Yet another CC question

Been using YNAB for a couple of years, and love it. I've never felt I totally understood how CCs work, but it's been reliable in YNAB, so I've just trusted it. This month, however, I was suprised when my autopay (I pay in full every month) was WAY off, completely ruining my budget. Rather that try to figure out what happened, I'd like to make sure it's synched properly going forward.

YNAB shows all the same transactions as shown on the card's web access interface..

With all the transactions showing the same both places:

CC current balance: $2477.80

YNAB: Budgeted: 3,930.54; Available: $0.00

Shouldn't something match here?

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  • PS in YNAB working  balance shows -$543.89

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  • Is your credit card balance positive or negative?

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    • satcook I owe $2477.80

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      • satcook
      • satcook
      • 1 mth ago
      • Reported - view

      William Spencer when was the last time you reconciled the credit card?

      can you look at the accounts list and confirm that the $2477 is a negative number?

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    • satcook I’ve never had to reconcile that account. 
       

      That number is from the CC’s website, not in YNAB, sorry if that was unclear 

      Like
  • If you pay in full every month, and cover any overspending in your categories, then you shouldn't need to budget any money to the credit card.  The absolute values of the card balance and the payment amount should be equal. (Payment amount is a bit confusing because it is in the available column, but works differently.)

    Does the amount you owe (-2477.80) plus the (positive) payment equal the -543.89 of your working balance on the card?

    If it does not, then you either have additional newer transactions that should add up to the -543.89, or your credit card account is not reconciled properly.

    If it does, then to fix the overall issue, budget money to the credit card until the amount available for payment is 543.89.

    I know you said you don't want to know how the credit card thing works, but to keep the amounts in sync going forward, you really need to understand it, so you know what to look out for and how to fix it before you have !surprise! payments.

    The way credit cards work is this: you spend money on the card. You mark the transaction with the category you spent from, as you do with the cash and direct from bank accounts. HOWEVER, the money hasn't left your hands yet, but that money has been spent from that account. So YNAB moves the money from the category to the payment for the credit card. YNAB does this automatical, you don't need to do anything. In the mobile app on Android, it even has a neat pop-up where you can watch this transfer happen. If the category DOESN'T have the money available (i.e., you overspent), then the amount available to pay the card can't come from that category. Ideally, you'd move money to cover that overspending the same month it happens. If you don't, then when the month rolls over that category becomes 0 and you've added credit card debt, which you need to account for by budgeting directly to the credit card. For paid in full users, this is the only case where you should have money budgeted to the credit card, after accounting originally for the card's starting balance. 

    Like 1
    • Fuzzball Meows 

      Thanks for the reply. I do understand how it works I just said I didn’t want to bother to figure out what happened this past month. I just wanna make sure it’s not going to surprise me again next month so I want to know how to reconcile it.

       

      Fuzzball Meows said:
      Does the amount you owe (-2477.80) plus the (positive) payment equal the -543.89 of your working balance on the card?

       Payment shows$0.00 in YNAB.

       

      Fuzzball Meows said:
      If it does not, then you either have additional newer transactions that should add up to the -543.89, or your credit card account is not reconciled properly.

      So how do I reconcile it?

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      • jenmas
      • jenmas
      • 1 mth ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      William Spencer Reconciling is something that happens entirely in the account register. If the cleared balance in your account register matches the cleared balance in real life (ie the cleared balance on the credit card site), you hit the Reconcile button in the web browser app, top right of your screen. You can also Reconcile in mobile in iOS devices, but I'm not sure if they've rolled it out to Android yet. Hit the 3 little dots in the top right of your screen in the account register and you'll see the Reconcile function. You should be reconciling your accounts on a monthly basis at a minimum (I do it more frequently because I don't like to scroll and I want to hide my reconciled transactions).

      As far as "fixing" things on the budget screen - the answer is simple you adjust category allocations so that the amount in the credit card payment category available column is a positive number that is equal to (but opposite sign) the negative working balance of the credit card account. Yes this may mean that you have to take money out of your other categories. But as soon as any one category is red, all other categories are already inherently inaccurate because of the overspending in the credit card payment category. This is why you should always be aware of what the available amount is in the credit card payment category so you can see when it veers off course and fix it immediately. 

      Because I accurately budgeted for the existing balance when the credit card accounts were added to my YNAB (this is the step that is a big culprit for your situation), I mostly have to worry in only a few situations: returns, especially if the return happens in a different month than the initial transaction. When I get statement credits from cash back or other special offers. When I know that I have to move money from Category A to Category B to cover a purchase, but I enter the transaction before I reallocate the funds without remembering to do the actual reallocation. Also, I never pay my balance down to zero. I have the funds available in the credit card payment category to do so at any time (this is what makes me a paid in full user, not the actual act of paying down to zero), but I only ever pay the statement balance on the due date. Because of the ordering of transactions, paying down to zero and then having other new transactions on the same day can get things out of whack for no good reason if for some reason the account balance goes positive.

      Like 2
    • jenmas 

       

      Thanks for the reply. I understand the mechanism for reconciling, I’ve done it with other accounts many times. I’ve never had to reconcile my credit cards because they always seem to work, they get auto paid every month in full and everything’s hunky-dory. However for some reason last month I had a $4000 surprise when my card got paid. I just want to reconcile everything so that that doesn’t happen again.

       

      I guess what I’m gleaning from the replies is that when I click on the reconcile button In the credit card account that number should match the balance as shown on my credit card’s website provided all the transactions are the same as what’s shown in YNAB. Correct?

