Credit card "Payment" in YNAB doesn't match statement balance

I know this has been asked in various ways before, and I've tried reading those threads, but since they involve someone else's math it's hard to wrap my mind around what's going on. Sorry for the duplicate question 😑

We worked hard to pay off all of our credit card debt (thanks YNAB!), and now we pay the balances on our three cards in full.

One card has a billing period of Dec 29 – Jan 29, and a statement balance of $199.88. YNAB shows that we should pay $199.88 from our budgeted spending, so all good. Right?

Nope.

Our other two cards both share a billing cycle of Dec 12 – Jan 11.

We paid the previous statements in full in January, but of course there was budgeted spending in January after Jan 11, so at the end of January the "Payment" column in YNAB isn't matching the statement balances. The confusing part is HOW.

On one card, the Jan 11 statement balance is $4,704.44, the (reconciled) working balance on Jan 31 in YNAB is $10,166.75, and the "Payment" column says to pay $7,177.89. Huh?

Why would I send my credit card company nearly $2,500 more than I need to?

On the other card, the Jan 11 statement balance is $896.48, the (reconciled) working balance on Jan 31 is $1,488.15, and YNAB is asking me to pay $1,581.15.

Why would I send my credit card company more money than my actual balance?

Please help!

11replies Oldest first
  • Oldest first
  • Newest first
  • Active threads
  • Popular
  • timcheadle said:
    One card has a billing period of Dec 29 – Jan 29, and a statement balance of $199.88. YNAB shows that we should pay $199.88 from our budgeted spending, so all good. Right?
    Nope.

     No, not all good, unless you have not made any other purchases since then. To be paid-in-full status, you need to be able to pay the current balance (plus pending transactions) in full with money available in the credit card payment category, not the statement balance. Now, you may only send the statement balance, and that's fine.

    Like 2
  • timcheadle said:
    On one card, the Jan 11 statement balance is $4,704.44, the (reconciled) working balance on Jan 31 in YNAB is $10,166.75, and the "Payment" column says to pay $7,177.89. Huh?

     The Payment column on a paid-in-full card should match the actual card balance plus any pending transactions. What you send to the credit card company is irrelevant; YNAB has no frickin' idea what your statement balance is.

    Looks like you're floating about $3K on that card.

     

    timcheadle said:
    On the other card, the Jan 11 statement balance is $896.48, the (reconciled) working balance on Jan 31 is $1,488.15, and YNAB is asking me to pay $1,581.15.

    Any returns or cash back rewards on that card? (I'm looking for a link to the thread about all the reasons the payment column can get skewed from the actual balance-- and found it: https://support.youneedabudget.com/r/q51pnx)

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

    Your credit card payment category will only match the statement balance on the very day the statement is generated. And in fact, it probably won’t even match it then, because any pending transactions will have been included in the YNAB category, but won’t be on your statement. 

    The sign of a paid in full card is that the payment category is equal and opposite to the card’s current working balance. That’s the metric you need to look at. 

    Like 5
    • WordTenor
    • I have the honor to be your obedient servant
    • WordTenor
    • 1 yr ago
    • 3
    • Reported - view

    Also a shift in frame is necessary to understand the credit card payment category. Like every other category, it shows how much money you have available for this kind of spending. Having $400 available to buy groceries does not obligate you to rush to the store and hand over $400; it just means that you have $400 for any necessary grocery shopping you need to do in the future. 

    The YNAB support materials are somewhat unhelpful here because they encourage people to pay their card to zero. But you don’t have to do that. What matters is that you *could* pay the card to zero. Then, just like any other category, you can always choose to “spend less” on your payment (in other words, send only what the card company has asked for) and just like any other category, there will be money left over. 

    Like 3
  • bevocat said:
     Any returns or cash back rewards on that card? (I'm looking for a link to the thread about all the reasons the payment column can get skewed from the actual balance)

     Indeed there are returns. Maybe I'm doing this wrong, but if I purchase a pair of shoes for $100, I budget $100 in "Clothing" and categorize the spending there. I do the same if I return the pair of shoes, making the clothing budget go back to $100. How does that affect the credit card payment?

    Like
    • timcheadle Categorizing the inflow to the original category is indeed how returns should be handled. It decreases the available payment, since you obviously don't need to pay that amount back. This is simply the reverse of a budgeted purchase, which increases the category.

      Some people mistakenly categorize returns as TBB, which leads to a Payment category that is too high as well as skewed averages and reports.

      Purchase rewards (issued as a statement credit), on the other hand, are typically categorized as TBB, because it's simply too much effort to reflect this as a discount in all the various categories (proportionally) that gave rise to the reward. This, too, leads to a Payment category that is too high, so you must manually decrease that category.

      Like 3
  • timcheadle said:
    YNAB is asking me to pay $1,581.15.

     Nope, YNAB says that $1581 is AVAILABLE to pay without impacting any other planned purchases across the budget. In this particular case, that's more than necessary, so feel free to move the excess to elsewhere else in the budget.

    As other's have said, a paid-in-full card should have the Payment category match the account balance -- which is likely different than the statement balance. This reserves enough money to pay the account... wait for it... in full. 🙂

    Some people like to see $0 over on the left and will send the entire account balance. This takes the Payment category to $0, which actually sets people up for issues which I won't go into. (Nothing insurmountable, of course, but usually confusing and definitely requiring effort to correct.)

    I think most will simply pay the amount for which the CC company has requested -- the statement balance -- and earn interest on the remainder of the money owed to the CC. A payment in the amount of the statement balance can usually be automated as well, for convenience and reduced chance of error.

    Like 5
  • I found one cause for the mismatch....FWIW.

    Maybe this has been brought up in other threads on this topic (there are a bunch) but I couldn't find it. 

    I, too have been puzzled by the CC category not matching the CC "budgeted" amount. Even if I move money from other categories into the CC category to make it match, it always gets out of whack again.

    I noticed today that the amount by which it is out of whack, matches the total amount of all the categories that were in the "yellow negative". As I moved money from categories with a positive balance to the yellow-negative categories, the amount in CC category went up. When I got all the yellow-negative  categories to zero, the CC category and the CC "Budget" amount matched.

    Like
    • kodriscoll YNAB automatically moves money to the CC Payment category only for BUDGETED purchases. (By definition, those are purchases which are backed by cash, denoted as such in the budget by a category with a positive Available amount.)

      That yellow is the warning that you've taken on new debt without a plan in place to pay it off. And yes, Rule 3 directs you to cover all overspending as soon as possible by moving money from green categories. Failing to cover yellow overspending will indeed leave your CC Payment category short.

      Like 3
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 1 yr ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      kodriscoll Well, if you overspend a category, it means you spent more money than you had in the category. So if you spent more money in the category, that means the charge on your credit card isn't backed by cash in your budget. You can't make a credit card payment for something  if the payment isn't backed by budgeted cash.

      Like 2
    • dakinemaui THIS is a great explanation for it!  Using this advice, we looked at the prior three months of budgets and discovered some categories underfunded.  Once we corrected those numbers in those prior months by covering them with money from other budget categories, then the CC payment and CC budgeted numbers aligned.  Thanks for sharing.

      Like 1
Like1 Follow
  • 1 Likes
  • 3 wk agoLast active
  • 11Replies
  • 1726Views
  • 8 Following