You Need a Budget (YNAB) changed how I handle money, and it no small measure, changed my life. I found YNAB after trying Excel spreadsheets, a manual system and online services like Mint.com. What sets YNAB about from all the other systems I tried is its focus on what is happening right now with my money.
Am I relying on credit card float to buy something and won’t be able to pay that bill until next month? YNAB will show me that. Do check overdrafts keep me in a continual negative balance? YNAB will show me that and also how to get out of that cycle (assuming I am making enough money to do that. If I’m not, YNAB at least shows me that I need to earn more money). Do I keep living paycheck to paycheck? YNAB reveals this fact, too.
Because of how the software works, YNAB forces me to live in the present with my money. I used to worry about the balance in my checking account. You know the worry where I’m scared the checking account balance is too low, too wrong. The worry that I’ve forgotten to enter a check in the check register, and I really can’t pay my credit card bill in full, like I thought I could.
Now, when I think about my checking account balance, I can state that I don’t care. I now know that I have more than enough money to cover what may come up. YNAB helped me create and follow a budget according to the four steps of the YNAB budgeting philosophy.
Rule One: Give every dollar/euro/pound a job
Rule Two: Save for a rainy day (variable fixed expenses - think taxes, insurance, etc.)
Rule Three: Roll With the Punches (I can take overspending in one budget category from another budget category)
Rule Four: Living on last month’s income (SHOCKING for those of us with a history of living paycheck to paycheck)
When I was younger I believed that revolution was an event outside my body, over there, in the legislature or school or place of employment. Now I believe the greatest revolutions occur in me. YNAB has revolutionized my relationship with money. In revolutionizing my relationship with money, I am now more present in my life. I had no idea how much energy I spent running and rerunning numbers in my head before YNAB. All that worry and concern and feeling like a downright loser because I could not keep and manage a budget. I felt especially self-humiliated as a master’s degree graduate. I cannot recommend YNAB enough, especially if you are someone like me, who has struggled with budgeting and living within your means.