations (but with the problem that you could not designate where that money was in the real world - ie. a savings account elsewhere).

      No viable alternative is present in nYNAB.

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

      Mark_B_UK I don't disagree there is a gap in functionality.

      However you are not saving more effectively if you are spending and having to reimburse yourself, as opposed to choosing not to spend because you do not have enough money in the category in the first place. The ability to carry over the overspending in a category from month to month makes it too easy to just leave the overspending the and get around to replenishing it when you can, rather than just taking the action to do so.

      You are just playing a mental game that tricks you into thinking you are saving for something when in fact the money has already  been spent.

      Leaving it overspent for several months impacts your ability to save because you are essentially taking out a loan at your highest account interest rate and taking several months to pay it back. Unless the overspent spending is earning you more than your highest interest rate, that spending has cost you money and has not helped you save more effectively. This is evident by the fact that the sum of your accounts is less than the sum of money available in your categories with positive balances.

      But feel free to pretend that spending too much helps you save more effectively.

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

      Mark_B_UK if in February you overspent your Home Maintenance category by $500 and you budgeted $800 to your savings category, you didn't actually save $800, you only saved $300. The minute you have one category that is red, all of your other categories are inherently incorrect because the total in your budget categories adds up to the total in your accounts.

      What happened in reality is that you made a decision that it's winter and you need heat, so home maintenance was a higher priority than savings. That's more than okay. That's the point of YNAB - priorities change and you shift things around to meet the highest priority. You could set a monthly budgeting goal of $800 for your savings category and then the orange will tell you that you didn't hit the goal in February.

      Like 2
      • adriana01
      • adriana01
      • 1 yr ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Mark_B_UK I've found the best way to make sure I "pay back" anything I borrowed from my savings categories is to adjust the goal appropriately. So if I normally put 100 a month into a category, and I take 600 out, intending to pay it back within 3 months, I need to adjust my goal to be 300 a month or +900 in 3 months. 

      I've always used the tracking account method of tracking reimbursements. The change I made recently was that if I had to borrow from a category to temporarily cover it, I note that in the memo & return the funds into that category when I get the reimbursement. 

      Both of these have advantage of not having to remember if I'm already double counting any of my money when I need to "borrow" from a category.

      Like 1
      • Mark_B_UK
      • Beige_Motherboard
      • 1 yr ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      jenmas I understand the maths.  I've at no point pretended I am saving in that month.  You seem to have completely overlooked the objective of my intent which is to keep prominent the fact that I HAVE used savings and want to recover that amount rather than accepting the hit to my savings.

      If I have several thousand pound savings I'm not worried about using a few hundred pounds to TEMPORARILY cover an unexpected spend.  What I don't want to do is permanently withdraw that amount from my savings and then forget all about it.

      A monthly goal does nothing to remind me that LAST month (or the month before that) I took money out of my savings budget that I want to put back in.

      Like 1
      • Mark_B_UK
      • Beige_Motherboard
      • 1 yr ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      adriana01 Hi Adriana,  Increasing the payback amount for future months is a good approach, but again it does involve me remembering at some point to return to my 'normal' contribution to that level.

      If I have the 'debt' to myself visible I find it much easier to visualise how far I am from returning to 'level'.

      I've tried the tracking account for reimbursements, but just found it confusing transferring between accounts and reconciling the actual reimbursement to my bank account.  Again, just having that simple red number reminds me I'm due and works much better for me.

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

      Mark_B_UK can't you just look at the balance and know that it's not what you want it to be? I'm coming from a place of finding a generic savings category is not useful. All of my categories have a specific purpose and since I know what that purpose and goal is, I can tell at a glance if the balance is not where it should be (and I don't use goals because they don't tell me anything that the balance in and of itself wouldn't tell me). Things like Home maintenance and car repair are fully budgeted to the cap that I have set for each category. Therefore any time that the balance is lower than the cap, I know I need to keep adding each month until it gets back up to the cap. We're 1/3 of the way through the year, so I know my annual IRA contribution category has to be at least 33% of the total annual amount allowed, though more would be best.

      Like
      • Mark_B_UK
      • Beige_Motherboard
      • 1 yr ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view

      nolesrule I may not want to grow my savings, I may simply want to keep a fixed amount in a particular budget line for any number of reasons.  What I don't want to do is take a bite from that line and then forget all about it.

