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We all budget. Even if you don’t actively budget, you have a budget. You can’t spend more cash than you have, and you can’t borrow more than you’re lent. As they say, “having no plan is still a plan.” You Need A Budget is the one app that has helped change my life. It can change yours too.
I need a budget?
I chose to move across the country to attend a private university immediately after high school graduation. My mom had been proactive enough to forcibly enroll me in business electives while I was young. I learned how to balance a check book and do other “adulty” things; however, she was still in denial enough to avoid having realistic conversations with me about planning for the future.
Budgeting was not a term I often used in my teens or early twenties. If I saw one digit in my bank account, then the spending switch turned off. If I saw two digits in my bank account, I would slow my spending, but wouldn’t stop completely.
That’s what I call living above my means, under a rock, and on the edge of a shipwreck. My student-athlete schedule meant that I craved and consumed more calories than my pocket could feed, and the Bebe store down the block from my apartment kept putting cute shoes on sale. I lacked in self-control. Every meal was takeout; every grocery, organic; and every shoe, platform.
Reality Check: You Need a Budget.
Enter, YNAB! It’s the first software that has helped me plan for the future by innovating my behavior.
How Does It Work?
It isn’t just the app that has made amazing changes in my life, it’s the method behind the madness. On average, people save more than $6,000 in their first year using YNAB. I’ve already saved and redirected more than $10,000! I only started budgeting the YNAB way in January. Yes, just six short months ago.
1. Give Every Dollar a Job
“I can’t afford it” was a common phrase as I was growing up, but where is the line between can and cannot? If I have money available, can’t I afford it? Simply said, “no”.
My past budgets always accounted for money I expected to have coming in. This set-up kept me in an endless cycle of overbudgeting, or overestimating, how much I would have available for my expenses.
You Need A Budget teaches you to plan your spending with only as much cash as you have available—giving every dollar a job. If you accidentally go over your “limit”, the app shows a friendly correction that reads “You’ve overbudgeted! Let’s fix that.”
The team-focused approach makes me feel engaged and invested in the intention of the app which empowers users to make thoughtful fiscal decisions. All you have to do is type in the amount you’d like to budget. We no longer fall victim to those misleading bank account balances.
2. Embrace Your True Expenses
After considering the #goals for your money, you also need to plan for those very real, make-you-feel-some-type-of-way expenses: car breakdown, holiday gifting, insurance premiums, prescription medications…
YNAB has taken the stress out of planning for the inevitable. The user experience includes areas for goal setting so that achieving your targets is not only relieving, but exciting!
3. Roll with the Punches
I may not be perfect, but You Need A Budget is. One month, I had my sights set on paying off my furniture. In another month I overspent at restaurants. Other budgeting apps have made me feel helpless and confused, shaming me with big red negatives followed by a too-long string of numbers.
This app acts as a gentle mentor who places their hand on your shoulder to follow with a whispered, “I gotchu”. YNAB highlights the category in which I overspent, then gives me the option to cover the spending with money from another category.
It’s all my money! It’s all cash I’ve given a job. This tame notification, however, brings the purpose of the budget back to my attention so I may adjust for future spending.
4. Age Your Money
Now that I’ve become a devout YNABer, I’m often surprised by how much cash I still have left on-hand when I sign-in to see the balance on my bank app. If the urge to spend strikes me, I still know that I either can’t afford it or I’ll need to sacrifice in another area.
I’ve come a long way since those days of living in the single-digits during my college years. You Need A Budget has taught me to age my money gracefully. That means that instead of living paycheck-to-paycheck-to-paycheck, my money has down-time. We may still spend a day together paying bills, but cash and I can now afford to take a day off. Over the weekend maybe cash will surprise me with a night out with friends. Somedays cash helps me plan a thoughtful gift for a loved one. I can’t thank YNAB enough for introducing us. We are going to grow old together—happily and intentionally.
Do you use tech for your finances? Comment below with tips about your favorite budgeting app and remember to like this post, subscribe below, and share with anyone who could benefit from this top-tier money planning tool.
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