YNAB Terms

Available to Budget

This is the amount of money that has been entered as income, but has not yet been assigned to categories (jobs). When you are first starting and do not have a buffer, your goal should be to save some money each month toward your Buffer. Eventually you will have enough of a Buffer built to live for an entire month without touching your paychecks.

After that point you will be able to live off last month’s income. This is Rule Four.  Learn how to save a Buffer.

“Between my job and rental income, I have $2500 Available to Budget each month.”



Money that has been assigned to a specific category.

You are not spending any money in the budgeting step, just setting it aside for a specific purpose.

“I’ve budgeted $50 toward clothing, so I can buy this cool T-shirt when it finally goes on sale.”



The equivalent of one month’s income. Once you have saved this amount, this will allow you to use paychecks received during the current month in the following month, removing you from the paycheck to paycheck cycle.

If you do not have a Buffer, we recommend that you work toward saving one.  Once your initial Buffer is saved, it is replenished by your monthly paychecks.

“I finally have a $4,000 Buffer, so now I can hold my paychecks to use next month.”


A category where you specifically assign dollars to jobs in the budget, and use to mark spending in the registers.

"I spent $200 in my groceries category last month.”


Cleared Balance

Your cleared balance includes all transactions that the bank knows about and that have been marked as cleared. This number should match what your bank shows for a balance. 

Imported transactions will automatically be marked as cleared when you accept the transaction in your register.  If you manually enter your transactions, you will be able to manually mark transactions as cleared once you see that they have appeared on your bank statement.

“Now that I’ve reconciled my bank statement with YNAB, my cleared balance matches the bank.”


Master Category

An category in your budget to help you group similar categories together.

You cannot budget directly to a Master Category, only the categories associated with it.

“I keep car repairs, gas, and car payments under the Master Category of Transportation.”


When you budget more money then you have Available to Budget.

“My income was only $2000, but I budgeted $2500, and that brought me over-budget.”

Learn how YNAB handles Over-budgeting.



When you spent more money than you budgeted in a specific category

“I budgeted $25 in fun money, but the $50 game I bought created $25 in overspending in that category.”

Learn how YNAB handles overspending.



Working Balance

Your working balance is the total of your cleared balance and your uncleared transactions.

"Since the $100 check for the car repair has not cleared the bank, my cleared balance is $100 more than my working balance."