      To be clear, savings is just one example, the whole point is keeping temporary situations visible, rather than everything going back to green the next month with no record that I've used up budget that I want, or expect, to restore.

      The particular interest rate is irrelevant - we're talking about lines in a budget the actual cash for which may be distributed between any number of accounts.

      You're quite right about the sum of my accounts being different to my actual funds - which is why it is frustrating that YNAB offers me no official means to record and track a situation that I want to rectify, instead I have to do it manually.  If I have ample funds to know that I am in no danger of slipping into the red then I prefer the convenience of keeping a big red number visible to me rather than notes to myself which I must manually adjust each month, or introducing phantom accounts with transfers (or any of the other approaches across numerous threads).  If somebody's finances are closer to the bone perhaps this approach wouldn't be right for them.

      Again, I find your arrogance quite frustrating - I haven't overspent anything.  I've necessarily or voluntarily covered a cost from a budget line (ANY budget line) which I later want to return to its previous balance.  I don't want to forget that I moved funds between budget lines.  Instead I want to restore the source to its original value over time.  Currently YNAB offers me no way to make that visible to myself.

      You acknowledge there's a gap in functionality but then declare that my approach to working around that gap is somehow delusional or incompetent - that's quite offensive.  Many YNAB users have this issue - it's been significant since the online version was released.  And currently YNAB essentially deny there is even a legitimate scenario for it, which those of us that DO want it find very frustrating.

      Like 3
      • adriana01
      • adriana01
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Mark_B_UK reaching the "Target by date" goal has been enough of a reminder for me so far. The goals are not as robust as I would like, but they do a better job of tracking my calculated plans than notes on the category. 

      Like
      • bevocat
      • Sometimes, It Just Sucks to Be You
      • bevocat
      • 1 yr ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      adriana01 without the added drawback of other categories lying to you.

      Like 1
      • Mark_B_UK
      • Beige_Motherboard
      • 1 yr ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view

      To some extent, jenmas , yes, but again it relies on me having to check.  But often, no - my balances fluctuate for things like Clothes (I like to put something to it every month and then use it as needed - when it gets big I'll stop putting into it or maybe buy something nice) or Holiday, where I don't really care exactly how much I spend, I just want to make sure I've got a pool of money growing.

      I'm in the very happy situation of having enough disposable income that I don't need to worry exactly where it goes, so long as things even out.

      However when a big hit comes along I'll move that from Savings (rather than salami-shaving off lots of other lines to cover it within a single month).  But I do want to then ensure I put that money back over time.

      The whole issue in this area is that lots of us are having to figure out some way of addressing this need -- to track a situation over time.

      And the standard response is often 'if you were budgeting "correctly" you wouldn't have this need', which can be (I'm not at all suggesting you are being!) very patronising, but also denies that there is a legitimate scenario where we want to track a fixed amount and see that reduce.

      There ARE workarounds, I'm just describing my particular preferred approach, and expressing my exasperation that YNAB refuses to even acknowledge ANY need in the first place.

      Like 3
      • Mark_B_UK
      • Beige_Motherboard
      • 1 yr ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      adriana01 I think it's probably one of the better workarounds - but aside from at some point still having to manually return a goal to its 'normal' level, it also doesn't give me the psychological pressure of knowing "ah yes, I'm still paying back that [insert item] from November - I'll hold off this other spend until that's paid off".

      Like 1
    • Mark_B_UK I've come to realize that YNAB is only for people living on the margin and those who are trying to get out of debt. Once you have a significant buffer of savings and just want to make sure that you are not overspending on average over a longer period of time, YNAB 5 just gets in the way by intentional design. For example, you can't easily track temporary reimbursements, loans and lendings unless you create extra "checking accounts" for each person/company you lend to or from.

      Like 3
      • monkeyhanger
      • No animals were harmed
      • monkeyhanger.1
      • 1 yr ago
      • 5
      • Reported - view

      Orchid Pegasus There are many of us here who are neither living on the margin or trying to get out of debt and it works very well for us.

      Like 5
      • bevocat
      • Sometimes, It Just Sucks to Be You
      • bevocat
      • 1 yr ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      monkeyhanger Seconded. I’ve been paid in full on my credit cards and fully buffered for over two years now. I feel the easiest way for me to stay that way is making my budget categories reflect reality on a zero-scale time horizon. 

