A user to user chat about the new YNAB reconciliation workflow.

Screen Shot 2014-02-28 at 10.51.01 AM

A Note from Jesse (3/3/14): I meant to write this last week, but was out of town. I apologize that I didn’t write it quite a bit sooner.  I want to make clear a few things: 1) We understand that we slowed down the workflow of many users. 2) We do hear your feedback. We may not always agree with user feedback, but we do listen. I feel like that distinction needs to made. 3) To address the workflow we’ve made worse, we are working on an update that will be better than what we had before, and better than what we have now.  It will also improve the workflow (even more) for those confused users whom we were originally trying to help. Thanks for your patience as we iterate. We mean no malice. To fewer keystrokes for all. – Jesse

This post is for a very specific type of YNABer:

(If the following doesn’t describe you, carry on, and have a great weekend!)

1. You update your Budget Accounts frequently, and you know your YNAB ‘Cleared Balance’ matches your online account balance.

2. You’re thorough, so you like to use YNAB’s Reconciliation feature to officially lock down transactions as soon as the bank has cleared them.

3. Because you updated your Budget Accounts frequently, and because you knew your YNAB balances always matched your bank balances, you could trust YNAB’s suggested Reconciliation number.

(That was a mouthful, but you understood it if you’re this type of YNABer.)

4. YNAB’s new Reconciliation workflow has thrown off your game, and you’re mad.

I’m not part of YNAB feature conversations, so let’s just talk user to user for a second. I used the new workflow to reconcile accounts this morning, and I found it pretty straightforward.

I went into my credit card’s online account and manually entered a few missing transactions. I made sure the card’s current cleared balance matched my ‘Cleared Balance’ in YNAB.

I clicked ‘Reconcile Account,’ and saw this (click to enlarge):

Screen Shot 2014-02-28 at 10.54.15 AM

I knew the account was current as of today, and I knew the cleared balances matched in YNAB and in the online account. The old YNAB Reconciliation would have filled -$773.54 in for me, so I just typed it in myself and clicked ‘Begin Reconciliation.’

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Couple clicks later I was finished.

In other words, the new reconciliation process does cost me a few extra key strokes. But given my habit of frequently updating accounts and visually matching cleared balances and online balances – the few extra keystrokes are all it cost me. Right around five seconds per account in added work.

Trust me, nobody on the YNAB team likes to disrupt users’ flow, but the old reconciliation flow was positively wrecking the budgets of newer users way too often. Might there be a happy medium? I imagine so. But if this feature stays as is forever – just speaking user to user – I’m feeling fine about it.

Update: Jesse tells me that he and the product team recognize the need to serve both types of workflow. They hear the feedback and plan to address this in a future release.

85 Responses to “A user to user chat about the new YNAB reconciliation workflow.”

  1. Jonathan Blakey

    I noticed that too. The good thing is it does force me to provide a manual check from my bank statement. I don’t mind it.

  2. Kevin

    I don’t understand why it’s okay to tell users to deal with it because it’s “only” a couple extra keystrokes. You have to multiply that out over every time you ever reconcile a budget.

    Doesn’t it “only” take a little bit of time for new users to learn what the reconciliation process really means in that case?

    That being said, it’d be very easy to make both sets of users happy by including an option in the settings to autopopulate the field.

    • Tom Bushaw

      Yes, I agree with this approach. This way YNAB should be able to satisfy all the people all the time. (A less attractive approach, but still an improvement, I think, would be to have a “Quick-Key” that would populate the field with the current YNAB balance.)

      I knew this was coming based from a blog post from Jesse a while back, so I wasn’t surprised to see it after I installed the update. For me, it is a bit of an annoyance. I can live with it, but the more streamlined the process is, the happier I am and the better the product is.

      • Janet

        I agree completely, why can’t there be an option to change in settings to make it populate automatically. Then those of us who liked it could still have it. Just like the default is to take overage out of the next month, but I can change that for a category and override it and make it carry over in the category. Should be simple to accomodate both types of users!

    • Peter

      How long do those few keystrokes take? Lets say, worst case scenario: 10 seconds. In 10 seconds, you could wheel your chair over from across the room and type in the 5-6 characters of your balance. Lets say you reconcile 5 days a week. This costs you less than 1 minute per week, as the slowest, but most diligent reconciler on earth.

      I’m not particularly bothered by either iteration (auto filling vs filling), but I like that *not* having it auto filled forces me to enter in the value from the bank, which I know is correct.

    • paul

      also agree totally – in my case I switched back and forth to my banking software to ynab to double-check the amounts and was extremely quick when reconciling. now it takes me three times more the time of before. having two budget-files (private and business) and three to four accounts in there adds up quite well.
      i totally understand, that new users would be overseeing the importance of the amount while reconciling, still, experienced users should have this time saving setting. even if the standard remains like it is, I would love to have a checkbox in settings to change it back to before.

