Reimbursement Questions

Hey Y'all,  

Am I missing something about how I am handling reimbursements?  Here's the scenario:

I have an insurance policy and the payment amount (premium) is automatically deducted from my checking account monthly.  For this example, let's just say the payment amount (premium) is $35.00 per month.  Then, later in the month, I am reimbursed the $35.00.  Sometimes, the reimbursement doesn't show up until the next month.  It's really kind of simple - a debit is posted, then the offsetting credit is posted.   It's a wash.

Now, here's how I have this set up.  In my budget I have a Category Group named INSURANCE.  Within that group I have a category named after the insurance company name and that is where I budget the payment amount each month.  For the reimbursement, however, I have separate Category Group named INSURANCE REIMBURSEMENTS.  Within this group I have a category named after the same insurance company name and this is where I budget for the reimbursement each month.  This is done by budgeting a negative $35.00. 

I have three insurance premiums set up this way.  I know this is not how YNAB says to handle reimbursements, but this set up allows me to quickly look at my budget and see which premiums have been reimbursed and which one's are still due.  Is there some reason why I should NOT be doing it this way?  Is there some reason why I should change my process and set it up like YNAB says?  

Thanks in advance for any replies and information.


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  • Hello, Barry!

    I think there's a simpler way to do this. The way you've outlined isn't bad, but (a) it requires a bunch of categories, (b) will make your reports a little weird, and (c) still doesn't make clear when you have an outstanding reimbursement from a specific company if that reimbursement is late (e.g., if you're waiting on two reimbursements from one insurance company, that won't show up in the budget category).

    So here's how I would do this:

    1. Use a single category called, e.g., Reimbursable Insurance Premiums. Budget enough money to that category to cover all three premiums.
    2. When each premium is charged, enter the transaction and categorize it to the Reimbursable Insurance Premiums category.
    3. When you receive each reimbursement, categorize the inflow to the same category.

    Now, how do you check whether a particular reimbursement is outstanding? That's easy! First, go to All Accounts.

    • To check whether there are any outstanding reimbursements, search for the Reimbursable Insurance Premiums category, select all transactions, and let YNAB total them for you. If the total is less than zero, you have at least one outstanding reimbursement.
    • If you're not sure which company owes you money, search for Payee: [company name], and total the transactions. If the total is less than zero, that companies owes you a reimbursement.

    Let me know what you think!

  • Matthew, thanks for the prompt response.  I haven’t tried it this way but I follow what you’re saying.  On one hand it seems simple since you’re using only one category.  On the other hand it seems that combining 6 transactions per month in to one category could get confusing, especially if one of the reimbursements is late and runs in to the following month.   With my set up I have 3 categories where premiums are paid and 3 different categories where reimbursements are posted.  I think my “problem “ is the idea of budgeting a negative amount in the reimbursement categories.  The thing is, it works.  
    I guess in order to simplify the process,  I could create a hybrid of our two methods.  For example, have a category called “Reimbursable Insurance-Blue Cross”.  All premiums AND reimbursements for my Blue Cross policy would post to this category.  At any given time I could see if the reimbursement has been received by simply looking at my budget without having to go to All Accounts and do a search.  This hybrid setup would be used for the other two insurance policies as well.  Basically, this would reduce my number of insurance categories from 6 to 3.  Plus, it would eliminate negative budgeting.  I hope all this is clear and makes sense.  Am I on the right track?

    Thoughts or comments?

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    • Loose Change I have three reimbursement categories and this works fine for me. I typically do not budget money to it prior to being charged for the expense, if it's going onto a credit card first and I am confident of the repayment within the month. The category overspending symbol is a simple way to track reimbursements at a glance.

      For reimbursements with an unknown repayment date, I will budget for the expense and enter a duplicate transaction into a tracking account called Reimbursements. If that account has a negative balance I have a continual reminder to follow up with the person/organization who owes me the money (e.g. I need to call about a medical reimbursement from last month, have no idea when it will be posted, but needed to pay for it in the meantime). This might be a bit much for some folks, but I find it extremely helpful when life is busy as I tend to forget about money lent or reimbursement requests sent in to places.

    • Loose Change Yeah, if your existing system is working for you, I don't see any reason to change it!

  • Thanks for the reponses and feedback.

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