Error Checking Troubleshooting Guide

If you’ve just upgraded to YNAB 4, you may be surprised to see errors and warnings in your accounts. This can be very upsetting, but what you are seeing is designed to help you - we promise. The steps outlined in this article will help you straighten things out.

Files that have a handful of errors and warnings over relatively short time periods are easy to fix. Files that have dozens over a period of years can take a lot of time to fix - time you could be spending focusing on budgeting. If you find yourself dealing with an overwhelming amount of errors, you may be best to just do a fresh start - we encourage it.  

Error Checking keeps your Budget in line with your accounts, so that you can trust the information on both screens.

Read about Error Checking.

There are two types of alerts you may be seeing: Warnings and Errors.



Step 1 - Reconcile to make sure all your account balances are accurate.

Make sure all spending and income has been entered and reconcile your accounts. Before you start making corrections to the Budget, you need to at least know you are working with the right account balances.

Learn how to reconcile.

Step 2 - Take care of all warnings.

Your next step should be to take care of the Warnings. You’ll see a Warning whenever you have one or more approved transactions in a Budget Account that you haven't categorized.

If you have Warnings, you’ll see a new row appear at the top of the Budget that lists all the uncategorized transactions that occurred in any given month. 

Both of these features are designed to protect you.

Let’s say you went grocery shopping and entered the transaction into YNAB, but forgot to categorize it. That means the money was subtracted from your account - but not from the balance of the grocery category in your Budget. Categorizing is how we tell the Budget about income and spending.

To correct the Warnings, first go the account where the Warning has occurred. If you have several Warnings across accounts, go to all accounts in the sidebar.

At the top of the screen you will see an alert telling you how many transactions need a Category.  Click Show to see just those transactions.

Go through each transaction and categorize to the appropriate Budget Category. If you’d like to categorize several transactions to the same Category quickly, click on the tick box to the left of each transaction to select them.

Then go to “Edit Transactions > Categorize as” and select a Category.

If you don’t remember what some transactions were for, you can even create a catch all Category like “Categorizing Mistakes: Miscellaneous” and use that for those transactions.

Step 3 - Take care of all errors.

An Error occurs when you categorize a transfer between Budget Accounts.

Since the balance information in Budget Accounts already has been sent to the Budget, transferring between Budget Accounts just changes the location of the money. The Budget doesn’t care where the money is.  The Budget needs to know what you spent money on, and it needs to know when you earned more money so you can give those dollars a job.

To correct the Errors, first go the account where the error has occurred. If you have several errors across accounts, go to all accounts.

At the top of the screen you will see an alert telling you how many transactions have an Error.  Click show to see just those transactions.

Click on the Select All button at the top left of the All Accounts register. That will select all of your Error transactions. Click on Edit (x) Transactions and then Categorize As > No Category. That will remove the category from all of the selected transactions.

After you’ve completed these three steps, your accounts should be corrected.

Step 4 -  Adjust the Budget.

This is the tricky part and unfortunately,  we can’t provide a detailed set of instructions. It really depends on how you were using YNAB before and what types of accounts you had.

Essentially, what you have to do is go back and budget for all the expenses that the Budget formerly didn’t know about - the warnings that had no category. (If you had errors before, you might also more money in certain categories where you removed a category.)

Here are a few other things to check:

  • Make sure the starting balance in your credit card accounts are categorized to a Pre-YNAB Debt Category. 
  • Make sure the overspending settings are changed for the Pre-YNAB debt categories so the overspending only affects that one line. To change it, click on the red number in the category balance column and turn the arrow to the right. You’ll need to go back in time to the month you created the account to change this setting.

  • Make sure you’ve budgeted something toward credit card debt if you made a payment that was intended to pay down debt.
  • You may find that switching an account from a Budget Account to an Off-Budget Account, or vica versa,  solves the problem, especially if all or nearly all transactions in the account have the same issue. If the account had no spending and was just being used to track a balance, Off-Budget may be the easiest way to go. You can change this easily by right clicking on an account to see the account properties.

If you’re still having trouble after this, you can send us an email at support and we’ll do our best to help you.