Credit card overspending

I just don't get this. I think there's other topics with this issue, and I've read them, but I still am not clicking in on this.

I understand how this works. I'm an absolute veteran of YNAB--years with this software from ver 3. The new one just kills me though. If I get it, I spend on credit, the money spent leaves the category and goes to the credit card line item, where it will be used to pay the card off. This I get. What keeps happening to me though is that in spite of the math working out, and all balances fine with the bank and what I've spent, the figure that appears in the credit card line item to pay off the bill somehow always gets messed up.

I've been told that this is partially because when I overspend on a category, YNAB will 'helpfully' stick the spending on credit, even though you DIDN'T pay credit, as the money 'has to come from somewhere'. But this makes no sense, given the credit card wasn't involved, so I think this is where it's going wrong, but I cannot figure out exactly how. I'm sure the process gets messed up like this:

I buy something, with CASH, in a category without enough money to cover the cost. The category then goes into the red, as expected, because there wasn't enough budgeted.

Then I go into the overspending list, and I move funds from some other category (usually for me, it's the slush fund I have) to cover the cost. Great. So now, everything is kosher by way of my finances. I've overspent, but I've reallocated the money I need to cover the overspending, so all is well--there's nothing lost here.

But then YNAB, for SOME reason, thinks it should cover the overspending with my credit card, which never was in play, and then that spending kinda sits there until I have the situation I face today. That is, everything is budgeted right, all credit cards paid to zero, all money accounted for to the cent, and yet a credit card line item that shows I'm well over $1000 in the red in credit card overspending. So now, I don't know how to correct that. If I move money from anywhere to cover that overspending, it's a lie in the budget, as it's already been covered. I can't get rid of the overspend.

This has been the single most frustrating thing about the move from YNAB4. I never had this issue before, and I can't seem to wrap my head around how to prevent it here.

If someone could please talk to me like I'm a 5 year old and get me to understand how this works, I'd be really grateful. 

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  • Are you saying you do not ever have a category that goes overspent in which you had both cash spending and credit spending?

    Because what you are describing is the behavior that happens in an overspent category when you have a mix of cash and credit spending. The cash spending is prioritized because the money is gone. So therefore you can't use it to pay back the credit card.

    This is true even when the credit spending happens before the cash spending.

    Like
    • nolesrule See, I'm not sure I follow. I'm sorry, I don't know why this is so hard. I use cash and credit at about the same rate... I've always run with the fact that the budget doesn't care what method of payment I use, rather that the cash is available to cover the spending. What I don't get is that YNAB will somehow just kind of assume that I am covering overspending with my credit card, which is not true. So, let's say:

      I have a coffee category. It has $2.

      I buy a coffee at $5. I'm now $3 in the hole.

      I cover that overspending by moving $3 in the budget from another category that has the funds to move.

      It should be fine at this point, but what happens is that YNAB then dings my credit card for that $3, and my moving the funds into the category doesn't seem to correct it, so I just keep hitting the credit card for things that it never bought.

      At least, that's my assumption.

      Like 1
      • satcook
      • satcook
      • 10 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Pickle of the North some of the money has the wrong job if you want to pay off the credit card in full.   You need to change its job to credit card payoff. 

      Like
      • satcook
      • satcook
      • 10 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Pickle of the North once you cover the overspending then YNAB sends the additional $3 to the credit card payments category. 

      That is not why you are short in the payment category....

      Like
    • satcook My understanding is that YNAB allots those funds to the CC line item out of whatever category you're using as soon as you make the purchase with a credit card. My thinking is that when I pay with cash and overspend, YNAB then charges the balance to the CC to cover the spending. But it doesn't correct when the overspending is handled through 'rolling with the punches' and transferring funds from a different category to the overspent one. Now, I could be wrong on that front, as I don't see how this overspending on the CC occurs, it seems to happen over time. That's my assumption based on what's happened before. But whatever the case, I know I'm correctly tracking things, and correctly 'rolling with the punches'. But for some reason, when I get to paying the card off, I don't have enough in the CC line item, but I DO have enough in the accounts. So I pay it, and then the CC line item goes into overspend and I can't seem to resolve it.

      Does that even make sense? I'm so sorry for any confusion. I really appreciate you all helping out.

      Like
      • satcook
      • satcook
      • 10 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Pickle of the North your understanding of covering overspending is wrong.  When you cover overspending in the same month YNAB absolutely sends those dollars to the payment category to pay off the card. 

      When you moved to nYNAB you needed to budget to the credit card payment category to cover the balance due on the cards. Did you do that?

       

      do you ever go back into previous months to make sure no overspending snuck through at the end of the month??

      Like
    • satcook I've corrected this problem on two occasions so far, and it's always crept back. My credit card payments do sometimes straddle the month. That is, the bill typically comes due on the 4th of the month, and I'll sometimes pay it the month before, and sometimes the closer to the due date. I don't know if this could be causing the issue?

      Right now, I'm looking at a Visa bill that as far as the bank is concerned, has nothing whatsoever on it... balance of $0, but YNAB thinks it's overspent by nearly $1700.00. I just don't know how to correct that, to say nothing of preventing it from happening again. 😔

      Like
      • satcook
      • satcook
      • 10 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Pickle of the North to correct it you need to budget $1700 there. 

      Do you reconcile your credit card??

      after correcting it this time get in the habit of confirming that the total due on the card and the amount in the available bubble match. When they stop marching track down the problem immediately so it doesn’t become such a huge problem. 

      Like
    • satcook I do reconcile it. Each time. The only thing off is the actual amount in the CC line item to pay the bill, regardless of if I've correctly entered the values. If the solution is to budget to the credit card, then it makes no sense in reality. Right now, all the numbers work in the accounts. So, let's say I have 2 grand in an emergency fund. If I budget that cash to the CC, then I'd have that much less for emergencies. But the CC is paid. It feels like I'm overpaying the credit card in that case, not?

      Like
    • Boy Do INAB Heh. I've been trying to understand it too... No, I log all the payments to the correct payment methods/accounts.

      Like
  • Given the persistent nature of this, I suspect it was the initial balance or overspending in the past (even before nYNAB if you migrated).

    If your CC Payment category Available cannot cover the entire account balance, actually paying the account to $0 is a problem.

    YNAB will keep up with budgeted purchases; and if you cover overspending, that's still a budgeted purchase. 

    Budgeting to make the Payment category large enough to allow you to pay in full is not a lie or "double-budgeting". Somewhere along the way you missed something, and you simply need to make that up in order to have paid in full status.

    Like 3
    • dakinemaui But how could I have missed something if my numbers are in complete agreement with the bank? This is the things that drives me crazy. I put all the transactions in, and everything is there and accounted for, including paying off the card, and yet the number associated with the CC line item keeps dipping into overspend when I'm not overspending...

       

      So now if I move money to cover that overspend, the money vanishes in the budget as spent to cover it, but that money is still there.

      I'm sorry if this is confusing. I really do appreciate the help, I just don't get this myself so it's hard to explain.

      Like
    • Pickle of the North What numbers are "in complete agreement"?

