Keeping track of "moved" money

I'm new and I am under-budgeted in some categories, overspending in some categories, and moving funds around to maintain an even place between income and outgo. The overspending appears in the Budget Catagories and I've moved money to keep things green. When I receive funds, I want to repopulate the categories I've "borrowed" from. Is there a mechanism to track monies moved from a category to another category? Or, a method to track which categories I moved money from and want to re-fund when I make a deposit?

I've moved all my cash to my checking account, I'm 2 to 3 months ahead, my hope is to balance out in December, knowing that I will have 3 months of spending history. At that point, I want to recommit to savings goals having a clear picture of my monthly expenses. But as I maneuver the funds I'm am losing track of where they are to return to.  

I understand the concept of not spending money you don't have, I'm not. I am allocating temporarily to "balance" now, knowing I can replenish in a few days. I am not at negative balances until I spend in a category that is either underfunded or, as in today's experience, (a medical emergency) I needed to move several hundred dollars from multiple budget accounts that will be replenished in 2 days. 

Or, am I just over complicating this into a bit of a mess, albeit a small mess?


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  • YNAB doesn't have a built in tracking mechanism like you're looking for. The idea behind "rolling with the punches" (rule 3) is that priorities change and our budget adjusts to change with them and that's okay. The next time you get income, just pause and look at your category balances and decide where those new dollars are needed *most.* 

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  • Great Expectations said:
    When I receive funds, I want to repopulate the categories I've "borrowed" from.

    Why? If you could better predict the future, you probably wouldn't have put those funds there in the first place.

    Although, if that category has a set amount & timeframe, using a goal will automatically suggest the contributions that will allow you to still meet that obligation. Either no tracking of paybacks is necessary or there's automatic repayment, depending on how you want to look at it.

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  • Great Expectations said:
    Or, am I just over complicating this

     Yes you are 😊. 

    I do recall a similar feeling from the beginning. To remember where I wanted to put money once it would arrive.... (I think I started with the borrowing idea as well, but there really isn’t a point), even that kept me mentally very bussy. 

    So yes you’re overcomplicating things. The good news is that it makes things easier if you stop borrowing but just move money when needed. 

    One other thing that gave me clarity was make a budget template and fill categories as if I’d been doing that since a long time. So a yearly expected expense due in 2 months is already 10/12 funded. Not sure if you’re able to do that, but you mention 2-3 months ahead. It brought some order back into the budget for me. In the beginning it sometimes feels as if every expense means rolling with the punches. But even then: you probably wouldn’t have planned for the medical emergency..... there will always be reasons to adjust the plan/take money from other categories. That is because priorities change it the light of life happening.

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  • Powder Blue Pony said:
    fill categories as if I’d been doing that since a long time.

     And credit where it’s due: great advice from dakinemaui

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  • As Powder Blue Pony said, you're over complicating things.

    If you are borrowing from a category that absolutely NEEDS a specific amount in it, say for a bill that will be due next month, then you can always use the description of the category to help keep things clear.
    My gas and grocery categories look like this:

    Gas $288/$144

    Groceries $400/$200

    So I know that each pay check I need to put half of the amount that I need for the month into the category, which for gas is $144, and for groceries is $200. So each pay check I dish out to make sure there is at least the $200 funded in the grocery category, or more if there was leftover from the previous month/pay period.

    You can also work with goals in a similar manner, but they didn't work as well for my thought process, so I don't use them. But they can be helpful with making sure that categories stay "topped off" to a certain amount.

    Lastly - in the beginning you WILL move money. A LOT. So don't stress about it. My recommendation is that for the first 3 months to stay focused on making sure you track all of the transactions and enter all of your spending. Don't worry about what you have to move where in order to keep  up, but focus on making sure you are getting all of it in. At that 3 month mark that's when you can really begin to start using the reports to see how much you're spending on average. Things like groceries and fuel will begin to give you numbers that you can work with to know how much you need to budget to keep them covered. At 6 months, you've got even more information and can begin to look at other things like your power bill to see how the averages are working out with that. And at a year, you'll have a great handle on the cycle of time that goes through all seasons, and all holidays/vacations/etc.

    So take it slow and be gentle with yourself, you'll figure it out over time. and you won't need to move money around so frequently.

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