Handling income for a full month budget
I jumped back on the YNAB train in late January. I get paid on the 15th and last day of the month so on Jan 31 I reconciled all my accounts and budgeted for February. Note that at this point I had only added bank accounts - no debt (CC's, mortgage, etc..) had been added.
I budgeted all of my categories for what I expect to be my monthly expenses in those categories and that budgeted total matched my expected February income + the rollover from the reconciliation in January. We do have some variable income but that gets thrown into a "Credit Cards - Additional Payments" category or one of my savings goals.
Through the first part of the month everything was going as I expected - my TBB was negative (as was expected) and I was categorizing expenses and watching things adjust and feeling in control. Then we received a regular paycheck on the 15th and my wife's paycheck on the 16th. What I expected to happen was my TBB to go down to zero or close to it. Instead it jumped to almost $3000 which has completely thrown me off - I don't have $3K to budget because I already budgeted for the entire month.
Note that the check on the 15th (and the additional one on the 16th) are used to cover the rest of the months expenses. The checks at the end of the month go towards next months expenses.
Another thing to note is just before the paycheck transactions came in I had added all of my other debt accounts to make sure I had full visibility into all my finances.
So TLDR - my TBB is WAY off and I have no idea why or how to fix it.
Also - I've only ever used nYNAB and have no plans to use YNAB4 so please keep the "nYNAB sucks/is harder/whatever compared to YNAB4" comments on mute.
YNAB is an electronic equivalent of the envelope system. That means you budget money only that you have into your categories, and then spending according to your category balances. When you don't use it as intended you are going to get strange results.
Since you added your credit cards around the same time, if they are budget accounts, as they would be by default, then that is most likely the culprit. Have you been spending on the credit cards or only paying down debt without using them?
This one may be tough to sort out, and you may be better off doing a fresh start with all of your budget accounts starting at the same time so that everything lines up.
In your credit card payment category, the amount available to pay your card should match the balance of each credit card but the opposite sign, so if you owe $100 on your credit card, the amount available to pay your credit card on the budget screen should be $100 in green. Is there any variance? If so, you need to budget more or less to the credit card line so the payment available matches.
Chris M said:
my TBB was negative (as was expected)
Just wanting to pull this out and emphasize. Your TBB should never be negative. This means that if you are paid twice a month, you likely won't be able to budget a whole month's expenses off the bat. You'll have to save money to be able do that (called buffering).
@nolesrule said above that you can't expect it to work as intended when you aren't using it as intended, but it's unclear to me from your answers that you understand that you aren't using it as intended/are purposefully filling your budget with money you don't have yet, so I wanted to point this out. This, as well as the credit cards, are probably getting you out of whack. The best bet is to make sure that all your categories accurately represent your on-hand cash.
The good news is that if your accounts reconcile right now, then your budget is accurate. You can safely move money around your budget.