      • CW

        It is not all about time. It is also about frustration and sense of confidence.

        Before the update, I could take one quick look at the number, then find that number on my online register, look across the line to see if it was on the last line of finalized transactions, and hit reconcile. That was one keystroke, quick and simple workflow, and a complete confidence in accuracy.

        Now, I have to look for the number first, memorize it, hunt and peck 8 keystrokes, hope I don’t mess up because I either remembered incorrectly or mistyped, re-find the correct number online, check again to see if it’s typed in correctly, look around to make sure I didn’t use the figure that included pending transactions, ponder the number again, then hit reconcile. Chaotic workflow, loss of time, and no sense of confidence in accuracy.

        I have to do this for at least 4 or more accounts daily. Very, very frustrating.

  3. Sheridan

    I reconcile almost every day as I like to keep on top of things and hide the transactions to keep my account area clean. The new update doesn’t bother me one bit as you say it’s a couple of extra keystrokes and honestly if it helps those who are still getting the hang of the program I am all for it. Because it I know how great this system works and I want more people to share in the financial understanding I have gained from being a successful YNAB’er.

  4. jjsouthtx

    I also don’t see the reasoning for punishing “this type of YNABer”. Have an option to turn auto-populate on or off inside the reconciliation window. Have the default be off. When you click “on”, have a little disclaimer there. Very similar to the way YNAB deals with negative category balances – You have “YNAB recommended” and “Sure… you want to do it your way.” options.

  5. Adam

    I thought about resorting to an older version. It is extremely irritating when you have to switch back to the keyboard. My question is can there be a setting for this? It would solve the new users woes and allow those of us who have many accounts to reconcile multiple times a day to do so efficiently. Default it to having to fill in manually, but at least give us a choice. While on my pedestal, the change log should have been more specific on this. I wouldn’t have upgraded.

  6. Paul

    I second Kevin’s feature request for an option to auto-populate the field. In order to keep new users from getting confused, perhaps it could be *off* by default.

  7. Brendan

    Could ynab not autopopulate the field but make you type it in. Something like greyed out text, but you have to re enter the number on top?

  8. heather

    Sigh. Are you guys really taking grief over this? I fall into this user category. I just reconciled this morning. I did a double-take because it was blank. However, I ALWAYS double-check the balance anyway (never trust myself to not have forgotten to log a transaction), so this just meant I typed in the number instead of verifying it. I finished reconciling and moved on.

    Please don’t start adding preferences and options and various extraneous workflows to try to please everyone. Makes it so much harder to not only learn but also develop, test, document, and train. And that drives the price up for everyone and delays new releases.

    I’m always finding new ways to use YNAB — it already offers so much! Yesterday I figured out I can multi-select transactions to get an auto-sum at the bottom. I thought, wouldn’t it be great if it did that. And I laughed when I realized it already did. Great product, guys!

    • Adam Collins

      Then don’t take away features that were previously there. There should be an option if you remove a feature.

  9. Martin

    Funny, I just figured this out last night. At first, I was confused and a little miffed, because the reconciliation feature is what I use to clear all the stuff I know about out of the way and get a clean list of things still on the go. But when I discovered that all I really needed to do was to enter the account balance as it stands to get the same effect, then it was no big deal.

    That said, I love the idea of an option to choose the YNAB way vs your own way with the default set to YNAB. That’d solve the issue for everyone, wouldn’t it?

  10. Colin Michael

    When you have something and then it is taken away you feel the loss. Loss is emotional and people complain. I’m “that” user who reconciles my balances about 3-4 times per week. Losing the auto-fill feature was a shock at first. But more than that, I now have a new way that I can make a mistake (by miskeying the balance), so I’m grumpy about it. My way of fixing the issue is to copy and paste the balance from my bank account screen to YNAB. So, really, [double-click], [ctrl-C], [click], [ctrl-V] is the added sequence for me. Meh. I can live with that. The added bonus is that now I can’t make the mistake of misreading the balances. Pretty even trade-off.

    Now if YNAB would load my online account transaction detail into a column along side my YNAB account detail so that I don’t even have to log in to my other accounts…

    • Adam Collins

      This is my problem as well. It introduces a new way to mess up. Before, the auto-fill actually caught my errors in transactions better.

    • Terri C

      Yes, it’s so easy to mis-type your numbers. I’ve resorted to the copy and paste. It’s a bit of a bother, but I can live with it ;)

  11. Kevin

    I double check my balance every time as well and if it’s wrong I can then figure out why and change it. That happens maybe once every 200 times when I’ve forgotten a transaction. The point is not that we want lots of extra options. It’s that we had one taken away and would like it back.

    Having one extra setting or toggle will not drive up the cost of the program nor make it confusing.

    • Peter Butler

      If there was an option for every design decision at this level, what would the program as a whole look like? Would you have bought it, and been excited about it?

