Balancing what’s in the budget with what’s in the account

Hi - so I’ve been struggling with YNAB for a while. I THINK that if I add up all the “green” in the budget, it should match what’s in my bank account, right? I gave every dollar a job but there’s still a $500+ difference between what’s in the account and what’s in the budget (it looks like there’s more in the budget). What’s up?

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  • You actually have to include red categories as well, as they indicate that money is missing from green categories (which is why you're supposed to fix that ASAP, ideally reallocating even before the purchase).

    If you have other accounts on-budget, any cash-based ones need to be included in the "account" total. (A positive credit card account is considered cash as well since it doesn't need to be paid back.)

    YNAB ensures the money in the budget matches the cash on hand at all times. The easiest way to prove this to yourself is to scroll to the future-most month that you can. In that month and assuming To Be Budgeted is $0 (Rule 1, right!), then Total Available (shown on the right) will equal the combined cash in all budget accounts.

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    • dakinemaui Thanks, but I don’t have any red categories. That’s why I’m confused - it doesn’t make sense that the numbers don’t match. TBH I find YNAB to be pretty unintuitive in general. Sigh. 

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    • Forest Green Mermaid Focus on these questions, and we should be able to explain it to you:

      1. Does every account balance in YNAB match the corresponding balance in the real world?
      2. How many accounts to you have on-budget?
      3. How many of those accounts have an associated category under the Credit Card Payments group?
      4. How many of those credit accounts (those in #2) have a positive account balance in YNAB?
      5. Is TBB $0 in the future-most budget area that you can scroll to?
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      • Herman
      • herman
      • 2 wk ago
      • Reported - view

      Forest Green Mermaid Do your credit card balances match the available amount in the credit card payment category?  (Opposite sign)

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      • Fifedawg
      • $$ Stress Free Spending
      • Fifedawg
      • 2 wk ago
      • Reported - view

      Herman - not they didn't. that was the root issue. had more money in the category than on the balance, due to refunds this month on the card. 

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

      Fifedawg I follow the following steps to do a quick overall validation that my budget is in balance.

      1) move to the last month available.  For me this is usually the month after next because I only budget 1 month ahead.( Right now this is August)

      2) Confirm credit card payment category matches balance in credit card account. 

      3) select all categories then deselect just the cc payment category.

      4)Compare total available on right hand side with the total of on budget accounts displayed on left side. 

       

      This is after reconciling accounts, making sure tbb is 0, no overspending etc.  I don't include those in the above steps because those are just part of my everyday budgeting activity.

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    • Herman Thanks for responding - I don't have any credit cards linked. 

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      • satcook
      • satcook
      • 2 wk ago
      • Reported - view

      Forest Green Mermaid but do you have credit cards in your budget?  Linked or unlinked, the question still applies 

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

      Forest Green Mermaid the steps i posted above should still work.

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  • I'm running into this issue now, how timely. To dakinemaui  point these are my answers:

    1. Yes, I've just reconciled them this week.
    2. 6 accounts
    3. 3 accounts are Credit cards
    4. 0 credit cards have a positive account balance
    5. TBB, to be budgeted, is zero for the future, however I do have $600 in next month for mortgage. 
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  • To Dak's point, the future budgeted money threw me off. I'm at least $600 closer for but still missing $37.64 somewhere. So that makes me feel a little better. Would TBB in the past effect these numbers?

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      • WordTenor
      • I have the honor to be your obedient servant
      • WordTenor
      • 2 wk ago
      • Reported - view

      Fifedawg In next month, the “total available” + the TBB should equal the sum of all your non-credit card accounts. 

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    • Fifedawg Past month's TBBs don't matter. Past month's overspending doesn't matter. That's one of the reasons to scroll forward to make sense of things. The explanation is just easier. Once you understand things agree in the future-most budget area, we can back off, adding complexity to the explanation until we get to the current budget area.

      In that future-most month's budget (I would guess August), compare Total Available (shown on the right) to the sum of all positive on-budget accounts. They should agree.

      Like 1
      • Fifedawg
      • $$ Stress Free Spending
      • Fifedawg
      • 2 wk ago
      • Reported - view

      WordTenor - Hum... Yeah that's what's off.  My next months, July Amounts, let's call it 732.43 and the amount on the left (Budget) let's say it's 694.79. Therefore, the total amounts in my budget is higher than the total in my bank accounts. So what could be wrong?

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      • Fifedawg
      • $$ Stress Free Spending
      • Fifedawg
      • 2 wk ago
      • Reported - view

      dakinemaui - No amounts are in August. 

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      • WordTenor
      • I have the honor to be your obedient servant
      • WordTenor
      • 2 wk ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Fifedawg “Budget” includes your credit cards. Make sure you are only looking at checking and savings and cash. 

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    • Fifedawg said:
      My next months, July Amounts, let's call it 732.43

       You're looking at the Total Available shown on the right side of the screen, right?

