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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.

Christopher, Saugus, CA

I design and create Powerpoint and Apple Keynote presentations for corporate events. I do this as an independent contractor and work mostly from home but also go on the road to wherever the company is having their meeting or event. I will run the presentation for them while they're on stage giving their speech or presentation.

My wife and I have four kids. It makes for a hectic house but it's never dull! We live in the far suburbs of Los Angeles. It's one of those areas that has grown very fast in the last 10 years. Thousands of new homes were built (including ours) that were hit hard by the housing financial meltdown.

I make pretty good money all-in-all. It fluctuates from year to year but averages about $110,000/year. We probably overextended ourselves with the house we bought six years ago. It was so easy to get the loan that we thought "no problem" we can afford that. I actually had no idea whether we coud or not. We seemed to have enough monthly income but I'd NEVER done a budget, or had attempted it once or twice through Quicken but gave up in frustration. We always ran out of money every month and had to add to our mounting credit card debt. It never seemed like we added that much to our credit problem, but after many years we had over $60,000 in credit card debt.

My 10-year-old Volvo broke down, permanently, and two of our kids needed major orthodontic work. That's when I started adding up all our debts and taking a hard look at our finances. There was no way to pay for braces (not covered by insurance!) or buy a used car (we had no savings). We were in so much debt that adding more was a sickening thought.

 My income comes in irregular at best. Some clients pay me in 30 days others take up to 60 days. Figuring out where all our money was spent was VERY hard. It all just seems to magically disappear in frivolous impulse purchases that were never very well thought out. Costco was one of the worst problems. They have so many things that you feel you "must get" right then or they'll be gone and may not ever come back! We fell for that scheme over and over. It was eventually enlightening and frightening to see where all our money went with YNAB.

In the first few months, we really cut back on all the impulse purchases. Do we REALLY need that six pack of insulated travel mugs? Umm, no! It's very motivating having a goal now and watching the expenses go way down on all the non-essential junk we used to indulge in.

We actually have money in the bank at the end of every month and have $2,100 in an online checking account set up for emergency use only. We haven't really used a credit card in months. We were even able to pay off $10,000 (one card) in about five months time and are now moving on to other cards. We paid a big chunk of our oldest daughter's braces bill up front in cash. I also put a big down payment on a used car, but still have a small loan to pay off. I lowered my pre-budgeting dream car desires (A BMW lease...it's ONLY $459 a month! Choke!) and got a great deal on a 1-year-old Chevy Malibu, ex-rental car and I love it.

We don't feel like we are missing out on anything even though we have cut WAY back. It's a much freer and liberating lifestyle. It makes daily life a lot smoother. I used to get upset easily over minor bill paying problems and frustrated by our lack of money when I was sure we should be making enough. I don't have to save those credit card mailings that offer you "interest free" transfer of balances for a 5% service charge! Having a plan is great. I like the challenge of chipping away at our debt and seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

 

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