Slipping Through My Fingers: My spotted past with cash.

envelope with moneyMy very first job was a dream for a nine year old girl. My mom noticed a sign in the teacher’s lounge looking for a mother’s helper for a few hours after school. Twice a week I played, sang and snacked with the most adorable set of twins while their mom worked around the house. It was little girl heaven. (Did I mention they had the Disney Channel??) To top it all off, I was handed a crisp five dollar bill at the end of each week.

Those Abe Lincolns would barely touch my palms before I was looking for ways to spend them. On rare occasions I could hold out for something special (a mermaid bike with a pink banana seat!) but most days, all it would take was the first few notes of the ice-cream man’s warbled siren song and I was right there, digging into my pockets for a Bomb Pop.

Unfortunately for my bank account I continued to work in cash-based industries…. and I continued to throw money at anything that moved. I waitressed my way through high school and college and while it was an excellent source of revenue (customer service was my jam) it left me with hundreds of wadded up bills, and no idea how to responsibly distribute them.

A few years later I married a money- minded banker, who quickly realized my weakness where cash was concerned (well, money in general). We both agreed it would be best for him to take the lead in our finances and he inherited my crumpled pile of tips.

Cash and I were no longer friends. Instead of confronting my failures in finance, I took my proverbial ball and went home.

It’s been over 20 years since I was handed my first “hard-earned dollar.” With all of the mistakes I’ve made since then, I never would’ve pictured a day when I’d know exactly what every penny in my bank account was doing, where it was going and how much remained. When I have a wallet full of “Benjamins” (Ha ha! Who are we kidding? More like “Abes”.) they have a purpose, a job. (Rule One!!)

YNAB is giving me a fresh start with money. I don’t have to be the girl who shrugs her shoulders and changes the subject when finances come up in a conversation. I can take control of our financial future and maybe even be an asset. Imagine that?!

Not everything has changed. I still have a major sweet tooth. When I hear the familiar song of our neighborhood ice cream man, I’m the first to spring for Bomb Pops…

…because I know it’s in the budget.

Tell me YNAB family; is your history with money management as colorful and sticky as my favorite frozen treat? How has YNAB helped reprogram your bad financial habits? Have you experienced a re-birth in your bank account? (And is it just me or does one of those Pink Panther ice cream bars with the bubble gum eyes sound really good right now?)





16 Responses to “Slipping Through My Fingers: My spotted past with cash.”

  1. Claire H

    The biggest change for me with YNAB is knowing what my money is doing. I would pay my monthly bills with ease, but ‘extra’ money would be hoarded for some nebulous thought of the future with no true thought as to where it was going (summer vacation to somewhere far? A down payment for a house? A new car?) And then was easily spent when an emergency came up, one of those not so regular payments (car insurance or my next college course) or just the latest tech toy that caught my eye.. as a result my credit card kept inching up slowly no matter how I paid more than the monthly balance I would knock it back time and again but it would sneak up there.

    Now I’m knocking back my credit card inch by inch, I bought a house and am paying for a new roof by check and my car and house insurance are coming due.. and I can pay for them without worrying that my credit card statement will be higher than I like because I just finally knocked out last year’s payments plus the interest.

    I don’t look at my bank account and itch to spend that nice number on some blow out one week of happiness or grand gesture, I lool at the budget and know my life is infinitely more stable than it was and when I knock out the credit card debt (in the next year maybe?) I can put those payments to that large vacation, maybe to some large amusement park like my son keeps begging me to.

    • christy

      You are so right, Claire! YNAB has made a huge difference in changing the way I look at our “extra money”. It’s no longer burning a hole in my pocket because I know it has a job and a purpose. That stinking Rule #1 has been a total game changer for me! :)

  2. Amy Lundberg Leone

    My relationship with cash is that I was happy as long as I didn’t incur any debt. It didn’t occur to me to save. Of course, unexpected expenses will lead to debt.

    The change that YNAB brought is that it allows me to plan, to give each dollar a job.

    No, I haven’t experienced a re-birth in my bank account. That would require making more money. But I’ve reduced the anxiety or uncertainty, and I no longer try to figure out how much I can spend by looking at my bank balance. It’s a great tool.

    • christy

      I hear ya, Amy! I’m still waiting for that re-birth in our bank account as well, but boy are things progressing so much faster now that we have a plan and a purpose for each dollar! And three cheers for dropping some of that ulcer inducing anxiety!! :)

  3. Molly L

    I grew up embracing a certain amount of frugality and a hatred for credit cards. I was left to be financially responsible for most of my own things once I had my first job at 16. I joined the Marine Corps and had no debt therefore I had no problem meeting all my bills and having fun money because I was constantly aware of how much money I had and refused to go into credit card debt. So I thought I totally had this finances thing down.

