When To be Budgeted Is Negative
When To be Budgeted is negative, you have overbudgeted. This means you have budgeted more money to your spending categories than you have available in your budget accounts. Put simply, when To be Budgeted is negative, you can’t trust your budget!
In most cases, the solution is to move money from your spending categories back to To be Budgeted until it’s a nice, happy 0.00 again. The exception is if your bank account has a negative balance (i.e. it's overdrawn), in which case you don’t have money to move back to To be Budgeted—check out this article for step-by-step help for getting out of overdraft.
If none of your accounts are overdrawn, there are several other scenarios that can cause To be Budgeted to be negative:
If you add income while To be Budgeted is negative in the current month or in any future month, YNAB will automatically apply that income to cover the overbudgeted amount. So if you add income and some or all of it is missing from this month’s To be Budgeted, look for these overbudgeting scenarios in the present and future months to figure out where that money has gone.
You’ve got $500 in the bank, but you budget $600 for that swanky new luxury bird feeder with built-in squirrel-ejector (because you know those greedy rodents won’t leave a single morsel for your feathered friends if you don’t eject them!). Except you’ve only got $500 and you can only budget money you actually have available, so when you budget $600—BOOM! To be Budgeted = -$100. Gotta move $100 back to To be Budgeted and bring it back to $0.00.
When the month rolls over, any uncovered cash overspending (red) in the previous month’s budget gets deducted from the next month’s To be Budgeted.
Those overspent dollars have left your bank account, so they’re no longer available in your budget. You don’t need to go back to last month’s budget to fix things, though! Just move money back to To be Budgeted in the current month until To be Budgeted is $0.00, and that’s you set!
Reconciliation Balance Adjustment
We all have those moments when life gets particularly busy and we don’t reconcile our accounts as often as we know we should. Next thing you know, it’s three weeks later and YNAB says you have $2000 available in your checking account—but you’re looking at your banking app on your phone and you know you only have $1500. So you reconcile the account and make a Reconciliation Balance Adjustment to get things back on track quickly. This pulls the non-existent $500 from your account balance—and from To be Budgeted. You’ll need to move money from your spending categories back to To be Budgeted until it’s no longer negative.
Stealing from the Future
Boy, this sounds serious! And it is. If you have money budgeted in one or more future months, your most current To be Budgeted amount is in the future-est month. If To be Budgeted reaches 0.00 and you budget more money in an earlier month, YNAB pulls that money from To be Budgeted in the future-est month with available funds to cover your earlier budgeting needs. (After all, it's not much good budgeting for next month's rent when you still need to budget for this month's utilities.) When this happens, the future month’s To be Budgeted turns negative. To get things back on track, move money from your spending categories back to To be Budgeted until it reaches 0.00 again in the future-est month.