      It’s easy to make a case for any single option, but I’d argue that really good software fights hard against that trend, finding the delicate balance between giving users options for any way they might want to use it, and forcing all users to do as expected.

      In my experience, more often than not, good software makes decisions.

      • Adam

        A good software company doesn’t just remove features willy-nilly. I agree we don’t need tons of options, but there should be something in the work flow that could do it for you. It can be solved, but there were many warning of backlash. This “upgrade” was released without consideration of the current user base. That a good software company does not do often. However, we’ll see how they respond. So far, YNAB’S comments have been encouraging, but this blog post and update have been a black eye.

      • Kevin

        Personally, I like having more options. I’m more of an Android than Apple guy.

        This isn’t necessarily a case of that though. This is a case of taking away what many of us considered to be a convenience feature.

        If that many people didn’t know how to reconcile or what that means I think we should be shooting more for educating them instead of making it “dummy” proof. If someone doesn’t want to read the instructions you’ll never be able to completely protect them from that. The old version clearly told you to put your Statement Balance and Statement Date in.

  12. Andrew

    I think it really should be an option that you can choose to use or not. I think this post is a bit off putting as well. To say you care about not interrupting someone’s workflow, but to just suck it up because it doesn’t effect you that much is contradictory.

    I’m not sure that I am even frustrated at this point about the change or just that YNAB seems to be concerned about the new user more than existing users. When the prospective change was initially brought up there were a lot of people that voiced an opinion against the change, and suggested making it an option to auto-fill or not.

  13. Jim

    I am a user who greatly misses the pre-filled number, but it is not due to lack of understanding on my part or any steps being skipped. When that number was pre-filled for me, I knew I still needed to verify it. What the pre-fill did was 1) save me some manual typing if it turned out the number was correct and 2) hint me to the number I needed to find on the statement. Can I still get my budgeting job done without this feature? Sure. Does it make it a less smooth process for me? Yes.

    In software devleopment, when a feature is removed, it is customary to have a deprecation period and it is very kind to offer it as a preference. I understand YNAB is building a product for a broad audience and has to cater to the lowest common denominator to make it work its best for as many people as possible. But I am a user who knows what he’s doing and the change has made YNAB just a touch more frustrating.

    All that said, Jesse hit me up on my Facebook comment about the issue and told me some new tools are coming. I’m looking forward to seeing what’s in the pipe. :)

  14. Bruce Casner

    I’m one of the ones who commented on the original post. I mentioned that for me the probability of error is raised when I have to type the number, not lowered. These cases were not considered before the original post. If the only thing considered are the existing trouble files, then the best solution will never be arrived at, because only one aspect of the question is being considered. Now that we have many comments and ideas from those whose workflow was interrupted and more error-prone by the change, perhaps we can have a solution more even-handed.

  15. Debi Calvet

    Yikes! Now I’m nervous about doing my first statement reconciliation since the update (tomorrow).

  16. Katie

    I’ll get over it, but the main issue most of the users who fall into this category had was the lack of inclusion when this change was considered. When YNAB says it is “just” a few keystrokes, my immediate thought is – it was “just” being able to read the screen before this change. I agree, adding a quick fill or “lock all cleared” option would be great for those of us that keep on top of reconciling. Is this really a “very specific type of YNABer”? Even if your definition of frequent is “once a week”, I don’t see how changing the wording to make things clearer to those who don’t take the time to read or understand what they are doing (well, I guess I answered my own question . . they wouldn’t read the description) isn’t an option.

    Oh well. At least now I’m subscribed to the blog so these types of things don’t take me by surprise.

  17. jcw3rd

    Maybe a bit off-topic here, but I just don’t see the need to reconcile. I’ve been using YNAB for 7 months now and I’ve never reconciled. I clear transactions and then compare the cleared balance with the bank balance and they always agree unless I missed entering a transaction. Which is easy to spot and rectify. Why reconcile?

    • Seposm

      I guess I was wondering why those who didn’t understand what the reconcile process is would be concerned that they were putting the wrong number in there.

      You don’t have to reconcile, it is just a double check that the number you think you have is the number you actually have. I find more often than not, I run into an issue when a large amount of time passes between me entering a check and it getting cashed, it doesn’t automatically match up. by showing only the reconciled transactions, it makes it much easier to see that, I also can see clearly what is still outstanding.
      I reconcile daily, on the flip side, my older brother has never reconciled his checking account in his life. to each his own.

  18. Kevin

    Reconciling “locks in” a point in time where you know the account balance was correct. That way if you ever do have an issue you know it’s after that point. It may not ever matter but could become an issue if the balance is ever wrong in the future.

  19. Scott Weatherhogge

    I like the ideas above that suggest a way to turn on the auto-populate feature from the YNAB preferences. It would default to auto-populate == OFF (to help the new user) and an experience user could set it ON. Being an experienced user I prefer the old way but I understand the reason for the change. Thanks for listening.

