Credit Card Budget Does not appear to be updating correctly

Hi - I'm running into a strange problem where my credit card payment budget is not matching my working balance.

Over the past couple of months, I have found a couple of nuances in YNAB that made me realize I needed to watch a few things more closely to ensure everything reconciles.  So now, every week when I reconcile my balances, I always check to make sure that my account working balance = payment budget.

However, for the 2 cards I use the most - they get out of whack pretty quickly.  For example, a few weeks ago I noticed that my working balance was about $150 higher than what was budgeted, so I added in $150 to cover it.  Today, when going through to reconcile that account, I'm showing a balance that is $420 higher than the working balance...

I realize I am not supposed to be budgeting money in/out of these budgets, but I think there was an issue when I originally set up my budget that I didn't properly account for my balance.  However, now I can't seem to get this to stay reconciled...  

Any idea what's going on here?

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  • Almost certainly overspending. It'll be yellow and NOT included in the Overspending header line in next month's area. (That's only for red/cash overspending.) This is very common if you rely on Import for transaction entry; something will import dated for last month after you've already moved on to this months budget.

    The fact you made them agree once eliminates the other common cause of not budgeting for a starting balance. Less common things that leave the category short are outgoing transfers (e.g., to gift card accounts or immediate reimbursements) or reconciliation adjustments.

    Like 1
      • Frank K
      • Mrkoop
      • 1 mth ago
      • Reported - view

      dakinemaui That was my epiphany last month...   the fact that transactions can post for a prior month in the first couple days of a month.  However, I reconciled that issue in early Sept and have been very much paying attention to that during the Sept/Oct change.  That is where I appear to now have more money...

      So, in theory, I should be able to 1) Balance the account and 2) Ensure that all items posted balance correctly at the month change, and it should stay in balance, correct?

      If so I'll watch it again - but once it's balanced it should stay in balance - correct?

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    • Frank K If things are balanced, they should stay that way as long as all future credit card payments are budgeted for (except for a few outliers). If you notice things still fall out of whack, we'd be more than happy to take a look for you! You'd just need to enable Support Access for your account and let us know whether you’d like to continue the discussion here or via email instead.

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  • I have never liked how CC work in YNAB (Maybe I don't understand it).  I tend to just zero it out each month to make my life easier.

    I have had issues in the past where they would not sync properly and have had to go back and fix things from the previous month, though I think that is with syncing as sometimes it is a few days late.

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    • VoltaicShock If you feel your CC should have paid in full status, just ensure the Available in the Payment category covers the entire debt (account balance)

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  • Frank K  - exactly what dakinemaui says, check previous months and I have also seen this with hidden categories.  Sometimes a transaction will import to a category that I no longer use or have consolidated categories to a single, easier to manage set.  Since you have not budgeted to a hidden category, this could cause your issue...

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  • Frank K said:
    once it's balanced it should stay in balance - correct?

    In general, no.  There are a number of things outside of overspending that will throw off the category/account agreement. For example, purchase rewards redeemed as a statement credit.

    The only way to absolutely force agreement is to drop the stock CC handling and represent your CC with a checking account. (Make a "payment" from a new account to switch.) This simplifies things for a paid-in-full (PIF) CC, since the full account balance is ALWAYS implicitly reserved. No Payment category is used, as it would be redundant.

    The only potential issue is you cannot float anything with this representation (which is exactly the point, right?). Reimbursements, for instance, should use a method appropriate for cash transactions (pre-funding the category). If you do need to finance something, just make a simple balance transfer back to a real credit-based account, and then balance transfer to the checking representation when PIF status is restored.

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      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 1 mth ago
      • Reported - view

      dakinemaui One thing I've come to realize over the past 4 years is that if you have to ask why the payment category isn't in sync, you probably shouldn't use the CC as checking account method.

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    • nolesrule I'm on the fence about that. As long as people fully understand what PIF status really is (and have achieved it in their budget), I don't see the need to bother understanding the more unintuitive aspects. After all, every single one of the YNAB4 PIF users didn't need to understand them. The "spending is spending" mentality afforded by sweeping the temporary debt under the rug is rather compelling.

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    • Frank K  

      For your reference, here are the reasons I've found that a paid-in-full credit card account & payment category balances diverge when using the stock CC handling:

      • starting balance on a paid-in-full card - category is lower
      • overspending - category is lower
      • uncategorized transactions - category is lower
      • outgoing transfers to other on-budget accounts (e.g., gift card account, immediate reimbursements) - category is lower
      • purchase/cash-back rewards (should be categorized to TBB) - category is higher
      • categorizing item returns as TBB (should use the original spending category instead) - category is higher
      • reconciliation adjustment - category is lower for an outflow adjustment, higher for an inflow adjustment
      • taking the account balance positive - category should be $0 in this case
      • erroneous budget entry - accidents or misunderstandings occasionally happen.

