Importing Overview

Can I import historical data from another program?

Although you can import historical transactions into YNAB that you have stored in other personal finance programs, we don't recommend it.  YNAB's Four Rules help you take what you have, decide what to do with it, and then follow your plan.

Looking at past spending can be helpful in determining trends, however, If you import several months of history, you will have to categorize every transaction. This is a time consuming and tedious task with limited value.

Consider your monthly bills and rainy day expenses and use that information to build your first budget. Start fresh by following our Getting Started directions.
If you decide you do want to import history for tax records or other reasons, you can learn how to import history here.

What types of files can I import?

Quicken Financial Exchange (QFX) Sometimes seen as: “for Quicken 2005 (Mac) & 2007 (PC)” or “for Quickbooks 2007 or later”.

Open Financial Exchange (OFX) Sometimes seen as: Microsoft Money 2002 or Microsoft Office Accounting.

Quicken Interchange Format (QIF) Sometimes seen as: “for Quicken 99 to 2004, or Microsoft Money”.

Comma Separated Values (CSV) If your bank offers any of the above formats, we recommend using those over CSV as it’s not a standard format.  If you use CSV, you should be comfortable manipulating spreadsheets.

Avoid a format labeled QXF (note the 'X' in the middle). This is a specialized Quicken format, and will not work for getting Quicken data into YNAB.

Will YNAB catch duplicate transactions?

Yes! When YNAB imports a QFX, OFX, or QIF file, it will catch duplicates and not re-import previously imported transactions.

YNAB looks at your transactions to see if they're already in place then matches them up for you to compare and approve.  YNAB looks for:

  • The amounts have to match.
  • If the check number matches, the dates have to be within 60 days.
  • If the check number doesn't match, the dates have to be within 10 days.
  • If there are multiple transactions that fit the above criteria, the transactions that are closer in date are taken. If there are multiple transactions that are on the same day, the payees are compared to see which ones are more similar. (But this is rarer).
  • Two transactions being imported won't match against each other during the import process (so if you have two transactions for $20 at the same date/place, they will be entered separately).

There are some additional checks YNAB does to prevent duplicates, but the above covers the common cases.

Should I manually enter transactions?

Entering transactions manually keeps you close to your money and leads to greater awareness. That’s your greatest ally when it comes to money management. This will also help you really learn the software since you are using it more frequently.
Importing transactions is a quick and easy way to make sure that you didn’t miss anything. However, because of it’s ease, it does remove you from your money to some degree.  If you import, do so frequently to stay on top of things.

How do I download transactions from my bank?

Every bank handles downloaded data differently, but the steps are fairly similar. After logging into your account on your bank’s website, look for a button or link for download or export, or something similar. If you have trouble finding it, contact your bank and ask them for assistance.

Typically, once you find the link, you can specify what type of file you’d like to download, and the time frame. Once the file is downloaded, go to YNAB and open the account that matches the downloaded file. Click the Import button at the top of the register and YNAB will take it from there and guide you through the next steps!

Learn the specifics of importing transactions.

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