You Need a Budget

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Originally written June 2015

You do need a budget, but I’m actually talking about YNAB. In my opinion, the best budgeting software ever.
 
I’ve tried Mint.com. I’ve tried Dave Ramsey. I’ve tried excel spreadsheets. I’ve tried no budgets. None of it worked for me.
 
Almost a year ago I finally bit the bullet and bought YNAB without ever actually having tried it and it’s the best $60 I’ve ever spent.
 
In my mind, it’s a lot like Dave Ramsey except for normal people. People who don’t want to carry around envelopes of cash. You are to give every dollar you have a job. You are to only budget money you actually have. So for us, that means every two weeks I budget our paychecks we just got. The end goal would be to be at least a month ahead- living off last month’s income. We’re about 2/3 of the way there.
 
YNAB is about rolling with the punches. And there always seems to be punches. They want you to plan ahead for emergencies and major expenses.
 
Weston and I never look at our bank account now and say, “Do we have money for this?” It’s always, “What does YNAB say we have in our budget for this?”. It has taken away the guess work of having to remember what major expenses we have coming up in the future, because we plan them out for the whole year. For example, we used to try to save money in advance for our football season tickets, but we always ended up “forgetting” or pulling the money to buy something else we wanted, because it wasn’t really labeled for football tickets. It was just there. Now, there’s a category for that, and I know how much we need to allocate from each paycheck to be able to pay them in full when the bill is due each year.
 
We allocate all year long for gifts instead of being bombarded with hundreds of dollars of gift buying in the fall. We allocate for home maintenance, for an emergency fund, for savings, for a new car, for a kid. We’ve even been allocated for our student loans and we haven’t even started paying on those yet.
 
And then there’s the normal stuff. Groceries, fuel, eating out, date night, fun money, tithe, etc. That all has a budget, too. Do we always stay under budget on this stuff? No, but because it’s all budgeted, we can pull from some when we need to and move it to where we’ve gone over budget. But everything zeroes out in the end.
 
If you’re looking for a new budgeting tool. Look at YNAB. If you follow that link, you’ll get $6 off. They have free online classes you can take where they give away a free copy of the software at the end of each class. If you’re a college student, you can have YNAB for free as long as you’re in college. And they have a 34 day free trial. Do yourself a favor, and your bank account, and try out YNAB. You won’t regret it.


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