Although you can import historical transactions into YNAB that you've built up over the months or years using MS Money™, Quicken™ or some other personal financial software, we don't recommend it.
The thinking behind YNAB is to take what you have, decide what to do with it, and then follow your plan.
YNAB's Four Rules of Cash Flow are forward looking. Looking at past spending can be helpful in determining trends, but you can do this without importing months of history. If you import several months of transactions, you will have to go through every one of them and categorize them. This canbe a time consuming and tedious task and since past spending can't be changed, it has very little value.
Consider your monthly bills and rainy day expenses and use that information to build your first Budget. Start fresh by following our Getting Started directions and move forward. Skip importing historical transactions, you'll be glad that you did.
If you need to get records together to prepare for taxes or to get a picture of spending trends then you can learn how here.
YNAB will import the following formats:
Quicken Financial Exchange (QFX)
You’ll sometimes see this designated as “for Quicken 2005 (Mac) & 2007 (PC)” or “for Quickbooks 2007 or later”.
Open Finanical Exchange (OFX)
You’ll see this designated as for Microsoft Money 2002 or later. You may also see it designated as for Microsoft Office Accounting.
Quicken Interchange Format (QIF)
You’ll sometimes see this written as “for Quicken 99 to 2004, or Microsoft Money”.
Comma Separated Values (CSV)
This format is not standardized at all across banks. If your bank offers any of the above formats, we recommend using those over CSV. CSV will work but you'll have to edit the data before it can imported. If you use CSV, you should be comfortable working with spreadsheets, copying and pasting cells from one place to another, and saving and retrieving files.
Avoid a format labeled QXF (note the 'X' in the middle). QXF (Quicken Transfer Format) is a new file format used to share data between Intuit products. It is the preferred way to move and merge account data between versions of Quicken - but will not work for getting Quicken data into YNAB.
Yes! When YNAB imports a QFX, OFX, or QIF file, it will catch duplicate entries and not re-import previously imported transactions.
Yes! YNAB looks at your transactions to see if they're already in place then matches them up for you to compare and approve. The list below explains what it looks for.
If there are multiple transactions that fit the above criteria, the transactions that are closer in date are taken. If there are multiple transactions that are on the same day, the payees are compared to see which ones are more similar. (But this is rarer).
There are some additional checks to make sure it's not matching against another bank imported transaction, and it will never match with a transaction that is in the process of being imported, but the above covers the common cases.
Manually entering your data keeps you close to your money and leads to much greater awareness. Awareness is your greatest ally when it comes to money management. This will also give you a chance to really learn and understand the software since you are working in it more frequently.
Importing transactions is quick and it serves as a great way to make sure that you didn’t miss anything. However, because of it’s ease, it does remove you from your money to some degree and that can impact awareness negatively.
Every bank handles how they allow you download data differently, but the steps are fairly similar. After logging into your account on your bank’s website, look for a button or link for download or export, or something to that effect. If you have trouble finding it, contact your bank and ask them where to go on the website to download or export your transactions.
Typically, once you find that link, you can then specific what type of file you’d like to download, and the time frame.
Once you download your data, you can now go to YNAB, open the account that matches the data you just exported, and click the Import button at the top of the register. YNAB will take it from there and guide you through the next steps!