Only 8% of people achieve their new year’s resolutions and 80% of those who make resolutions have given up on them by mid-February. In 2017 did you resolve to make a budget? Track your spending? Cut the paycheck to paycheck cycle? It is day 13. How is that resolution working for you?
If you have given up or feel like you are about to – don’t! Keep reading to find out how a little effort now can save the budget and your sanity!
I love me a good excel spreadsheet – the kind with lots of dollar signs in every column and rows with very specific categories. Across the bottom it has to have loads of worksheets with names like 2016 Budget, Sinking Funds, IRA Nest Egg Projection, House Pay Off Projection, and Long Term Separate Savings. The kind with the power to plan (with a click in a column or change of a decimal point) any life scenario I imagine. Doesn’t it sound organized? And powerful? And dreamy?
This year, though, I have new system. I recently found the love of my life – and it isn’t an excel spreadsheet.
You Need a Budget or YNAB is an online budgeting tool that has helped people around the world get control of their money with 4 simple rules: Give Every Dollar a Job (know where you spend your money), Embrace Your True Expenses (plan for future bills), Roll With the Punches (move on from budgeting mistakes) and Age Your Money (Pay bills with money you made last month – or the month before.)
YNAB rocks, here’s why:
You can’t hide from the reality. Because every dollar that flows through your bank account must have a category you must be truthful about your expenses. It can be ugly. If you are budgeting with a partner it can be even uglier – even for me and I thought we had our $hit together!
Eliminate the need for multiple separate accounts. Before YNAB we used a joint account for monthly expenses, a savings account to accumulate our paychecks for the month which we then transferred to the joint account just before the next month, a sinking funds account, a car replacement account and a credit card. I believed I was good with money but really I wasn’t budgeting, I was stashing cash in different places to keep myself from overspending. Two months after starting YNAB we have eliminated the savings account, sinking funds account and the credit card. We are living on all cash.
YNAB’s online classes, offered 24/7, will get you up and running quickly and inspire you to keep at it. The topics include living paycheck to paycheck, budgeting when you’re broke, debt pay down and more. I just checked their site and they are offering 12 different live webinars that will run repeatedly over the next 3-5 days. The coaches are personable, helpful, and really really good at explaining YNAB.
YNAB customer service is second to none. YNAB clients and employees are worldwide and they seem to operate round the clock. One Sunday afternoon when I first set up YNAB I was stuck. I sent an email to customer service then shut down my computer thinking the earliest I would hear back was Monday during business hours. Nope. Got a response in 10 minutes! Not only was it quick, it was helpful. Emma at YNAB answered all of my questions and got me back in business.
You can try it for free for 34 days. If you love it (and you will!) it will cost you $50 a year. You will easily cover this with money you save just by being more organized with your money.
Word of caution about YNAB – it is only as good as the effort you put into it. Once it is up and running it is a breeze to reconcile your budget with your bank account. Seriously, in 10 minutes a week or less you can whip your budget into shape. That said – and I think you know where I am going with this – you have to spend some time figuring out and entering all of your categories. If you are budget-averse you may be tempted to give up before you get it cranking but keep at it! The financial – and emotional – pay-off is worth the time you put into it.
If you have used YNAB before and it didn’t work for you try again. They have recently released a new version that seems much more user friendly. In addition, they are constantly fixing and tweaking and making an awesome product even more awesome (you can read about recent changes here.)
Good luck and keep me posted. Please share your thoughts on YNAB and budgeting and all things budget related.