Overspending on Mobile

Overspending — it happens! What matters is what you do about it.

Fortunately, having a budget means you don't have to get everything right the first time. And it definitely doesn't mean you'll never overspend. This is where a traditional budget says you've failed. It's where a YNAB budget says, " You're human. Adjust." We've all been there. So let that go and let's talk about what action to take when you do overspend! The mobile app makes it easy to do this wherever you are.

Types of Overspending

Overspending happens whenever you spend more in a category than you had Available. If a category isn't grey or green, it needs your attention. You'll see a banner at the top of your budget telling you how many overspent categories there are, and can tap the banner to see which categories are overspent, and cover them. Note: Hidden categories are  not included in the overspending banner on the mobile app.

Specifically, there are two types of overspending: Cash overspending and credit overspending. The color of the negative amount in the Available column icon gives you this info!

Blue banner above category list shows number of overspent categories. Negative available amounts are either red or yellow

  • If your overspending created a red negative category balance, that means you've overspent with a cash account. Not necessarily literal cash, but it means you've spent more than you have in a category using a checking or savings account (or actual cash!). Whenever you see red in YNAB, it’s urgent. The Available amounts in the rest of your budget aren't accurate until you've fixed the red amounts. 
  • What about a yellow, negative number? If it's yellow, this is credit overspending. When you buy something using a credit card and the purchase isn’t completely budgeted for, this creates credit overspending. Without enough money in the category, the overspent dollars won’t move to the Credit Card Payment category — you now have debt on the card that you'll need to cover in the future.
    (💡If you spent with both cash and credit cards in your overspent category, YNAB takes the cash out first for accounting purposes.) 

In either case, you can tap the category and then Details to get more information about what’s happened in the category. To get specific information about the transactions involved, tap the Activity line.

Ideal: Cover it Now

How to adjust? Regardless of the type of overspending, the solution is the same: Roll With the Punches (that's our Rule Three!) and move money to cover it. You made a plan originally, but now you've got to change it. Look for categories that are green where you can cut back and move money to your overspent category. That's it. No guilt. Maybe a lesson learned, sure—but no guilt.

How to cover overspending

  1. At the top of your Budget, tap the blue overspent category banner
  2. Choose the category you'd like to cover
  3. Then, select which category to cover this overspending with
  4. If there wasn't enough in that category to cover all of the overspending, you can select another category to cover what’s left

💳 With credit overspending, once you've selected a category to move money out of, not only will the credit overspending alert clear out, but those dollars will *also* automatically move back to your Credit Card Payment category. YNAB has your back!

Can't Adjust Now?

Sometimes it happens. You overspend and you just can't adjust now. No problem! Here's what happens:

Cash Overspending

When you overspend with cash, you spent all the money in that category, plus some money from your other categories—so there is a risk of over-drafting your actual bank account. Because of this, it's important to hold your budget accountable. YNAB does this by subtracting any cash overspending from your  Ready to Assign in the following month.

Credit Overspending

When you overspend with a credit card, you've racked up additional debt—though no actual cash has left your budget or accounts. To reflect this, uncovered credit overspending becomes a part of your credit card balance at the end of the month. You'll see the category Available that you overspent in goes to $0.00 in the following month—but you now have more debt to budget for in your Credit Card Payment category.

Cash vs Credit

Cash overspending is more urgent in the here-and-now, because you've got less money on hand to adjust and adapt. That's why it's red. But beware of credit overspending—don't let a little yellow, or the fact that you still have cash in hand, leave you piling up debt. Cover your overspending, no matter what the color, whenever you can!

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