You Need a Budget!
A lot of people ask me how I do it all. First of all I don’t do it all. I do a lot. I do some things well, and there are some things that I do very poorly. (Just ask my husband.)
One of those things I do poor is budgeting. As in … I don’t have one. (Or at least I didn’t.)
For many years this was a problem. About a year after John and I were married he went to college and we were broke. He worked two part-time jobs, and we’d have, like, $10 every few weeks after all the bills are paid. You don’t really need a budget when you only have $10. Somehow we survived.
After he got a regular job we had some years we did pretty good living on what we had. Then we had other years when credit card debt snuck up on us. (Mostly, when I was the one paying the bills.) Then we’d work and work to get the debt paid back off again.
Lately, John and I have been talking a lot about a budget. The more kids we add to our family through adoption, the more expenses we have. We really need help planning where our money goes. (As opposed to scratching our heads and wondering where our money went.)
That’s when I came across this! And I got excited.
I was hooked at their Introduction video. Did you watch it? If not, you have to!
If the word B.U.D.G.E.T. Scares you, as it scared me, you might need to take a look. You should especially take a look if …
- If you spend every penny you get, and then some.
- If your savings account is anorexic.
- If you’re so worried about your financial future that you don’t take time to enjoy the present.
What You Need a Budget claims is that this whole thing isn’t about budgeting and money, it’s about peace. I agree with that. You have no peace if there are always money concerns. You have no peace when there are more bills than money to pay.
You Need a Budget is set up with Four Rules
- Rule #1: Give every incoming a dollar a job. This means you prioritize and take care of what needs to be taken care of first. You ask “What does this money need to do before I’m paid again?” Also, since some of your money is put into a “future” category-one you only need for emergencies-then you’ll be paying attention to the budget not your bank balance. (Even if it says that you have money in there!) Because every dollar has a job you just can’t use it however you wish.
- Rule #2: Plan for those bigger less frequent expenses. This rule takes into account your true expenses, what bills you have now, and what you have to pay outside of your regular expenses (Car insurance, car registration, etc). And the unpredictable expenses that come up like car or home repairs.
- Rule #3 Roll with the Punches. I’ve tried budgets before, but they were so rigid that I soon failed and gave up. With YNAB, you don’t fail at budgeting. If you overspend, you can borrow to another category. It’s okay that you overspent somewhere, you just make adjustments where you can.
- Rule #4: Learn to live on last month’s income. (And this is where the planning comes in!) What does this mean? What you earn in June covers your expenses in July. It’ll take you a little bit of time to accumulate enough to all this to happen, but once you do you never have to stress about any bill, because the money is already in there when you need it.
YNAB helps you save for rainy days, so cash flow is no longer the issue. This removes you from the paycheck to paycheck cycle.
I love the four rules. They make so much sense! But that’s just the beginning. The ideas are great, but the methods are simple too. For example:
- There is an electronic register that keeps track of everything.
- Adding entries to the register is a breeze. In the program, just click where it says “add a new transaction.” Type in the date, payee and category. Once you enter a payee, YNAB remembers. That saves you time since you won’t have to type those payees’ names in month after month. You can make a memo if needed. You can also indicate the amount as an inflow (deposit) or outflow (expense).
- Another great thing is that YNAB lets you keep track of everything using categories. Then you will know exactly where your money goes. It also lets you split a category. For example if you go to Walmart and spend $50 on food, $20 on school supplies, and $40 on clothes you can keep track of that. Genius!
So what is the mission of YNAB? To help you stop living paycheck to paycheck, get out of debt and save more money faster
So how much does it cost? Is it worth it? (How much is your peace-of-mind worth?)
Sign up for a 34-day free trial of YNAB. The purchase cost if $60 if you like it! In addition to the computer program, there is a lot of additional training.
Before sitting down to do our budget John and I sat down to see where our money went. This really helped me to see that spending $5 here and $10 there really adds up! (Actually for both of us.)
We’re just in the beginning phases of YNAB, but so far I’ve only seen benefits.
- Given us a plan.
- Helped us move from living pay check to pay check.
- Helped us make a plan for growing our savings.
- And it’s already helped me cut back on spending, because I now know that every dollar has a job. (And I realize that it’s okay to wait until next month on some things 🙂 This proves the the proactive approach to spending works!
This software is perfect for those who are trying to get out of debt or those who need help setting up a budget for their personal finances.
YNAB works on your PC or Mac and it’s easy to install. The one downside is that you have to download each of your transactions. Unlike other programs that help you keep track of where you spent your money, YNAB helps you to be more active in planning your expenses.
Over all I’m excited about our budget!
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”