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.
I work at a local restaurant chain as a supervisior (serving healthy Japanese-inspired food to the masses), I write a personal finance blog, I work as a Virtual Assistant, and I'm hoping to get an internship with a local non-profit in their finance education department. I have a husband but no kids yet. We'll be working on that in the next few years, though. We've been using YNAB since two months before my husband and I got married, so roughly two years.
My financial situation before I found YNAB was a mess. I was the finance person in our family, and we never seemed to have enough money. We were living in a low-rent situation (house-sitting which cost us only $450 a month to cover the utilities) and we were both working, but there never seemed to be enough money to go around. We were in debt on three credit cards for $4,500, never mind student loan debt (over $50,000) and a car loan for $5,000. I had hoped that when we took the house-sitting gig we would be able to save some money, but it just didn't seem to be working and I couldn't figure out why. I was stressed about money, and wishing I could figure out a better way to make it all work.
My soon-to-be mother-in-law got me Dave Ramsey's "Total Money Makeover" that Christmas. I read it in one sitting, at the kitchen table, and was totally motivated to figure things out. A "debt snowball" was going to help us get out of debt. I started looking for personal finance blogs online, to see if there was any more advice, or different advice that I could find. Click after click, blog after blog, I absorbed the information I found like a a dry sponge sucks up water. And then I found YNAB. When I finally discovered it, a month and a half after I started diving into personal finance blogs, it was like a lightbulb went off. The four rules, the way the transaction register and the budget were tied together, it was exactly what I was looking for, and I didn't even know it. I had been trying to track my transactions using a spreadsheet I had devised, but I was frustrated because it wasn't tied to my budgeting spreadsheet. YNAB was the solution, and it was brilliant.
YNAB was very intuitive for me. When I found it, there was still the free, spreadsheet version, so I tried that out for a little while. I marveled at the technical/Excel know-how that went into the thing. Three weeks after trying it for free I had saved up enough money to buy the paid version, and I've never been happier that I did so.
My feelings after two months of YNAB compared to before YNAB were different as day is to night. In just a few short months I had already found a few places that we were inadvertently leaking money, and we had redirected those previously mis-spent funds toward paying off our debt. In those two months we had paid off $150 of our smallest credit card ($600 total, $450 left) and it couldn't have felt better. We had also started building a buffer, although the progress there wasn't going as quickly as paying off the debt. I knew I was running a slight risk not having a buffer and paying off debt, but I wanted to do something to lower our monthly payments, and paying off debt seemed the easiest thing.
Now, 23 months after starting YNAB, we have paid off two of our credit cards ($600 and $1,300 repsectively), have transfered our final credit card's balance (currently $1,900) to a 0% interest card, which we can only do because our credit scores have improved immeasurably in the last two years. We have $600 in savings, which we've built up over the last four months. We did have $3,500 saved, but we used that money to move us across the country without going into debt (the reason I had saved it) and to cover our expenses in Colorado until I found a job. I continue to love using YNAB, and am excited about living below my means and building up a buffer/emergency fund again, and saving for an eventual house purchase. My husband and I pull in just over $3,500 a month, and we are able to save $500 of that towards all over our different goals. And if I get the internship I mentioned above, all of that income will be extra that we can throw toward our goals and paying off debt. I couldn't be more thrilled about how well YNAB and the principals behind it have worked for us. I'm looking forward to being able to pay this months' bills with last months income in the next year.
I was able to take a ski trip up to the mountains with my family this past weekend, without having to worry about not being able to pay our bills because I didn't work for two days. We bought a Christmas tree this year and actually have things to put underneath it because our financials are in order and we saved $300 for Christmas presents over the course of this last year.
YNAB, and some of the other personal finance blogs ad books I've read, have given me the confidence to know that if I can turn my finances around, anyone else can, too. I've used that confidence to help many of my family members figure out their financial situations, and I've recommended YNAB to all of them (although I think only my dad took me up on the offer... ah well). Through mastering my own personal finances, I've learned that I really love numbers and the sense of peace that I got from having everything figured out. I've decided that I want to help other people (who maybe love numbers a little less than I do) figure out their finances and have that sense of peace too.
The transaction register and the budget were tied together, it was exactly what I was looking for