When to Reconcile?

So, my various accounts all close on different days of the month.  Credit cards on the 10th and 23rd, Checking anywhere from the 21st to the 24th, and my investment accounts on different days too.

So when should I "reconcile" in YNAB?  I wanted to do it on the last day of the month to make budgeting for the next month fit into my workflow, but that's tomorrow and I'm still going to have a half-dozen or more uncleared transactions in my checking account totaling more than $5,000.  Some of them will be visible in my bank account's online register, so I could "clear" those, but they won't all be there yet and besides that, how do I know what the right balance figure is to enter into YNAB's reconciliation box?

And waiting one more day to reconcile could get me tangled up with my first autopay bill for December.

It feels like I'm going to end up with another adjustment to make.  I don't like adjustments because they never go away and they show up in every damned future budget going forward.  And that just feels sloppy.

So what day of the month do you reconcile your various accounts in YNAB, and why do you do it that way?

Thanks!

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  • We reconcile every few days. Our bank uses the term “ledger balance” for the items that have cleared, and that is what should match what is cleared in YNAB.

    Their “available balance” includes pending transactions.

    Like
      • Debtectomy
      • All Debt Hurts US
      • debtectomy
      • 9 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Tomato Tamale Thanks!  My bank does the same thing, so I suppose I could reconcile at any time, as long as it has been long enough for something to show up in "pending".  I just made an IRS payment (Estimated Tax) on Friday and it's still not yet in pending.  Maybe on Monday.

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      • satcook
      • satcook
      • 9 mths ago
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      Debtectomy no. Items do not have to show up as pending for you to reconcile. 
       

      that irs payment should have been manually entered by you but it won’t be used for reconciliation at all as it isn’t cleared

      Like 1
  • I reconcile all my accounts at least once a week. You just compare cleared to cleared so you leave the uncleared transactions alone 

    Like 1
      • Debtectomy
      • All Debt Hurts US
      • debtectomy
      • 9 mths ago
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      satcook Thanks!

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  • I reconcile every time I check my transactions in YNAB with those at the bank. I NEVER look at my bank statement. I only use the bank's online register to know what is cleared and what is pending. I clear in YNAB when it's cleared at the bank and I reconcile cleared total with cleared total.

    Why do you use a bank statement instead of online information? Why do you only clear using the statement instead of when your bank has cleared the transaction on the online portal?

    Like 1
      • Debtectomy
      • All Debt Hurts US
      • debtectomy
      • 9 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Ceeses - "Why do you use a bank statement instead of online information? Why do you only clear using the statement instead of when your bank has cleared the transaction on the online portal?"

      I use my statement to balance my accounts in Quicken.  I don't do any budgeting in Quicken, but it has some good reporting features and since I use similar categories to YNAB, Quicken allows me to show metrics that I can drill down in for added insight.    Plus, it's old habit.

      Like
      • Debtectomy
      • All Debt Hurts US
      • debtectomy
      • 9 mths ago
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      Debtectomy I should also add that Quicken has direct-connect on all of my accounts, whereas YNAB still needs manual downloads for several of my accounts.

      Like
    • WordTenor
    • Can we agree that goals are dumb and immature? Sure.
    • WordTenor
    • 9 mths ago
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    When I first started using YNAB, I reconciled every day or two. As others have pointed out, pending transactions don't really matter; you shouldn't be taking them into account in your reconciliation. 

    These days, I reconcile either as part of my monthly cleanup or whenever I just have too many unreconciled transactions. I only have two accounts, my two rewards credit cards, which see a substantial amount of activity, so the others easily reconcile once a month or even less often. 

    You're right to hate reconciliation adjustment transactions. You should not do them. If your account is off, find out why it is and fix it. Find your cleared balance at your bank and compare that to the cleared balance in YNAB. 

    Like 1
      • Debtectomy
      • All Debt Hurts US
      • debtectomy
      • 9 mths ago
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      WordTenor

      "You're right to hate reconciliation adjustment transactions. You should not do them. If your account is off, find out why it is and fix it. Find your cleared balance at your bank and compare that to the cleared balance in YNAB. "

      Yep!  So the problem I currently have is the initial "seeded balance" back in September was done with an adjustment.  This adjustment keeps showing up in the same "incoming funds" category every month now and that's very annoying!

      Like 1
      • WordTenor
      • Can we agree that goals are dumb and immature? Sure.
      • WordTenor
      • 9 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Debtectomy 

      Your Starting balance transaction should be categorized to "Income TBB" and it shouldn't show up an a category; it should show up in TBB.  If it is showing up every month, you've got some sort of recurrence set on it by mistake.  Can you check that by looking at the date picker on that transaction? 

