The Best Family Finance Software Changes Lives

Real People, Unreal Results. (Really.)

The police officer, school teacher, engineer, firefighter, attorney, doctor, professor, designer, manager and rocket scientist all have one thing in common: they’re killing it financially with YNAB.

Brian, Newburyport, MA

I am a video editor. I'm the guy who takes all the footage shot and puts it together to make a TV show. Every time you see an image change on the screen, that was me! I’m a single dad with a 3-year-old daughter.

About nine years ago, I got rid of my credit cards and paid off all my debt--thanks to a book called, How to Get Out of Debt, Stay Out of Debt, and Live Prosperously. I'd been freelancing my entire adult life and was doing well, financially. Fast forward to 2007. I found out I was going to be a dad. I was really excited, but still a single dad. I had to make a choice. Either stay in New York, make good money, and rarely see my daughter, or move to Massachusetts and start over. I moved so I could be closer to my daughter, but the current pay for an editor here was 45% less than what I made in NY. Living expenses were about the same, and I was paying child support.

I was looking at the last of my savings by June ‘10. They’d gone from $16,000 down to $3,000. I’d been using them every month to supplement my income. It was a matter of a few months before I would be flat broke. I was scared I would destroy my life and not be able to support my daughter. I had to get a grip. I needed something that would guide me in saving money, keep track of what I could spend, and managing bills. I was looking for an alternative to Quicken and, after a late night of Googling, came across YNAB. I was suspicious, it wasn't as "full featured" as Quicken, but the more I read about the concepts behind it I became intrigued.

At first I was confused and nervous that it wouldn't work. Slowly, I got the philosophy and how it related to YNAB. I realized it was a lifestyle change or a new way of thinking. I was really excited. (Still am). Once I got how it worked and followed the principles, I realized how serious my overspending was. I  was mad at first, having to put limits on my spending habits. It felt constraining. As I got more into it, I started to feel relief, because I knew EXACTLY where my money was going. I was now in control of what my money did.

After six months of using YNAB I am not overspending month to month. I used the last of my savings to make my buffer. I have $1700 in savings and had enough money for a short vacation to Berlin--roughly $1200. I’m used to tracking my expenses 2x a week. I use the iPhone app which really helps. I know at all times what I can spend. Its really freeing. I’m also less stressed because now I can plan for big expenses like car repair, vacations, and retirement ahead of time.

A quick diatribe on why I left Quicken after 10 years. It may have more "features", but I don't miss any of them. Now they seem like a waste. YNAB helped me realize that all I wanted was a way to control and see my financial picture clearly. I'll take manually downloading my expenses any day for this kind of peace of mind.

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I knew EXACTLY where my money was going. I was now in control...

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