      Like 2
      • Patzer
      • Retired at age 60. Thank you, YNAB!
      • Patzer
      • 1 yr ago
      • 8
      • Reported - view

      Orchid Pegasus 

      Orchid Pegasus said:
      I've come to realize that YNAB is only for people living on the margin and those who are trying to get out of debt. Once you have a significant buffer of savings and just want to make sure that you are not overspending on average over a longer period of time, YNAB 5 just gets in the way by intentional design. For example, you can't easily track temporary reimbursements, loans and lendings unless you create extra "checking accounts" for each person/company you lend to or from.

      While I agree that the design of nYNAB (YNAB 5, if you prefer) and particularly the documentation is heavily focused on people living on the margin, that's not the biggest issue.  Once I get past the bugs that YNAB doesn't admit are bugs and the designed features that get in my way, it's quite functional.  I take issue with the bolded part of your comment.

      Any envelope budgeting system will get in the way if you just want to make sure you are not overspending on the average.  That doesn't mean an envelope system is only for people living on the margin. 

      I don't want to just make sure I'm not overspending on the average.  I want to make sure that when I go on vacation, I don't spend an excessive amount of my saved money.  I want to make sure than when I buy a car, I don't overspend for it.  I want to make sure that when I have a home improvement done, it doesn't endanger any other infrequent, big-ticket item I plan for.   An envelope budget system such as YNAB is very good for this purpose.  If I want to run the Boston Marathon, which is not cheap, I need to budget sufficient to Vacation to fund the hotel, travel, and incidentals of being there.  (I'll take the entry fee out of my Fitness category, and the running shoes out of my Clothing category, but those are pretty minor on the scale of total cost to run Boston.)

      Then, when I travel to Boston I can spend freely, but only up to the amount I have categorized for Vacation.  And I want to keep an eye on the total, because I'll want to run the New York City marathon in November and I don't expect it to be much cheaper than Boston.

      I'm not living on the edge.  But I absolutely don't want negative categories that borrow from the nebulous rest of the budget.  I want all my categories to be backed by real cash, so when I spend on a big ticket item I'm spending without guilt and without worry that I'm endangering some other big ticket item.

      If I only wanted to be sure I wasn't overspending on the average, I would not need YNAB.  I could get by just fine tracking expenses in Quicken and monitoring the totals after it's too late to change the spending decisions.  But I did that for years before I found YNAB, and every time I had a big ticket expense I'd worry about whether I was spending too much.  With YNAB, I know that I can spend up to the category balance for anything.  And I can take a vacation with the certain knowledge that I'm not endangering the next home improvement or my next car purchase.

      Like 8
      • Mark_B_UK
      • Beige_Motherboard
      • 1 yr ago
      • 4
      • Reported - view

      Patzer HappyDance I think I'd agree with pretty much everything you both say.  I'd never used any budgeting approach, let alone software, prior to YNAB(at the time)3 and I was ecstatic at how easy it made managing my money, and how incredibly quickly my awareness of my spending improved.  YNAB made visible my spending patterns and therefore gave me choice - just realising how much I was unwittingly spending on coffee and cakes alone was an (embarrassing! ) revelation  😄

      The fact that I had enough disposable income not to have to be disciplined made me a bit lazy, but then I would periodically end up in bother precisely because I wasn't paying attention.  YNAB gave me a solid system to get a grip, and, crucially, to start prioritising the things that mattered most to me, and then to actually start underspending and getting, and growing, a nice buffer.

      And I think nYNAB in fact embodies, and imposes, that YNAB methodology much more rigorously, but maybe at the expense (no pun intended!) of some flexibility, and in so doing also actually removes (or at least makes a bit more difficult) a really valuable aspect for me, which I now reproduce simply by manually re-adjusting negative balances each month.  It's this shift in the product that has confounded, and frustrated, people, I think.

      Because, ironically, one of the most powerful, and empowering, features of old YNAB for me was precisely being able to carry over negative balances!!  Suddenly I could ensure that a big spend in (any) one place remained clearly visible to me, and I could ensure it was properly compensated for over time, and that I didn't (at least carelessly) make another big spend sooner than I might choose to.  Rather than my savings just taking the hit and me 'tightening my belt' for the first month or so before gradually forgetting and relaxing (but without actually recouping the full savings), instead that nice big red negative balance kept me disciplined, reminded me (because of the category it was in) whence the original spend had gone and therefore the reason I was saving more than normal (ie. recovering).  And so it helped keep me motivated and on track to restore that spend in a controlled fashion, and to resist spending more until the red was gone.

