YNAB Improving Workflow class

November 16, 2013 at 7:45 pm Leave a comment

The gang at YNAB came out with a new class recently.  I attended it and I highly recommend it.  I’ve been using YNAB now for more than 7 months, and I’m surprised at how much I learned in this one class.  The class covers a few things that I’m not going to talk about, but I’ll cover the two biggies that I didn’t know about:

Importing transactions

Yawn!  Sounds like something pretty standard, right?  That’s what I thought before I saw the demo.

In YNAB, you can import your bank transactions and it will attempt to match them up against transactions that you’ve already entered, and enter the ones you missed altogether.  You have to approve all the imported transactions, so you don’t need to worry about accidentally messing up your budget.  It makes sure you have categories assigned to each transaction (so it knows where in the budget to take the money from).  It learns, too.  So, if your bank calls your grocery store “Bi-Lo #5012” or “Bi-Lo Main Street”, you can change it to just “Bi-Lo”, and future imported transactions from that store will automatically get that name.

This class was essentially suggesting that you can use this feature as a fail-safe to catch any transactions you’ve missed, or if you don’t have a smart phone to enter them in on the go.  It’s smart enough not to import the same transaction multiple times, so if you go online and download the last 30 days of transactions to import every few days or so, you won’t get duplicates.

I don’t personally plan to use this feature, because I like the awareness that comes from entering in your transactions as you make them, but I can see this as a selling point for friends who want to use YNAB, but don’t want to enter in their transactions all the time.


I’m a big believer in reconciling your account with the bank.  I try to reconcile my accounts as soon as my statements come out, every month.  So, what could this section possibly teach me, right?

I’m surprised to say that it was something pretty big.  They encourage frequent reconciliation.  Like, weekly, or even more often.  You don’t have to wait until your statements arrive to reconcile!  You can reconcile every day, if you like.

To me, this was really big.  I’ve posted in the past how I loved that I can mark off the cleared transactions in YNAB and the “Cleared balance” it shows then matches my bank balance to the penny.  Well, that’s the perfect time to perform a reconciliation in YNAB.  In that case, just his the Reconcile Account button, it will fill it the Statement Date with today’s date, and the Statement Amount will be your “Cleared Balance” amount.  Then, you just hit Begin Reconciliation, and you match to the penny, so just hit the green Finish Reconciliation button.

One related feature I love about YNAB is that you can press a button and hide all your reconciled transactions.  This gives me a short list of transactions that I have to look at for each of my accounts.  Perhaps I like it because it lets me focus in on current transactions.  Whatever the case, I just love that feature.  Since I like having a short list of transactions, it bugs me is when I get so many transactions that I have to scroll to see them all.  Practically every month, this happens with my AMEX account, since I use it so frequently.  Since I now know it is safe to reconcile any time, I do it frequently.  This means my list of uncleared transactions stays very short.  For example, my Visa card currently has 0 transactions listed because they are all reconciled.  My AMEX has 7 from yesterday, today, and the payment that I have scheduled for next Tuesday.   If I had stuck with the monthly reconcile schedule, I’d be at almost a full page of transactions, with about two weeks left in the month to accumulate more.

I think I love this feature so much because it gives me confidence.  My banks and I agree, to the penny, about how much money I have (or owe) in each account.  This confidence in “knowing where I stand” helps me to feel so much better about my finances.  Probably helps me sleep better too!

At any rate, I highly recommend signing up for the class yourself.  The advantages of the class is that you can ask questions along the way, and at the end of each class, they give away a copy of YNAB.

You can sign up for this class, or any of their other classes, right here.  They are completely free.


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