      You said that the credit card payment category for your Visa is at -$1700, but the card is at $0, right? So, at a minimum, those two numbers aren't in complete agreement. And in the end, it's those two numbers that matter the most to be sure that your card is paid in full. The credit card payment category should, for a paid-in-full card, always be the inversion of whatever that card's balance is. If the balance on the card is -$1700, the payment category should be $1700.

      Whenever you make a new  purchase (or use the Move Money tool to cover overspending in a category where you've used the card at all this month), those two numbers should change in sync with one another.

      From what you describe, I'd say dakinemaui is right and there's a very old problem lingering on the card—that at some point the balance of the card didn't match the payoff amount, either because of transactions that were there pre-nYNAB, which need to be budgeted for directly to the credit card payment category, or something else.

      But if the balance of the category is persistently negative after making a payment on the card, then you're right: the money has to come from somewhere, because it's already been spent.

      (I don't know if this is any more helpful than what Dakinemaui already said, but hopefully if we can get clarification on what numbers agree and which ones don't, we can figure this out.)

      Like 2
    • slightlysmall Point taken. The numbers are not in agreement here. What I was getting at was that I have all the money in my accounts I feel I should have; I budget only the cash I already have (i.e. I budget to all my categories only after I've been paid), and I put in and reconcile every last item (I check ynab against the bank records manually each time I sit down to budget so I know everything that I think I've spent is in YNAB. The only number that seems to disagree with the whole process is the line item that says how much I have available to pay in the CC line item. This is the only thing that's automatic, as YNAB is supposed to put allot these funds there from whatever category they come out of so the cash is there to pay the bill, and only when I use my CC.

      This number, (I assume) gets wrecked each time I overspend a category by paying cash, and so YNAB them dings my credit card for it somehow.

      Like
      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 10 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Pickle of the North Correct. If you have an overspent category with both cash and credit transactions in it, YNAB will pull back cash from the next payment. Debt increase is seen as the lesser of two evils compared to overstated category balances not backed by cash.

      Realistically, if you always cover overspending, it won't be an issue.

      Like
  • ELI5: shift funds to make the CC Payment category Available equal the account balance as a positive number. If the account balance is -$2500, the category Available should be green $2500.

    Like 3
    • dakinemaui But where in the budget does that come from? I can't just move money from place to place that's been properly allotted. 🤨

      Like
      • nolesrule
      • Been waiting 5 years for the Stealing From the Future fix...
      • nolesrule
      • 10 mths ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view

      Pickle of the North It hasn't been properly allotted. That's the problem.

      If your Payment category is negative then you did not have enough in it to pay as much as you did. I'm beginning to agree with others that the issue isn't the overspending in categories, but rather that you did not correctly realign your credit card management when you transitioned from a previous version of YNAB. So you are basically riding the credit card float, using money you don't have available for the CC payment to make the CC payment.

      You need to adjust your budget to get off the float.

      Like 3
    • nolesrule If this is the case, then I have somehow spent nearly 1700 dollars that I didn't account for, which is pretty much impossible. I could accept that if it was 10 or 20 bucks, but 1700 over the past half year or so? I'd notice that...

      Like
    • Pickle of the North 

      ... Look up Stealing From The Future...

      That's the most likely way you spent money without realizing your plan was bunk.

      Or the initial balance/float issue.

      Like
    • Or, if you've done everything else right (and not been bit by SFTF), the budgetary effects of refunds to your card could have built up if you pay your full balance to 0. 

      Like
    • Move Light Sound Life I don't think this is it either. I only budget cash I actually have. As I said, I'm not a newbie at this--it's only since the transition from YNAB4 to nYNAB I've had any trouble.

      I feel like I haven't explained this well, but I don't know how else to explain. The last time it happened, I was told by someone at YNAB prioritizes the card to take the hit whenever overspending happens, even if it's not how money was spent. I was thinking this choice by the software is somehow messing me up, but clearly I'm wrong if I'm the only one having this issue.

      I could probably correct the whole lot by starting fresh, but I have a LOT of data from YNAB4 in here that I don't want to lose for the sake of reporting. But maybe this ship is now too broken to repair.

      Anyway, thank you for your thoughts. I really appreciate the time. I'm just not at all convinced the issue is with my spending or my categorizing or my general upkeep of my budget. My frustration is I don't know how to fix this without making money out of thin air to cover off spending on CC that never happened.

      Like
      • nolesrule
      • Been waiting 5 years for the Stealing From the Future fix...
      • nolesrule
      • 10 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Pickle of the North Were you ever at a point where your Payment Available was enough for the entire card balance? Or did you just budget a negative payment available balance until you got it back to zero?

       

      Again, most likely this was a transition issue that was never caught and only manifests itself once you had a month where you used your credit cards much less than normal.

      Like 1
      • nolesrule
      • Been waiting 5 years for the Stealing From the Future fix...
      • nolesrule
      • 10 mths ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view

      Pickle of the North Bottom line. Just fix it. I'm 99% sure you've never actually had the right amount in the category to begin with.

      I don't know what your actual credit card balance is, but whatever it is, lop off the negative sign and adjust your CC payment category so that it is at this new number. And then move forward.

      Yeah, your budget will take a hit, but at least you'll stop questioning things because you have a clean slate to start from.

      Like 3
    • nolesrule Sigh. You're probably right. I just hate it when things don't work out right, you know? I was at the point where it SEEMED like things were good a half year ago, but now I'm where I am again. I need to watch this like a hawk to see exactly where things go left on me. There's some deus ex machina at play here that I'm just not seeing.

      Like
    • Pickle of the North After you fix it for now, there's a whole list of things that can cause the CC payment category to get out of whack for a PIF user. Someone else can include that. 

      Like 1
    • Move Light Sound Life PIF? Not up on the board lingo, sorry. But thank you for your time and thoughts. I do appreciate that.

      Like 1
    • Pickle of the North Sorry. PIF = Paid In Full, where every cent charged to your credit card could be paid entirely down to 0 at any time.  To ensure your budget maintains this status, the CC category available should always equal the absolute value (positive) of your negative CC working balance.

      Like 1
    • Move Light Sound Life Yup. That's where I'm at... YNAB just doesn't *think* I am. 😉

      Like
    • Pickle of the North I'm going to copy from a copy, which might be from a copy of the list with the possible reasons for the cc category to get out of whack. I'm sure there are not nicely formatted ones I've seen on the forum, but searching is a pain on here...

      From https://support.youneedabudget.com/t/h49zf0/positive-credit-card-balance-inflating-tbb

      Reasons [@dakinemaui] found that could cause the credit card account & payment category balances diverge (paid in full cards):

      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, mixed funding splits) - 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

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

       

      If you're carrying debt on your card, your card balance and category balance will not, and should not, match. You can see the amount of debt being carried at any time  by clicking on the card's category and viewing the inspector: You'll see a line which reads, "If you pay [credit card payment category available] your account balance will be $X." That "X" is the amount of debt that is not presently budgeted to be paid off. 

      @adriana01 FWIW, since coming up with that list, I've [@dakinemaui] realized another reason (not that it applies here): erroneous budget entries. Some newbies move money out of (or into) the CC Payment category, either because they don't understand what it represents or by accidentally clicking one of the Quick Budget buttons

      Like 4
  • Having read over this, I'm pretty sure that the issue is not fully budgeting for the starting balance on the card. Pickle of the North , if you'd like us to take a look and let you know for sure, go ahead and enable Support Access for your account. Once you’ve done that, let me know—and mention whether you’d like to continue the discussion here or via email instead..