      In nYNAB though, I now find that, unless I do something very deliberately, the next month that spend has become invisible to me.  I've covered the cost.  I've rolled with the punches.  I can see exactly how much I have to budget going forward.  Everything is green again.  But I really, really miss having that prominent, visible, red 'IOU' to support me in recouping that spend.

      In writing these last few posts I've realised that that's just my personal psychology.  And that in removing a 'loophole' in their own software, and in fact making it more strict to their methodology, YNAB have actually made it a little worse for me.  But the flip side is, at some point originally they recognised that carrying over a negative balance was a useful thing - otherwise they never would have implemented it in the first place!!  What they haven't done yet is figure out how to offer the benefit without incurring the false balances and the inherent risk that generates.

      I still really like YNAB.  (Fairly consistently!) entering transactions on my mobile as I spend keeps me aware and occasionally makes me think twice about a casual purchase, and the whole thing still gives me a huge sense of control and awareness of how I'm spending.  I've stuck with it, but I've also started to look around at other solutions because of this issue.  If YNAB crack it they'll keep me.  Until then I'll be keeping an eye out.

      Like 4
    • nolesrule not everyone (myself incl) has such a tight budget that they need/want to spend time and energy creating the “goals” for every thing they may ever want to spend money on. I am not going to set up a goal for every vacation, car purchase, etc. I have variable income and dump everything in savings at the end of the month that didn’t go to cover a bill. When I need a new car or go on vacation I cover it from savings. I don’t spend time tracking specific amounts of savings for each big purchase independently. Some months I may save $20k, another month maybe $1500. As long as my savings doesn’t go below the amount I know I want to keep it at for my emergency fund and continues to grow significantly on an annual basis, then I’m good....that’s what my savings is for. I know other people don’t touch their savings as it is their emergency fund and they set separate goals to use for things I mentioned above....that’s fine too. But I don’t understand this one size fits all mentality. I don’t need to be told how to budget. I do fine with how I am doing it. I just need the software to work how it did for the first 6 years I used it....during which I was successful in my way of budgeting. That’s not really asking so much. I guess I need to explore other programs if they don’t plan to fix it. I am currently trying the enter a negative balance method to see if that will suffice.

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

      Maroon Trombone

       

      Maroon Trombone said:
      But I don’t understand this one size fits all mentality. I don’t need to be told how to budget. I do fine with how I am doing it. I just need the software to work how it did for the first 6 years I used it....during which I was successful in my way of budgeting.

        Your way of budgeting isn't the YNAB method of budgeting, so you cannot expect YNAB to bring back features that were abused in such a way as to prevent people from using their method correctly.

      And frankly if you are in a position that you feel you don't need the YNAB method, don't pay for it.

      Like 1
    • nolesrule I am not and never have used ynab for a way of budgeting. I used it because I liked the software and it works for my way of budgeting. I can still use it that but I have to choose between the ease of manually importing transactions in the version I prefer and having them auto import in the newer version which is a huge time saver as most days we have many, many transactions. I am going to look for software that will work better for me, I guess.  It is unfortunate that people can not use it in the way they like though. Plenty of things are purchased and used in a way other than the maker intended....even prescription meds that are used off-label, for example. I appreciate all the ideas for workarounds here. Off to do my research.

      Like
      • Tobias
      • Toviathan
      • 1 yr ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      Maroon Trombone 

      Maroon Trombone said:
      Plenty of things are purchased and used in a way other than the maker intended....even prescription meds that are used off-label, for example.

       And just to follow through your metaphor because it works so well here, the makers of said meds (and medical devices) are not able to endorse or advise on using their product for off-label uses.

      Same as YNAB, their product is designed to follow one methodology and one only. If you want to try and work it another way, that's on you. But the software won't be re-worked to support that and the consequences are on you if anything should go wrong.

      Not necessarily directed at you, but in general I don't understand why someone would purchase something that is meant to be used B way and then be upset that it won't work C way and want it changed to better fit C.

      Like 2
    • nolesrule the problem is, for many of us, we have paid for it several years and liked it a lot. Then YNAB decided to completely do away with it and create something entirely different. And cumbersome, frankly. 

      Like 1
    • nolesrule carrying a negative balance in the old YNAB was a choice. It was not “abusing” the system. And I liked that feature a lot because sometimes it was necessary.  

