Multiple credit payments per month, how to keep track and not spend twice?

I'm paid weekly and budget weekly (budget only what I have). I also have a credit card debt that I'm trying to get rid of, which I would also like to contribute to on a weekly basis. This debt was incurred post my start with YNAB, so I don't have a pre-YNAB debt category. I do have pretty much the same thing though. I have a category called 'Credit Payments' which has a negative balance set to roll into the next month's category. I use this category to budget payments in the exact same way as the pre-YNAB debt category, only it's named differently.

The problem is that my credit card is an on budget account (I still use it to pay for things) and therefor payments are not registered as outflow, only transfers. This leaves me with the problem of my budget showing that I can still move money out of the payments category to somewhere else and subsequently spend it. But in reality, it's gone, as a payment back to my bank - at least this is how I'd really like to treat it.

I've read all the support articles and watched the videos, but nowhere could I see any mention of handling more than one payment per month. Of course, I could just budget into the category and wait till the end of the month to pay it, but I don't want to do this for two reasons. The main reason is that if I have the money, there's a chance I'll spend it on something unnecessary. The second reason is that by paying earlier I can potentially save a few bucks on interest.

Any tips or tricks you guys are using for this?

Comments

  • pebblepebble Posts: 700Member
    I noticed the same thing, and found it a bit tricky.
    My solution was to use the note section in the budget column to note something like:
    "$75 paid 2/10/13"

    I'm saying WAS because the card now has a $0 balance. It's a lovely sight!!
  • bivhitscarbivhitscar Posts: 47Member
    Oh yeah, that's not too bad actually, because at least it gives me a visual cue before moving anything. Thanks.

    And well done on clearing that debt!
  • JoelJoel Posts: 9,528Member, Beta Tester, Beta Moderator
    Budget as much as you can to the negative category with each paycheck received. Then make the payment necessary to get your working balance to match the category balance. Rinse and repeat with each paycheck.
  • bivhitscarbivhitscar Posts: 47Member
    Joel said:
    Budget as much as you can to the negative category with each paycheck received.

    This, I do.


    Joel said:
    Then make the payment necessary to get your working balance to match the category balance. Rinse and repeat with each paycheck.

    This is where you lose me. I make the payment as soon as I've determined I've properly budgeted my current paycheck. But there's nothing in the budget that tells me the $162.01 I just paid to my credit card is no longer available to budget. Can you expand on your comment for me?
  • Lees75Lees75 Posts: 97Member
    If you have budgetted the $162.01 in the credit card payments sub category, it is already not available to budget:)
    Joel
  • bivhitscarbivhitscar Posts: 47Member
    Lees75 said:
    If you have budgetted the $162.01 in the credit card payments sub category, it is already not available to budget:)

    From what I understand about YNAB, this isn't completely correct. The methodology behind YNAB is that you can roll with the punches. For instance, if I overspend in petrol, then I can move from another category that's in surplus. If I haven't yet made the payment, then the budgeted amount in the credit payment category is available to use elsewhere. If I have made the payment, then it isn't available - but there's nothing to tell me this is the case. So far, using the notes seems to be the best way.
  • bivhitscarbivhitscar Posts: 47Member
    edited October 2013
    The only other thing I can think of is creating another subcategory called 'credit pool' or something and use that as my 'working' budget and then only put in actual payments to the credit category. It's just a bit messy.

    [EDIT]
    I've decided I actually prefer the second subcategory idea. It's clearer than the notes in that I can now separate my 'available' money (in the pool) and my unavailable (in the payment subcategory that's in the red). It also means I can defer payments if need be. Thanks for the input everyone. :)
    Post edited by bivhitscar on
  • JoelJoel Posts: 9,528Member, Beta Tester, Beta Moderator
    As soon as you budget the money, enter the payment and then the money is considered gone. If you need to borrow more money and further increase your debt you subtract money from that category to increase the balance.