    Like
    • Matthew Done. We can continue over email. I also found a video I made in 2018(!) from the first time I got into trouble with this that exemplifies what happens when I pay with cash, but get dinged for credit instead. Not sure if I can share that over email, but I could try...

      Like
    • Matthew Here is a link to the video (stuck it up on Vimeo). There are places where there are long pauses (as I recall, I thought I was recording audio, but I didn’t) so sorry about that. Things to note are the first page shows Category Coffee Shops with $3.65 budgeted, Visa balance at Zero. Next screen shows me adding a transaction for $4.90 at a local coffee shop. Note that category is coffee shops, and importantly, the account used is Wallet (in my case, this means I paid CASH). I save the transaction and the next screen shows the Coffee Shop category going $1.25 into the red, which makes sense, BUT the Visa line item ALSO goes $1.25 in the red. This drives me nuts, as VISA WAS NEVER EVEN USED. Now what I assume is if I then budget to the coffee shops to clear that figure, the visa remains and things get messed up.

       

      I hope that helps illustrate what I think is a big part of this issue.

      Like
    • Pickle of the North I've just sent you an email with a custom video explaining what's going on and how to prevent your Credit Card Payment category from ever getting out of sync again.

      Like
  • I've read most of the thread. You've got good possible explanations on what is happening. But I feel what is missing is a way forward for you to know what to do once the problem is fixed. You've said you've fixed it twice before and you think the $1700 discrepancy accumulated over 6 months.

    I think the main issue is this: CC accounts are debt accounts. YNAB can not decide for you how much of this debt you want to pay back unless the debt comes from a budgeted purchase. Your debt payment plan is managed through the CC payment category. The Available for that category indicates how much of your cash you want to use to pay down your CC debt. If you want to be a paid in full user, you need this category to be always equal and opposite to the debt on your CC card. As Move Light Sound Life wrote, there are a lot of different cases that can cause the category Available to move away from the CC account working balance.

    What surprises me is that you are a YNAB veteran, and yet you are not paying attention to all your categories. In particular, you seem to ignore the CC payment category. You do not look to see if this category is in line with your plan for your money since you seem to let errors accumulate for 6 months in that category.

    So here is what I would do if I were you in the future:

    1. Read carefully the list of cases that can bring a discrepancy in your CC. Since you pay your CC to $0, I wonder if you ever have your CC going positive from a return coming in just after a payment.

    2. Look at your CC payment category throughout the month, just like you do with other categories. One easy way: each time to enter transactions in your CC account or reconcile accounts or cover overspending, check the payment category = - CC account working balance. You can quickly check that from the transaction ledger on the web app.

    3. Pick up discrepancies right away and try to understand what is happening. Post to the forum or YNAB support right away if you can't. If you let things accumulate, it is a lot harder for us to know what has happened as it could be the sum of a variety of things.

    I hope this help. 

    Like 2
    • Ceeses Thank you for taking the time to respond. And yes, I do look at these things. The issue is when things like what is happening occur, and I don’t know how to correct it. Then I tend to put it off until it gets out of control because I have no idea what’s going on. The video I posted shows this. If YNAB dings my credit card when I don’t even use it, it becomes extremely frustrating, and I don’t know how to fix it. Even if it’s only a few dollars... where to take that money from? Why do I have to at all? If I’ve already accounted for the overspending by moving money from another category, it feels like paying the Visa when I’ve already paid the category. It’s frustrating and confusing. So yes, it’s my fault and I let it go too long before posting to the forums as you suggested. I honestly still don’t know what could be causing this. I have the most basic credit card setup you can get. I don’t have points, promotions or anything of the sort. All it is is strictly, as you say, a debit account. So this should not be happening in my thinking. I’m hopeful that maybe one f the YNAB folks can help me to get to the bottom of it in a way I can understand. All the suggestions you had are very good indeed, but I know all that. This happens in spite of it.

      Like
      • satcook
      • satcook
      • 10 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Pickle of the North WHEN YOU COVER THE $1.25 OF OVERSPENDING THAT YOU SHOW IN YOUR VIDEO, THEN YNAB MOVES THAT $1.25 TO THE CREDIT CARD PAYMENT CATEGORY.  It does not ding your credit card category.

      Like 1
      • Ceeses
      • Ceeses
      • 10 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Pickle of the North I was going to say pretty much what satcook says. Your video stops too soon. What happens when you cover the overspending in the Coffee category? That's what you/we need to see. Although we are pretty sure we know what happens then. 

      If you leave categories overspent where some spending has been done by CC, then YNAB thinks you want to increase your debt. The other possibility would be to create cash out of thin air. If you cover the overspent in the Coffee category in your video and then don't understand what is happening, then we can discuss.

      Like
    • satcook OK, I get it. I’ll keep an eye and confirm that’s what happens for next time.

      Like
  • Pickle of the North said:
    If I’ve already accounted for the overspending by moving money from another category, it feels like paying the Visa when I’ve already paid the category.

    That is all you need to do. Next time you cover yellow overspending, check the CC Payment category before and after you cover the overspent category. You'll see it increases, just as if the overspending never happened.

    Since you've said you always cover the overspending, that cannot be the issue.

    Again, I think your issue is you've been off from the beginning due to the starting balance. YNAB doesn't assume you will pay that off, so you need to make that plan by budgeting for it yourself.

    Like 1
    • dakinemaui OK, let’s assume that’s what happens and leave this aside. The thing that still doesn’t make sense is how I got here and how to correct. As I said, all the money is where I expect it, in the right quantities. If I made a fresh start today, I’m sure I’d have what I expect to have. So then, if this is some legacy error that’s crept into the works my remaining issue is how to fix it. I cannot see moving money that’s already in the budget to correct it, as that would leave me with (far) less budgeted funds, which isn’t right. So is the solution then a one-time correction by creating the money out of thin air in a sham deposit to equal out the CC and make it agree completely with the rest and move on? I’d do that, except it seems like the error creeps back in. But I guess I don’t KNOW that, and so I’d need to keep an eye on it. And be well aware that there’s one sham deposit in case it all goes south on me again and I need to somehow correct it by going to school and getting an accounting degree. 🙄

      Like
      • satcook
      • satcook
      • 10 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Pickle of the North do not create a sham transaction. That will not fix the issue. You might have had the money in your accounts to pay the bill, but it is assigned to other categories. You have now sent the credit card $1700 that you think you have available for other jobs.  That $1700 can no longer do the jobs you’ve assigned it to so you need to move it to the credit card payments category instead. 

      Doing afresh start would probably be the best way to help you understand what has happened. As you allocate your money in the fresh start you will see that you can no longer fully fund all the categories as they are now. 

      Once you are done playing with the fresh start you can go back to your current budget and fix it. It will still be there waiting for you and then you will have your history. 

      Like
    • satcook OK, I'm not going to belabour this, and I feel like you have a point with regard to the money coming off the credit once things are properly allotted (although I think this is a stupid way for YNAB to handle it, given credit is not involved in cash purchases).