      Like 1
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 1 yr ago
      • 5
      • Reported - view

      Pink Piano YNAB4 is still functional. No one forced a switch. I paid for YNAB4 in 2014 and I am still using it without a subscription fee.

      Like 5
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 1 yr ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view

      Pink Piano 

      Pink Piano said:
      carrying a negative balance in the old YNAB was a choice. It was not “abusing” the system. And I liked that feature a lot because sometimes it was necessary.

       The problem is too many people don't understand the repercussions of having a negative balance in a category on the rest of the budget, and that is detrimental. If one can understand the repercussions, one can understand why those repercussions would be bad for most people and shouldn't be allowed for general use... and one also would have the mental capacity to figure out how to replicate it in nYNAB manually.

      Like 3
    • nolesrule not quite understanding why you still use YNAB4?  You seem to like the new one better. Either way, most people have the mental capacity to figure it out. I just preferred not having to do that. It was just a simple mouse click to decide whether to carry a negative balance.  I had one when I paid a large insurance bill toward the first of the year, then wanted to budget the category for a certain amount every month to catch up. 

      Like 1
      • mamster
      • mamster
      • 1 yr ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      Pink Piano But that's actually, empirically a mistake. It's not a moral judgment; it's just a fact. Leaving red ink in your budget makes your categories untrustworthy. It means you're giving the same dollar multiple jobs. I think you know this and are doing it with both eyes open, but that doesn't change anything: you're still creating an untrustworthy budget. Got enough money in your budget to ride it out? Great. But YNAB has no way of knowing that.

      There are three ways to address your situation situation that work with the YNAB method and don't involve Monopoly money:

      1. Save up for the annual payment ahead of time. (This is Rule 2. It's the ideal way, but not always possible.)

      2. Borrow from another category, such as your emergency fund or a fun-money category, and pay it back over time. (This is what you actually did; you just couldn't bring yourself to tell YNAB about it.)

      3. Take on credit card debt.

      Using the red arrow is never "necessary." I understand that there are certain very specific situations (i.e., reimbursements when you have plenty of cash until you get reimbursed) where it's useful. But the situation you described isn't one of them.

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

      Pink Piano I still use YNAB4 because I don't think the new version warrants the annual fee. There isn't enough improvement in over YNAB4. There are  features that have been eliminated that I rely upon (Income for next month  for walling my months, future dated transactions in the register and running balance for cashflow management). And then there's the Stealing From the Future issue that still needs to be addressed more than 3 years later.

      When nYNAB came out I calculated that nearly optimized cashflow management would earn me enough in interest to pay for the subscription. I'm not going to pay a recurring subscription for something that will cost me money when there is a perfectly viable already paid for alternative.

      Like
      • JBCampo
      • jbcampo
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Mark_B_UK i have no idea what you are saying/doing.

      Like
  • Orchid Pegasus said:
    I've come to realize that YNAB is only for people living on the margin and those who are trying to get out of debt. Once you have a significant buffer of savings and just want to make sure that you are not overspending on average over a longer period of time, YNAB 5 just gets in the way by intentional design. For example, you can't easily track temporary reimbursements, loans and lendings unless you create extra "checking accounts" for each person/company you lend to or from.

     It's true that YNAB does not play well with other budget methodologies.  Those who want to stick to a set monthly formula and carry category overspends into future months find it really frustrating. Others who want to forecast into the future, ditto. It is a zero-based allocation budget method. Period. In some cases, an alternate budget theory appears to play well or work in tandem, but it usually requires a whole lot more work than is really unnecessary: budgeting by account for example.

    I had already moved to an allocation budget before finding YNAB, but I was using it with a paper budget and a budget by account cashflow system.  You want to talk unnecessarily complicated, that's a whole other discussion.

    My current cash liquidity is roughly equivalent to an entire year's income, and I have no debt, so I do not agree that YNAB is only for people living on the margin.  I value the clarity and control YNAB gives me to manage my assets and my spending and display any tendency to lifestyle creep. It also helps me in keeping track of what I am owed by various plans and people.

    I think the reimbursements, loans, and lendings comment fairly hits the bulls-eye.  However, it's really not a difficulty unique to YNAB if you think about it.  Everybody I work with, regardless of the budget method they use and whether they use a budget or not, seem to have issues with keeping track of their claimable expenses or laying hands on any of their own numbers. I say this as the person who co-ordinates the paperwork for my office team of 30.   I had issues incorporating reimbursables into every budget method I tried, and that was true with YNAB too.  I tried a couple of different methods of tracking reimbursements.  I now use the preseeded category method and tracking accounts. It's the method that requires the least amount of mental energy and mental math.