    I think you are making this more complicated then it needs to be. You also may be too aggressive in paying down the debt since you are turning right around and borrowing more frequently.

    You could alternatively just true up your credit card balance and debt category balance once a month at the end of the month instead of making weekly payments. That might be easier.
  • bivhitscarbivhitscar Posts: 47Member
    The two options you've mentioned are definitely sound. Either budget an amount and pay immediately, or budget an amount, adjust during the month and then pay at the end.

    It's just that I want something in the middle. I want to budget now but not necessarily pay immediately (nor wait till month end), because as you rightly pointed out, I am being very aggressive in the payments. I have a very strong aversion to paying banks any more than is absolutely necessary...

    And when I say I use the credit card to make payments - these are always budgeted for with 'real' money and paid off immediately. So I'm not going up and down on the balance, only down.
  • JoelJoel Posts: 9,528Member, Beta Tester, Beta Moderator
    With that said, I would pay as much as your account can allow to the credit card. The balance of that credit card can actually be less than what is in preynab debt category. It works fine if you use another credit card for purchases and always pay it in full. Which I would highly recommend if you want to stop paying a bank unnecessary interest.
  • pebblepebble Posts: 700Member
    Lees75 said:
    If you have budgetted the $162.01 in the credit card payments sub category, it is already not available to budget:)
    But, if you look at this category just the same as all the others you can't SEE that it's not available - in fact it is still available if you consider credit $$ to be dollars that are available to spend, instead of seeing them as a debt.

    As an example - I just paid my water bill. I can see $100 in the budgeted column and I can see $100 in the 
    outflows column.  The balance column shows $0.
    If I budget and transfer $100 to my mastercard, then the outflows column shows nothing and the balance shows $100.  It just looks like another "envelope" full of money which could be used to help out another category that is running short.

    I think what this means, in practice, is that you have to have a pretty good mental map of which categories are available to WAM and which aren't, and as a newbie that's quite a learning curve.  I've been using the notes for categories and for individual payments quite a lot to help out with this.

  • BudgetTreeBudgetTree Posts: 929Member
    edited October 2013

    @bivhitscar

    Ok.  I'll take a stab at this.  I think this little method will work perfectly for you and is very easy and I think works exactly the way you want.

    Assuming you have set up your credit card as a charge account and it is in the list of accounts, but it is a negative with red numbers, and assuming you have set up a Master Category for your Charge Card with a Sub-category for your Non-Budgeted Debt (or something similar in meaning for names).

    When you make the payment, do NOT chose the "Make a Transfer" option.  Instead, choose "Add a New Transaction".  Then do a split transaction and, on the first line of the split detail (actually the second line because the first is the total of all the splits), choose both the transfer AND the category in the same line item.  I have done that and it works just perfectly.  It does ALL of the following:  It reduces your credit card account balance, shows up in the outflow of your Sub-category for your credit card, and reduces the Budget Balance by the amount of the payment, thus removing the budgeted amount from the available to budget.  So, if you try to move the budgeted amount, then it will show red, I believe.

    Another thing you might want to do is to immediately enter the split transaction into your register, whether you paid it or not, and put a flag on it to remind yourself to pay it if you haven't already.  Then, that money is removed from your accounts, and your budget immediately, helping you to see that the money is already used and/or spoken for and can't be changed.  Of course, you can change it and add more money to it if you haven't actually sent it, but this can help you psychologically to see it gone.

    I think that is exactly what you are needing.  Correct?

    Post edited by BudgetTree on
    arthaey
  • JoelJoel Posts: 9,528Member, Beta Tester, Beta Moderator
    @budgettree - I'm confused, are you suggesting recording a split with one line being the transfer for the full amount and another being the category for no amount? Just so that the outflow field has an indicator?

    How would that solve his issue of not knowing which payment in the month has been made?
  • BudgetTreeBudgetTree Posts: 929Member
    edited October 2013

    @Joel     

    No, that is not what I'm suggesting.  I am saying that BOTH the transfer AND the category are on the SAME line with the amount of the payment.

