Keeping your Budget Accurate on Mobile
Completely automated things are convenient, but they often fall short when it comes to changing behavior. There’s a reason YNAB works so well—and it has everything to do with engaging with your budget regularly.
Check, move, spend
To get the most out of the YNAB Method, always check your category before spending. (The mobile app makes this easy—you can even pin your most-used categories to the top of your budget.)
- If there’s enough money in the category for the purchase you’re about to make, great! Enter the transaction on the spot.
- If there isn’t enough money in the category, move money from another category before spending.
Develop a Daily Budgeting Routine
You can quick-start your new budget in minutes, and it feels like a great accomplishment (it is!). But maybe this also leaves you with an important question:
I opened my budget—but what am I supposed to do?
A Budgeting Habit
The most important thing you can do now is develop a budgeting habit. While yours may end up looking different in the end, here's a great place to start:
First, pick a time of day, each day, when you're going to look at your budget. Ideally, pick a time when a different habit already exists. Let's say you always make your bed when you get home from work (what, is that weird?). Make that your trigger for spending five minutes with your budget. Make bed, open budget. Make bed, open budget.
Once you open the mobile app, run through this quick cycle:
- Enter or import any new transactions.
- Cover any overspending that came from these transactions!
- Check your scheduled transactions to see if anything is coming up.
- Budget any new income until To be Budgeted is zero.
- Finally, just spin through your categories and make any adjustments.
That's it. Once you get the hang of this daily habit, it will really take you only about five minutes. What a small investment to make for total control of your money.
Managing your account balances
Just like a house needs a solid foundation to be strong and long-lasting, your budget’s accuracy depends on having a strong foundation too. That foundation is correct account balances!
Without correct account balances, your budget can’t be correct, so your active management of them is key—it’s one of the reasons why YNABers are so successful with their budgets. The spending awareness and connection it brings to your finances means actually being able to stick with budgeting.
Account balances are a sum of the transactions in the account, so if any one transaction is incorrect—say your bank accidentally pulled in the incorrect Starting Balance amount—your account balance will be off. So even those YNABers who link their accounts still need to reconcile and actively manage their accounts. Direct Importing transactions is only one component of budget accuracy.
If you’re able to use YNAB on the web, reconcile your accounts regularly.
The reconcile function isn’t yet available in YNAB’s mobile app. If you use the mobile app exclusively, however, there’s still a lot you can do to keep your account balances up to date!
- Check your cleared account balance in YNAB and see if it matches your bank. If it does, you're all set! If it doesn't, you can move on to the next step.
- Tap on the account to open the account register and view your transactions. Compare your transactions to what you see in your bank account. Add, remove, or update transactions based on what's in your bank account
- Clear any uncleared transactions by tapping on the transaction in question, and toggling the Cleared selection.
Actively managing your balances may be a more hands-on process than you were expecting at first. But it is fast, and absolutely worth it. In fact, taking responsibility for your balances is one of the puzzle pieces that makes the YNAB method so effective.