Carry negative balance forward is still not possible, right?

I just wanted to make sure I'm correct on this. I left YNAB when the red arrow right feature was removed. I've read the discussions and I don't need you to tell me how it's better to not have it. I understand the rules and philosophy that YNAB likes to preach. But I was a user who liked the software for its own sake. I don't need, nor want, the software to force a strict adherence to its own method. So I moved to a different solution. The one I moved to is pretty slow and bloated and I'm evaluating my options and figured I'd check to see if YNAB was still unusable or not for my use case.

So can someone confirm that there still isn't a way to carry negative balances forward?

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  • Not automatically. You'd have to carry it over manually each month.

    Reply Like 1
    • Superbone Thanks for confirming. I guess I'll keep looking for something else.

      Reply Like 1
  • Superbone Can you explain "carry it over manually each month"?

    I have used YNAB all the way back to the YNAB Pro days and the red arrow right is something that I used a good bit to track categories that I receive reimbursement for.  I have the funds to carry the debt over, but I don't want it affecting other categories.   I agree with Orchid Trumpet , this missing features is one of the main reasons I have stayed away from the current YNAB.  Also the price has kept me away.  I am not a fan of the current software subscription world we now have.

    Reply Like 5
    • Hi Turquoise Hammer !

      Superbone can correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure they mean manually entering the negative amount in the Budgeted column to take the funds back out of that category (forcing it negative again). For instance, if the debt was for $1,000 you could enter -$1,000 in the Budgeted column to take that $1,000 out of the selected category.

      I've seen quite a few people express they'd like to see reimbursement handling improved in the web version of YNAB. If you have any specific ideas, would you mind submitting a Feature Request? That goes directly to our development team so they know what you'd like to see in the future. :)

      Reply Like 1
  • If your use case is work reimbursements, there are ways to handle things within YNAB that are fairly easy.

    Outside of that scenario, manually propagating the deficit (with a negative budget entry) is effective but perhaps more work than you'd like if there are a number of categories involved.

    Reply Like
  • I'm curious how work reimbursements that span two calendar months work. Say I charge $1000 on April 25th for work, but don't get reimbursed until May 15th (random, I know). Will that -1000 automatically be taken out of all my green bubbles on May 1st? And then how the heck do I know where it all came from so that I can put it all back when I'm paid? I often have to foot flights/hotel on my CC for work, so I want to prepare myself :)

    Reply Like
      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 6 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      xgirlmama 

      Here's are the "normal" reimbursement budget workflows (which differ in whether interaction with the CC Payment category is automatic or manual). In both cases, all transactions are categorized to the Work Expense category regardless of when they occur.

      FYI, this is contrary to the approach recommended in the YNAB User's Guide. The "official" guidance, sadly, will often cause reports to be inaccurate.

      As for what goes on in the budget, one of these is often used:

      • Pre-fund the Work Expense category with your money as a one-time setup thing (e.g., reallocate part of an Emergency fund) so any interaction with the CC Payment category is automatic. (I.e., nothing to do in the budget, just enter the inflow when you make the deposit.) These funds are obviously available to reallocate back for use in an emergency if no reimbursement is pending. (I'd make a Goal for the pre-fund amount so you don't forget where the "we're square" point is.)
      • Do not budget to the Work Expense category (just let it go negative/orange). If the Work Expense category ever goes positive/green, just move that money to the CC Payment category. This is primarily an option when expenses are made on a CC.
      Reply Like 1
  • Orchid Trumpet Still doesn't have the red arrow. I'm super stressed by this as the Mac version of YNAB4 won't work on the next version of the MacOS upgrade. What software are you using instead of YNAB? I asked YNAB support and they basically told me they don't care about me as a user because I rely on the red arrow. I am looking at Actual to see if it is a suitable replacement: https://actualbudget.com/differences/

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

      Purple Drill Their income next month looks to be even more cumbersome as nYNAB's, especially if you want to split income granularly at the transaction level. Doesn't seem to be any ability to clear/reconcile transactions. I was unable to add new categories on the fly while entering transactions. It's not ready for regular daily use.

      I don't know why people insist on buying consumer products thinking they'll work like real computers. I can run programs from the early 90s on Windows 10 with no issues. Can't say the same for Mac.

      Reply Like
    • Hi Purple Drill !

      I'm sorry we made you feel like we don't care - we do! We want you to continue using YNAB, but we also want your budget to be honest with you. 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.

      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, and we hope you'll give the new YNAB a try! If you have any questions about the new YNAB, please don't hesitate to ask!

      Reply Like
    • Faness It is idiotic that you tell us to roll with the punches but severely limit us in how to do that. My mortgage sometimes get pulled on the 31st. Sometimes the 1st. With your set up, if I have a pull on both the 1st and the 31st, I have to cover $1200 from other categories that month instead of letting next month reimburse the overspend. You have instilled a heavy handed and paternalistic method of dealing with overspending. Your notions of honesty is irrelevant to me. I know exactly what my money is doing. I gave every dollar a job including the negative ones.  But it doesn't matter. It seems thousands of people have asked YNAB to reinstate the red arrow right but you refuse to listen.  What is a common part of bookkeeping and accounting is being denied to us. You don't need to be my dad and tell me how I must manage my money. You're a tool to be used, not a cult to be followed.

