Question about amazon gift card balance
New YNAB user. I have a couple hundred dollars on my amazon gift card balance. This is money that can be spent on a wide range of things (so I don't just want to put it in one category, like I would for a starbucks giftcard) but it obviously can't be spent on other things (eg., rent) so I don't want to treat it like cash in YNAB. I want my purchases to reflect the category I spend them on (eg., if I buy clothes on amazon, I want to account for that in my clothes category). What's the best way to deal with this?
If the amount in question is a small portion of total on-budget cash, the fact it's not really cash can be ignored. Make an account for that money and budget it as you see fit anymore in the budget. It is fungible enough.
(This practice would only be an issue if you spent the entirety of your real cash, leaving the Amazon money to pay the mortgage.)
The alternative is to maintain that hard line between gift card and real cash and leave it out of YNAB entirely. GC purchases are off the books.
Some people attempt to put those funds on budget and synchronize a category to that balance. I think this is the worst option as it is identical to my first suggestion once you've reallocated for a purchase, but requires additional effort to maintain synchronization up until then. Either treat it as cash or don't.
Move Light Sound Life said:
We have a non-fungible GC category that holds money on cards to places we rarely frequent
As far as a middle ground, I'd do this with a tracking account to use as a reminder of what's outstanding. A budgeted purchase with one of these cards is simply a $0 split transaction, outflowing against the spending category and inflowing as TBB.
I mean if treating this amount as fungible it's problematic, I would use an approach that effectively prevents it from accidentally entering the budget. A synchronized category is one Quick-Budget press away from trouble.
I treat my gift cards entirely like cash. I have a single gift card account and it has I 3 different gift cards in it now - Target, Amazon, and Costco. The total is about $200 which is 0.22% of my cash on hand in my budget so it doesn't matter if I allocate a $25 Home Depot gift card to Clothing. I bought the Target gift cards so there wasn't too much to budget, except that I got them on sale so most of it was a transfer from the credit card account to the gift card account plus the $20 in "income" that I got for buying them at a 10% discount (paid $180 for $200 worth of gift cards). That $20 probably got allocated to my sister's wedding category.
I created an unlinked checking-type account for my Amazon gift card; because it's refillable, I reload it from one of my other accounts (Transfer from that account to the Amazon account) and then when I make a purchase on Amazon, I spend and categorize it as usual. (As a bonus, thanks to my Amazon Prime membership, when I reload my Amazon gift card directly from a checking account, an additional 2% gets added to the balance.)