      What I cannot get past is the thinking that I somehow have spent this money unknowingly. I know you and nolesrule think you've got it sorted, but I'm telling you point blank: I have been using YNAB for well on five years+ and I have never had a credit card transaction that I didn't log, that I didn't reconcile, that I didn't pay to zero on a month to month. There is simply no way that I have overspent the card to the tune of $1700. There is no way. None. It cannot have happened. The thought that I need to now fund the CC to that amount is absurd. The only hitch in the credit card is that I pay it at different times of the month, and so perhaps this ran afoul with YNAB's monthly resetting silos, I don't know. But I can tell you, I don't owe the CC a single red cent. That's why this is so frustrating. The thought that you want me to drain my emergency fund of 1700 dollars to correct an error that simply cannot be accounted for due to overspending on the card doesn't wash with me.

      Like
      • nolesrule
      • Been waiting 5 years for the Stealing From the Future fix...
      • nolesrule
      • 10 mths ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      Pickle of the North Well, online YNAB has only been around for a little over 4 years, so that means you were using a previous version if you've been using it for 5+ years. Your issue has to do with your transition, and not with the ongoing usage.

      Bottom line, you didn't manage your transition correctly and ended up on the credit card float as a result. It's probably not your fault as the transition documentation is rather lacking, and people aren't aware they need to fix their credit card payment categories as part of a transition. But you need to get over it and just fix your budget.

      Like 2
      • jenmas
      • jenmas
      • 10 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Pickle of the North if that's the case, do a fresh start like satcook recommended (your current budget will still be available so don't worry about it, you can always go back to it). Fund all your categories so that the available balances match your current category balances (be sure to take into account pending transactions on your card. For example if you have a pending charge of $20 from a gas station, I personally would enter it as a new transaction). After you've done all this, then the amount left to be budgeted should be enough so that you can do a one time allocation to your credit card payment category and the balance of the credit card payment category will now be positive and an inverse of the working balance of your credit card account on the left.

      Like
    • jenmas I'd have done a fresh start ages ago were it not for the fact that I'd lose years of reporting data. Sigh. This is really very frustrating.

      Like
      • jenmas
      • jenmas
      • 10 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Pickle of the North you will not loose the data! It will be in a separate file. Also we're basically telling you to do a fresh start to more clearly demonstrate what we are telling you. Once you see that you have gotten yourself onto the float, you can go back to your original budget and fix it by moving money out of your other categories (as much as you don't want to) and into the credit card payment category or setting a plan for yourself to slowly get off the float over time by budgeting extra funds to the credit card payment category until it matches the working balance of your credit card account.

      Like 1
    • jenmas OK, as an exercise in seeing what the reality is today, I'm willing to do this the next time I sit down to budget. The data isn't lost, no, but it isn't continuous anymore. As far as I'm aware, there's no way to consolidate budget figures. Anyway, I'll play along and see what's what, and I will try a new start and let you know how it went. Probably won't have the time for that until the weekend, though. 🤔

      Like
      • satcook
      • satcook
      • 10 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Pickle of the North You are still not understanding.  We are saying - do a fresh start so you can understand what is going on in your budget.

      Then go back to your old budget file and fix it.  You don't lose any history this way and it's all in one place.

      Like
    • satcook All right. I think I do get that much at least.

      Like
  • Pickle of the North said:
    The thing that still doesn’t make sense is how I got here and how to correct.

     How you got here: when you set up with the online YNAB, you added your accounts. Your credit card had a balance on it. YNAB doesn't assume you plan to pay it off (I mean it is a tool to help you get out of debt). Then, as you spent on the card from your budget, money got moved over to the payment category. Some months, the timing on your cycle ended up with enough money to pay the card's statement balance because the full card balance was higher, and sometimes it didn't... but you paid the statement balance anyway regardless.

    It's also possible that in previous versions of YNAB, you were riding the credit card float and just were not aware of it, and so when you transitioned, this just carried over.

    Either way, you did not budget for that starting balance when you started using online YNAB.

    How to fix it: Budget money to the CC payment category, If your card balance is -2000 in YNAB right now, then the CC payment available balance needs to be 2000. So if you are at -1700 in the CC payment available, you'll need not only budget to get it back to zero, but also to get it up to be able to cover the full card balance.

    If you can't budget for the full amount all at once, you'll have to do it piecemeal as you receive new income and have extra money to budget, and eventually you'll get there. Some people will tell you to never pay more than the amount, but I'm not a fan of incurring credit card interest.

    If you have enough money in your emergency fund, I'd just use it to wipe out the float, and then rebuild the emergency fund. In case of emergency, you can always go back on the float.

    Like
  • Literally just happened to me and this is very frustrating. 

    I've literally budgeted the amount from my debit card yet YNAB things this money is being overspent with credit. 

    How?  I'm not even using the one credit card I do have.  

    How can something coming from a checking account be spent as credit?

    Like
      • satcook
      • satcook
      • 10 mths ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view

      bullfiniche YNAB doesn’t think you are spending with credit. YNAB is saying, you overspent using cash. Now you no longer have that money to pay the credit card bill. Once you cover the overspending then your credit card will again have all the money it needs....

      Like 3
    • satcook That's just it.  

      1. YNAB is specifically saying I've overspent using credit.  When I check my credit card, it says that it's overspent even though the transaction specifically happened with my debit card, not my credit card. They are from two separate financial institutions. 

      2. YNAB keeps budgeting the overspent amount to the credit card.  Now I don't know if this is YNAB's way of getting me to pay down my remaining balance of the credit card, but it doesn't make sense that I record the transaction from a checking account for YNAB to think that it's credit.  

      And none of my accounts are linked to YNAB.

      Like 1
    • bullfiniche Well, at least now I know I'm not the only one. 😁 

      Like
    • Pickle of the North You're not.  It's happened to me a couple times since I've added this CC last month.  Was going to make a thread about it today until I saw your thread. 

      Def a bug.  

      Like 1
    • bullfiniche It strikes me as more of a bad process choice than a bug. This is by design, it's just not a good design. Or at the very least, not good for people who are used to the YNAB4 way of doing things.

      Like
      • satcook
      • satcook
      • 10 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      bullfiniche What happens to the credit card category when you cover the overspending??  The alert goes away, right??

      Like
    • satcook Truthfully, I don't know yet. I haven't had a chance to play as much as I'd like (this thread's kept me far busier than I thought--and I'm neglecting work to keep responding, so that's not good). But I think part of the issue is that if things were going swimmingly and the CC line item is in the green, if it's then dinged for cash spending but doesn't go into the red, it'll stay green, and so I'll assume all is well without actually reading the numbers. I could see that happening as a potential way for losing track.

      Like
    • satcook If I cover the amount, that amount is then budgeted to the credit card.  

      So for example:

      I got a coffee for $2.49 and I paid for this using my debit card. 

      I budget in my "Dining Out" category in Ynab, and Ynab says I've overspent $2.49 on my credit card.  I need to budget $2.49 so that I'm not charging interest. 

      When I budget the $2.49 in my Dining Out category, it adds $2.49 to the credit card as Available to Budget. 

      Not once was the credit card used yet the software is thinking that I've used it.