    Fast forward about seven years, out of the military, married, have a baby, living on one income and needing to use our Christmas money to buy groceries. Still not drowning in debt but not really thriving either. Money has gotten tighter, or there are more persons to be responsible for with that money. It requires awareness on our part and that’s what ynab has given us. We know where our money is going. We know if we spend this much over here we won’t be able to spend as much over there. And I love every bit of it. It prevents us from running around in circles knowing that we’ve been blessed with an income that provides well but not being able to provide as well as we should because we’re unaware of how every purchase affects the rest. There truly is freedom in rules.

    • christy

      “There truly is freedom in rules.” This gave me chills. I love it and need to remember it. I should mount it on a plaque and hang it by our front door. Thank you so much for sharing your story Molly!

    • Eric

      I love that line too: “There truly is freedom in rules.” I’m going to remember that, not just for how YNAB can have such a huge impact on life, and does, but because life really can change in so many ways for the better and you really do have to fight your way to freedom… The rules a truly a blessing in disguise.

      • Christy

        I agree Eric! That quote is applicable to life in general, not just finances. Wise words for everyone! :)

  4. Saskia

    Our money management was pretty bad. It’s painful to think how much we could have saved over the years if our attitude had been different and we’d had better tools.

    We got YNAB eight months ago and the number one way it’s changed our daily relationship with money is that we no longer look at the checking account balance to determine whether we can “afford” something. Instead, it’s all about whether there is any money available in that budget category. Even though there are thousands of dollars in the checking account, there is no temptation to use them for frivolous purchases because I can see they are designated for specific, upcoming expenses.

    We’ve definitely had a financial rebirth thanks to YNAB. We’ve paid off over $17,000 in debt (school loans and credit cards) over the last eight months, and that on teacher salaries (one part time). Next month we will be debt-free with the exception of our mortgage, which is something I NEVER would have thought possible before YNAB. Literally the best $60 we’ve ever spent!!

    • christy

      I just started a “slow clap” for you Saskia! Can you hear it?? :)

      Seriously- you are amazing! Congrats on the HUGE financial accomplishments! You are a great example of the financial success we can attain with the structure of YNAB.

    • christy

      Oh.my.gosh. The things our parents allowed us to ingest as children!! It’s a wonder we didn’t all get scurvy or typhoid or something related to “Red Dye #5″…. ;) (Thanks for the gruesome trip down memory lane, CB!)

  5. Susan

    Hi – I’ve always been cash-challenged. I tried, I really did, but the bills were never neatly organized in my wallet, and what to do with all that change? Receipts? Ha, I’d lose them. I’m probably the opposite of some here, as credit cards have never been a problem and have allowed me to be much more organized. They are always paid in full. However, to this day I only allow myself $20 per month cash for “walking around money” for those places where I really need cash–farmers’ markets and such. Once I have cash in my pocket, it’s “gone.” Amazing the different ways our minds work when it comes to money!

    Even though I’ve never had consumer debt, YNAB has allowed me a much more granular view of my finances, and specifically how the various categories interact. WAM was a whole new concept for me! Also, I never had specific sinking funds before YNAB, just a general savings category (that proved invaluable several times in my life). Having savings was good insofar as even having them but I realize now I was having this one category cover too many contingencies. I was lucky that several didn’t happen at one time.

    It needs to be said that YNAB is not just for, say, “The Young and Indebted”(?) but for anyone who wants to manage their money on a whole new level.

  6. christy

    Hi Susan! Thanks so much for your insight! I agree 100% that YNAB is not just for those sinking in debt or in the middle of crisis. It’s been incredibly beneficial to my sister and her husband (who are debt free) and has allowed them to create really healthy financial habits as well as a sturdy foundation.

    I love the distinction you made between regular savings and the YNAB categories. That’s made a huge difference for us as well!

  7. Kenneth

    It is June 30, and my Spend categories are -$24.90. But I’m not sweating it, I’m just turning it right to take it out of next month’s $2,000 Spend budget. YNAB let me be mindful enough to send $1,500 to my home equity credit line this month, above the interest payment. Sinking funds in place, monthly expenses budgeted for, buffer in place, $2,100 budgeted for HECL next month, and $2,000 Spend. It is SO nice to have a spending plan, and stick reasonably closely to it.

    • Christy

      Knowing you have that “buffer” in place is the best, Kenneth!! Congrats on a successful spending plan!

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