      Reply Like 4
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 1 mth ago
      • 4
      • Reported - view

      Purple Camera Honestly for a one day thing like a mortgage payment I'd fudge the transaction date.

      Reply Like 4
    • nolesrule I've read your replies on other threads. I have no inclination to consider your opinions.

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

      Purple Camera Your loss.

      Reply Like 6
    • Faness The problem with this, is the transition from one month to the next. I always buy groceries on Monday. This week for example, Monday was September 30th. The majority of the week is in October. My spending cleared on Monday, but I want to deduct the balance from October's budget. Why? Because I bought groceries for the month of October AND it allows for the program to correctly calculate averages in my reports. To attribute one week's worth of groceries to an incorrect month can drastically change the numbers.

      Reply Like 1
      • HappyDance
      • YNABing consistently since 2014
      • HappyDance
      • 1 mth ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view

      Khaki Saxophone 

      Unfortunately, using the anticipated consumption dates as date for your transactions and carrying forward negatives can be made to look really absurd.  Food for next week, Utilities for next month, Christmas gifts for December, etc. My gym membership is paid by the year, but YNAB won't let me carry a negative forward for the next 12 months until it's zero, because YNAB wants me to save up the 12-months worth of gym membership before I pay for it. Accrual accounting (average costs over the months and against the inventory and income for a profit/loss balance sheet) only works in some commercial/business cases. It has no place in personal budgeting.

      Reply Like 3
      • Agent99
      • Working to Get Smart at budgeting, finances and life
      • Agent99.1
      • 1 mth ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Purple Camera You are absolutely right.  This is the primary reason why I will not move to the web version, plus my general concern with not having the data saved on my computer.  I'm a grown adult.  Right now I have five (5) categories with the red arrow because my husband dumped some expenses on me and it will take me a couple of months to clear them.  Helps keep me honest and make sure I allocate the right amount to clear those up before funding lower priority categories.   

      I couldn't manage this effectively in the web version, as I understand it.  

      Reply Like 1
    • HappyDance Maybe there's a misunderstanding with my use of the word "average." I want to know my monthly spending so I can mentally, create an average, of how much income my family needs per month to survive.  If I don't know my average spending per month, how can I make more accurate adjustments in the future? Read Purple Camera's comment above. We are saying the same thing, just using different examples. I am not creating negative balances by using next month's categories. I'm not using money that's not there. I am using next month's budgeted money, for next month's purchases that happen to be clearing BEFORE the actual calendar month has begun.

      Reply Like
    • Khaki Saxophone averages work out regardless... cause they're averages. The reporting feature will help work that out for you even if you have some spending that crosses month date lines.
      Otherwise, I absolutely agree with you on all of the above.

      Reply Like 2
      • HappyDance
      • YNABing consistently since 2014
      • HappyDance
      • 1 mth ago
      • 4
      • Reported - view

      Khaki Saxophone 

      If you are budgeting your best guess as your average spending and you are coming up short such that you need to borrow from next month, I would argue that you are underfunding the category. You may be correct that it will average out over the next 12 months, but you might be in the more expensive part of the cycle and not have enough built up as a pad. 

      Budgeting what you are really spending for a few months (without penalizing the next month) is such a valuable exercise.  It can answer these questions:

      • what am I really truly spending on category A? what is the actual average I've spent over 3 months, 6 months, 12 months?
      • is my monthly allocation amount realistic?
      • is my spending behaviour out of line and in need of correction?
      • is this essential? has the cost for what I'm purchasing gone up with inflation? are there cheaper alternatives?

      I would argue that people inadvertently obfuscate the data by imposing their preconceived average when that average is inadequate to the task.  If they have to then borrow from another category or from next month, and then try to pay back the other category or reduce next month, and then go through all this all over again the next month, they are creating unnecessary busy work.  Why not just budget the actual amount spent, gather intelligence, and reassess after another month or two.

      When I implemented this suggestion myself five years ago this month (suggested by another wiser and more experienced YNABer) I was very surprised to discover that my perceived "known" costs were not accurate. Knowing what the actual costs were enabled me to make a better and more accurate budget and address some excessive spending. In many cases I was not overspending; I was underfunding.

      Reply Like 4
    • farfromtheusual You are correct. Again, I'm not being as clear as I sound in my head. My averages are more of ranges. That's why I like the specific numbers each month. I like to see that we average between $1000 and $1200/mth for groceries, eating out, school and work lunches. But I also like to see that in the tight months, when our emergency fund is almost out and my husband is 5 months behind on getting paid (self-employed business owner), I know that it's possible for us to knock that figure down to $800 or even lower. My husband works in an industry where cash flow is a constant problem. It's just the way the industry is. We budget, plan ahead, and save, every year, but I need accurate numbers for each month for me to do that. Hope that explains why I'm so stuck on "averages" (rather, average ranges).

