How much do I have in my checking account?  Should not the numbers be the same?  What am I missing?

Hello!

I am a YNAB 4 user.  I know that support is no longer offered for YNAB 4, so I am hoping that I may find an answer to my questions here at the YNAB Forum, from anyone who still remembers how the software works.  I have attached two screenshots.

The first (Checking Account under Budget is 10743.33) shows what I have in my checking account, as listed at the top of the checking account column when I click on "Budget".  You can see that the amounts in the different categories add up to that amount.  (The amounts are the same in both "June 2020" and "July 2020".)

The second (Checking Account under Budget Accounts is 8331.14) shows what I have in my checking account, as listed underneath the transactions at the bottom of the page when I click on "Checking" under "Budget Accounts".  You can see that neither of the numbers (uncleared or cleared) is the same as the other number that is listed under "Budget".

My questions are: How much do I have in my checking account?  Should not the numbers be the same?  What am I missing?

Perhaps I am simply confused.  Thank you for any help you may be able to offer!

David ("zinatree")

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  • The YNAB account has $8331, and hopefully that agrees fairly well with the real world after pending transactions have cleared. The YNAB cleared of $9031 should exactly match the real-world bank.  

    Do you have any other accounts on-budget? If so, then the problem is merely a misunderstanding. There are no "checking categories", only "categories". They don't care where their dollars are located. Read this for more details about how purpose (category) and location (account) are completely independent: 

    https://web.archive.org/web/20151217132217/http://www.youneedabudget.com:80/blog/2015/the-relationship-between-your-budget-your-accounts-its-complicated

    The other possibility is that you either have overspending or a Pre-YNAB Debt category balance that is more negative than the associated account balance.

    Like
  • Hello, dakinemaui, and thank you for replying!

    On my "Budget" page, I have two master categories - one for Checking and one for Savings.  The totals in those two master categories (which appear on the right side of the page) are as follows:

    Checking: 10,743.33

    Savings: 46,171.21

    Total: 56,914.54

    On the same page (on the left side of the page), Checking and Savings are listed under "Budget Accounts".  The totals as listed there are as follows:

    Checking: 8,331.14

    Savings: 48,583.40

    Total: 56,914.54

    The sum totals are the same, but I do not understand why the Checking and Savings totals are not the same in both places.

    Thank you!

    David ("zinatree")

    Like
      • Ceeses
      • Ceeses
      • 2 wk ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Orange Device As dakinemaui said, read this article: https://web.archive.org/web/20151217132217/http://www.youneedabudget.com:80/blog/2015/the-relationship-between-your-budget-your-accounts-its-complicated

      It explains to you that you are trying to create "checking" categories and "savings" categories while YNAB works with "1 heap of money" categories. So if you want to continue your view of owning "checking" dollars and "savings" dollars instead of simply owning "dollars", you have to do extra work and when the budget doesn't agree with the accounts, you have to move money between your "savings" categories and your "checking" categories.

      As the article explains, this extra work isn't necessary if you just accept 1 dollar = 1 dollar no matter what bank account it sits in.

      Like 1
      • Herman
      • herman
      • 2 wk ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Orange Device Because your checking and savings categories have no relation to your checking and savings accounts other than the name you've given them.  If your really want them to be the same, you have to force that to happen.  I wouldn't bother and I would read the info that has been recommended on separating location and purpose.

      Like 1
  • Hello, Ceeses and Herman, and thanks for helping!

    I do understand about YNAB working with "1 heap of money" categories, and I had just read the article to which dakinemaui provided me a link a few minutes before receiving his (or her) suggestion to do so.  But I do choose to keep certain amounts in Checking and Savings accounts in my real-world bank, and to reflect that division in YNAB by creating master categories labeled Checking and Savings.  (I realize that in reality they have no relation to each other other than that I have given them the same names.)  My reason for doing this is simple.  If, say, I keep all my money in my Savings account in my real-world bank, how would I write a check if there is nothing in my Checking account?  I have to have some money in there to write the check.  I keep as much as I can in Savings, because it earns me interest, and only as much as I need in Checking, in order to write the checks.  Because I do this, I prefer to keep track of exactly how much money is in each account, both in my real-world bank and in YNAB, and I am happy to do the extra work in YNAB to make this possible.

    But all of that explanation misses the point of what I am asking.  I am really asking how YNAB is calculating the numbers it is showing me.  Regardless of whether I am using categories in the correct manner, and regardless of whether or not I could handle my finances in a more streamlined way, the fact is that on the same page YNAB is showing me apparently conflicting numbers which I do not understand.  Here are those discrepancies again:

    On the right . . . 

    Sub-total for Checking: 10,743.33 

    Sub-total for Savings: 46,171.21 

    Total: 56,914.54 

    On the left . . . 

    Sub-total for Checking: 8,331.14 

    Sub-total for Savings: 48,583.40 

    Total: 56,914.54

    The totals are the same, but the sub-totals of what is in Checking and Savings are different (and I am only referring to what is in YNAB - I am not referring here to what is in my real-world bank).  I am sure that it must be obvious that the computer program YNAB 4 does not care in the slightest whether I am using it in the recommended manner.  It is just adding up the sub-totals to make the totals like any good calculator.  But I do not understand how YNAB arrives at two different sub-totals for each of the master categories, and which sub-totals to trust, and why.

    Thank you!

    David ("zinatree")

    Like
    • Orange Device The account balances are "correct" since they agree (hopefully) with the real world. This is the first thing to verify.