      Like
    • Pickle of the North Perhaps. 

      I just don't see why Ynab is saying I've overspent on a credit card when the card is not even being used.  

      I can see if I used the credit card and Ynab said I've overspent using the credit card. That would totally make more sense. 

      Like
    • bullfiniche My understanding is that it's trying to be helpful by not allowing you to spend cash you don't have unnoticed (we'll ignore the fact that you do have this cash, it's just momentarily misallotted). If you overspend, the money to cover the spending needs to come from somewhere, so YNAB dings the credit card because while you can't spend cash you don't have, you CAN accrue credit debt. It's a silly little nuance that I THINK I understand but it's really trivial and causes so much more confusion than it helps.

      Like
      • nolesrule
      • Been waiting 5 years for the Stealing From the Future fix...
      • nolesrule
      • 10 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      bullfiniche bullfiniche 

      bullfiniche said:
      Not once was the credit card used yet the software is thinking that I've used it.

       You are saying that you did not use the credit card for a dining out category purchase at any point in the same calendar month that you also used the debit card for a Dining out category purchase?

      Like
    • nolesrule That's what I'm saying.  I haven't used my credit card this month other than make payments to it.  

      Like
    • Pickle of the North That I understand. 

      Except I do have the cash. lol.

      Especially when I'm the account I use has a positive amount to it.  

      Like 1
    • bullfiniche I'm happy to look closer at what's going on here! If you’re up for it, go ahead and enable Support Access for your account. Once you’ve done that, let me know—and mention whether you’d like to continue the discussion here or via email instead.

      Like
    • Nicole I have support access enabled.  Can we discuss this via email?

      Like
    • bullfiniche Email sent! :)

      Like
  • The bottom line is that YNAB does not have the fidelity to determine cash spending vs credit spending in a category except on a monthly basis.  It simply prioritizes cash over credit.  I have had instances where the credit cards were completely paid off (0 balance) and then overspent a category in cash and YNAB assigned that overspending to 2 different credit cards even though the balance was 0 on those cards.  

    If you are used to the way YNAB 4 handled credit cards and you are a paid in full user then it is simpler to convert your credit card accounts to checking accounts and forget about the way YNAB handles them.

    Like 1
    • ynaber2613 That's the most tempting idea yet.

      Like
      • jenmas
      • jenmas
      • 10 mths ago
      • 5
      • Reported - view

      Pickle of the North I would not do this until you fix the budget as is. If your credit card payment category is not equal to (but opposite sign) as your credit card account balance, then you are not in fact a paid in full credit card user. Just because you have been doing it, does not mean that you budget will support it.

      Like 5
      • nolesrule
      • Been waiting 5 years for the Stealing From the Future fix...
      • nolesrule
      • 10 mths ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view

      Pickle of the North You certainly could do that, but it would have the same effect on your budget as the advice I've been giving you on how to fix it.... either way you're going to have less money for your other categories.

      Like 3
    • nolesrule I do think that since the OP says they paid the cc down to zero every month, but the red cc category has only happened intermittently since transition, that this is a SFTF casualty. OP spent money based on categories, but didn't realize it was not a viable plan. Sometimes the CC payment took the hit, but the OP didn't look at the category before paying and made it red. This time, it's built up a lot. Or had large transactions.

      If they always paid statement balances, then I'd say it was just a persistent float, but since paying to 0 didn't always have a red effect, that's what I think.

      Pickle of the North , do you budget in a future month on a regular basis?

      Like
    • Move Light Sound Life Just because you asked, no, I don't future budget. I think it's a recipe for disaster to budget what you don't actually have in your account. I budget only after I have funds. This helpfully happens last of the month, so it's usually a good fit for budgeting just when the month revs.

      Like
    • Pickle of the North You mentioned this happened on the last of the month. If you flip back to January, do you see any credit overspending?

      Like
    • Nicole It's been sorted, but to answer you, yes.  January shows overspending in the Car Repairs category, which then got zeroed in February and all that overspending hit the credit card in February, which is what triggered this thread. It was my bad.

      Like 1
    • Pickle of the North Sorry about that! I didn't see your update lower in the thread show up until the page reloaded. 😂 Glad it's sorted!

      Like 1
  • bullfiniche said:
    YNAB is specifically saying I've overspent using credit. 

     It's actually not saying that. Let's say we're talking about your grocery category. Up until today you had only used your credit card to pay for groceries. All purchases were on budget and you had not used your credit card for any other categories this month. Let's say until today you had spent $100 out of the $125 that you had budgeted. So your grocery category balance now says $25 and your credit card payment category available balance says $100. All good. You go to the grocery store on your way home and spend $26. You forgot your credit card so you had to use your debit card. You have now overspent your grocery category by $1. Your credit card payment category now says $99 in the available balance.

    You think that this means that YNAB is telling you that you overspent credit - probably because that's what the account register says, but it's actually more nuanced than that. What it means is that you took $1 out of your checking account that was not accounted for in your budget and now that $1 is no longer available to pay your credit card bill and the only way to express that is to call it overspending.

    Like 4
  • Move Light Sound Life said:
    I do think that since the OP says they paid the cc down to zero every month, but the red cc category has only happened intermittently since transition, that this is a SFTF casualty.

     No. This can easily happen when you are floating. Some months you make enough purchases that you still have enough reserved to pay the statement balance, other months that won't be the case and you'll end up overspent.

    Floating is relying on future income to pay for past purchases, so in some ways it's stealing from the future (lower case) but it's not Stealing From the Future.

    Like
  • OK. Hi everyone. As OP, I wanted to just fill in where this went, as I think I now know what was going on thanks to the help of YNAB staff going through my budget and pointing out an error on my part. There's a couple things here:

    The first is going to make me look like I feel, which is idiotic, but I owe you all at least a little 'hat-in-hand' for this crazy thread. The main issue that was causing my frustration this time around was a simple error on my part that happened at the very end of last month. On January 30, I paid, with Visa, a rather large (coincidentally nearly $1700) car repair bill. It wasn't expected, and so not budgeted for, and the intention was to cover it using funds I had in the Emergency Fund line item for just such an emergency. But, I paid it, and then did NOT, somehow, move the allotted cash from Emergency Fund to Car Repairs as I'd swore I did, and then when it all revved in February, I saw all the overspending and I didn't know what to do with it. So essentially, nolesrule satcook and others were right in pointing out that I had overspent the category and I DID owe the money to that category, which then flipped over into the CC the next month. So yes, I do need to allot cash from the Emergency Fund to cover the overspend on the CC. Of course, if I was smart, I'd put it on Car Repairs in the month prior, but we'll see how I go when I get to an actual computer.

    I will point out though that this is something that wouldn't have happened with YNAB4, given I could see more than one month at a go, but that's neither here nor there.

    So yeah, in this regard, I'm an idiot. Please carry on and forget you ever met me. Mea Culpa.

    The second issue is that of the credit card taking the hit for cash overspending, and I will still say that although I think I understand the whys of this, that the implementation is confusing to me, and I don't think it's the best way to handle it. But, that's just me and I am clearly the minority here.

