Intentional Credit Card Overspending

Have you made a purchase (or purchases) on your credit card that you don't plan on paying off right away? This doc will help you plan to pay it off over time.

If you have general questions about overspending in your budget, check out our Overspending doc. We also have one specifically devoted to Credit Overspending!

What happens if I can't cover a purchase on my credit card right away?

It happens to all of us—the dishwasher breaks, you pop a tire, or maybe your dog ate their favorite toy and needs an emergency vet visit. When you can’t pay off a credit card purchase right away, YNAB can help you confidently navigate your situation.

If you're leaving credit overspending in your budget because you're expecting a reimbursement from friends, family, or your company, our Reimbursements doc will help you handle that.

Promotional 0% offers on individual purchases and Buy Now, Pay Later services (like Affirm, AfterPay, Klarna, etc.) require some additional setup in your budget. Reach out to our Support team if you have one of these programs you’d like to add to your budget!

Here’s how to handle credit card spending that you can't budget for right now:

1
When you make the purchase and categorize it, don’t fund the category. Let that category remain overspent in your budget—that’s your way of telling YNAB that you don’t plan to pay off that purchase right away. Money won’t move into the Credit Card Payment category, but your card balance will go up as expected.
Computer Replacement category shows a negative available balance of $700 indicating credit card overspending.
2
Set a target in your Credit Card Payment category to help you pay off that purchase over time.
The Pay Off Balance by Date target calculates a monthly amount to assign in order to pay off your credit card debt by a certain date. The amount will adjust if you are making slower or faster progress than your original plan!
The Pay Specific Amount Each Month target helps you assign a certain amount toward your debt each month, without having a specific payoff date in mind. It’ll prompt you to assign that amount in addition to your regular funded spending for other purchases on that card.
3
Assign money directly to the Credit Card Payment category. Fund that category either by typing the amount in the Assigned column, or use the Underfunded button under Auto-Assign.
4
Check your Credit Card Payment category before each payment you make. Whether you’re paying the minimum or a larger amount toward your debt, you’ll need to be sure to only pay what you have set aside. If you want to pay more than what you have available in the Credit Card Payment category, move money from another category until the amount matches what you’re going to pay.
5
Repeat steps 3-4 until you've paid it off!

How will I know when I'm ready to pay my balance in full again?

Once you’re ready to start paying your credit card off in full again, make sure that the Available balance in your Credit Card Payment category is a positive match to your credit card’s working balance, like this:

the Available amount in the Credit Card Payment category matches the cards balance listed on the left hand side

When those two amounts match, you’ll know that you’ve covered all of your previous credit card overspending in your budget! Moving forward, you can be confident that if your purchases are funded by cash in your categories, money will move into the Credit Card Payment category so you can pay that card off in full.

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