      Like
    • Debtectomy What's an "incoming funds" category?

      Like
      • Debtectomy
      • All Debt Hurts US
      • debtectomy
      • 9 mths ago
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      WordTenor I think I have a small mess here.

      I created an Income TBB item to seed my checking account with the current balance as of September 17th or so (when I started all this).  But that created an "Income TBB" item that shows up every month and wants something budgeted to it.

      This is very confusing.  I just need to properly provide a "seed" or "starting balance" for that checking account WITHOUT it showing up in the budget every month until the day I die.

       

      Here's how the transaction appears in the checking account register:

      Account:  (name of bank) Checking

      Date:  2020-09-17

      Payee:  (my initials, for lack of any other ideas)

      Memo:  Initial Seed

      Amount:  the dollar amount of my checking account balance on 9/17.  This figure has survived reconciliation all the way to today (11/29) without needing any adjustments.

       

      In the budget, it shows up like this:

      Group:  Income

      Category:  Income TBB

      Budgeted: $0.00

      Activity:  (is my seed dollar amount in September, shows as zeroes in subsequent months)

      Available: (my seed dollar amount, shows as the same dollar amount in subsequent months)

       

      It's the BUDGET entry that's annoying the hell out of me.  Why is an initial balance row in my checking account (or any account, really) showing up as a budget item and then being cast forward to every future month?  It was an initial seed, but YNAB doesn't seem to understand this.  I'm not going to budget an initial seed over and over again for every week or every month going forward. 

      It would be perfect if I could just DELETE the budget item but leave the initial seed entry in my checking account register.  'Da hell?

      Any ideas?

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      • Debtectomy
      • All Debt Hurts US
      • debtectomy
      • 9 mths ago
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      Debtectomy 

      It looks like that budget item had a goal "Needed for Spending Monthly" selected. 

      Just now, I deleted the goal, but it didn't seem to change anything.  Still shows up in October, November, December, and January budgets under "Income".  It's fine for it to appear in the month when the seed was made (September), but I don't want it to appear in the budget for any months after September, because I don't need additional seeds, which makes that item look messy in the budget.

      Like
      • MadDog
      • Navy_Blue_Pegasus.2
      • 9 mths ago
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      Debtectomy It sounds like you set up the original seed money entry incorrectly. Check the original entry and make the following adjustments:

      Date: 2020-09-17. Now look underneath the calendar when you click in the box, it should say "make repeating". If it says monthly, then change it to Never.

      Payee: Should be Starting Balance 

      Save. 

      When you fix those two things you should now have a starting balance entry and no more repeating budget entry every month.

      Like 1
      • Debtectomy
      • All Debt Hurts US
      • debtectomy
      • 9 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Navy Blue Pegasus Thank you.  But when I try to change the row in the register, it doesn't seem to "keep" the setting of "never".  I wonder, do I need to create a new "unpadlocked" row and delete the old reconciled row?

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      • Debtectomy
      • All Debt Hurts US
      • debtectomy
      • 9 mths ago
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      Debtectomy And what should the category be?

      Like
    • Debtectomy You don't create a category for income - that's what YNAB's To Be Budgeted is for. Change the Starting Balance category to the default To Be Budgeted.

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      • Debtectomy
      • All Debt Hurts US
      • debtectomy
      • 9 mths ago
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      Periwinkle Flute Got it, thanks!

      And yes, I did have to delete the old padlocked entry and create a new one.  So now it says "Starting Balance", along with "Inflow: To be Budgeted" and yep, it does not appear in the budget.

      So one thing I learned...that little calendar icon has a button saying "Make Repeating", which implies to me (I'm an IT guy) that if you press the button, you'll make it repeating, but if you don't press the button, it will not be repeating.

      I think that button is mislabeled.  It should indicate that "Repeating Options" can be accessed by that button, not that the button engages repeating functionality.

      Like
      • WordTenor
      • Can we agree that goals are dumb and immature? Sure.
      • WordTenor
      • 9 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Debtectomy It sounds like you may have gotten the central issue fixed! Did you categorize any other income to that "Income TBB" in the "Income" category group? 

      Like
      • Debtectomy
      • All Debt Hurts US
      • debtectomy
      • 9 mths ago
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      Debtectomy 

      So now that I know the correct way to create an initial balance for my checking account, how would I do it for a credit card account?