  20. Cathi

    I’m with Katie. Yes, I HATE the change. But to me, the worst part is feeling disregarded–for the most part the people who wanted to keep the feature or at least be given the option are YNAB’s oldest, most loyal users. And yet we’re being made to feel like the unreasonable ones. We’ve been around this block before with Facebook and other entities who start out being very user-friendly and responsive to their customers but finally get so big that they won’t even get on and defend their decisions or answer legitimate concerns. In the long run this is much more troubling than whether or not a field is auto-populated.

  21. Bob

    Reconciliation to a bank statement only happens once a month. That’s what reconciliation is. If you’re using the YNAB reconcile feature more often than you receive a statement from your bank, I would argue that you’re using it wrong.

    Keying in the ending balance from the bank statement once a month should not be something to complain about.

    I also mark my transactions as cleared as soon as they clear the bank, and it’s easy enough to compare my YNAB balance to the bank balance every few days. But I only utilize the reconciliation feature when I receive my monthly statement. That’s how it’s meant to be used.

    I’m really surprised that people have a problem with this change…

    • heather

      I agree. I usually use the cleared transaction feature every few days to spot-check the balance. I reconcile twice a month after every paycheck. When I get lax about either step, it takes longer to find my inevitable mistakes. :)

    • Tom Bushaw

      For those who only receive paper or e-statements once a month, this is true. However, I (as well as many others, I suspect) can view my bank information (including the current account balance) any time I want — I probably do it several times a week. This, in effect, is equivalent to receiving a “bank statement” several times a week, so I believe using this to reconcile is legitimate. There’s nothing sacred about a reconcilation being performed only once a month (IMO).

    • Jim

      Nonsense. My online banking *is* my statement. I look at it almost daily and ensure I’m in agreement with it to the penny, then I use reconcile to mark the last time the bank and I agreed. Anal? Sure, but that’s my prerogative. I’ve also caught fraud on my accounts within an hour of it happening.

    • Seposm

      I disagree, I understand your point, but that is because you probably have been receiving a paper statement from your bank for a long time, so that is your paradigm. I however, haven’t opened my e-statement from my bank for years. Why bother, it is only current to the first of the month. If I waited for a mailed statement it would probably be about the 5th of the month. My checking account runs over 100 transactions a month, Why would I want to sit and reconcile over 100 transactions at a time. I there is a mistake it could be 30 days ago. I go online and have up to the second view of where my account is. I reconcile immediately. My reconciliation daily against the electronic listing is just as valid as yours once a month against a print statement. I would argue more so. Reconciliation is just resolving any differences between your record and the bank record. I personally find that it is best to resolve those differences sooner rather than later. And once I have done it on a daily basis, why wait until the end of the month to do it based upon some arbitrary date the bank sets.

      Doing it this way also has an added benefit, the only items on my account view right now are the 5 things that I have paid or scheduled that haven’t cleared the bank yet. I find it much easier to keep it clean

      So I would argue that I am not doing it wrong, but doing it better. I do have accounts that I only reconcile monthly, but those aren’t used heavily. I reconcile my cash accounts at least weekly, because I find that any more than that and I am unable to remember where the money went. But because of the way I do this, I am not typing this one number a month, I am typing closer to 50 numbers a month, So yes, the change does bother me. not bad enough to quit using it, but it is a nuisance.

      • Bob

        As Dave Ramsey would say – ‘you’re entitled to your opinion but you’re still wrong’.

        I’m obviously being sarcastic!

        My opinion is based on the traditional accounting principal that you leave the period open until it’s closed.

        My workflow is actually not that much different than yours. I mark my transactions as cleared in YNAB as they clear the bank. Then I compare my cleared balance in YNAB and make sure it matches my bank’s cleared balance. Simple as that. I just don’t see the need to use the reconciliation feature to do this.

        Yes, my paradigm is that I wait until I receive my e-statement every month to do the actual reconciliation. But I have no need to go through the hundred or so transactions as I’ve been clearing them all month anyway and it typically balances on the first try. I just have to key the ending statement balance now – once a month.

        But for this to be truly a flexible program, I agree with the other posters that say this should just be an option in the preferences to default the account balance – yes or no, default to no. Obviously it should have been done that way to begin with, but if you’re only using it once a month, it’s no big deal.

    • Paul Taylor

      Using it wrong? Meant to be used?

      Ummm, no… In fact, I am using it as was instructed during an official YNAB class.

      A few months ago, I took one of their online classes that talked about reconciliation. As I remember it, during that class the YNAB teacher recommended to reconcile whenever you match up your account balance with your bank.

      As mentioned in the class, each time you reconcile, that serves as a “point in time” when you know your account was in perfect agreement with your bank. If an error is made, it was only since the last time you performed a reconcile. If you are doing so every couple of days, that means you only have a few days worth of transactions to look through to find your problem, not a month’s worth.