    You can't do this if you choose "Transfer" because a transfer doesn't show a field for categories.  And, you can't do this if you choose a regular new transaction because it won't give you a field for a transfer.  But, you CAN do this if you do a new transaction AND make it a split.  In the very first top line, you have to use the category field to say split-transaction.  In that same line, you can enter the amount of the payment.  Then, on the second line (which is actually the first line of the splits), you first have a field for the transfer, then a field for a category, then a memo, and finally the outflow or inflow fields.  On the very same line, you choose BOTH the account to transfer to AND the category for the money to come out of.  Then, you AGAIN, enter the total amount of the payment on that split line in the outflow field. 

    As an aside, in my opinion, YNAB makes choosing between transfers and transactions clumsy and frustrating.  I am constantly making the wrong choice for reasons too numerous to count.  And, I think having to hit a button at all to begin a transaction is strange.  Coming from Quicken, I did not have to make that choice before I started a transaction.  I just clicked on any field and started.  In fact, as soon as you click on the account, the cursor is in the date field ready to being.  Not so in YNAB.  And, doing splits transactions was much easier in Q.  BUT, in YNAB, at least you CAN do both a transfer AND a category on the same line, which is really nice and important.  I couldn't do that in Quicken, which caused me many other headaches.  So, if I have to pick between fast, clean, and easy and being able to do what I need to do, I pick YNAB.

    Post edited by BudgetTree on
  • bivhitscarbivhitscar Posts: 47Member
    That's some ingenious thinking, but unfortunately it isn't working.

    If I choose a split transaction with only a single 'split' as you have described, YNAB just converts it to a standard transaction and doesn't deduct the amount from the credit account. If I try to be clever and divide the amount in two, and create two splits, then it complains about giving an on budget transfer a category.
  • BudgetTreeBudgetTree Posts: 929Member
    edited October 2013

    @bivhitscar           

    Hmmmm.  I'm very confused because I have done it and just did it again to prove it to myself. 

    Do you have the latest version of YNAB?

    And, are you starting the transaction from the account where the money is coming from - the bank account?

    Post edited by BudgetTree on
  • RodeoClownRodeoClown Posts: 3,831Member, Moderator, Administrator, YNAB Team, Beta Tester, Beta Moderator
    Transfers are just normal transactions with the payee set as "Transfer:Other account", you can still add a category just fine, although YNAB will show there is an error if you try and add a category to an on-budget to on-budget transfer (because adding a category tells YNAB money has left the budget, and on-budget transferring does not result in any money leaving the budget).
    Joel
  • BudgetTreeBudgetTree Posts: 929Member
    edited October 2013

    Here is an actual transaction in my accounts, as best as I can type it up.  I am using YNAB4.

    I have an off-budget mortgage liability.

    I started in my checking account.

    I started a new transaction which looks like this:

    Date             Payee                                  Category                                 Memo     Outflow   Inflow

    09/03/13      Mortgage Company             Split (Multiple Categories)                       $600

                        Transfer:  Loan Liab Acct       Home: Loan Principal                             $400

                                                                      Home: Loan Interest                              $200

                                                                                      Amount Remaining to Assign     $0        $0

    This transaction correctly lowered my mortgage liability and showed an outflow in both the principal and interest categories that I set up.  I have also done this using only the Principal category until I found out how much interest was paid, and then later added the split for the interest.  I have also done exactly the same thing with the vehicle loan I just paid off.

    Does this help?

    Post edited by BudgetTree on
  • bivhitscarbivhitscar Posts: 47Member
    Is your Loan Liab Acct on or off budget?
  • bivhitscarbivhitscar Posts: 47Member
    ...(because adding a category tells YNAB money has left the budget, and on-budget transferring does not result in any money leaving the budget).

