Categorizing Amazon purchases

I find it super cumbersome to categorize my Amazon purchases. To the point that I'm wondering whether or not YNAB is the right tool for me. I'd say 30% or more of my purchases are from Amazon and it doesn't leave me any sort of easy way to track what items were purchased for which order. My current process is going to my Amazon orders and CMD+F for the purchase price in YNAB and then logging the category that way. Even this doesn't always work because the order might have multiple categories of items in it. 

I'm considering just having an Amazon category and calling it a day, but that feels broken. 

How do you track your Amazon expenses in YNAB? Do you have a better way? 

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  • I enter a single transaction in my credit card account, possibly split if there are multiple categories. This transaction actually adds funds to my Amazon gift balance, which is used for the Amazon purchase. That balance gets charged as items ship at random times for various amounts (possibly combined), but I don't care. More details here:

    https://support.youneedabudget.com/t/k9vcv8

    Like 1
  • You don't really explain what is cumbersome about it. 

    When you make the purchase enter it in ynab straight away and categorise it. You can set it for a future date if you want to wait until it gets charged. 

    You can use split transactions or individual ones per item, whatever works for you. 

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    • SgtBatten The issue is multiple items in the order often result in multiple outflows, but the user recorded them as a single outflow (exactly as you recommend). The actual outflows are not always known immediately, so the desire is to avoid having to edit transactions just because Amazon charges when things ship.

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    • dakinemaui Seems a minor issue.  You can click "view your recent order", and immediately Amazon will show how many it was split into.  I do that by reflex as soon as the purchase screen completes. 

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    • Saish Dawg 3rd party merchants often ship/charge separately from what that transaction list shows. In my experience, even the Amazon fulfillment doesn't agree 100%.

      And it is a minor issue, but one I can easily sidestep. So I do.

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    • dakinemaui Yes, a few times a single item in a single order was billed up to three times (still adding up to the total), which was mysterious.  Though, the simple click on the order to review works for me enough of the time to treat anything else as a true exception.  But point taken, and fair enough.

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  • Someone posted before about using a report from amazon. Let me see if I can find that info. 

    Edited to add - ha ha that someone was me

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      • MXMOM
      • MXMOM
      • 1 mth ago
      • Reported - view

      I don’t know how to link to my old post but this is what I posted a while back. Not sure if it helps with your question. 
       

      Amazon Order History Report!!!

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      • MXMOM
      •  
      •  
      • mxmom
      •  
      • 4 mths ago 
      •  

      This was posted over on the Facebook YNAB Fans group by someone (not me) but I have seen alot of people having problems with the Amazon order reconciliation so I thought I would post this here in case it didn't make it here or if you are not on that FB group. Again, not my discovery. Credit to another person (whose name I won't share because it is a private group). 

      If the person who posted this on FB is also on here, please come and claim credit for this.   

      __________________________________________________________________________________________________ 

      As many of you know reconciling Amazon order to YNAB is a pain due to the way Amazon bills on delivery. We will put in an order into YNAB for say, $55.93 and Amazon will bill it as 3 separate orders and we then have to crawl through the orders page to find it. 

      Well I just discovered this link: 

      https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html…

      I will build an order report for Excel and you can search by amount!! Very helpful for us and thought we would share.

      Like
      • Vibrant
      • No more counting dollars, we'll be counting stars
      • vibrant
      • 1 mth ago
      • Reported - view

      MXMOM I believe Amazon has taken away access to this report. 😒

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      • MXMOM
      • MXMOM
      • 1 mth ago
      • Reported - view

      Vibrant Dang, why do they do that? On a related note, we have a weird Amazon charge on our card this week.  The payee says Amazon Channels and shows a recurring charge.  I have combed through all things Amazon (order, Prime, etc) and can't figure it out.  

      Sep. 8, 2020

        Amazon Channels amazon.ca BC 11.29
      Like
      • Vibrant
      • No more counting dollars, we'll be counting stars
      • vibrant
      • 1 mth ago
      • Reported - view

      MXMOM Look under My Subscriptions - it sounds like it's adding a premium channel on to your Prime Video. (HBO, etc.)

      Like
      • MXMOM
      • MXMOM
      • 1 mth ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Vibrant yes, thats what I thought but I didn't see it.  I am going on the website today.  Sometimes all the info doesn't show up on the app.  

      Edited to add - just got off chat. Sure enough it was a charge for SuperChannel.  Cancelled it. Hubby doesn't recall ordering and we share the prime video with the kids so maybe one of them ordered it for something.  Amazing how they just click "order" and then assume some magical money fairy takes care of it.

