After 27 years of marriage and trying many different methods to budget our money, we finally found something that worked. It is a simple program called YNAB, which stands for You Need A Budget. My husband discovered it online in December 2015, and we decided to start the new year using it.
Over the years, we have tried many different things that just didn’t work for us. The first 22 years of our life together, my husband managed the money and paid all the bills, and I always felt in the dark. Then we went through a financial crisis, and I ended up taking over all the bills and finances, then he felt in the dark. We even tried for awhile doing it together, but that didn’t work either. No matter what, one of us was out of the loop, and one of us would be frustrated with trying to manage the money.
Why this budget system worked for us
Once we found YNAB, we finally starting making traction with our budget. We were able to keep track of every penny in this program, and we could view it anytime by either one of us from our computer or our smartphone. We planned our budget on our home computer and kept track of every transaction directly through our phone apps. Therefore, we could always see where we stood with our budget at any given time.
Before YNAB, we always struggled with credit card debt. We tried to plan ahead and save for things we knew were coming up, but we always ended up charging things we didn’t have money for at the time. Once we started using YNAB, it took about five months to pay off all our debts. Finally, we were able to put money away in different budget categories for future expenses and savings.
The positive results of giving YNAB a chance
By the end of the 1st year, we were living completely debt free. We also always had the money budgeted and saved for everything that came up. It was the first Christmas in our entire married life that we had the money already set aside for gifts. In the past, we were always paying off the resulting credit card debt into March of the next year.
Our next goal was to save an emergency fund that would be equal to one month of my husband’s salary. We were able to do that by the end of our second year with YNAB. We did this along with saving for our youngest daughter’s future wedding and saving for future trips we were planning. Our first daughter’s wedding was pretty much all done on credit and took a considerable amount of time to pay off. Now every time something comes up, we already have the money set aside for it. I can’t tell you how amazing it is to live this way. We have discovered a whole new level of stress-free living.
What I like best about YNAB
The thing I like best about YNAB is that you budget the dollars you have already received not what you will receive. It also offers flexibility to be able to move things around or readjust as needed. If you overspend in one category during the month, you can just move the money around by taking it out of another category or categories to compensate for it. Other budgeting programs I have used were much more static. YNAB seems alot more doable to me.
Life doesn’t always work out perfectly as you planned. That is why you need to have a system that can flex with you. In the past when these unexpected things happened it just blew the budget and the system which led to us giving it up. With YNAB you just flex and readjust.
Readjusting our budget to compensate for our holistic health journey
One of the ways we have had to readjust is with the added costs of pursuing a holistic health journey. This has involved a lot of tests and alternative medical support that is beyond what our insurance will pay. It has also led to costly supplements, treatments, and therapy. On top of all that it has increased our food bill dramatically due to buying all organic, non-GMO, healthy foods. This is all so worth it of course. You can’t put a price tag on a healthy mind and body. Before YNAB, it would have been difficult to absorb these additional costs. However, now it is no problem at all. I just plan for this in my budget every month, and I have readjusted the budget to compensate for the change. For example, I budget less for eating out and more for groceries.
How YNAB works and how to get started
YNAB offers free online classes every day to teach you their method which is so simple yet profoundly life changing at the same time. They have simplified budgeting down to 4 simple rules. (from their website)
- Give Every Dollar A Job.
- Embrace Your True Expenses.
- Roll With The Punches.
- Age Your Money.
They offer a free 34-day trial offer. Then it’s just $50 per year which is nothing if you consider the amount you will save. Their website says that the average person saves $200 in the first month. So you can’t go wrong.
Would you believe budgeting can be fun?
Using YNAB has almost “gamified” budgeting for me. I love managing money now… it has become fun.
Now, both my husband and I always know where we are financially. We finally feel like we are making progress toward our financial goals together. We only wish we could have started this at the beginning of our marriage. I always regret not finding this sooner when I think of where we would be today if we did. So, learn from this example and start now. I remind myself of the ancient Chinese proverb that says “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is today.”
Please note: I am not affiliated with or compensated by YNAB in any way. These are my unsolicited opinions, based on my personal experience.
I wish you all JOY in your journey,
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