Solve Money Mysteries Using YNAB Search

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It happens to all of us at some point—we set our keys down or put something important somewhere “safe” because we’re so darn confident that our memory won’t fail us and then we have no idea where to find it. It’s easy to forget how easy it is to forget stuff. 

The truth is that we all have a lot to do, to manage, to remember, and to follow up on and sometimes our brains are busy doing other things, like worrying about life or thinking about work, or choosing to play “Call Me Maybe” in an incessant loop in our heads for no apparent reason whatsoever. 

Sometimes these lapses of recollection result in a moment of confusion (Why did I come in this room?) and at other times they lead us on a wild goose chase of Scooby-Doo mystery-level proportions. 

Ah, the joys of being human. 

If you’re like me, you really believe that you’re leaving a careful trail of breadcrumbs in your budget as a favor to Future You, but sometimes Future You still has no idea what you’ve been up to. That’s where the YNAB search functionality can come in handy—it’s ready, willing, and able to solve your budget mysteries with very little brain power required, so you can get back to that one-song Carly Rae Jepsen concert going on in your head. 

You may be wondering what there could possibly be to learn about “search” since it’s a fairly basic and ubiquitous feature on just about every computer, website, and app that exists. Yes, you go to the accounts section in the sidebar, and yes, there’s a search box to the far right of the screen with a magnifying glass. Sure, you can search by the basics, like your category name, payee, date or a whole slew of other things, but as those late night infomercials would say, “But wait, there’s more!”  

Check out these three lesser-known tips for using the YNAB search in the account register to level up your budget:

Search for Flags

Did you know that you can search for Flags? They are a fun way to add some color-coded organization to your budget and they are searchable in the register.

Flags! They’re fun!

Start by typing “Flag” and then choose the color, or just start typing the color to click whatever one you’d like to search. Some budgeters use the Flag feature throughout the year to make tax prep time a little easier. 

(Bonus tip: I put a memo to remind myself what the flag color means the first time I use it. Future Me always appreciates this effort!)

Use the YNAB search functionality to sort transaction by colored flags.
Search for transactions by colored flag.

Search a Name

You can actually search for any term in any field, helping you to see all instances of it in a Memo, a Payee, Category, or anywhere in the transactions list. I use this in my own budget when I want to see which of my three cats is costing me the most at the vet. I don’t use separate CATegories for the transactions since I want to assign money for it all together, but I often note which cat it was for in the memo. 

Use YNAB search to find transactions by name.
Figure out which cat costs you the most by searching transactions by name.

(Let’s be real, with a name like Chanel it’s always her.)

It can also be helpful if I want to see if that recent transaction for a massage got categorized as “Sasha Fun Money” or “Sasha Self Care.” If I search for my name, both will come up! 

Search Uncleared

This tip isn’t quite as glamorous as the others, but it’s a workhorse! (And yes, we’re playing fast and loose with glamorous as an adjective here.) It’s a fantastic trick to have when you’re working to reconcile your accounts, and I use it every week.

Start to type in “uncleared” and then select “Is © Uncleared” and you’ll bring up any transactions that still have that status. 

This is super handy to make sure no older uncleared transactions slip through the cracks!

Use YNAB search to find uncleared transactions quickly.
Use YNAB search to find uncleared transactions quickly.

Now you can mark them as cleared if needed, and get closer to balanced budget bliss!

So, there you have it, super sleuthers! The YNAB search feature lets your brain get back to the business of doing…whatever it wants, mostly. 

Go forth and search to see what kind of mysteries your budget can reveal. Future You will be glad you learned this stuff!

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