       

      Fifedawg said:
      the amount on the left (Budget) let's say it's 694.79.

      That total next to "Budget" in the account area includes credit cards. You cannot use that number if you have any CCs. Add things up yourself.

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  • Forest Green Mermaid said:
    I find YNAB to be pretty unintuitive in general.

    Once it clicks, you'll wonder how you were ever confused. Imagine you have all your money withdrawn from all your accounts sitting in a pile in the center of a table. You also have various paper envelopes sitting elsewhere on the table. One is labeled Groceries, one is labeled Gas, one is labeled Rent, etc. Now you know your Rent is $1500, so you take $1500 out of the center pile and put it into the Rent envelope. You expect to spend $300 in Groceries before being paid again, so you take $300 out of the center pile and put it in the Grocery envelope. Etc.

    Your grandparents (great-grandparents?) may have done this exact process before computers were invented. YNAB is simply the electronic equivalent. That center section of the table is the "To Be Budgeted" pile. The envelopes have turned into "categories". Everything else is the same.

    Even Credit Cards work the same way. One of the envelopes is labeled Credit Card Payment. When you buy $100 groceries on a card, you incur debt but also still have the cash in the Grocery envelope. Planning ahead, you would therefore take $100 out of the Grocery envelope and put it into the Credit Card Payment envelope. When you get that CC bill, it's no big deal -- you would just give them the cash in that envelope.

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      • Fifedawg
      • $$ Stress Free Spending
      • Fifedawg
      • 2 wk ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      dakinemaui - I 1000% percent agree. This is the way I've talked to others about YNAB about the concept. What I used to do and I'm assuming others have this as well, even my friends I'm trying to mentor in this area, is they have several different accounts. Just the other day the TBB amount was $1200, but their checking account only had $900 in it. So they where like Whaaaaa, how can we have TBB money that is more than what I have in my checking account?  The answer is because the other accounts which they are using like a category (money for mortgage, truck payments, insurance) had more money in those accounts than what the expected payments were going to be. Therefore the extra money in the TBB was allocated in those accounts.

      Like 1
    • Fifedawg Yep, and looking at it from the other direction helps, too. They don't seem to have an issue when TBB is $0, but that hopefully doesn't match their checking account either. The takeaway is that TBB is not even supposed to match the checking account balance. The budget is the plan for ALL your cash.

      Like 1
      • Fifedawg
      • $$ Stress Free Spending
      • Fifedawg
      • 2 wk ago
      • Reported - view

      dakinemaui - Agreed, TBB, should not match checking account. That is only the money you need to put to work.

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  • Fifedawg said:
    No amounts are in August.

    Not sure what you mean. If you have mortgage funds budgeted in July's area, you should be able to scroll one more month forward to August. All money that's currently available carries forward and will be part of the Total Available in the August's budget area.

    August TBB + August Total Available = sum of positive account balances

    Like 1
  • Oh, I was saying I had not budgeted anything in Aug. The Available amounts in Aug are the same as in July. So the numbers are the same.

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    • Fifedawg And Total Available in either month should match cash on hand (assuming TBB is $0). Does it?

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      • Fifedawg
      • $$ Stress Free Spending
      • Fifedawg
      • 2 wk ago
      • Reported - view

      dakinemaui - Yes TBB is 0

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    • Fifedawg And Total Available?

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      • Fifedawg
      • $$ Stress Free Spending
      • Fifedawg
      • 2 wk ago
      • Reported - view

      dakinemaui - thanks for the help, but I think I'll need to ask support to really help with looking at the numbers. I may have to go back and re-reconcile. it's close from what you've shown me but still want to figure this out.

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    • Fifedawg It looks like you wrote in earlier today, and I wanted to double check if this was resolved—or separate. These steps can help compare the cash in your accounts to the money in your budget. You can ping (@) me, and I'll dive in.

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      • Fifedawg
      • $$ Stress Free Spending
      • Fifedawg
      • 2 wk ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Nicole - Yes I talked to support the issue was refunds on my credit card after I paid the full amount of. So all I had to do was move some of the money in my 'to pay credit card' envelope back to be budgeted and all was right in the world again. 

      Like 1
    • Nicole Thanks for your response - I was the OP. I still have no idea what's going on. (Perhaps I should mention that I got panic attacks when I took accounting and that's probably part of it.) I've had YNAB for quite a while and I REALLY wish it would click..

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    • Forest Green Mermaid Sent you an email! We'll get it sorted. 😄

      Like 1
  • Fifedawg said:
    had more money in the category than on the balance, due to refunds this month on the card.

    Refunds should be categorized back to the same category as the outflow. Categorizing as TBB will definitely throw things off. Unfortunately, a refund that takes the account positive will also throw things off, even when correctly categorized to that same spending category, requiring you to adjust the Payment category.

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