      To correct the problem, budget whatever is needed to make them agree. Some of them can also be fixed other ways (e.g., overspending).

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      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 1 mth ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      dakinemaui Don't forget about overspending a category with purchases on 2 different credit cards followed by a return. YNAB doesn't always return the no longer overspent amount to the right card. 🙂

      Like 1
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 1 mth ago
      • Reported - view

      dakinemaui Actually, I think YNAB4 did have a PIF problem due to the red arrow. I don't think we realized it at the time.

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    • nolesrule PIF status, by definition, had the Pre-YNAB Debt category balance at $0. If a user had other categories they had red-arrowed, I wouldn't consider that a CC issue.

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      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 1 mth ago
      • Reported - view

      dakinemaui I was not implying they are the same, just that the misunderstandings are there in either case.

      It's not a CC issue, but rather a lack of understanding of the PIF concept as applied within YNAB which is defined as having the cash reserved to pay the full balance of the card.  In other words, you think you are PIF, but really you aren't because you don't have enough cash reserved for PIF status while being able to back all the remaining categories.

      On the bright side, in the current version all overspending gets pulled from TBB in the next month, but even that has an effect on PIF when people come up short. That's why we have Rule 3. And you need to have Rule 3 covered properly ( and by properly I mean not leaving categories red to come out of TBB next month) in order to switch to CC as checking.

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      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 1 mth ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      nolesrule Yep, and the good news is OP realizes at this point that Import can do a sneak attack in last month's area. (In fairness, it's not limited to just Import, as a reconciliation can do it as well.) OP, conveniently, there's a warning in the current month of past overspending when using the CC-as-checking approach.

      Like 1
  • Hi! I found this post because I was baffled on this same topic. My TBB should match my balances. I put in a manual split entry with 4 splits, and it was complaining I didn't have enough funds. What I think (now) it was telling me was that since "Groceries" was overspend, it wasn't going to move the money to TBB to cover the transaction. But where I thought it was odd was that it was off by an odd amount that had no bearing on what I was entering, AND my CCP CC Balance was higher than the actual balance (back to the original point of this post)

    What I ended up doing was moving the surplus funds around, removing the transaction to force the balances to agree, and having enough funds in Groceries to cover. Then, when I entered the transaction, it stayed in balance.

    So where I'm struggling to understand....
    1) Transaction gets entered to Overspend Groceries by $50
    2) It throws my Credit Card Payments (CCP) section in Yellow
    3) I can move money around to cover, but should it not *always* balance to this formula, or am I missing something? 
     - Sum of CCP + Sum of Bank Account = Total of all Budgeted Envelopes

    I'm becoming less convinced that I'm actually in balance, and should probably run the numbers through Excel. If the CCP and Budget Sections get out of balance, how do you find the error...?

    Thanks!
    Stephen 

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      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 12 days ago
      • Reported - view

      Stephen Kirven Fundamentally, the budget is the plan for your cash. As such, debt is ignored (negative credit accounts and yellow overspending). It's easiest to understand if you look in the future-most budget area where these are equal:

      * Accounts: Sum of cash + positive credit

      * Budget: TBB+Total Available

      A common mistake is to try to use the Budget Account Total for the account side. I realize you tried to adjust for that, but you used the CC Payment balance rather than the CC account balance.

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  • Stephen Kirven said:
    it wasn't going to move the money to TBB to cover the transaction

     TBB = To Be Budgeted, which is the number at the top of your budget screen showing you how much money still needs to be put in categories.  Most of the time, it should stay at $0.  When you get income, you need to put it in categories until it reaches $0.

    It has little to do with the Credit Card handling.

    Like 1
  • Stephen Kirven said:
    I'm becoming less convinced that I'm actually in balance

    It's impossible to be out of balance, as it's literally the fundamental computation in YNAB. That said, negative money is a bit useless, so ensure there is no red anywhere so the numbers are meaningful in the real world.

    Paid-in-full status on the CC requires that the Payment category exactly cover the debt (negative account balance).

    Like 1
  • Stephen Kirven said:
    If the CCP and Budget Sections get out of balance, how do you find the error...?

    It's either a yellow category (so move funds there to cover) or something else (so move funds directly to the Payment category). The full list of "something else" is above-thread.

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  • Stephen Kirven said:
    since "Groceries" was overspend, it wasn't going to move the money to TBB to cover the transaction

    It never moves money to TBB for a spending transaction. It will, however, move to the CC Payment category IF funds are Available in the spending category.

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  •    dakinemaui  Yea, I did an export just now to cross check, and then I realized my "over" was my actual TBB balance. :) And I had to pull the "Budget for future" number into the mix too....

    So maybe it's sort of a two-pronged thing. The money being short in the CCP section just says "Hey dummy, feed me" by turning it yellow. And the Budget goes Yellow also with a "feed me" too.. But the available funds up to 0.00 get moved to the CCP folder...

    I think I get it.
    Thanks!
    Ste[jem

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