Reconciling Unlinked Retirement Accounts

Does anyone have a good way to reconcile an old linked retirement account and transfer to an unlinked retirement account (with a contribution from my paycheck every other week) and include it in monthly retirement goals? I switched jobs recently and with it comes rolling over of funds to other institutions not connected to YNAB. I've only been using this app for about six months and would appreciate any suggestions for efficient organizational techniques. Thanks!

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  • I do not track the minutiae of payroll deductions. I only record my net paycheck in YNAB. For things like my IRAs and 401(k) I just do a reconciliation transaction every few months on my unlinked tracking accounts. When I hit the reconcile button and it asks me if my balance is X and I say no and fill in Y it creates an adjustment transaction and that lump is the change including contributions, gains, and losses. If I were rolling over a 401(k) into a new employer's plan, I would most likely do a transfer from old 401(k) to new 401(k) and then close the old 401(k) account.

    My annual IRA contribution is a bit different though. I do a lump sum before filing my taxes in April (I can make my 2019 contribution any time before April 15 2020) after I get clarity on my MAGI. So I just throw money at my IRA category. I do not use goals in YNAB. I can only contribute $6K per year, so as long as the category balance is less than $6K, I know I need to add more money to the category and it's pretty simple arithmetic. Also, I add the same amount to the IRA category every single month so I just quick budget using the "amount budgeted last month" option. When it does come time to actually make the contribution, it is a transfer from on budget account to off budget account which requires a category.

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  • You can just unlink the existing YNAB account and use that for the new institution. Note that this should be a Tracking account since you're not going to spend this money on Groceries, etc. so it shouldn't be mixed up in with categories. The budget/categories is the plan for your spendable cash.

    As @jenmas alludes, most people don't track payroll withdrawals. YNAB helps guide spending decisions, but the decision for those payroll deductions has already been made. As for the retirement account itself, it's a simple matter to include a scheduled transaction in that account for the weekly contribution.

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  • Hey ktoschlz !

    It's definitely possible to track payroll deductions – but we don't recommend it. We're big fans of simplicity around here. 

    Budgeting is all about behavior. If you can change your behavior (overspending on groceries, say), then measuring it in your budget is helpful. But, payroll deductions don't involve behavior or day-to-day decisions, and there is little value in tracking them in your Budget.

    Here's how we recommend handling investment/loan accounts:

    1. Set up the account as an Unlinked Tracking account, if you haven't already (Tracking > Asset or Liability).
    2. Create a Scheduled Transaction to show your regular contributions or payments. Or, if you have a lot of activity in the account, give File-Based Importing a try in the web app!
    3. Update the balance like this as it changes, or frequently as you wish.

    Let me know if you have any questions at all! 

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  • Thank you all for your input!

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