The mysterious Credit Card total

I normally move underspent budget back in To Be Budgeted at the end of each month so all my totals are zero, unless I am saving for something specific like a holiday.

But should my credit card total be zero at the end of each month?

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  • If you pay your credit card in full, the credit card category Available amount should always match your current credit card account balance (though the category should be positive while the account balance will show as a negative). You shouldn't take funds out of the credit card category unless you have no other way to cover overspending, don't intend to pay the credit card off in full and have a plan to budget those funds back at a later date.

    • Faness thanks for your response. I don't always pay my card off every month.  I do pay it off completely from time to time.  The last time it was paid off completely was 26 March.

      I have a monthly automated minimum payment direct debit set up which varies as a percentage of the CC balance: to allow for this I have an estimated amount in YNAB and I adjust it when I see the transaction on my statement. 

      Given the above, what can I expect my CC budget figure to look like at the end of each month? If I now want to correct past mistakes, what should I do?  My March CC budget is showing as zero, which I think is right from what you say, but what about April and May?  Do I need to correct further back than March?

      Also I really don't understand the right hand column of the box that pops up when I click on the Activity in the CC budget.  Here's an example:

    • Good Intentions Your credit card balance in YNAB should match your actual credit card balance. If you spend $500 on your credit card, it should show a $500 balance in YNAB.

      The most important part about credit cards is to check your Available balance for your credit card category before making a payment. If you have $20 Available in your credit card category but you want to make a $50 payment, you'll need to budget an additional $30 towards that category (that'll give you $50 Available to make that payment).

      Here's a full explanation of each item tallied in that box when you click on the Activity field in your Credit Card Payment category:

      Total Activity is the sum of:

      • Budgeted Spending: this only takes into account expenses that were budgeted for and that occurred while the credit card’s account balance was negative.
      • Payments & Returns: the sum of all payments (i.e.transfers) made to the card and usually any portion of a return that removes money from the Credit Card Payment category (i.e. returns that were categorized back to a specific budget category, not as Inflow: To be Budgeted)

      Total Spending is the sum of:

      • Spending: all the spending on the card, whether it was budgeted or not
      • Returns: total of all refunds on the card, this includes inflows to the card that were categorized as Inflow: To be Budgeted and any that were categorized back to a specific budget category.

      So, you spent $127.05, but only $53.69 of that spending was budgeted for and you had $87 in refunds, but only $13.64 in payments (or transfers that affected your credit card category).

    • Faness Thank you so much. Can I ask you about trying to correct things? I am thinking that if I can go back to the last time I paid my card off in March this should sort it out without delving back too far. 

      I've attached screenshots below of the transactions and summary for March, but I don't understand why the month end budget figure is -2.37, given that I paid the card off and didn't overspend on any budget? Is this due to budget brought forward from the previous month?  How can I correct this so March gives me a fresh start going forward?

    • Good Intentions Since you spent $79.44 and budgeted spending shows $79.44, those amounts fell out of balance before March. To address it in March, you'll need to budget funds towards the credit card category until you have $28.41 Available (which means you'd have enough to pay the credit card off in full). 

      Depending on your April and May spending, those numbers could fall back out of sync. In May, double-check that you have enough Available in your credit card category to cover the balance of the credit card. That assures things are aligned currently and going forward (as long as all future purchases are budgeted for). 

  • Good Intentions said:
    what can I expect my CC budget figure to look like at the end of each month?

    Same as during the month: CC category equal to the account balance as a positive number.

    I would just make this true in the current month and NOT mess with the past. The latter usually causes a cascade of overspending problems that you would also have to fix. However, you can get the month-ending account balance from the running balance if you insist.

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  • Good Intentions said:
    How can I correct this so March gives me a fresh start going forward?

    In the March area, change the HSBC Payment category budget entry to 18.36. This should result in an Available amount of $28.41, which was the account balance at the end of March.

  • Faness  and dakinemaui  thank you so much, I think I have it sorted now! 😄

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