      One of my cards had some charges on it for some house work back in October when the account was created in YNAB.  It's zero now and I do have an adjustment row in it for October 5th...but I know that's not right because it behaves like the checking account row that was bad.

      So what should this one look like for a credit card that had a balance on it?

      Like
      • Ceeses
      • Ceeses
      • 9 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Debtectomy If you don't press the "Make Repeating" button, the transaction doesn't repeat. So it seems the labelling is fine.

      From what you said, I don't think you had an issue of a repeating transaction since the transaction you listed was dated in September. I think your issue is you are still trying to understand how an envelope budget works. Which is understandable coming from Quicken.

      When you entered your income incorrectly and input it directly in a category (the digital equivalent of an envelope) then the amount shows in Available. It will keep showing up in Available until you take the money out of the category. You can take the money out of the category in 2 ways:

       - enter a lower budget amount in the Budgeted column (even negative, it means you have taken more money out of that category than put in in that specific month). The "move money" tool does the same thing.

       - by spending the money, in which case a negative number appears in the Activity column.

       

      This mechanism is how you save money in an envelope-based budget: you budget the money in a category in month A and you leave it there, showing in Available, until you need that money in month B.

      Like
      • Debtectomy
      • All Debt Hurts US
      • debtectomy
      • 9 mths ago
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      WordTenor No, the rest of it is clean.  My pay is split into 2.  A fixed amount goes into my brokerage account for savings/investment, with the remaining variable amount going into my checking account for bill paying.

      So I may need to set up an initial seed amount for the brokerage too.  Hah.

      Like 2
    • Debtectomy For a credit card you enter the Starting Balance in the Budget column of the card.

      Like
      • MadDog
      • Navy_Blue_Pegasus.2
      • 9 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Debtectomy Looks like you got things fixed. I did notice the issue around the category you created for Income TBB but knew that there were others who had more knowledge and better explanations on that one. Glad that you got it resolved.

      I reconcile at least every two weeks on payday as part of my prep for our budget meeting. We are not yet fully one month buffered and still keeping an eye on things so we meet that frequently. It helps us to stay on track. I do not use bank statements either but rather the online register for everything. 

      We do manual recording but use import for some accounts and manual reconciliation for others due to import issues. I like the manual recording because it forces accountability and the import simply verifies when it has cleared the account. Then we reconcile and are on our way.

      Like
  • Debtectomy said:
    So what should this one look like for a credit card that had a balance on it?

     Same as for the checking account except that's an outflow and not an inflow.

    Like 1
  • Thank you.  I think I can go fix everything now.  And I'm feeling a bit braver about connecting my other accounts and actually using them within YNAB.  Yay!

    Like 1
  • Thank you all for your help here!  I started out with a reconciliation question and ended up getting something completely unrelated FIXED.  Yay!  😎

    Like 4
  • Do not make various income categories as you do in Quicken. The Income v. Expense report uses the PAYEE to define the line items.

    The category for the starting balance is INFLOW: To Be Budgeted (not Income: TBB that you created). Same thing for any account.

    Edit: Perhaps surprisingly, a transaction categorized as TBB in a credit account does not affect TBB. Instead, TBB is equivalent to "Debt Management". (I'm assuming this account has a negative balance, meaning you owe money.)

    Like
      • Debtectomy
      • All Debt Hurts US
      • debtectomy
      • 9 mths ago
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      dakinemaui yep, "INFLOW".  Is that also where my salary should be coming from?  If so, I'll go make corrections. 

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      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 9 mths ago
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      Debtectomy yes, salary, interest, that $10 you find on the street, everything.

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      • Debtectomy
      • All Debt Hurts US
      • debtectomy
      • 9 mths ago
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      dakinemaui  Thanks, I'll go fix.  It will probably make things work better for me!

      Like 1
      • Debtectomy
      • All Debt Hurts US
      • debtectomy
      • 9 mths ago
      • 1
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      Debtectomy Fixed...it was simple to do with mass-edit.

      Like 1
  • I reconcile high traffic accounts weekly, the rest monthly. Everything is based on the current (cleared) balance from the website. The statement closing dates don't figure into anything for me.

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      • Debtectomy
      • All Debt Hurts US
      • debtectomy
      • 9 mths ago
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      dakinemaui Yeah, I was able to reconcile my main checking account today with the online balance and the "current activity" log.  Old dog, new trick (for me!).  🐕

      Like 3
  • I reconcile on the closing date.  I don't like graying out and "locking" upcoming statement transactions.  Occasionally I need to be aware of what will post on which statement if it's a recurring transaction, or if I have to dig for something it helps my visibility.  But I'm in the minority here.  I match and clear every day, and it's not hard to check if the cleared balance in ynab matches the bank's.