      Reply Like 1
    • Khaki Saxophone that makes sense, but the reports will give you the averages without you having to look for them. At least that is what I have found. You can go look at the bar graphs and watch the numbers fluctuate, as long as the bars don't keep getting taller, you know that you're doing ok, and as long as the average number for the date range is close to where you want it to be, you're still on track. I don't do any math that I don't need to do :) I let the reports tell me all that information and don't stress about Monday being the tail end of a month that I'm buying groceries for in the next month.

      Reply Like
  • Ok, don't everyone come down on me, but aren't there a couple of ways to sort of simulate the red arrow?  I haven't done it in a while so maybe I'm not thinking straight, but can't you just use the Steal from the Future "feature" 🤣?  If you got so much money you're buffered ahead, just rip yourself off and then fix the category the next month.   There have been times I was firm in that I did NOT want to spend more than a certain amount on something per month, on average.  If one month I went over for whatever reason, I would deduct that amount from the amount budgeted the next month, manually.  I've even done this for 3 months straight, with the numbers getting smaller and smaller until I finally concede I better change the monthly spending goal.  

    It might be harder to track for accounting purposes, but at least it's still reflecting reality as far as how much money is truly in the budget.  As a former YNAB3/4 user, I can attest to the fact that I've used the red arrow in both the right and wrong way, and more often in the wrong.  I believe getting more honest about my overspending in nYNAB and taking care of it right away helped my finances considerably.  I thought I was being accountable by reducing my amount to be budgeted the next month (I was anti-WAMing) until I basically had nothing left or a bunch of red arrows.  I totally understand why YNAB discontinued it, even if reimbursable expenses still can pose a challenge.

    Reply Like
    • Annieland Most people probably fall into the category of using the feature wrong, so I do understand why they would want to make the change. For those of us who know what we're budgeting, where, and why, the option SHOULD be available, like Purple Rain said, to roll with the punches and move the money around as we see fit. Maybe they can just hide it deep in a menu that the average user won't find.  😂

      I'm not sure what the Steal From the Future feature is, so I'll have to check that out.  I've only been using online for just over a month. I came from YNAB classic.

      Reply Like 1
      • Annieland
      • YNABbing every day since 2009!
      • Annieland
      • 1 mth ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Khaki Saxophone said:
      I'm not sure what the Steal From the Future feature is, so I'll have to check that out.  I've only been using online for just over a month. I came from YNAB classic.

       Oh gosh, don't do that :).  Also called SFTF, it's what is generally considered a "bug" in nYNAB in that if you have Oct income budgeted into November, you can inadvertently budget money in Oct that you've already given a job to in Nov, and YNAB doesn't automatically alert you to this fact.  Your Oct. TBB will still be $0.00 and green and appear sound, until you flip forward and see a big red negative.  So I was being tongue-in-cheek calling it a feature.  But perhaps, if someone has a very deep understanding of the method and a comfortable cushion...... it could be employed with discretion. 😎

      Reply Like 1
  • And look, can't we agree that using a red arrow is basically funny money?  If someone is so comfortable with budgeting funny money as an "off-label" use of YNAB, then just make an unlinked bank account and deposit the expected reimbursement in it.  You just covered your expense with money that isn't really there just as the red arrow did.  Disclaimer: Closed course. Do not attempt. :)

    Reply Like 3
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 1 mth ago
      • 4
      • Reported - view

      Annieland It certainly is, which is why it's generally advocated to be limited to things like reimbursements. YNAB needs to come up with a system that backs reimbursements from your cash while still maintaining awareness. (If you can't back the reimbursements with cash, then you should be using another method to get those expenses paid for, but that's a different discussion). But using it as others suggest for averages, just kicks the can down the road, and allows you to kick it indefinitely. As HappyDance points out so thoroughly above, it doesn't actually help with awareness in that regard.

      Reply Like 4
  • No, it's not there.

    The part that frustrates me the most about this is that this isn't the only way to "lie" and "cheat" yourself about your budget. It's just the way that YNAB is hung up on as being the biggest deal. There are a number of other ways to obscure the reality of how much money you have and where it is going, but YNAB doesn't seem to have a problem with those.
    I can just as easily overlook the fact that my credit card balance keeps going up when we roll to a new month because all of my over spending is just -poof- gone. VERY easy to ignore that considering the credit card balance is very tiny on the left hand side of the screen when you are on the budget page.
    I can also pull money out of what has already gone into the credit card for payment and repay myself to "cover" other over spending, without a whole lot of consequences as well...

    There's a million different ways to cheat, and why YNAB is stuck that this one is a big deal doesn't make sense to me when there are a number of others that I'm positive that users are doing, knowingly or unknowingly, and yet those variations don't seem to matter.

    Reply Like 1
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 1 mth ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      farfromtheusual Yeah, the Add Debt With the Punches is certainly obfuscated.

      Reply Like 2
  • Annieland said:
    just make an unlinked bank account and deposit the expected reimbursement in it

     Our even simpler, record the expected reimbursed immediately in checking. Clear it when it clears.

    Yes, it's Monopoly money. YNAB disagrees with that approach, but I think it's your call if you want to put it in your categories. I should qualify that with, "and you understand the ramifications." Many users don't (and didn't with past versions), which I feel is actually why we don't have the red arrow today.

    Reply Like 4
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