We’ve become a family of YNABers

bag of moneySomething exciting happened yesterday.

For over two years, I (Jessiebird) had been begging my 28-year-old stepson to try YNAB. He had grudgingly downloaded the trial, but insisted that he couldn’t use it unless he entered all his future expenses. This had thrown off his budget numbers and left him convinced that YNAB wouldn’t work for him.

He had still not come around to YNAB at Christmas this past year. I knew this because he mentioned having to check his bank balance to make sure he had enough money to buy a few more gifts. (I may have given him my standard lecture about how YNAB teaches you to make spending decisions based on category balances, not account balances. But if I did, he wasn’t listening.) 

A couple of months ago, out of the blue, he did say something about wanting to give YNAB another try. Worried I might scare him off, I kept my normal gushing tightly controlled and merely said I thought he’d really find YNAB useful and that I could help him if he got stuck. But he hadn’t brought up YNAB since, so I assumed he had changed his mind.

He was in town this week for a brief visit. And last night, while we were all watching a movie, he pulled out his laptop and said, “Sorry, but I have got to get caught up on YNAB.”

I almost dropped my popcorn.

I tried to appear casual, but I had to hug my knees to keep myself from turning cartwheels around the living room. I quivered in silent excitement as I watched him stare at the screen while murmuring number-type stuff.

After about 5 minutes, he gave a little cheer, and I knew exactly what the sound meant. “Balanced to the penny, first try,” he said with a grin. It was a beautiful YNAB moment.

He spent another 5 minutes or so examining the budget and tapping the keyboard now and then. “I overspent a little on this trip,” he said. “I kind of figured I was going to, but it’s not a problem. I have a couple other categories I can take the money from.”

Hear that? He speaks YNAB.

He joins my younger stepson and his wife, who started using YNAB when they got married last year and who have had great success so far, as well as my 14-year-old daughter who, as I wrote in an earlier post, is a young but avid YNAB user.

I’ve often felt bad that my husband and I didn’t set the best example of how to handle money when the kids were growing up. We can’t change the past, but I’m thrilled that we’ve been able to do the next best thing: get all three of our children using YNAB so they can avoid the money-management mistakes we made.

At last, our whole family uses YNAB. Maybe that is worth a cartwheel or two. 


12 Responses to “We’ve become a family of YNABers”

  1. Brendan

    Funny timing for this post. I have had a sister and a friend both ask me to help them set up ynab randomly this week. I have gotten 2 others on board (sister in law and best friend) but I never expected these 2 to come around.

    I think when you tell people about your successes they start to wonder.

  2. budgetbaby

    That’s so exciting! I’m trying to get my mom to use YNAB but she doesn’t have a computer. Just an iPad. We have it set up to link to my computer but she just gets overwhelmed. The only transactions she enters are for her iTunes account.
    I did get her some printables from Etsy so she can write everything down. My dad has this idea that they should be able to live on a certain figure per month. I’m not sure it’s attainable!
    Heading into retirement for them is a good time to get everything in order.

  3. catesalim

    How awesome! I have an almost 10 year old who I’ve set up YNAB categories for on our budget (he has a mini-budget) Following Jesse’s model, with a few modifications – the kid receives gift cards which I track for him, and he has a monthly subscription which he pays half, so that’s included in his mini-budget, so I can refer back to it when he complains that he’s out of money for the month. We frequently discuss money around him (knowing even though he might not appear to be listening, the kid has ears like a hawk).

    No one did this type of thing for me growing up, and I had A LOT of stumbles over the years (hiding from creditors, etc). I’m always amazed how well YNAB works, and how we’ve been able to pay off debts while being able to handle the things life has thrown at us. Just this past month, we had to pay a $1,000 accident deductible, and two other car repairs which added up over $1,000 (I could tell you the exact amount and for which car if I were looking at my budget right now). We were able to pay all of it, and didn’t have to dip into other categories or loose our buffer. What an amazing feeling at 49 to finally be really financially responsible. I hope my son will have this down pat when he becomes an adult, and it will feel normal and natural to him because of what we’re teaching him now.

  4. Bruce

    My sister asked me to send her links to “that program you told me about”, so I did.

  5. Eric

    That’s DEFINITELY a cartwheel moment!

    Very cool… I’ve not brought up YNAB around most people I know because I’ve not been in the best position to make the best choices in the past when it comes to budgeting. Basically, everyone I know (except my girlfriend and I) use a check book.

    However, just today at worked I mentioned YNAB for the first time in a long time to someone I’d never met before (but will be working with – kinda) and they said they’d never heard of it but they’re very into budgeting and keeping track of money.

    I just might slip YNAB into a conversation and if they go for it, I’ll try not to do a cartwheel since it might look funny at work but I’ll do a virtual one just for you (and them! lol).

    • jessiebird

      I am a bit sheepish about promoting YNAB to certain people myself, given my history of poor money management! But once I get on the topic, good luck getting me off it. A few of my coworkers (two of whom are now using YNAB themselves) wish I had a mute button…

      • Eric

        Lol as I’m sure there’s a few people who wish I had the mute button as well… all for good reason on both ends I guess ;)

  6. Bel

    That’s fabulous Jessiebird. I’d love to get my niece using YNAB and she wants to move house later in the year, so I’m thinking I might offer to buy her the program and help her set it up as a house warming present. It’s always hard to know if someone will take this in good faith or if it seems like interfering, but I’m hoping she will run with it, and I’m very encouraged to hear that you family are embracing YNAB.
    Your post reminds me of something that my boss has told our staff (working in community education) that often people need to be exposed to new information several times before they will act on it, so there’s no need to be discouraged if someone doesn’t immediately take something up, hopefully we’ve sowed a seed that will come to fruition later on.

  7. Cali_Grls

    I just convinced my 18 year old to download YNAB yesterday. Fingers crossed she will find it useful and stick with it.

  8. Judy

    I would also like to find a way to tactfully gift YNAB to my son and his fiancée (they are getting married in August) as they begin their new life together. They both freelance, so money comes in spurts, and I think YNAB would really help them. I know it has really helped me, and I wish I had it when I was their age and newly married.

    • jessiebird

      It is so hard to get people to jump on board. It’s like when you give someone the gift of soap. What are you trying to say, exactly? ;-) But if they see the success you are having with YNAB, it may inspire them to give it a try.

    • Minnie

      If there is any time practical gifts are welcomed it is weddings. Or at least that’s how I felt at mine.

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