Migrating from YNAB 4

Just because you're changing versions of YNAB doesn't mean you need to change budgets. Go ahead and bring it with you (but, ahem, do check out the third step below).

In this article

Importing Your Budget on Windows: 

Importing your budget begins in YNAB 4:

Be sure your YNAB 4 is updated to a new version (at least 4.3.817). Just click “Check for Updates” in the File menu.  Note: If you purchased through Steam or the Mac App Store, you may not see a "Check for Updates" option. In order to migrate,  contact support and we'll help you with next steps! 
Open YNAB 4 and select "Migrate to the New YNAB" from the File menu in YNAB 4.
If you haven’t made an account in the new YNAB yet, you can create one right there by entering your email address and selecting a password.
If you already have a new YNAB account, select that option and enter your password.
Select which budget you’d like to migrate to the new YNAB.

Now just wait for the spinning wheel as YNAB makes tens of thousands of calculations in your new budget to ensure everything is tip-top!

Importing Your Budget on Mac

If you're using a Mac computer, you can migrate your budget right from the web-based version of YNAB.  Note: Migrating your budget only works in Chrome or Safari. If you're using Firefox or another browser, please switch to Chrome or Safari and continue following the steps below!

If you are using a version of Mac that doesn't recognize YNAB 4 (Catalina or later) or have never installed YNAB 4 on the computer that you are trying to use, you'll need to compress your YNAB 4 file first. You can do that by right-clicking the file (Ctrl + clicking if you don't have a mouse/trackpad that supports right clicks) and selecting "Compress".  Note: If you’re not sure where your budget is located, you can use the magnifying glass in the upper right corner of your Mac menu to search for .ynab4."
In a Finder window, right click the name of your budget file, and choose Compress from the menu. A new .zip file will appear.

Create your account in the new YNAB, or login. Then, click on the name of your budget on the top left corner of your screen and click "New Budget", or from your Budget Dashboard click "Create a New Budget".
Click "Migrate From YNAB 4" in the top right corner of the window that opens.
Click "Choose File" and find the file on your computer that ends in .ynab4, or if you had to compress your file, you'll need to select the one that ends in .ynab4.zip. If you have more than one, you'll want to choose the newest one that matches your current budget's name.
Your budget will then begin to migrate! Do not close this tab, refresh or navigate to a different page. This step may take a minute or two depending on your budget's size.

When your budget finishes migrating, you’ll be able to adjust it as necessary for the new YNAB or keep it for posterity and make a Fresh Start

Adjusting Your Budget

Want to keep it simple?

You don't have to do anything else. If money isn't where you want it to be in your migrated budget, move it. It's so easy, and you can get back to making decisions.

Want to understand the details of every change? Keep on reading.

In your migrated budget, you’ll see your transaction history and assigned amounts exactly as you entered them in YNAB 4 – but because overspending, scheduled transactions, and credit cards are handled differently in the new YNAB, some numbers may appear different. 

Don’t panic. Your money is all there. It may just not be where you expect it within your budget.

Future-Dated Transactions

Any future-dated transactions you entered in YNAB 4 have been converted to one-time upcoming transactions. This means account balances, Ready to Assign, and category Available amounts may be different – higher or lower – depending on whether those future-dated transactions were inflows or outflows.

We’re committed to your new budget giving you 100% accurate feedback about right now. Want to look ahead? Check out how the Inspector (the panel to the right of your budget) uses those upcoming transactions to preview what you’ll have Available in categories after that activity.

Ready to Assign

Along with future-dated income, Ready to Assign can also be impacted by the different overspending handling in the new YNAB. It comes down to two scenarios that are common in many YNAB 4 budgets:

In YNAB 4, if you overrode the recommended setting and kept overspending in the category (“turned the arrow to the right”), overspending would not be deducted from To be Budgeted in the following month. This meant your categories weren’t accurate. In the new YNAB, uncovered cash overspending is always deducted from Ready to Assign in the next month.

Which brings us to credit overspending. In the new YNAB, credit overspending is simply absorbed as a part of your credit card account balance, and is not deducted from Ready to Assign. 

Category Available

The amounts Available in your categories can also be impacted by these same overspending settings. Here’s the big idea: In the new YNAB, all categories that are overspent in the current month will start the next month re-set to $0.00. Always.

This will produce different amounts Available in your migrated budget: If you overrode the overspending settings in YNAB 4, new money assigned in the next month would have been added to a negative number.

In YNAB 4, if you carried forward a –$10.00 Available and then assigned $30.00, you would have had only $20.00 Available. In a migrated budget with that same activity, you would have $30.00 Available.

Credit Card Payment Categories

This may be the largest change you see. Really, it’s not even a change. It’s completely new.

In YNAB 4, when you added a credit card account, we created a Pre-YNAB Debt category for that card. We had to do this because we treated credit cards like cash accounts, instead of the debt accounts they are. We still regret having done that. Every. Single. Day.

In the new YNAB, a credit card purchase is like a little bit of debt, even if you pay your card in full. Even if you have a plan to pay it off from moment one. And that’s where the new credit card handling comes in: When you use your credit card to make a budgeted purchase – let’s say clothing – the money is moved from the clothing category to the payment category. That’s your plan to pay off the debt.

(This is completely different from YNAB 4, where the Pre-YNAB Debt category held the debt you started with – that’s why it was always red.)

Your credit card payment category holds money (that is still in your accounts after all) for your credit card payment. Make that payment, and the money leaves the payment category once and for all. Simple, and done.

So, what to do with that payment category in the new YNAB?

  • If you think of yourself as a paid-in-full user and the amount Available doesn’t match your card balance, make adjustments. Assign money there if it has too little, or move money out if it has too much.
  • If you weren’t planning to pay the balance to zero, go ahead and set a target to get you there. A nice Category Balance by Date target is what you’re looking for here.

Considering a Fresh Start

We’ve made a habit over the years of talking about the value of a Fresh Start – and now is a great time for one. Why on earth, with your budget safely migrated, would you do that now?

  • You’ll still have that history you just migrated, tucked away in its own budget.
  • You’ve probably realized that you may need to make a fair number of adjustments to your budget. Use that decision-making energy on a blank slate instead and you may find it becomes a simpler exercise. And more fun, too. Like a kid in a candy store, with less sugar and fewer cavities.
  • Old budgets can be full of old habits and old decisions. Take this chance to build new ones based on the priorities you have right now. Sure, continuing to budget based on the patterns in your old budget may be comfortable, but making new decisions is an opportunity to be more engaged with what’s important to you right now. Don’t miss it.
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