    Anyway, thank you all for your eyes and your time and for trying to figure all this out for me. I really didn't intend to create a huge discussion here to breed any frustration or waste anyone's time or anything. I'll slink away now and see if I can't remember to actually budget the next time I want to complain about my budget. 🙄

    Like 5
  • Move Light Sound Life said:
    the red cc category has only happened intermittently since transition, that this is a SFTF casualty?

     Intermittent red CC Payment category is usually riding the float and not making the required purchases in my experience. Riding the float is usually caused by an inability to (or not realizing they should) budget the CC Payment category in full.

    Like
  • Pickle of the North said:
    The second issue is that of the credit card taking the hit for cash overspending, and I will still say that although I think I understand the whys of this, that the implementation is confusing to me

    At least it's consistent. I am certain there would be far greater confusion if the CC Payment category was only shorted SOME of the time.

    YNAB is a plan for your cash. Cash overspending results in overstated (infeasible) category balances. That is why cash transactions are prioritized -- in order to keep categories accurate (backed by cash) when possible. This is the most fundamental tenant of the methodology. 

    Bottom line: if you always cover the overspending, the current implementation will not be a problem. 

    Like 1
    • dakinemaui As this is exactly how I use YNAB, I’ll keep at it and see if it becomes an issue again. Now that it’s ‘fixed’ on my end, I hope it won’t be an issue.

      Like 1
  • I share the frustration of the original poster on this thread regarding the handling of credit card overspending in the new online YNAB. I'm a big fan of YNAB, I badly want to love this product, but the handling of credit cards in the new online product just leaves me confused. 

    Consider the attached screenshot which was copied from the YNAB help on this page:
    https://docs.youneedabudget.com/article/944-credit-overspending

    In the example shown, the user has overspent on their credit card by $75, but how would they know that? The UI shows $100 of activity on the card, available payment is also $100.  At a glance, everything looks fine. Only when I click on Activity do I see the popup telling me that total spending exceeds total activity, from which I infer that activity must mean budgeted activity. But anyone not deeply versed in the nuances of the YNAB could easily miss this detail and assume "Activity" includes all transactions on the card, whether budgeted or not.

    More concerning is that the $75.00 debt is not reflected in any obvious way. I would expect that the budget for the following month (September) would show "-$75.00 Overspent in Aug" and the "To be Budgeted" amount for September would be adjusted accordingly. I'm pretty sure that happened in YNAB 4, but not in the current version. I understand the overspending is now treated as debt, but I'm not sure where that debt is reflected in the current product. 

    Please help! I want to love this product but am struggling with the current implementation. 

    Like
    • Cornflower Blue Boa I agree, this is too complicated, and we want to work on simplifying credit card handling...

      ...but if you block out the noise, it's also simple: if the amount in the Credit Card Payment category equals what you currently owe on the card, none of the other stuff matters. And if it's not equal, you know that there was overspending, or the card had a positive balance, or you took a cash advance, or one of the other more unusual scenarios that can cause a short Credit Card Payment category.

      I think the most insidious cause of a short Credit Card Payment category is when overspending creeps in at the end of the previous month. That's definitely something we should point out more clearly.

      Like
    • Matthew The "trick" that make it easy (category matches the account) only work for paid-in-full users... which I would guess is not the majority of your userbase.

      Like 1
    • Cornflower Blue Boa said:
      the user has overspent on their credit card by $75, but how would they know that?

      The primary indication is that the category turns yellow. It's certainly not foolproof, as you might need to scroll, you might have the group collapsed, you may have become desensitized to yellow by frequently ignoring underfunded goals, or the category may be hidden.

      I've suggested a simple GUI addition to summarize current month overspending for both cash and credit that can be clicked to take you to the next occurrence of either (expanding/unhiding as necessary). This problem plagues so many users. Obviously not a priority for the devs thus far.

      Like
      • Vibrant
      • No more counting dollars, we'll be counting stars
      • vibrant
      • 2 wk ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view
      Cornflower Blue Boa said:
      In the example shown, the user has overspent on their credit card by $75, but how would they know that?

       I think it's important to make the distinction that the user has overspent one or more of their spending categories by $75, which is indicated by the yellow overspending warning in the relevant category/ies.

      I do agree that there needs to be better flags once the month rolls over - the Toolkit's PIF Credit Card Assist (which flags your CC category yellow if the available amount doesn't match the card balance) helps fill this gap.

      Like 1
    • Cornflower Blue Boa said:
      I'm not sure where that debt is reflected in the current product. 

      The additional debt (for every purchase) is reflected in the CC account balance. No, it's not obvious when the debt increase is not accompanied by a corresponding increase in the Payment category.

      YNAB is optimized for users who need to use credit (i.e., they can't cover overspending), as they don't need to do anything in the budget as a consequence. An interface that required a user action to increase/acknowledge post-payment debt increase would be better, to my way of thinking. (Yes, this is one of the features of YNAB4 that was dropped in the current product.)

      Like
    • Cornflower Blue Boa said:
      I would expect that the budget for the following month (September) would show "-$75.00 Overspent in Aug" and the "To be Budgeted" amount for September would be adjusted accordingly.

      Because the budget is solely concerned with your plans for your cash, this does not happen. Of course, the design could be altered slightly to always adjust the CC Payment category (i.e., assume you would pay off every CC transaction), and it would act as you described without any further action to maintain the post-payment debt at whatever level it was before the transaction. This would mean the user would need to change the plan (a.k.a., the budget) in order to finance something -- a good thing from a behavior-modification viewpoint. Overspending would also be consistent between cash & credit, reinforcing the "spending is spending regardless of payment method" viewpoint. Feel free to make a feature request.

      Like
    • Matthew thanks for the reply. I can't speak for others, but to me it would be a lot clearer if the "Activity" column on the budget page reflected ALL activity on the card—budgeted or not—and the Available column would show budgeted spending. In case of overspending, the Available amount could be flagged yellow or red. 

      Referring back to the example shown in the screenshot, Activity would be $175, Available would be $100,  and the Available number would be red to indicate this is less than the amount owed based on activity. 

      Not sure this resonates with others but this would make sense to me. 
       

      Like
    • dakinemaui to me the most confusing bit is that credit overspending is not indicated from one month to the next. The category turns yellow in the current month, but in the following month the categories have all reset to zero and it isn't obvious—until I look at my credit card bill—that I owe more than I have budgeted. In my reply to Matthew I suggested a small revision to the UI that could make this clearer. 

      Like
      • Annieland
      • I was told there would be no math.
      • Annieland
      • 2 wk ago
      • Reported - view

      Cornflower Blue Boa Personally, in 5 years, I've maybe looked at that Activity dialog 4 times.  I find it completely useless.  I know the numbers are "correct" but it always looks confusing at first glance, and I instinctively want to start breaking down where they came from, and then I realize I'm not going to find out anything I need to know in the end.  Obviously it's an info panel they feel is important, but whenever anyone brings it up I just tell them to ignore it, it's not actionable in the slightest.

      Like
    • Annieland I agree the Activity dialog is confusing, but currently it's the only way to see that total spending exceeds budgeted spending on this card. 

      If the interface were adjusted to show total spending on the main budget page, then all those confusing details on the Activity dialog could safely be ignored or removed. 

