Denis Defreyne

YNAB split transactions are confusing

Split transactions in You Need A Budget (YNAB) keep being confusing to me, and I think the problem is not with me but rather with YNAB.

A while ago, I had an unusually complex transaction when purchasing a Steam game. For this transaction, funds were pulled from my Steam wallet, my PayPal balance, and my checking account. In Beancount, this looks as follows:

2021-12-01 * "Steam" "Sample transaction"
  Assets:SteamWallet  -1.00 EUR
  Assets:PayPal       -2.00 EUR
  Assets:Checking     -4.00 EUR
  Expenses:Steam       7.00 EUR

In Beancount, this is straightforward.

In YNAB, however, transactions belong to accounts, which makes multi-legged transactions that cross accounts difficult to represent. For this Steam transaction, I went with adding the expense to my Steam wallet account, and pulling in funds from the two other asset accounts:

(Account: Steam Wallet)

Payee           |  Outflow   |  Inflow
----------------+------------+------------
Steam           |  1.00 EUR  |
  Steam         |  7.00 EUR  |
  <=> PayPal    |            |  2.00 EUR
  <=> Checking  |            |  4.00 EUR

The two PayPal and Checking sub-transactions also create “transfer” transactions in the corresponding accounts:

(Account: Checking)

Payee             |  Outflow   |  Inflow
------------------+------------+------------
<=> Steam Wallet  |  4.00 EUR  |
(Account: PayPal)

Payee             |  Outflow   |  Inflow
------------------+------------+------------
<=> Steam Wallet  |  2.00 EUR  |

When looking at the Checking or PayPal accounts, this gives the impression of a transfer between accounts, which is not the case.

Perhaps this is one case where double-entry bookkeeping is simpler than single-entry bookkeeping.

Note last edited December 2021.
Backlinks: Weeknotes 2021 W51.
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