      This is something that I’ve occasionally struggled with in the past. My statement would come, I start the reconcile process, get through my first pass 5 minutes or so later, then spend the next half hour trying to find my mistake, only to have it be an item with a couple digits swapped.

      Since that class, I’ve started reconciling multiple accounts almost daily. For one thing, it keeps my transaction register clean, since I only have outstanding transactions displayed. Those transactions are “wiped away” from my register and I don’t need to worry about them anymore. I’ve also come to love the certainty reconciling gives me, knowing that my record of my accounts are lined up with the bank.

      I can see how having the amount displayed in the window might confuse new YNAB’ers, so I understand why they want to make this change. In consideration to users who like the old behavior, I’d think they would at least make it an option.

  22. heather

    Broad point… companies have to make choices based on a variety of input… market trends, company direction, and customer requests. When it comes to customer requests, everyone has an opinion but only a few are ever uber-vocal. The vocal ones sometimes don’t realize how much in the minority they really are.

    If YNAB makes enough decisions the majority of its customers don’t like, then they will lose customers. It either self-corrects or another company will come along to fill the need. A software company cannot accommodate everyone. I am all for people wanting to vent if it makes them feel better, but I find it bizarre that people are “put out” over it.

    Reminds me how hard change is for many… Maybe the takeaway YNAB can make is in how it updates customers on planned and released changes.

  23. Seposm

    I love the software, this isn’t going to make me stop using it or recommending it to family and friends.

    However, I did also find this an annoyance. I reconcile almost daily. I like reconciling and my default view is set to only reconciled transactions. I track 24 active accounts in YNAB, since I use the download feature for most of my accounts, this is an minor annoyance, And it would be nice if there was the option to have it pre-populate. Even nicer would be the ability turn it on by account. Meaning I would like to pre-populate on my checking, savings,and CC accounts but would prefer to enter it manually for my cash accounts.

    I also understand that this is how other accounting software packages do it. I still use quicken to track all my purchases and will continue to do so at least until YNAB can store receipts and bank statements. But quicken has been around since the days where the only option for reconciling your bank account was comparing it to the printed statement. Also if what other software packages do is the driving force behind the decision, then please add direct connect. I only connect to my CC sites when the direct connect from quicken brings back a transaction.

    Also, as a software developer, I would mention that changing default behavior , even if the previous default behavior was not the best, is going to be met with resistance. by some and delight by others.

  24. Jon

    I think it is only fair to distinguish between the types of errors being discussed. The change was made for new users that were getting errors from a fundamental misunderstanding of how the reconcile wizard functions. The complaint of users after the change is the possibilty of making an administrative typo when the cleared balance is clearly displayed at the bottom of the screen making it a snap to type in. I wouldn’t be surprised is a change is made in the future to bridge the gap, but I think a fundamental misunderstanding is far more critical to avoid.

  25. Kevin

    How do you know people complaining are in the minority in this case? We may be but there’s no data to back that up. Removing what many see as a time saving feature with no option to keep it will rarely be a good decision. I’m not saying it’s nearly to this point yet but I’d hate to see Ynab become like comcast where the only goal is to get new customers with no regard to the loyal ones.

    I don’t see why it’s wrong to reconcile more than once a month. It was traditionally that way because that’s when you got your statement but with online access why not do it more often? Traditionally you’d probably only clear transactions once a month but that’s also no longer necessary. Ynab itself on the website says you can reconcile any time you want and it’s not necessary to wait until the end of the month.

  26. LeiraHoward

    Is the update Jesse mentioned going to automatically import the actual bank balance from the bank download? (Rather than just using the number YNAB thinks SHOULD be the balance?)

  27. Karyn

    I’m fine with whatever YNAB does. As someone who has reconciled to a checkbook register for almost 45 years, it’s a relief that it’s so easy with YNAB to look at my online bank statement, mark transactions as cleared, and then hit the reconcile button. Typing a number in a box doesn’t seem unreasonable or outrageously time-consuming to me. I reconcile as often as my bank statement balance matches my cleared balance on YNAB and hide the reconciled transactions. Account register maintenance has never been so easy-breezy! This is just my personal opinion, not a decree that anyone else has to agree with me.

  28. Lesley

    The tone of this blog post is rather condescending toward those of us who had integrated the autofill into our workflow. I don’t want to be rude, but a “shut up, get over it and like it” post isn’t exactly the way to deal with customers.

    While this won’t kill me or be a dealbreaker for YNAB it is very annoying and does take extra time every day when reconciling. That time adds up day after day.

    • mark

      I’m sorry – it was never meant to sound condescending. It just happened to be the first time I’d used the new workflow and found it manageable. My only point was to say this was a considered decision and the impact feels okay to me as a user. I admit to feeling a little attacked by some commenters. I didn’t (and would never) say “shut up and get over it.”

      • Paul Taylor

        Mark, while I agree that is it manageable, and I agree that it’s for a good reason, it is still a change to a workflow that people are used to. Some people rarely reconcile, so it’s no big deal to them, but to users who reconcile multiple accounts daily, it’s a change that irritates them.