     I've come to really appreciate the YNAB app and being able to see exactly where I am in the moment rather than counting on the inflow of future funds. The method combined with the YNAB interface helped me succeed in ways that no other budget method did.  I  currently have $200 in claimable health expenses, $75 in claimable office expenses, and $12,000 owed to me by a sibling, and those dollars are not in my budget.  My tracking accounts tell me they may come back.  I prefer the conservative approach of backing all my expenses with my own cash, and using tracking account(s) to keep it all straight.  YNAB is pretty good at keeping track of it all for me.

    Like 8
  • mamster said:
    2. Borrow from another category, such as your emergency fund or a fun-money category, and pay it back over time. (This is what you actually did; you just couldn't bring yourself to tell YNAB about it.)

     And now as a company, YNAB has decided that they are not going to make that one-click simple anymore. They know they can't stop someone from shooting themselves in the foot, but they're not going to hand them a loaded gun and hold the foot down anymore either.

    Like
    • bevocat oh dear. It’s not quite that dramatic. But ok. 

      Like
    • bevocat there are other apps. 

      Like
      • bevocat
      • Sometimes, It Just Sucks to Be You
      • bevocat
      • 1 yr ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Pink Piano Whew! What a relief. I thought perhaps you were trapped.

      Like 1
    • bevocat it's a little disappointing to have sarcastic remarks in our conversations.  I assume it's ok to express one's opinion.  

      Like 1
  • Pink Stallion said:
    Later, when I deposit the check from the reimbursement, I do the same thing - flag it a transfer from the credit line account. The final step in the new YNAB is to budget that amount towards paying the original credit card in the month I'll be paying it (almost always, the next month). While this is a manual step, it should only happen once per month.

     Hi. I would like to try this method. I've created an unlinked Line of Credit account that appears under Budget, named HSA Reimbursements. I've done a Transfer To of items that I paid for via Credit Card mostly, but one was Checking.  That acct shows a Positive Balance, as you say.  When I receive a reimbursement though, I'm a bit fuzzy on the steps. I set it as a Transfer FROM the HSA Reimbursement account. But the item still needs tracking, right? So can you explain what you do when you write "The final step in the nYnab is to budget that amount towards paying the orig cc in the month I'll be paying it." Where exactly do you "budget" this amount. Fuzzy on this step. tks for yr help.

    Like
      • Mark_B_UK
      • Beige_Motherboard
      • 1 yr ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      Hi JBCampo , My original post explained (my other reply was general rambling in the ongoing debate!)...

      The simplest workaround for me is to manually 'red arrow' any relevant categories at the start of each month - ie. I just manually deduct the carried-over negative balance to re-make the category red.

      It's a bit of a nuisance doing it every month (rather than a one-time flagging of the category as 'automatic carry over' as I did in YNAB3/4), but it does avoid the (what I find to be) complications of other workarounds.

      Like 2
    • JBCampo Re-reading what I wrote, the last part is actually unnecessary - just be aware that if you use YNAB to determine what to pay on your credit card this might not work (in my case, my credit cards are set to autopay the full statement amount every month anyways, so this doesn't affect me).  Just set the appropriate transaction as Transfer to Reimbursements, and when you get your reimbursement check import it as Transfer from Reimbursements. This basically keeps it off of your budget entirely - you are just moving $ from your checking or credit card to your own little "accounts receivable", and then moving it back once you get reimbursed.

      Like
  • Thank you for clarifying. that helps a lot. i pay my cc off every month too, just divide my payments up in case i hit a cash flow issue.

    Like
  • I would also like this capability to keep track of work expenses and reimbursements.  I don't want my work expenses rolled over into "my debt".  I want to maintain an negative balance in that category so that when I get reimbursed (as income) from my work, they will balance out and I have a zero balance showing that I'm fully reimbursed and then that money is already allocated to the expenses currently sitting on my credit card.  When my "work expense" category gets zeroed out, I now don't know how to categorize the reimbursement income that comes into my checking account! Very frustrating.  There should be a way to allow a negative balance on some accounts.  I'm not "fooling myself" with a negative balance.  I'm realizing that some expenses truly happen before I have money to allocate for them.  But I do have full confidence and assurance from my company that the expenses will be reimbursed, just not necessarily before he 1st of the next month!