      More succinctly, my suggestion is to redefine "Activity" for a Credit Card to include all transactions, not just budgeted transactions. 

      Like
    • Cornflower Blue Boa said:
      it would be a lot clearer if the "Activity" column on the budget page reflected ALL activity on the card

      Yes, that was my feature request as well. Effectively, YNAB assumes all purchases will be paid back. Yes, that causes issues with funds being double-booked in the plan in the case of overspending -- you know, exactly as cash overspending does. The user either handles it (I mean, there's a RULE for it, right?) or YNAB corrects it in next month's plan. Simple. Obviously, there has been no traction with the developers. 🙄

      On a more pragmatic note, many who have grown tired of babysitting the CC Payment category just switched their paid-in-full CCs to use a checking account representation. Funds to pay the entire balance are implicitly reserved at all times. To switch, just balance transfer from a new checking account, ensure the CC Payment category is empty, and hide the old account/category. The only downside: if you wanted to finance something on the card or temporarily ride the CC float, you'd have to spend the 15 seconds to balance transfer back. 😉

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

      Cornflower Blue Boa  you made me take a closer look a the screenshot and...either I'm missing something or those numbers are screwy. Neither budgeted spending in the inspector nor Activity in the main budget screen should be +$100 when the only transactions are both outflows, whether those transactions are budgeted for or not.

      Like
    • Vibrant Budgeted spending depends on how much was in each of the spending categories at the beginning of the month, which isn't known/shown. I don't see anything screwy in what is shown.

      Like
      • Vibrant
      • No more counting dollars, we'll be counting stars
      • vibrant
      • 2 wk ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      @dakinemaui Ah, I see where I went wrong. 👍 (I'm in Annieland's camp, I generally ignore that entire box and I should know better than to comment on a functionality I don't use.)

      Like 2
    • Vibrant The only reason I would use it is to see if the top two values differ as an indication of overspending in past months that's a little more reliable than expanding all category groups, unhiding all categories, and a lot of scrolling around. Made worse if anyone has underfunded goals -- also orange.

      However, I do appreciate the consistency with the other categories.

      Like
  • True, I don't use the functionality.  And I follow the rule 2 as dakinemaui noted.  I keep my CC accounts as CC's because I'm just used to it that way.  It's rare my balances are off (I have 8-10 cards in use at any given time) so I just have the Toolkit option on that will alert me if they're off. 

    Now I'm probably jinxing myself and I'm going to have some rogue disagreement in my CC budget/spending before the new year.  Seems appropriate, right?

    Like 3
      • nolesrule
      • Been waiting 5 years for the Stealing From the Future fix...
      • nolesrule
      • 2 wk ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      Annieland 

      Annieland said:
      I keep my CC accounts as CC's because I'm just used to it that way.

       I keep my CCs as CCs for the artificial AOM inflation. I need validation. 🤣

      Like 2
      • Annieland
      • I was told there would be no math.
      • Annieland
      • 2 wk ago
      • Reported - view

      nolesrule I wasn't going to admit to that one 😎.

      Like
  • I found another "insidious" way that credit card balances get messed up, and I hope YNAB support can help fix it. In fact, my wife does a lot of the budgeting, and I just realized that after years and years of using YNAB and her wondering why the balances are wrong, that it's actually MY FAULT!

     However, it's also something I think could be corrected in YNAB. We pay off our credit cards in full every month. So, I understand how YNAB moves money around in the budget when a credit card transaction is made, however, what happens occasionally is that I manually enter a transaction on the wrong credit card. Once the mistake is realized, the easiest way to correct it is to open "All Accounts" and switch the account for that transaction. However, I failed to realize that this doesn't move the budgeted amount from one credit card to another and results in all of these imbalances.  I would like to request a new feature/bugfix that would make this happen automatically, OR, if there is a reason that is a bad idea, perhaps get a popup that asks if you want to move the budgeted money from one credit card to another.

    Like
  • Dave Mac said:
    this doesn't move the budgeted amount from one credit card to another and results in all of these imbalances

    You're right that nothing in YNAB automatically adjusts any budget entry. However, why are you budgeting directly to the CC Payment category for a purchase? If the purchase is against a category with Available funds, it definitely will switch which Payment category gets the cash backing that purchase when you switch the account the transaction is recorded in.

    Perhaps I've misunderstood your issue? Screen shots might help.

    Like
  • Sorry if I was unclear, I never budget directly to a credit card. When making a credit card purchase, YNAB moves the budgeted money from the category to the credit card it was spent on. If you later go in to "All Accounts" and change the credit card from one account to another, the "available" balances get messed up and no longer match the actual credit card balance in the left accounts column because YNAB doesn't move that money from one card to another.

    So, everything works except when I manually edit a transaction. The only way we could figure out to make a correction properly is to delete the transaction and create a new one on the correct credit card. This adds a few extra steps, especially if it's a split transaction.

    Like
  • I just tested again, and could be wrong after some guidance on reddit: https://www.reddit.com/r/ynab/comments/kncd07/credit_card_balances_off_my_fault/

     There must be something else going on. 

    Like
    • Dave Mac For your reference, if the CC Payment category diverges after it was once in agreement with the account, then one of the following happened (possibly in a previous month):

        • overspending - category is lower
        • uncategorized transactions - category is lower
        • outgoing transfers to other on-budget accounts (e.g., gift card account, mixed funding splits) - category is lower
        • taking the account balance positive - category is lower and should be $0 in this case
        • 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
        • occasionally a return/inflow to a category that has transactions from more than one card - a bug will sometimes impact two payment categories: one is higher and one is lower
        • erroneous budget entry - accidents or misunderstandings occasionally happen
      Like
  • Well, since this topic has been resurrected, I think I'll come on back for a follow-up question:

    So, my CC balance once again went out of whack on me, and I think I understand why at this point, but I wanted to fix it, and wondered if there's a 'best practice' for this?

    I went to look at the budget to start the month, and once again, the CC is off, this time to the tune of about $112. I think what causes this is not having budgeted to all the right figures by month's end, then having it rev to the next month, zero everything and then because it's not on the screen, I don't go about balancing it all correctly, as I can only see the current month. Out of sight, out of mind, and then months later, I get into the fix I'm in.

    So, I went back, and indeed, I saw that there were a couple months wherein the month revved, and YNAB thinks I have overspent on a few categories here and there. The question is, how to fix it? As far as I'm aware, all the figures for this month are correct (that is, all the money I have and the CC transactions I've got on the books agree with the banks to the cent). Am I free to simply move funds around in previous months to correct the figures without it impacting all the subsequent months, or is there a better way to go about this?

    Any insights are appreciated, as I create a reminder in Due for the last day of the month to budget at all costs. :)

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      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 13 days ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      Pickle of the North Yes, you can shift between categories in past months. However, that may cause additional overspending in the following month(s) in the category you took from, resulting in additional work to fix those as well.