        Let’s use another analogy:
        Let’s say security for blogs suddenly became a big issue. The solution was to use two-factor authentication, so each blogger would have to validate their login with an RSA token every hour they stayed logged into the blog platform. That would require the blogger to get out an RSA token and type in the current passcode once per hour.

        As someone who normally only blogs once or twice a month, I would see that requirement as an acceptable one for the good of security. For someone whose job it is to write blog entries and respond to blog replies almost daily, it would be a much more sizable inconvenience.

        If my analogy sounds far fetched: At my day job, we had to implement RSA tokens for users to access the other side of a firewall. Every hour they needed access, they had to re-authenticate. Some users only needed that access a few times a week, or perhaps once a day, so they were okay with the change. Other users constantly needed that access, so they were forced to re-authenticate many times a day. Yes, it only took a few seconds to do each time, but it interrupted their workflow and they were not happy about it.

  29. Ali

    First world problems? Seriously, anyone who is crazy bent out of shape over this needs to give their life a hard look…if you have the time to complain about it, than you obviously have more than a few spare seconds in your day that could be used to verify that your budget is indeed on track.

    • Madge

      It is not just about a few spare seconds. I have reconciled several accounts in YNAB for over 7 months almost daily. I never had a mistake. Just since the so-called upgrade, I have messed up 5 reconciliations – 3 of those today – all because I had to type in the number instead of look at a number and compare. Some of us who are perfectly capable of recognizing numbers have valid and real problems with getting numbers right. And, when you mess it up the first time, it costs you even more time. But, besides the time, the more important thing is frustration created and confidence shaken. I had to go on a search for problems, delete a perfectly good transaction, re-enter it, hunt for the right number, retype it – twice because I messed up the first time (again) – and then reconcile for the second time to correct my error of accidentally not typing a number. It should have been 1013, not 113. I knew it was supposed to be there, but my fingers didn’t do what my brain told them to do. Now, multiply this chaos by 356 days a year, and it is not nothing. Yes, this is a first world country with first world concerns. If it wasn’t, none of us would have money or buy software. But it is, and if you want to keep your customer base happy, then you don’t take away features. Now you tell me why my concern should not be met with just as much care as the others that YNAB has accommodated. It is worse in my eyes because they took away something that had already worked for a lot of us and kept a lot of us from making mistakes just to help who knows how many. That’s the problem, we don’t know how many. No study was done to see the cost/benefit of this decision. What’s worse, it was needless. All this for nothing because they had the capability to meet all our needs. They could have waited just a little longer to make the change and no one would be the worse off. I know I would have been better off. They tried to prevent some from committing reconciliation efforts, but caused others who were perfectly fine to make the errors – and still don’t even know if it helped those who were at risk. You just don’t take away perfectly good and working features on the off chance you might help a few.

      Are we supposed to all hold the hands of newbies for years? We all learned this software fine the way it was. I have absolutely no problem making a change to help, but just don’t make a change that hurts.

      • jesse

        Hi Madge,
        We will always have newbies (we hope!), so we are always going to focus on making it easier for them. This was a mistake on our part, not because we were trying to help new people, but because we misunderstood the frequency of reconciliation that a lot of users have adopted.

  30. Cat

    In this sea of “I hate this change” I wanted to stick a tiny voice out there and say “I like this change”. It hasn’t impacted our use of YNAB. [And yes, we have a large number (>15) of accounts to reconcile.) We clear transactions regularly, but we follow a regular accounting protocol and reconcile with our statements. The reconciliation process takes no longer for us than it did pre-update.

    Perhaps YNAB should poll to see exactly how many users truly care about this change – and were using the feature in a correct manner – before a decision is made to change it back? I don’t care if a button is added where people can click to auto-populate, but please, please don’t change it back to make auto-population the default again.

  31. Josh

    I recognize the need to make reconciliation as error-proof as possible – especially for new users… but this has really been an annoyance for me. I do exactly as the OP indicated, clearing transactions and checking the cleared balance against my online balance before hitting Reconcile.

    I’m a developer, so I understand the resistance to adding a configuration option to make it work the way it used to for people like me. A great alternative may be to hold down a special key (Ctrl, Alt, Shift, whatever) when clicking the Reconcile button to have the field auto-populate. Another may be a shortcut within the account balance field that grabs the current cleared balance and sticks it in there (maybe just “c” for cleared… kinda like “t” for “today” in the date field). That way, I click Reconcile, press “c” (since the cursor is already in that box), and then I’m exactly back to where I used to be. That’s a much more manageable change to our process than having to type in the cleared balance manually.

    • Josh

      Actually, I’d really love a keyboard shortcut to reconcile the current account, and then be able to hit “c” to grab the cleared balance… that’s probably a separate feature though. The less I have to use the mouse, the better.

