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’m a Data Analyst for a lead generation marketing company specializing in credit cards (the irony is almost palpable). I drive an hour each way to work. I have a beautiful historic home that I am in the (slow) process of remodeling. She’s a 1920’s foursquare with all of the original flooring and windows. Some days I wish I’d bought the condo 20 minutes from where I work but most days I am glad I took the leap of faith. I am single and my boyfriend lives with me. He has three daughters that we keep every other weekend.
I purchased YNAB around June of 2009. Prior to YNAB I was in a deep dark hole financially. As tends to happen, life did not turn out the way I expected after buying my home in 2008. My then-boyfriend, who was supposed to chip in 30% of the mortgage, took off and my escrow adjusted upwards $400 per month in less than two years. I was in the middle of my must-have-it-now kitchen remodel and ran out of money. I was overdrawing my checking account on a monthly basis and I turned to plastic to pay for food and gas for the last two weeks of each month. Eventually, my consumer debt reached $50k, I maxed out my credit, and they wouldn’t give me any more.
I had to try something and two things stood out about YNAB. The first is that there was a philosophy included. The second was accountability. Never before had I used budgeting software that forced me to be accountable. After starting to use YNAB, the phrase “I need to check my budget” replaced “I need to check my bank account” and I am much better off for it.
I’ve done things I never thought possible, and all by CHOICE. I stopped taking the toll road, I gave up my iPhone for a prepaid, I gave my large pet to a friend; I never got cable for my house, I even stopped drinking beer (no comment on how much I saved in THAT category!).
I have gone from over drafting every month and using credit cards to carry me through to having $1000 a month in disposable income in about 1.5 years. I also have $1000 in emergency savings, a la Dave Ramsey and I have paid off $20K of my debt! My credit cards are either closed or hiding way back in a drawer. I have not taken a second job, gotten a raise, received an inheritance, sold my fixer-upper, or won the lotto. This mainly came about by going through each category and assessing what was important and what wasn’t. More accurate wording would be “what makes me happy and what doesn’t.” I do not see a budget as a way to deny myself what I want, but a way to GET it.
Other things have happened in the past couple years that I can’t directly attribute to YNAB, though indirectly I give credit. I feel that the process of paying attention and writing things down lead to what you want. I’ve now met an awesome guy I want to spend the rest of my life with (who coincidentally happens to remodel homes) and found my biological family who welcomed me like they have known me my whole life. In each case, I wrote down my goals (for instance, a list of attributes I wanted in a partner), reviewed them regularly (I read though my adoption papers looking for identifying information) and opportunities came to me. He showed up on my doorstep (literally, to install my cabinets) and a private investigator contacted me and donated her time to help me find the rest of my biological family for free. In all cases, I did not think I would EVER (insert phrase here) – find the right guy, find my biological mother, pay off $20K of debt in 18 months, have an extra $1K a month for a debt snowball, purchase a Vermont Castings wood stove completely with cash, see a light at the end of the tunnel! If things seem bleak, just start focusing your attention and see what lights turn on!
Never before had I used budgeting software that forced me to be accountable