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?
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:
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.
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.
I've run into this problem countless times, too. Loads of Amazon expenses that can be overwhelming and difficult to determine the underlying category/categories. Sometimes it's even more maddening... a handful of transactions that you simply can't track down after looking through the order history for the past few months (!).
This way you can quickly look through a batch of invoices to find the amount charged and what was in the order. If an invoice doesn't have a payment, then it can be ignored (e.g., the order's been placed but not fulfilled/paid for yet). Also, you can search the new browser tab by a dollar amount to find a given invoice (useful for tracking down rogue transactions).
After you've worked through the invoices in the new tab, click into the next set of orders in your Amazon order dashboard and run the bookmarklet again.
To use it:
1. go here (it's a raw view of the source code)
2. copy the code
3. add a new bookmark
4. in the URL field for the bookmark, paste the code
5. give the bookmark a name/save it
6. visit your Amazon order page
7. click the bookmark
NOTE: I'm making this available open-source under the GPL v3 license which basically means -- it's available as-is w/ no warranty, and it's free for you to use as you see fit, but if you make improvements to it then please share them. Also, I've confirmed this works in Chrome. In other browsers there may be dragons.
This problem of multiple transactions for one order has been driving me absolutely crazy. I have found a few tips that have made the significantly easier with ynab. in a pinch one quick thing to do if you have a good email client it's just search for the amount in your email and it often will give you the shipping confirmation linking you back to the original order However I found that this only worked in about 80% of the cases.
The best solution I have found today is to actually go to a very hidden page that I just found out about. On amazon.com or from the mobile app Go to your account > your payments > transactions.
This will show you the three transactions and how it links back to the original order. This makes it significantly easier to reconcile your transactions.
I had an interesting Amazon Chase credit card reconciliation issue. I had an uncleared positive credit transaction that I had entered after returning an Amazon item and Amazon telling me it had been credited that day. This was from back in early February. But when I went to reconcile, it was still not cleared and it didn’t appear online as a credit to my credit card. It wasn’t until I chatted with first Amazon and then Chase that Chase told me it was probably credited as a gift card instead. Sure enough, I had a credit sitting in my Amazon account so I was able to just delete the rogue uncleared transaction. It sure would be nice if when you looked at the credit on Amazon that it specified where the refund was issued.
This chrome plugin is the only solution to this problem that I have ever found, which doesn’t involve hours of clicking and research.
This is a huge pain for me as well. I know there are workarounds, but they are all painful. Pain is what I pay YNAB to take away. Considering Amazon is the largest online market place, YNAB should pay special attention to their transactions. It should automatically recognize when I have multiple transactions that add up to a manually entered transaction and offer to match them for me. It should also take care of the category assignments that I already provided in the initial transaction that was entered. Pure and simple. This is what computers are for. This does not even require any fancy artificial intelligence.
This thread had me evaluating how many transactions I have from Amazon and I have 499 (been on YNAB for around 3 years) and the total number of transactions on YNAB is around 4,000. So more than 10% of transactions are on Amazon and I agree they are the most painful ones to enter.
I am not sure if Amazon has an API available that YNAB can ingest. Possible use cases:
- if YNAB could use the Amazon API to add the items included in the order to the memo line
- if YNAB can line up the transactions in Amazon to the credit card statements
Both of these would save significant amount of time for me and decrease spousal irritation by 75% (when I have to ask my wife if she had entered the transaction and she had but didn't align with the amazon shipment). :)
Massive YNAB user :)
Kind of late to the party.
I am like the laziest person when it comes to categories! As a data person by trade I can easily go down a rabbit hole so I just avoid it. The purpose is to track whee your money goes so what if you create a couple of big, general buckets that represent much of what you buy. Like I group cat food/litter, restaurants and groceries altogether. Sometimes I buy something non-grocery related from the grocery store. Unless I am over budget I leave it. so maybe a big bucket is home that includes literally anything that goes in your home or yard. If you go over you need to look at those transactions but only if they look bigger than expected. You can download them easy enough from Amazon and YNAB and review them by month. If you are savvy dump them into Tableau.
Side note :my music collection was the most organized ever complete with album notes, genres, tags, pictures... then pandora --> spotify... I think of all the time I wasted doing that. Nah... not breaking them down :)
I stopped buying from Amazon a few years ago except for hard to find stuff and whole foods. that is one solution.