      IMHO best practice in order of preference:

      1. Reallocate PRIOR to spending when funds are insufficient but priority mandates spending -- requires that you actually check the category before spending.
      2. Reallocate after the fact (again, assuming overspending in the current month)
      3. Check the previous month around the 3rd or 4th of the month (after import or reconciliation) and reallocate within that previous month
      4. If overspending is further back than last month or more extensive or more significant amount(s), just reallocate within the current month to the CC Payment category and ensure TBB is non-negative. The idea is to avoid a cascade of overspending and minimize work.
      5. Use new income to bump up the CC Payment category in the current month. (This is more common with intentionally financed purchases.)
      Like 2
    • Pickle of the North I'm not sure what you mean by "then having it rev to the next month, zero everything", but part of the rollover to a new month should include making sure you haven't overspent in the current month. To my knowledge the budget doesn't change months on it's own, you have to change the month. If you use direct import and want to move ahead immediately just check your online bank accounts and enter any pending transactions, cover the overspending, and move to the next month.

      Like
    • Periwinkle Flute But it does. If you open YNAB on December 31, you get December. If you open it the next day, you get January, and you don't ask for that, and as far as I know, there's no way to not have it do that. That's what I mean. Everything moves on automatically, everything in the budget goes to zero so you can budget to it again.

      Like
  • dakinemaui  Thanks for the response. I get and agree with your 1 through 3, and that's ideally how I operate. I know that not keeping up is on me, and what can I say, I'm human. I used to obsess over YNAB, and now I visit it once a week or so, and I will track my purchases using the app at the point of sale about 85% of the time. Still, some things slip by sometimes.

    I figured as much that I could just move things around to make sense. Thankfully, I'm in the position where my credit card line item is actually more in the plus side than in the red, so there's cash there that I've technically *not* spent. It won't be hard to make things be okay again, I was just looking to see if there was an easy way to reconcile over the course of months. If not, it's all good. I can just let the months that got munged go, and I'm sure it won't have much effect on my overall reporting. It's much more important to me that the figures in YNAB match up to the actual numbers in my accounts / cash.

    Like
      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 13 days ago
      • Reported - view

      Pickle of the North For the situation you describe, the easy way is to fix it in the current month. It has ZERO impact to reporting, as those are based on transactions. Yes, account balances that agree with the real world is crucial and step 1 before ANY budget operations.

      Like
  • Pickle of the North said:
    I'm in the position where my credit card line item is actually more in the plus side than in the red, so there's cash there that I've technically *not* spent.

    That's a dicey viewpoint. You spent using someone else's money, and you now owe them the cash in that category. As a rule when reallocating, you should always take from the least important category in the entire budget. If you take from the CC Payment category to cover overspending in X, you're effectively saying, "maintaining my CC debt is less important than X". Moreover, you're also saying that maintaining debt is less important than every other green category as well.

    I would just caution you to make sure that's true for your particular priorities.

    Like
    • dakinemaui I get that. I think I’m safe, though. I believe that the surplus in the CC category is because I’ve made adjustments in prior months to cover things that weren’t then needed. But I think that my method of budgeting makes this even less of an issue.

      Just so you know, and in case someone else may find this interesting, the way I do things these days is a little unconventional. I have long since managed to build an emergency fund, which I keep as a line item in the budget. It’s been sitting at around 3-4K the past couple years, and I’ve done this in this way:

      I get paid twice a month, and the first pay I use to fill in all of my budget categories for the month. This usually winds up being a couple hundred over what the first pay can cover, so I then take the needed remaining out of the emergency fund to cover off the whole month of expenses. Then, when I get the second pay, it goes entirely into the emergency fund line item. This covers off everything I took out to cover the first pay’s deficit, and adds a substantial amount more to the emergency fund. In that way, it keeps on growing. Then, it’s big enough for whatever might come up.

      I diverge from the YNAB philosophy in that if I need a new fridge or something, I’ll take it out of the emergency fund rather than budgeting for it in its own category over time. In that way, I accept the fact that the (possibly poorly-named) emergency fund will cover off sorta expected large expenses as well as true emergencies, as I feel like it always has enough to do both. Starting a new budget category to cover off something that happens far into the future in my system is a lot of overhead I don’t really need. I use that only for annual subscriptions or expenses that I know are coming for sure (like auto license stickers).

      All that to say that if something gets overspent in the budget along the way in a month, it only ever comes from the one ‘emergency fund’ line item, so there’s no chance that I rob from Peter to pay Paul as it were.

      It’s unconventional, but I find it works well for me. When I was first building the emergency fund, I had it so that I deposited a set amount in each month, which was fine, but this way, depositing all the surplus from a second pay and taking what’s needed to cover costs results in my augmenting the emergency fund *much* more in any given month because I’m not feeling like I need to find a line item for everything.

      So, after all that diatribe, which I hope was at least a little interesting for someone, I can say I feel OK about zeroing out the CC in this month to make things work, and not messing up other things within the budget.

      Like
      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 13 days ago
      • Reported - view

      Pickle of the North Clearly it works for you, but it's also clear the normal budgeting is not as smooth as other approaches. Have you considered a one-time allocation of some of your EF to allow you to budget both your checks at once -- filling out the entirety of the upcoming month?

      Like
    • dakinemaui Hadn't considered it before now, because one tends to stick with what seems to work. Not to say that couldn't be better. Thank you for the suggestion. I could put that on the list of new items for the new year. :)

      Like 1
      • nolesrule
      • Been waiting 5 years for the Stealing From the Future fix...
      • nolesrule
      • 12 days ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      Pickle of the North 

      Pickle of the North said:
      I diverge from the YNAB philosophy in that if I need a new fridge or something, I’ll take it out of the emergency fund rather than budgeting for it in its own category over time. In that way, I accept the fact that the (possibly poorly-named) emergency fund will cover off sorta expected large expenses as well as true emergencies, as I feel like it always has enough to do both. Starting a new budget category to cover off something that happens far into the future in my system is a lot of overhead I don’t really need.

       This will work perfectly fine until it doesn't, and to be honest more categories doesn't create extra work.

      There are two reasons for being more specific with your categories rather than just using a giant catch-all, and they fall at opposite ends of the spectrum.

      1. It helps make sure you are saving enough for pretty much everything.

      2. It helps make sure you aren't saving too much when you could be doing something better with the money.

      Frankly, if you can cash flow things all those things from the Emergency fund you'd be better off taking a chunk to fund next month and move to Budgeting using the previous month's income. At that point, funding your budget is a couple of clicks and the additional categories aren't overhead anymore once you've determined the correct monthly funding amounts.

      Also, you don't need a specific category for each appliance, you just need to know how much each appliance costs in general and how long you have until you think you need to replace it. All my appliances come out of either our Home Maintenance (there are guidelines of much money to put in a category like this, inclusive of appliance replacement) or Home Improvement category (or sometimes some of each). We just bought a custom closet system for our master bedroom closet, to be delivered in 2 weeks. It came out of Home Improvement. And it doubles as my wife's birthday present!

      Like 2
  • Pickle of the North said:
    I believe that the surplus in the CC category is because I’ve made adjustments in prior months

    If the category is larger than what you owe (the account balance), just move it elsewhere in the budget.

    OTOH, your post suggests the category is smaller than the account balance, in which case there is NO surplus. On the contrary, you would actually short of paid-in-full status and riding the CC float.

    Again, you've been doing things your way long enough that you may not care, so I'm not telling you to change anything. Just pointing out some things to either consider or ignore as you see fit.

    Like 1
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