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Account Setup


How do I set up a Budget Account?

To demonstrate how to set up a Budget Account, we’ll use a checking account as an example. These steps can be applied to any Budget Account.

Step 1: Set up your checking account.

Click on the Add Account button at the bottom of the sidebar to add your checking account.

A pop-up will appear asking for the information regarding this account.  Enter the name on the account, the starting balance, and the starting date. Then select checking from the account type drop-down menu.  If this is the first account you are setting up in YNAB, the account type will be checking by default.

To determine your starting balance log onto your account online and look at the closing balance the day before you start YNAB. Then make sure that enter any transactions that clear AFTER that balance.   Make sure you budget for them too!  It's a good idea to check daily for what clears during the first week just so you don't miss anything.

Step 2: The name of your new account has been added to the sidebar.

The new account name now appears in the sidebar under Budget Accounts. Next to the name of your account, you will see the working balance of your account.

Your new register for this account is now open in the main register window. At the bottom right of the register you will see the totals window. This shows your cleared balance, a total of uncleared transactions and your working balance.  Learn about cleared and uncleared transactions and reconciling.

Step 3: Learn how money is sent to the budget.

In your checking account, your starting balance transaction has been automatically categorized as Income for (the current month) so that the starting balance of this  account will be Available to Budget.

As you can see, Income for (the current month) was selected from the drop-down menu options in the Budget Category field.

One of the goals of YNAB is to stop living paycheck to paycheck by Living on Last Month's Income. This is Rule Four. Once you have arrived at Rule Four, you can defer your paychecks to the next month by entering them as Income for (the next month).  However, when you are first starting out, you'll most likely need your paychecks in the current month so you'll enter them as Income for (the current month).

Step 4: Move to the Budget.

Click on Budget in the sidebar. The $1250 initial transaction that was entered as Income for April appears in the budget header as money that's Available to Budget.

Learn how to set up Savings Accounts.

Learn how to set up Credit Card Accounts.

How do I set up an Off-Budget Account?

 

Off-Budget Liability Accounts include: Car Loan, Personal Loan, Mortgage, or any other account that you owe money to but do not track in your YNAB budget.

To set up an Off-Budget Liability Account:

Click on the Add Account button in the sidebar.

A pop-up will appear:

Complete the information requested for your account, including the starting balance and starting date.  There's no need to enter the balance as a negative number. YNAB makes that assumption based on what type of account you have chosen.

Other Credit, Mortgage, Other Loan or Liability will create an outflow transaction that is not categorized - therefore that amount will have no affect on the Budget. Remember, you are just setting up this account to track a balance.

If you need to make a payment to this type of account, you will need to enter a transfer transaction. Learn how to record transfers between accounts.

When you are finished, click Create Account. A new account has been created for you in the sidebar under Off-Budget Accounts. Since this account is Off-Budget and you are just tracking this account balance in YNAB, there won’t be a Budget Category column in your register. 

Off-Budget Asset Accounts include: Long Term Savings, Investment, Retirement, or any other asset account that is not tracked in the budget (but which you have in YNAB in order to track the balance).

YNAB does not track the performance or daily prices of investments. Only the balance, inflows, and outflows of the account are tracked. You can use the Adjust Working Balance feature if you would like to periodically adjust the values of these accounts.

To set up an Asset Account:

Click on the Add Account button in the sidebar.

A pop-up will appear. Complete the information requested for your account, including the starting balance and starting date. 

Investment Account, Other Asset (House, Car, etc.) will create an inflow transaction that is not categorized; therefore that amount will not be available to budget. You can use the Adjust Working Balance feature if you would like to periodically adjust the values of these accounts.

When you are finished, click Create Account. A new account has been created for you in the sidebar under Off-Budget Accounts. Since this account is Off-Budget and you are just tracking this account balance in YNAB, there won’t be a Budget Category column in your register. 

Learn how to handle Flexible Spending Accounts.