The Best Family Finance Software Changes Lives

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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.

The South Family

Joyce, McKinney,TX

I'm a part-time bookkeeper for a small non-profit. We have five kids--four boys and a daughter.

 I didn’t know I lived the YNAB way, but for years, I did. Rule by rule: Give every dollar a job, save for a rainy day, roll with the punches, live on last month’s income. I was raised in a family with a moneyholic, so I saw what mismanagement of finances does to families and relationships. Keeping close track of my finances has always been important to me. And being a mostly stay at home mom to five kids gave me lots of reasons to find all of those wonderful rules. For 15 years I lived by them and thought I was prospering. But YNAB has shown me that staying out of debt and prospering are two very different things.

A bit of back story: The way I lived the YNAB rules was with my “Checkbook binder”. My checkbook was a three ring binder with divider tabs. Each section was a budget category. The first section was the “Main” category where all income was recorded and distributed. The remaining categories got those distributions and then were used to record expenses within the category. This wasn’t too terrible of a system until the bank statement came. Reconciliation was torture. True torture. And often ended with a pathetic “Adjustment” entry to make up for a difference I just couldn’t find. The need for new categories created anxiety (additional torture at reconciliation time) and so was avoided at all cost. Which led to the creation of my hated “Other” category. This was a catch-all that ultimately (I now realize) cost me a lot of money.

I was doing it mostly all right: saving monthly for semiannual or annual bills so the money was there to pay them, deciding before spending how much would be spent on groceries, household items, etc. But saving was slow and often taken up by car repairs, home repairs, birthday gifts, or other unplanned for expenses… all the things that were lumped into that “Other” category. Enter YNAB: I found YNAB on December 30, 2010 after a 9 month hiatus in reconciling my disaster of a checkbook. You heard me. 9 months. Clearly I had been fed up for quite some time.

I downloaded it, looked it over for about two seconds; then the clouds parted, the light shined in, and the heavens started singing! ☺ Everything I had tried to do and wanted to do was all there. But even easier than I'd ever imagined. (Reconciliations are a BREEZE!!!!!) It’s like the YNAB people came to my house, looked at my system, and then said, “Yeah, but let’s simplify it. Let’s make it smarter.” Now my “Other” category has lots of new names: Car Repair, Home Repair, Birthdays, Vacation, Christmas, Lessons/Sports, Medical, School Expenses.

Thanks to YNAB’s ability to let me see my money in so much more detail over the past year, we've made huge strides in our financial life. Here is a list of things we’ve been able to accomplish this year with no major increases in income: Paid $2,800 for our second son’s braces Saved $2,800 for our third son’s braces (he gets them next year). Paid $2,700 in car repairs and still have $1,200 left in the category. Paid $6,000 down on a new car. Increased our Emergency Fund from $5,500 to $10,000. Started contributing 4% to our 401K and plan to increase that to 7% at the beginning of the year. YNAB took someone who had it “all under control” and showed them how to do it better. Much better.  About a week after I found YNAB, I wrote in my first forum journal entry: YNAB, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship. That has been so true, and I expect there to be many more wonderful years ahead.

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YNAB took someone who had it “all under control” and showed them how to do it better. Much better.

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