    Like
  • Navy Blue Pegasus said:
    I reconcile at least every two weeks on payday as part of my prep for our budget meeting.

     I fail to see how reconciling accounts/transactions affects budget decisions or paydays.  Is it because you're not entering most transactions as they happen or approving cleared transactions when they come in?

    Like
      • WordTenor
      • Can we agree that goals are dumb and immature? Sure.
      • WordTenor
      • 9 mths ago
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      Annieland A lot of people reconcile when they budget rather than when the bank closes a statement. It confirms that the budget is correct right as you need to budget. It doesn’t have anything to do with transaction entry; if transactions are up to date in the budget, the account should reconcile on any given day, so it doesn’t matter which day it is. 

      Like 1
      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 9 mths ago
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      • Reported - view

      Annieland Reconciliation identifies any missing transactions and therefore can impact category balances. Always good to know what you really have (or don't have!) before planning further.

      Like 2
      • MadDog
      • Navy_Blue_Pegasus.2
      • 9 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Annieland as stated by WordTenor and dakinemaui i do the reconciliation to ensure that all transactions are there and none have been missed. My husband generally does not enter all of his transactions but is getting better about it so there will often be missing items. But he is not a big shopper so it is not a huge amount overall. 

      I do a combination of manual enter (when I am on the ball, trying to be better) and linked importing. Reconciling frequently allows me to catch errors such as transactions that did not match or double entered transactions which would throw off my budget. Or the dreaded returns on a credit card or reimbursements (RRSP for kids education) that as much as I try seem to be my kryptonite.

      Like
      • Annieland
      • I was told there would be no math.
      • Annieland
      • 9 mths ago
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      Navy Blue Pegasus I seriously could have written those exact paragraphs!  So I guess I should have just answered my own question :D.

      Like 1
      • MadDog
      • Navy_Blue_Pegasus.2
      • 9 mths ago
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      Annieland glad to know that I have company out there in the big bad world! LOL

      Like 1
      • Annieland
      • I was told there would be no math.
      • Annieland
      • 9 mths ago
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      Navy Blue Pegasus Oh one difference, my husband enters NO transactions haha.  If I'm in a bad mood I throw out a snarky remark about it, but at this point 99% of the time I don't trust him to categorize correctly anyway :).  Well "correctly" by my standards..

      Like 2
      • MadDog
      • Navy_Blue_Pegasus.2
      • 9 mths ago
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      Annieland if they don't enter, then our standards are the correct ones in my mind. 😉

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  • I reconcile my accounts when the statements come in (which are all different days of the month).  If I get my credit card statement today, I'll reconcile it.  Next week when I get my Checking Account Statement, I'll reconcile it then and so on and so forth.  I don't reconcile my accounts to the online bank account because I found it too confusing because some include the pending transactions in the bank balance and some don't.  It was just too damn confusing to try and remember which ones were which.  So I reconcile all the accounts once a month to the statements as I receive them.  

    Like 1
  • I reconcile at the end of each month when I'm updating my net worth and I'll also reconcile anytime I happen to login to my accounts for whatever reason.

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  • It's worth making a distinction between reconciling and using the YNAB Reconcile function. Reconciling an account is just making sure the bank balance matches the YNAB balance. I do this every few days, pretty much every time I log in to my bank online. This reconciling is very important and should be done regularly. On the other hand, using the YNAB Reconcile function locks down the transactions up to a certain date. Although this can be useful, it's not really necessary and you can go for months without using the YNAB Reconcile function provided you are regularly reconciling the accounts in the broader sense.

     

    P.S. Cool avatar by the way  Debtectomy , It reminds me of my pre COVID job!

    Like 1
      • Superbone
      • YNAB convert since 2008
      • Superbone
      • 9 mths ago
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      When I'm on a YNAB website and I say reconcile, I'm talking about YNAB reconciling.

      Like
      • dakinemaui
      • dakinemaui
      • 9 mths ago
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      DexterCat Actually, reconciliation is verifying the transactions in the secondary record (YNAB) transactions match those in the primary. The agreement of balances is just the final warm-fuzzy you didn't miss anything.

      I figure if I've already gone to the trouble to verify transactions and balances, I might as well draw a line in the sand. That's the final action in the YNAB reconciliation process. 