  32. Jon

    There is data that ynab can evaluate to see what needs to be addressed. In this case it sounds like there were a lot of problems that were seen in the classes and via support. The forum is certainly a group of active users, but I doubt the forum membership accounts for a significant percentage of the whole. Jesse has said that didn’t give the workflow driving the concerns enough consideration and they are actively working on something better for everyone. I say take it at face value and see what they do. In their shoes I would get tired of people telling me what is the “easy” fix is when it is their responsibility to build the overall best product possible. We only see windows into how decisions are made, what discussions they have, and what their company objectives and foundational principles are. It sounds like they want to avoid options as a general rule and are wanting to find a solution that avoids it while satisfying both workflows. They have a history of a great product so let’s see what happens.

  33. Bella

    Mark, you clearly didn’t set out to be condescending – but that’s the way it comes across. In summary, the way I read it is: “some people do this (subtext seemed like: weird, don’t know why they do it this way?). I tried it and there’s no problem (subtext: what’s the problem, why are you complaining?)”.

    The reality for me is that I have no idea what the “proper way” is to reconcile, but YNAB offers a handy tool to lock down my cleared transactions, so I use it regularly. Now the workflow I use has been changed to add an extra, unnecessary, step that introduces a possibility of data entry error. That’s not an improvement for me, whatever it may be for you.

  34. James

    I think I this process will be better. The auto-population number was consistenly wrong for me. Now I don’t have to erase it or edit it every time.

    • CW

      You never had to erase it. It was already highlighted so you could just start typing – just like now. The only difference was that you could see the number and leave it alone. Now you don’t see the number. This changes absolutely nothing for those who typed a different number.

  35. pbo

    As a person who is fairly indifferent to the change (I prefer it the old way, but I can deal), I just have to say that I find this blog post rude. It basically says “To all you people complaining, it doesn’t bother MY workflow so just get used to it.” I feel that you apparently have a significant proportion of customers who do not share this viewpoint, and to basically say “you’re doing it wrong” is callous and rude.

    • CW

      My emotions feel the same. I was a bit resentful. Still, to be fair to Mark, I have seen how he writes. I know his style and feel certain he did not mean to be callous or rude. I think he simply was trying to end a blog on a positive, which he always does. Yes, I think he could have written the blog very differently and truly had a conversation with we who are disenfranchised instead of inflaming our sensibilities. Nevertheless, I’m not angry with him personally because I think he is a guy who was just trying to help and didn’t understand the content and technique would be unappreciated.

      I could say more, but suffice it to know that this blog was less than helpful to me, and I respectfully hope Mark realizes we are not satisfied. Hope the Team does come up with a solution as his update suggests – soon.

      I’d be glad to dissect the blog and give the mechanics of why it was antagonizing if you care to email me, Mark. No reason to do it here.

  36. Ross McNary

    Would be happy with either a “hide cleared transactions” like we can hide locked ones, or “lock cleared transactions”. According to the accounting purists, I was technically reconciling manually before I pressed the reconcile button to lock the transactions and wasn’t doing it correctly anyway.

  37. Matt

    I’ve never even seen this screen before. Never manually key in transactions either. Download from the bank and credit card, import, approve. Job done,all reconciled, balances match.

  38. Adam

    Good to hear this is going to be addressed in a future version. Unless there’s a crazily useful new feature or important bug fix, I’ll hold off on updating until then.

  39. Helge

    Just make it optional for the type of user you describe. Like me.

  40. Nats

    But of a rather useless post that really, we all know the issue we want a solution that provides the painless implementation we had before. For most people these days reconciling is pretty usless as they download their transactions and know the total is correct. Whenever you add user manual entry you provide a chance for human error. Change it back and if people want to type it in let them delete it then retype it. Why do we modern users have to suffer some hastle for the people who are stuck in the dark ages?

  41. Ed Cottrell

    I don’t really see the point of this post. The problem is that this *is* a problem for many users, and (as Kevin pointed out in his comment) a little irritation every time a user reconciles an account, multiplied by every person using the software, is a really big irritation.

    Plenty of users complained when this change was announced, so YNAB was on notice that it was about to alienate people. This really should be an option, not forced upon everyone. I sincerely hope that YNAB starts listening to its user base on this one and reverses this mistake.

    • Ed Cottrell

      And… just realized that the post has been updated since I first read it. Thank you, Jesse and team, for responding to the users’ feedback!

  42. Matt


    I was one of those who emailed in asking for instructions on how to revert back, and shared my frustration (for lack of a better term) with the “update.”

    With that said, thanks for your honesty and thoughts. I do not feel like this post is a scoff in any way. I, as most here do, give you much more credit (deserved) than that.

    Like you, it has interrupted my habits a bit, and will definitely be annoying for a while. But there are certainly bigger problems in this world, and as long as we remember that, we will have the right perspective while approaching this “problem.” Even with that perspective, for me it was a useless and annoying update… But I realize everyone is different and some would love it and some wouldn’t even notice. I think there is an answer that works for all.