    Like
      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 10 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Purple Gazelle You're making this much harder than necessary. I suggest you always categorize the inflow to the Work Expense category. If that turns green, move those "excess" funds to the relevant CC Payment category.

      A quick search for the Work Expense category in All Accounts gives you the pending total. (The category simply captures the change in a given month.)

      Like
  • I would like to give a few of my dollars a special "reserve" job.  The job involves being a stand-in for any category that happens to go over budget.  When a reserve dollar has been deployed for use in a specific category, I would like some indication when I look at that category that lets me know that I need to do something to relieve it.  Relief could involve moving money from another category and/or reducing my spending in that category and waiting until normal budgeting corrects the problem over time.  A red/negative balance is a perfect way to do this because by default every dollar that is added to it in the future goes toward relieving those reserve dollars so they can go to work somewhere else.  If I run out of reserve dollars, then the program should force me to repurpose dollars from other categories much like it already does.

    This actually supports the rules of YNAB more than what they currently allow.  It also supports various use cases that so many customers want to use:

     - Loaning money to outside parties
     - Work reimbursements
     - Holding family members accountable for their own overspending

    To me, this is a no-brainer.  It does not violate any of the YNAB rules, and it provides a lot of functionality that so many customers want.

    Like 1
      • Annieland
      • YNABbing every day since 2009!
      • Annieland
      • 8 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Coral Cyborg Yep, I think a lot of us feel something along those lines would be the best functionality.  We'd be backing our negative with actual assets but still having clear visibility.  And if a temporary situation becomes temporary for too long YNAB helps us adjust to fix.  

      Hopefully this sort of complex yet much desired functionality is implemented eventually.

      Like
      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 8 mths ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view
      Coral Cyborg said:
      I would like to give a few of my dollars a special "reserve" job. 

      You can do that right now, and it is fully supported by the methodology. Just make a category and put your reserve money into it -- give those dollars their special job. When the available balance is $0, your reserve is obviously gone. Set a goal if you want an indication of "not full".

      Instead of reserve running from $0 to -whatever (as you describe), just run it from +whatever to $0. It's a one-time offset for your desired amount of reserve.

      Like 3
    • dakinemaui I would like the indication to be on the category that went over, not on the common reserve.  For example, my wife decides this month she wants to overspend on a nice haircut.  Since it was her decision to overspend, she is the one responsible for making up the difference.  The indication on her personal entertainment/fun money keeps track of her accountability.  It might take her a few months to make it up if it was a really expensive.  It sounds like your method would make the accountability obscure after you move the money from the reserve to the overspent category.  Do you know of a trick to see where you moved the money to?

      Like
      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 8 mths ago
      • Reported - view
      Coral Cyborg said:
      Since it was her decision to overspend, she is the one responsible for making up the difference.

      I really don't understand this. As I see it, the "difference" should be made up from the LEAST important thing in the entire budget (with money, of course). Because it was the least important thing, it hardly needs to be paid back (over and above what it would normally get each month).

      Think about it -- if she told you today that she wanted to get a more expensive haircut next month, wouldn't you build that into the budget when budgeting next month? Something else would consequently get less, and wouldn't you naturally choose the lowest priority out of the entire budget?

      Certainly reimbursements are a different matter, and those are easily handled with a dedicated reserve category. (FWIW, they are also easily handled with an unfunded category assuming CC purchases and reimbursement within 30 days.)

      Like
      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 8 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      I probably should state that I'm assuming you have joint finances in the above. Since you have a single budget, that seems reasonable. OTOH, this desire for accountability may be an indication that you shouldn't have a joint budget/finances. Obviously this is an unsolicited opinion, so ignore at your discretion.

      Like
  • dakinemaui said:
    As I see it, the "difference" should be made up from the LEAST important thing in the entire budget

     Trying to get back on topic, I have a reserve category. Everyone in the family knows this is the least important category. It gets $100 each month, not $100 + whatever was taken out last month.

    My views are colored by a similar topic, time management. When you are scheduling things, you build in reserve/buffers so a slip by one party doesn't negatively impact everyone else. You wouldn't make the person that slipped into that contingency block "pay it back" unless it impacted the critical path (i.e., the highest priority).

    Like
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