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      • jenmas
      • jenmas
      • 1 mth ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      William Spencer the CLEARED balance on your credit card website should match the CLEARED balance in your YNAB account register. I reconcile at least once a week. Lots of times the working balance on my credit card account in YNAB doesn't match anything on the credit card website - I do 100% manual entry of all transactions in all accounts (I have 24 on budget accounts in YNAB plus a bunch of tracking accounts) so for example I enter my Amazon purchases when I make them, but don't get charged until they ship. But if the cleared balances match, then I hit Yes on the Reconcile.

      Reconciling isn't just for "problem" accounts, it's for all accounts. It locks those transactions so that if there is a future problem, you only have to go through the unreconciled transactions.

      Like 1
    • jenmas 

       

      Got it. Thanks I almost never reconcile because I don’t need to it’s always accurate and I rely on automatic loading of transactions, except for cash which I try to do as little as possible of. This is the first time in over three years of using the system that I’ve had an issue. Thanks again

      Like
      • nolesrule
      • Been waiting 5 years for the Stealing From the Future fix...
      • nolesrule
      • 1 mth ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      William Spencer 

      William Spencer said:
      I almost never reconcile because I don’t need

       But that makes it even easier to reconcile, so when a problem eventually does arise it narrows down when the problem would have taken place.

      Like 2
      • Annieland
      • I was told there would be no math.
      • Annieland
      • 1 mth ago
      • Reported - view

      nolesrule When I was beta testing the new Reconcile feature in the iOS app, I felt bad I had barely any feedback to offer because everything was already reconciled and I had nothing to do!

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      • nolesrule
      • Been waiting 5 years for the Stealing From the Future fix...
      • nolesrule
      • 1 mth ago
      • Reported - view

      Annieland you should have made up transactions like a nYoob.

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  • OK, so I've manually reconciled so the cleared balance matches the balance shown by my CC company. (all transactions are accounted for), but shouldn't the available column show the current $2477.80 balance of the card? 

    Like
      • nolesrule
      • Been waiting 5 years for the Stealing From the Future fix...
      • nolesrule
      • 1 mth ago
      • Reported - view

      William Spencer No. You have a reconciliation balance adjustment. All that does is increase the debt balance on the card. you need to budget for it in order to pay it off.

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      • satcook
      • satcook
      • 1 mth ago
      • Reported - view

      William Spencer It looks like your account did go positive when you made your payment.  That's part of the problem.  If it has gone positive in the past then no money is set aside while it is positive.

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    • satcook 

      What are you seeing that makes you think my payment give me a positive balance in the credit card? And I look at my online balance of the credit card it says I owe 2477.80

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      • satcook
      • satcook
      • 1 mth ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      William Spencer It looks like it went positive in YNAB>

       

      It isn't important now though.  You need to budget enough to the credit card payments bubble so the available bubble equals the full balance due on the card.

      Like 1
      • nolesrule
      • Been waiting 5 years for the Stealing From the Future fix...
      • nolesrule
      • 1 mth ago
      • Reported - view

      William Spencer That was a pretty large reconcilliation adjustment. It should have been fairly easy to find at least some of the missing transactions.

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    • nolesrule I think I may have moved $$ out of the CC budget at some point during the month for some reason 

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      • nolesrule
      • Been waiting 5 years for the Stealing From the Future fix...
      • nolesrule
      • 1 mth ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      William Spencer That wouldn't result in the actual account balance being so far off.

      Like 2
  • Thanks everybody for all the replies on this. I do understand how it all works, I just want to make sure that going forward, when my credit card balance is paid in full every month via auto pay from my checking account, everything has already been budgeted for in YNAB, which is how it’s always worked up until this month. 
     

    To that end, I have entered a reconciliation transaction so that the cleared balance in the credit card’s YNAB  account matches the balance shown by the credit card company, and I’ve budgeted  so that amount is also in the available field for that card in the YNAB budget.

     

    correct?

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    • William Spencer  To confirm, when your Credit Card Payment category is off like this, the steps you took are perfect:

      ✔️ 1. Reconcile your credit card so that the cleared balance in YNAB matches the cleared balance at your financial institution. 

      ✔️ 2. If you pay in full, budget directly to the Credit Card Payment category for the card so that the amount in the Available column matches the balance in the account, like in this example:

      As you go forward, continue to budget for any spending you do on the card directly in the spending categories and you should see the Credit Card Payment category working as it should. :)

      Nice recovery! Keep up the reconciliation at least monthly to avoid future surprises. 👍

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    • Dela Thanks, that's what I've done. I'll try my best to not stress over what threw it off last month. Forward!

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  • William Spencer said:
    I just want to make sure that going forward, when my credit card balance is paid in full every month via auto pay from my checking account, everything has already been budgeted for in YNAB, 

    Just remember, you have to actually look to make sure that the available amount in the credit card payment category actually matches the amount that you are going to pay your credit card. You can't just assume that it matches.

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    • jenmas Okay, I've never had to before, YNAB has always been accurate. I have never had to reconcile any of my accounts, but (sigh)  guess I will going forward. What a pain.

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      • jenmas
      • jenmas
      • 1 mth ago
      • Reported - view

      William Spencer Do you look at your other categories during the month before you spend? It's really the same thing. Even with my 100% manual entry, I spend a maximum of 5 minutes a day doing budget stuff for the most part. The last day of old month/first day of new month I spend a little more time because that's when I deal with my tracking accounts like investments and mortgage. I love to reconcile because then I can hide reconciled transactions - I hate having to scroll through lots of transactions.

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    • jenmas not really. I always have plenty budgeted, and don’t really do much unplanned spending 

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