Making sense of the credit card payments category

Hello. I don't understand the credit card payments category at all, and the Discover line never reconciles cleanly for me. I don't know what number to put in the budgeted column to make this zero out. You'll see the Visa section in the photo zeroed out; since there are fewer charges I understand this (I started the year w/$382.46 in charges and I paid them this month.  Easy peasy.) But I can't don't remember how much Discover debt I started with and don't know what to put in the budget line. Can someone please help?

 

 

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  • Having a very similar problem.  I just started YNAB in January and still getting my head around it in general. My AmEx charging period spans over the course of two months and so I'm not sure how it's ever going to reconcile. I pay it off each month so maybe it will catch up eventually and I'll figure it out, but I am definitely confused right now.

    Reply Like
      • satcook
      • satcook
      • 2 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Lavender Motherboard when you started using YNAB you need to budget the amount of the starting balance to the credit card payments line for purchases made prior to using YNAB. Did you do that?

      Reply Like
    • Hi Lavender Motherboard !

      If you have an outstanding balance on a credit card when you set it up in YNAB, and you plan to pay that in full, you’ll need to budget for it in the Credit Card Payments category. That’s what lets the budget know you plan to take some of the money you have and use it to pay off that existing balance. Here’s a video explaining how this works. 

      If you aren’t able to budget for the full starting balance of your credit card and all of your current month's expenses, you might be riding the credit card float.

      I hope that helps! Let me know if you still have questions. I’m happy to help!

      Reply Like
  • You need to have $11,314 in the payment bubble if you intend to pay it in full. 

    Reply Like 1
  • Are you spending budgeted money on the card??

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  • Hi Gray Crab !

    The Available column is the amount of money reserved for your credit card payment. It includes:

    •  the amount left Available at the end of last month 
    • all of the budgeted-for purchases you've put on the card
    • anything you've added to the Budgeted column
    • minus any credit card payments which should be entered as transfers (outflows from your checking account and inflows to your CC account)

    Every time you make a purchase with your card, assuming that purchase was budgeted for, money from that category will be moved to the credit card payments category. You only need to budget there directly if you are "catching up" on paying down other debt on your card (like your Starting Balance or credit card overspending from previous months).

    Here are the two best resources to help you understand how the Credit Card Payment category works:

    Let me know if you still have questions! I'm happy to help!

    Reply Like 1
  • Totally honestly? I have watched the videos, I have read the forums, I have futzed and shifted and examined and discussed, and the bottom line is that the way YNAB now handles credit cards MAKES NO SENSE AT ALL to me. I simply CAN.NOT wrap my head around it and make the numbers work for more than a single static moment in time.

    The second I make a charge or a payment, all of my carefully categorized budget items shift around and numbers that I don't want show up where I don't want them, and it is SO INCREDIBLY FRUSTRATING that it means I almost never open YNAB anymore, because I feel like I can't trust any of the numbers. 

    Which obviously defeats the entire purpose of the program.

    Yes, I understand *in theory* what is happening, but it simply does NOT make sense to me IN PRACTICE.

    I budget $X for my credit card payment.

    In the meantime, I charge $Y on the credit card. That amount has not yet shown up on a statement, so I am NOT GOING TO PAY IT THIS MONTH.

    But now my $X that I have budgeted to pay the card in full is wrong, and I have multiple "orange" balance areas, NONE OF WHICH ARE useful, because they are "warning" me of a problem that does not exist.

    Apparently now YNAB wants me to pay my credit card the second I charge something on it, instead of waiting until the bill arrives and paying it in full.

    Which (have I said this already?) MAKES NO SENSE.

    Sorry. I have strong feelings about this.

    Reply Like
      • WordTenor
      • Your lieutenant, when there's reckoning to be reckoned.
      • WordTenor
      • 2 mths ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      Melissa If you have orange, then you have not budgeted for those items. That is what the budget is telling you. 


      You only need to budget $X for your credit card payment when you are paying for credit card charges which have not otherwise been budgeted for. This occurs in two ways: 

      1. Any balance on the card when you begin using YNAB (you couldn't have budgeted for those charges because you didn't have a budget yet) 

      2. Any overspending from a prior month which you did not address in that month. 

      Beyond that, any budgeted spending you do on the card will be automatically handled. In other words, unless you are paying down an existing balance on a card, budgeting to the card category should be rare--the card category will generate based on what you are doing in the other categories.  When you spend $50 on groceries, $50 will be moved from the job "buy groceries" to the job "pay the credit card company back for the groceries I bought." The caveat here is that you can't move money you don't have. So if you have set aside $35 for buying groceries but then buy $50 of groceries, only $35 can move. This produces that orange overspending. You fix it not by budgeting to the card, but by budgeting more money to groceries. 

      When you go to pay the card, it doesn't matter how much you pay--what matters is that YNAB has set aside at least that amount. For most users who are in "paid in full" status, but who pay the statement balance once per month, at the time of payment, YNAB will have set aside somewhere in the neighborhood of two months' worth of spending: everything that is due on the statement, PLUS all the spending that that has happened between the end of the statement and the payment date. For instance, the next payment due on my card is about $3,000 to cover spending I did in December, but I have $6,000 in my credit card payment category because I spent another $3000 in January. I will pay the card company $3000, and my available balance for my card payment will drop to $3000, but it will be back up at at $6000 by the time I pay the card again. 

      tl;dr--fix overspending when it happens, and pay no more than the amount YNAB says is available to pay your card. If your card balance is more than what YNAB says is available, you have had overspending/non-budgeted spending somewhere, and you fix that by fixing the categories themselves. It is only if you have purposefully left overspending* that you should ever need to budget back to a paid in full card. 