    I guess this is still my sticking point. In my eyes, making a payment to reduce a credit card debt does count as money leaving my budget. For instance, if I just made the credit account off budget - everything would work. But I still use the credit card for things (internet purchases etc) - which I pay off straight away - but that then means it's an on-budget account. 

    I can see exactly why on budget account transfers are treated the way they are, it would just be cool if it was possible to do what I'm doing a bit easier.
  • BudgetTreeBudgetTree Posts: 929Member
    Yes, both my liability accounts were off-budget. If this split transaction makes it easier for you, then maybe getting a different credit card for on-budget expenditures would be helpful and making the one that you are paying off an off-budget account.  This would also make it very clear what is debt and what are on-budget expenses.
  • JoelJoel Posts: 9,528Member, Beta Tester, Beta Moderator
    I would recommend having one card that is paid in full that you can use for budgeted purchases and keep that on budget. Have all debts that you are trying to pay down as off budget, and don't use them for purchases.

    The ultimate solution is to eliminate the overspent debt category. Because then ynab doesn't care when you pay off the card, it's just moving money from one pocket to another.
    OscarBluth
  • Turf_HackerTurf_Hacker Posts: 5,257Member, Moderator, YNAB Team, Beta Tester
    ...(because adding a category tells YNAB money has left the budget, and on-budget transferring does not result in any money leaving the budget).

    I guess this is still my sticking point. In my eyes, making a payment to reduce a credit card debt does count as money leaving my budget. For instance, if I just made the credit account off budget - everything would work. But I still use the credit card for things (internet purchases etc) - which I pay off straight away - but that then means it's an on-budget account. 

    I can see exactly why on budget account transfers are treated the way they are, it would just be cool if it was possible to do what I'm doing a bit easier.


    @bivhitscar - Your credit card debt is displayed to you in your budget as your Pre-YNAB Debt category balance. When you first create the CC account, the Pre-YNAB Debt category balance represents all the money you spent on the card before starting YNAB (minus any past payments). In order to "pay" for this old spending in your budget, you budget to the Pre-YNAB Debt category. You don't categorize the transfer for the actual payment because the budget already knows about this spending (recorded as Pre-YNAB Debt at the time of account creation). If you categorized this payment, you would be removing this money from your budget twice.

    For the question you posed in the original post, there's no solid barrier in YNAB to prevent you moving the money you've already budget to Pre-YNAB Debt. You will need to be the barrier and declare (to yourself) that the money in this category is strictly off limits when adjusting the budget for overspending.

  • ErinL79ErinL79 Posts: 204Member, Beta Tester
    pebble said:
    Lees75 said:
    If you have budgetted the $162.01 in the credit card payments sub category, it is already not available to budget:)
    But, if you look at this category just the same as all the others you can't SEE that it's not available - in fact it is still available if you consider credit $$ to be dollars that are available to spend, instead of seeing them as a debt.

    As an example - I just paid my water bill. I can see $100 in the budgeted column and I can see $100 in the 
    outflows column.  The balance column shows $0.
    If I budget and transfer $100 to my mastercard, then the outflows column shows nothing and the balance shows $100.  It just looks like another "envelope" full of money which could be used to help out another category that is running short.

    I think what this means, in practice, is that you have to have a pretty good mental map of which categories are available to WAM and which aren't, and as a newbie that's quite a learning curve.  I've been using the notes for categories and for individual payments quite a lot to help out with this.

    This seems to contradict your first post, in which you say you have a debt category with a negative balance that rolls over from month to month, to which you are budgeting the amount you pay towards the card.  That's the right way to do it.  The money doesn't need to leave your budget again, because it's already represented by that negative number.  When you pay down the balance, budget the money you transferred, to the debt category with the negative balance.  The balance will less negative, until it hits 0, at which point you can hide it.  If you need to WAM, look at the "balance" column to see how much money you have available to move.  The cell in the "balance" column for that debt category will be negative, which is your sign that you can't take money from it.  
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