Moving money out of Emergency & tracking where it goes

I recently had a large car maintenance cost that I had to dip into my emergency funds for.  I put that expense under the "Toyota Maintenance" category, then I transferred money from my "Emergency Category" to finish covering the cost.  I put the expense under the Maintenance category so I can keep track of how much the cars are costing me each year to maintain.


The question is though, is there a way to mark that I have moved $x out of my emergency fund, so when I look back on that category at some point I know where that money went to?   I know there is the note box, but that just doesn't do a very good job for this specific function.  Can I enter a $0 transaction and write in the memo?  Or do a split transaction of +$1500 and -$1500 and write in the memo?  

Idk, anyone got any suggestions of what they do?



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  • You don't want to enter a 0 sum split. It'll mess up reporting.

    Either make a note in the category of how much you need to pay back and adjust as you pay back, or log it externally. Spreadsheets are good for that.

  • If you set a target goal of how much you want in your e-fund category balance, then every time you remove a dollar, your goal will be a visual reminder of how far away from being fully-funded and at goal. Until I got all my categories well funded, the shifting was frequent and just the natural response to life happening and underfunded true expenses.

     You can also enter a running list in the notes section of the e-fund category. Click on the e-fund and the notes section is in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen.  I suspect that you will find, as I did, that the total amount away from target (and the plan to replace it) is the valuable bit of info and not the 100 or so occurrences of having to shift money for a good reason.

  • If you could predict the future better, you would have put that money in the Toyota category to start with. After moving it, that is now the case. If you want a larger EF than you have now, then simply grow it. Tracking explicit "paybacks" seems like a layer of unneeded complication to me.

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    • Khaki Storm
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    • 1 yr ago
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    I've struggled with this too. Only a 2 month YNAB user, but issue is in other products as well. It's tough choice. If you categorize the car repair directly from emergency savings, then you'll know where the money went. However, you and YNAB will have a hard time finding how much you really spent in car repair. If you do as you said, then looking back you'll know how much was spent in car repair, but might wonder where the emergency money went. My answer was going to be enter a zero cost line with a note on it, but I see from the comments, that causes problems. One answer could be outside of YNAB. When I make a transfer in my bank from savings to checking, I can add a note.  

  • I personally have never felt the need to keep track of those things, but I guess you could make a completely null transaction (no inflow, no outflow) categorized to emergency fund and write what you did in the memo. 

    Or make a note that you used some emergency fund money in the memo of that transaction in Toyota Maintenance and just search for it.

    In terms of 'what do I do?', I don't.

  • Yea,

    I tried that. It might work good enough. I did an $0 transaction from an account (with how much money went where & why) and applied it to the emergency category. 

    Nothing changed, but when I click on “activity” under emergency I see the blank transaction and know I have a note there. 

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