      *there are a few caveats to this based on a few weird transaction types, but based on your descriptions here and in other threads, you aren't running into those problems. 

      Reply Like 2
    • Hi Melissa !

      I'm sorry you're frustrated! It sounds like maybe taking a look at your budget might be a good next step? That way, we can work with what you're seeing.

      If you’d like, you can enable Support Access for your account, which will allow me to check out your budget. Let me know if you decide to do so—and the name of the budget/card to look at—and I’ll help you get to the bottom of what’s happening!

      Reply Like 1
      • Sirena
      • hillgirl
      • 2 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Nicole at YNAB  I am having the same struggles! Could I get some help too please? 

      Reply Like
    • Hi Sirena !

      I'm happy to help. Can you tell me a little more about what you're having trouble with?

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    • Nicole at YNAB  I am very confused and took some look at videos , etc.... can you please help me out... my credit card is RED and when I put a new transaction in my budget the number goes UP and not down... I can't figure out if I even owe anymore on it...and want to trust my budget...but I m messed...

      Reply Like
      • satcook
      • satcook
      • 2 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Tomato Drill is your credit card showing a positive balance in the accounts list??

      Reply Like
      • Sirena
      • hillgirl
      • 2 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Nicole at YNAB  I am paying off my credit cards each month but then why each month is my cc in the red? 

      Reply Like
      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 2 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Sirena When you PIF, your CC balance and CC payment category should be equal at all times (unless you have a credit balance on the card), with the payment category being a positive number. Here are all the reasons it can get out of whack.

      • starting balance on a paid-in-full card not explicitly budgeted to pay off - 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
      Reply Like 1
    • Melissa dear Melissa ... I feel your pain..and I don't get it either... but maybe we are both getting closer to understandin.

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  • I know my credit card is pretty much paid up in FULL  with the exception of a couple of things I put on it... There is alot of goals I have set up in my budget that are targets for things in the future that I don't always have money for..... so I leave those...so perhaps that is why it's showing such a large deficit!!! 

    I just want to be able to trust my budget .... and know what I look at to be true.. and really just learning ... I restarted my budget 4 times each time learning more.... but I'd actually like to figure this stuff out so I could actually get some real long time data to know what is happening..UGH 

    Reply Like
    • Tomato Drill That deficit will only appear when you make a payment for more than what is available in your credit card category. For instance, if there is $50 Available in your credit card category but you make a $75 payment, then that category will be overspent by $25. 

      If there's $25 worth of credit overspending in the current month, budgeting to cover that overspending will move the funds to the credit card category to cover it there as well. If there's not overspending in the current month, that difference was most likely caused by overspending in a previous month, not budgeting for a starting balance or a return. When that happens, you can budget the $25 directly towards the credit card category to cover the difference.

      Does that help explain things?

      Reply Like
    • Faness no i get that part... thats not it...

      Reply Like
    • Hi Tomato Drill !

      We'll figure it out! Do you see orange credit overspending in your budget in current or previous months? Here’s an article that covers the meaning of each color and icon

      Whenever you make a purchase with a credit card, money you budgeted for that purchase will move to your credit card payments category. There are three potential reasons why you might not be seeing that:

      • You haven't budgeted for the purchase, or budgeted fully for it.  (orange overspending)
      • Your credit card has a positive balance. 
      • Your credit card account is not set up as a credit card. When you created the account, was a category automatically created in the Credit Card Payments Group? If not, you've got the wrong type.

      Let me know if any of those sound like the case!

      Reply Like
  • I've signed up for the credit card workshop. Again. I've gone around and around with this through three trials now, and frankly, it just does not make sense. I THINK it makes sense, but then I have to do some freaking calculus equation every time I try to do my budget, and the end result thus far EVERY TIME has been that I use YNAB as a transaction tracking tool instead of a budgeting tool, BECAUSE I CANNOT FIGURE OUT THIS CREDIT CARD THING.

    Despite my advanced degrees and decades of accounting experience, I can't make this work for more than a brief snapshot in time. As soon as I make another purchase on a credit card or make a payment, the numbers go cuhrayzeee again.
     

    Reply Like
    • Melissa   OMG.... I am soooooo glad I am NOT alone!!!  thanks for being honest and frank about where you are at... I don't have any accounting experience...and really want to use YNAB to its fullest potiental....but I just get so messed up with the credit card part and trying to make it fit into the budget and how to even incorporate it into the system. My goal is to pay it off each month...some months that cant happen...I don't have the luxury of paying it off from other categories..just being real.... so then the next month rolls over and makes it look like a clean slate.... when I know I have debt from the previous month on the credit card!! UGH,,,, 

      Reply Like
    • Melissa  Tomato Drill 

      If you need a little 1 on 1, to sort things out and get you comfortable with credit cards—we're always here to help! You can reach out to us via email, at help@ynab.com or live chat in the web app or mobile app.

      In the web app, click the question mark near the bottom right of your budget, select Send a Message, and you'll see the option to chat if a member of our Support team is available. If you're on our mobile app, tap the Help icon on the bottom right, then scroll down and tap Chat with Us.

      Reply Like 2
      • satcook
      • satcook
      • 2 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Tomato Drill You can only send the amount in the available bubble to the credit card.  If it says $0 then you need to budget to that section.

      Reply Like
    • Nicole at YNAB thanks  so far no luck with emailing...as written word is my worst form of communication and interaction... 

      Reply Like
    • Tomato Drill will try the almost live chat on the app

      Reply Like
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