      Like 1
    • Vibrant slightly more annoying but it looks like it’s still somewhat possible: https://www.amazon.com/gp/privacycentral/dsar/preview.html

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  • Maybe I should have added that I have my credit cards set to auto-import. So I'm not manually adding these orders to my accounts, they are showing up and I have to split them up and categorize them manually. 

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

      Orange Orca if you're waiting that long, I think you're doing the best you can. Once you find the total on the Amazon site, the Transaction detail will help you categorize/split.

      Alternatively, don't wait for Import to enter the transaction. I find that to be much easier.

      Like 1
      • MXMOM
      • MXMOM
      • 1 mth ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Orange Orca I enter everything manually and then get great satisfaction when the link icon happens on import.  

      Like 1
  • This has been a big issue for me also and I've tried several different solutions, most of which don't work very well. I've gotten to the point where I use the gift card method whenever purchasing more than 1 item at a time. It solves all the category issues I was running into. Here's the drill:

    Go to check out and see what the total amount of the order is. Keep that number handy. Then, while still in Amazon (either in the mobile app or in a browser), go to your account page and look for your gift card. Click the button that says "Reload Your Balance". Reload it with the exact amount of your order total. Then go back to the check out page and select the Gift Card as your payment method. (sometimes it takes a few minutes for the reloaded amount to show in your gift card balance. If it doesn't show up in a minute or 2, refresh the page) In YNAB, record the transfer from the source you used to reload the gift card. Then enter the total Amazon transaction into YNAB as you normally would, using the Gift Card as the payment method. However Amazon ships and bills won't matter any longer as there will only be one transaction to clear - the one where you transferred money from your bank/credit card to the gift card.

    This method is a bit convoluted until you do it a few times, but it definitely works and does away with the multitude of transactions that Amazon resorts to.

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  • I'm a bookkeeper for a preschool and they literally order hundreds of things from Amazon in a given month. Sometimes multiple orders a day. The way I enter these (in QuickBooks, not YNAB, but same solution) is to go to the Orders page and at the top right section of each order will be Order Details and Invoice. I look at the Invoice - at the bottom it will show the amount and date of each credit card/debit card charge for all items in that order. These amounts will be exactly the amounts that appear on your bank or credit card statement.

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    • Periwinkle Flute I have definitely seen changes in those Order Details/Invoice amounts from what the values are immediately following checkout. The final result that hits my CC can be very different, especially with 3rd party merchants. That's why this is such a popular topic:

      • Recording transactions immediately allows you to easily categorize but you run the chance the actual transactions do not agree with the checkout invoice(s), mandating correcting things after the dust has settled.
      • Waiting to record transactions until after things have actually posted to the CC leaves your categories overstated and misleading for upcoming spending decisions. 
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    • dakinemaui Order Details and Invoice are completely different things. The Order Details just shows all the things you bought and the total cost so, yes, if there are 3rd party items or things ship at different times this will not match the actual charge amounts on the CC.

      The amounts at the bottom right of the Invoice show the actual amounts charged to the CC and the date of each charge and will EXACTLY match what appears on the CC. This info does not appear at the time of the order being made (so will not change since it's not there). One the item ships and the card is actually charged is when these amounts will appear.

      It's not uncommon at work for one order to be split into 5 or more charges on the debit card and the Invoice ALWAYS has the breakdown of the charges for that order.

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    • Periwinkle Flute 

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    • Periwinkle Flute I think your advice works to somewhat ease the symptoms, but it doesn't seem to address the underlying problem. No one wants to go in after the fact, pull up their order history, pull up order #277, dig into the Invoice, look for the transaction amount, NOT find that amount, close the invoice, back out to order #278, dig into that Invoice, etc. etc. until they finally find that magic number. They can then switch back to YNAB and correctly categorize the new transaction. They'll also need to go edit the original transaction and remove that item's category and amount.

      Yes, I agree that the Invoices have the information that can be used to figure out the multiple outflows (eventually). However, don't you think that avoiding multiple outflows entirely is a better solution?

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    • dakinemaui of course. I was just trying to explain a fool proof way to find out what the charges were for if it does happen.

      It happens to me about  once a year (around Christmas when I'm buying a lot of stuff at once). Even when it does happen it takes maybe 20 seconds to open 4 or 5 invoices in order to find the mystery amount(s) and another 5 seconds to make sure the separate charges equals the total amount I entered in YNAB. In my photo example if I had entered the $30.67 as one transaction I don't go back and change it to make it 2. I just clear the 2 CC charges against my 1 YNAB charge and everything is reconciled!

      Like 2
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