      Like 3
      • DexterCat
      • DexterCat
      • 9 mths ago
      • Reported - view

       , Superbone , fair enough. My point was simply that reconciling is something that you can and should do pretty much all of the time. YNAB Reconcile is optional.

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      • Superbone
      • YNAB convert since 2008
      • Superbone
      • 9 mths ago
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      DexterCat I don’t know about that. You can only reconcile if you have something to reconcile against. The only time I do is when I’m in my account’s website at which point I’m going to do a YNAB reconciliation. Otherwise, I trust DI and my own inputs are close enough.

      Like 1
      • DexterCat
      • DexterCat
      • 9 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Superbone , the thing is you can't do a YNAB reconcile using the phone/tablet app, but there is nothing stopping you from making sure transactions and balances are correct. Among some new users there is the thought that you can't reconcile with the app, but you can. There is nothing stopping you from making sure everything is reconciled. Beyond that it doesn't matter if you YNAB reconcile or not, the important thing is only that the YNAB accounts are correct.

      In my case, I ensure transactions and balances are correct every day or two, but I only use the YNAB reconcile function once a month, if that. I have an account that I've never bothered to YNAB reconcile, but it has always been accurate.

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      • Superbone
      • YNAB convert since 2008
      • Superbone
      • 9 mths ago
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      DexterCat True, which is why I only reconcile on the web app. I‘ve heard they’re working on adding it to the mobile apps though. Sure, you could never use the YNAB reconcile and have accurate accounts but why not lock them in?

      Like
      • MadDog
      • Navy_Blue_Pegasus.2
      • 9 mths ago
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      Superbone I also like the locking in feature because if you try to delete or adjust a transaction, YNAB gives you a warning (or it did at one point) that changing it will affect your reconciliation. Another safety net to make sure you don't adjust things that you shouldn't. 

      DexterCat To me, reconciliation is verifying the total and then checking off the transactions that make up that amount. It will also show you any transactions that are outstanding that have not cleared much more easily. I can search uncleared and find out why. It is important to delete them if they are double entered so that my budgeted dollars can be moved to cover actual expenses rather than sitting waiting for something that will never happen.

      Like 1
      • Annieland
      • I was told there would be no math.
      • Annieland
      • 9 mths ago
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      • Reported - view

      Superbone I have a handful of accounts I never bother to reconcile either.  Maybe a couple of times a year if something small seems off or forgotten.  Like a few pennies difference in a scheduled interest transaction.  Some credit cards I use like, once a year or so, and just pay the statement without even thinking to go back and tidy up the account.  My Capital One accounts haven't linked into YNAB for close to a year now so I just do my own inputs and check the miniscule interest amount every month or so.  Downloading the statement for accounts I don't use consistently is one job I forego. 

      Like 1
      • Cirrus
      • Living mobile and solo
      • miriamnz
      • 9 mths ago
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      DexterCat I do what I call a "soft reconcile" on my phone every day or two. When I get the bank and ynab accounts matched I set a green flag. That, for me, means "reconciled". 

      The only trick is to avoid new transactions popping into ynab south of my green flag. 
      This happens because ynab doesn't add new transactions to the top of the day's list.
      Inflows go to the bottom, and outflows are listed according to their value.
      I don't try to reconcile on days or at times when transactions are changeable. A quiet day, the end of the day, or before the spending has started in a day, are all good times to reconcile this way.

      When I am on a computer I just i need to check back as far as the last green flag to be ready to do a ynab-reconcile. Maybe once a month; while my 'soft reconcile' I do every day or two.

      Like 1
  • As often as possible. Minimum weekly, to my mind. A lot of people advocate for daily and I see the benefits to that - the more often you reconcile, the shorter time it takes, and the less likely there are to be errors.

    I tend to balance 2 or 3 times a week, mostly because I forget to do it daily. My bank shows me cleared, uncleared, and pending balances so it's easy to make them match. Sometimes I wait a day or two until more transactions have cleared from my bank, because things clear in a different order to when I entered them in YNAB, but I feel comfortable doing that because I reconciled less than a week ago - if it's too long I just reconcile anyway.

     

    Edit: I also keep track on when I last reconciled by writing the date on the notes function for each account on YNAB. Just keeps me on top of things.

    Like
  • I find it easier to reconcile daily.  It keeps the number of unreconciled transactions to a minimum and the daily habit is a breeze to keep up with.  I am finished with all accounts with my first cup of coffee.  My second cup I read the news LOL.

    Like 2
  • I reconcile once a week.  When I do it that often it goes pretty quickly.  If a wait a whole month, it often takes longer to track things down and can be a pain in the rear.  

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