Entering Spending

Categorization and Spending

When you record spending, you’re creating a record of what happened in the real world, and letting the budget know about the spending. The first step is to create a matching record of what happened.  Enter the spending in the appropriate account.

  • If you used your checking account debit card, record it there.
  • Did you hand over the visa credit card? Record it in the visa account.
  • Did you receive a gift card at a big box store?  Add that account,  budget those dollars wherever you want and when you use that card, record the spending in that account.

The second part is to make sure the budget knows about the outflow by categorizing the spending. Categorization is how we remove money from the budget.  Let's take a closer look.

How do I record spending?

Step 1: Make sure you budget for the spending first!

Click on Budget in the sidebar to move to the Budget. Budget for the category you will be spending from.

Always make sure you have money Available to Budget before assigning amounts to categories.

Step 2: Go the account where you will be entering the transaction.

In the sidebar, select the account where you made the payment from.

You can also enter a transaction from the ALL ACCOUNTS view.  Make sure you select an account in the account column to the left of the date field.

Step 3: Enter the Date and the Payee.

Click in the Date field to enter the date, or click on the drop-down arrow to activate the pop-up calendar. Then, in the Payee field, enter the name of the person, place, or company who received the payment.

Step 4: Categorize the transaction.

Select the category that you’re assigning to the transaction. This will reduce the balance of that Category by the amount of your transaction. (Make sure you’re using those category balances to make spending decisions!)

Remember, the categories that appear in the register were created from the list you customized in the Budget. Register Categories match Budget Categories.

Step 5: Enter the amount of the outflow.

In the Outflow field, enter the amount you spent.

Step 6: See how the transaction affected the Budget.

YNAB has recorded the outflow for you in the Budget. Always keep an eye on how much you budgeted in a category, how much you spent in a category, and on the Category Balance.

Is there a calculator?

You can find a calculator in the Inflow and Outflow fields in the account register, which is activated by clicking the small calculator icon or by using any of the arithmetic keys on your keyboard (+ - * /). You can also access a calculator from any cell in the Budgeted column on the Budget. To activate the calculator, click in the cell in the Budgeted column where you would like to use the calculator and a drop-down arrow will appear. Click on it and select “Show Calculator” from the choices. The amount already in the cell will appear in the calculator. Once you have finished your calculations, click OK. The new number now appears in the Budget cell.


Learn how to handle reimbursements.

Learn how to handle transactions that affect more than one category.