    Finally, I did not interpret or believe your post was condescending. As with emails, texts, and the multitudes of impersonal methods of communication we use every day, people can and will interpret things the way they want, right or wrong.

    Look forward to seeing what you guys come up with.


  43. Corinne

    Ok, this is good to hear. I’ve been using YNAB for a year and have never reconciled. Reading these comments I thought I was missing something. I update Ynab every day and check the balances every couple weeks and they match up.

    I’m not reconciling anything.

    • Ralph

      I’m not telling you that you have to. Just want you to know that reconciling is a very useful feature in YNAB because it helps clear your register of transactions that have already cleared the bank. It is like clearing your desk of clutter so you can see what you are working on. You can always get out all the other transactions whenever you want, and then put them away with the click of one button again – after you reconcile. If you don’t really understand it, then you might want to check out some of the help topics because you might want to use it.

      • Tom Bushaw

        Yes, and in addition, once reconciled a transaction is “locked” which helps prevent inadvertent changes to stuff that’s been “put away”. In YNAB’s thoughtful design, it does allow you to make such changes, it just gives you a warning first – for critical values – if you really want to change them as they were previously reconciled.

  44. Jack Land

    I have been following this with a great deal of interest since I do not like the change. I remembered when the original blog post came out and did not think it was necessary, but was willing to see how it went. I have not upgraded and don’t plan on doing so until seeing what will happen in the future (I am not angry, just don’t want to be inconvenienced.)

    I have been playing around with my current (old) version and see several options that could be useful.

    1) The idea of a setting that would populate the field or not is currently out there.
    2) Adding an additional field in the reconciliation popup with Cleared Balance and Statement Balance might be an option. (I tired copying my cleared balance from the account window and it merely selected all those transactions – as it was designed to). However I was able to copy the cleared balance from the popup window) One could copy and paste from one field to another if the cleared balance matched – there is that positive and negative issue, but I think that could be handled in programming)
    3) The Statement Balance field could be left blank and a small button labeled “Fill with Cleared Balance” placed alongside for those of us who would like that option.

    I don’t have a comment for those who would like downloaded data to be populated since I don’t download from the financial institutions. It would be OK to have this but it happens to be a feature that neither appeals nor repels me.

    The third option seems the easiest to implement and would allow for easy choosing or not choosing the population option without having to go to preferences.

    It seems to me that this change exemplifies the law of unintended consequences in that a problem was noticed and what seemed to be a simple fix was implemented without realizing how convenient others found the original implementation. It seems clear that no malice was involved and a fix is almost certainly on the way.

    My son showed me YNAB and now I know of at least four families that are using it that I have showed. I remain enthusiastic about YNAB and its benefits. We were patient about the iPhone app update that removed Favorites and the new implementation in the app is, in my opinion, better than what was replaced. I expect that the dev team will come up with an elegant and satisfactory solution.



  45. Michelle

    Scanned through the comments and just want to add my own thoughts:
    1) I am accountant / was a CPA so i am very detail-oriented and understand reconciliations. Losing the auto-fill takes me the 5 extra seconds in my workflow, which is slightly annoying. However, I completely agree that it is no big deal.
    2) I interact with many people who are like the user-base for whom you designed the change. For years I couldn’t understand why they didn’t “get it” and would try to explain and help them. This includes people I work with, my (now grown) kids, folks I serve with on volunteer organizations etc. It’s not that they lack intelligence or are lazy, they just think differently. Earlier comments about increasing education vs removing a feature sound good, but it my experience are just not realistic. YNAB is a great methodology and I want it to be usable for the folks who don’t have my reconciliation detail-oriented mindset. Our society/economy needs lots more people who budget well, not just the detail-oriented ones.
    3)I used Quicken for years and customized the heck out of it to make it do exactly what i wanted it to do. However, the freeing thing about YNAB is the lack of bloat and lack of options. Yeah, I still customize my master categories and use some smart coding so I can extract my data an analyze it the way I want to. But suggestions above to have options for auto fill or non-auto fill reconciliation feel like bloat to me. Its an extra thing for developers to have to deal with. I like you keeping YNAB basic and nimble

    Yeah, losing auto-fill slowed me down a few seconds, but I think it was a good decision. And I am truly amazed at the number of folks who seem to feel this is some kind of significant loss.

  46. Greg

    I understand YNAB’s justification for the feature change, but I’m in the camp for whom this change makes life a twinge more inconvenient. I’d appreciate the option to have the old autopopulation restored.

    • Bella

      Thanks for the update Jesse, it’s great to be using a product from a company who is so hands on and listens to their users.
      I’m waiting with interest to see the next version.

    • LeiraHoward

      Thanks for the update. I’ve been wondering why YNAB doesn’t just pull the current bank balance information from the bank download. No one has been able to give me an answer to that. Do you have an answer?

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