      The budget is merely your plan for your money. Any synchronization of the groups to the respective account is going to be all on you, and at this point you have made a mistake with that synchronization. (Very likely you bought one or more savings expenses without transferring funds from savings.)

      Your choices:

      1. Stop trying to synchronize. Requires understanding of that article.

      2. Adjust categories (shift funds between categories) so the group totals match the account balances. 

      3. Transfer funds between accounts in order to match the category group totals.

      4. Some combination of 2 & 3.

      In my view, #1 is the best option, because it is just a matter of time until you make another mistake trying to keep things synchronized. Then you're right back here in the same situation.

      To draw an analogy, I am suggesting you "cure the illness" rather than "treat the symptoms".

      Like 1
      • Herman
      • herman
      • 2 wk ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Orange Device the right hand side doors not represent checking,it is just a group of categories that you have decided to call checking.

      Like 1
  • Orange Device said:
    I keep as much as I can in Savings, because it earns me interest, and only as much as I need in Checking, in order to write the checks.

    Many people do exactly this. They use the running balance in conjunction with future-dated transactions (not scheduled transactions) to assess whether it's safe to move funds to the savings account or whether you need to transfer some money back from savings to cover a larger than normal expense.

    Categories answer ONE question: Can I afford this purchase? If there's not enough in the category, then reallocate from a lower priority category. If there isn't a lower priority category from which to take funds, then skip the purchase.

    The account balance answers a different question: Can I pay with this account? (I'm assuming you've already established you can afford a purchase.) If the account balance is insufficient, just transfer from any other on-budget account.

    Like 1
  • dakinemaui said:
    Any synchronization of the groups to the respective account is going to be all on you, and at this point you have made a mistake with that synchronization.

    Hello!  If I have made a mistake, then I will try to track it down.  I will also consider the four numbered suggestions made, and the similar suggestions made by all of you.  But I will do this tomorrow - here, on the East Coast, it is nearly midnight.  Thank you for the help, and good night!

    Like
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 2 wk ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Orange Device 

      Orange Device said:
      If I have made a mistake, then I will try to track it down.

       It's not really something you can track down. The mistake is in wanting them synchronized in the first place.

      The solution is to drop the desire for synchronization.

      If you really want to keep more in savings, you do that with the cash flow method that dakinemaui mentioned earlier. Monitoring future cash flow of the account through scheduled transactions allows you to project the future balance of your account, so you know when it would go to zero or not. You only need to take money out of the savings account if checking is going to go negative.

      Like 1
    • Orange Device said:
      If I have made a mistake, then I will try to track it down.

      There's no point in "tracking it down". Correction will involve #1 (ideally) or #2 / #3 which can be done right now without knowing the specific mistake.

      It's like recognizing you're going too slow on the highway. It doesn't matter whether you took your foot of the gas or if you hit the brake. You're just going to speed up anyway.

      Like 3
      • Superbone
      • YNAB convert since 2008
      • Superbone
      • 2 wk ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      nolesrule Yep. By doing this the right way, you end up with more in your savings account than you would when trying to keep it in sync with certain savings categories.

      Like 1
  • Hello, YNAB Helpers!

    Over the past couple of days, I have tried to answer my question, resolve my problem, and decide how to proceed in future.

    My question was, “I am really asking how YNAB is calculating the numbers it is showing me.”  I discovered that the number on the right (found above the Master Category that I have named “Checking” when I click on “Budget”) is the total of the subcategories in that Master Category (I knew that already), and that the number on the left (found below the transactions when I click on the account I have named “Checking” under “Budget Accounts”) is the total derived from the transactions in the register (I did not know that).

    The problem was how to track down my mistake, if the numbers indicated that I had made one.  Given that the numbers on the left and right were different in both of my most recent “Before Fresh Start” archived files, it seems the mistake might have been made some years ago, and that I only noticed it within the past few weeks.  In that I would like to know what I did wrong in order to avoid making the same mistake in the future, it bothers me that I have not been able to determine either what the mistake was or when I made it.  But it was easy to fix.  First, I made another “fresh start”, and then, as recommended, I followed suggestion 3 and transferred funds between accounts to make the account totals match the category totals.

    How to proceed in future has been a matter of deciding whether or not to fully follow the YNAB way - specifically, to give up “synchronizing” - as all of you recommended.  Before deciding, I watched all of the videos in the “Starting Your YNAB Budget” and “Using Your YNAB Budget” playlists at the YNAB YouTube channel.  As far as I can see, I already follow the YNAB way to some extent, except that I choose to synchronize.  Though not synchronizing has some appeal, I prefer to be exact.  I have been doing the “extra work” needed to synchronize for a long time, and I am content to continue to do so.  Having now answered my question and resolved my problem (that is, having now matched the numbers on both the left and the right in YNAB with the balances in my real-world bank accounts - perhaps for the very first time) I am hoping that I will be able to continue using YNAB in the way that is familiar to me without making further mistakes.

    Thank you all very much for your help!

    David ("zinatree")

    Like
      • Herman
      • herman
      • 2 wk ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Orange Device Glad you have come to a place you are happy with.  It's not really going to be possible to identify where you make a mistake on this in the future.  If you notice the numbers are different either 1) transfer money in your accounts to make them the same or 2) move money between categories to make them the same.  Option 2 runs the risk of conflicting with your priorities so if keeping them in synch is important to you, I recommend option 1.

      Like 1
  • Thank you, Herman, I appreciate your help!

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