If you know me in real life, it might surprise you to know that my favorite part of Thanksgiving has nothing to do with mashed potatoes or dessert. Nope, I actually really enjoy the solitude of a long drive home for the holiday (audiobooks, for the world!), the smell of cinnamon-scented candles and, best of all, the deliberate shift to gratitude.
It’s become more apparent, trendy even, that a daily gratitude practice is beneficial … but there’s just something extra-special about giving thanks on, well, Thanksgiving. As we prepare for the big meal (and the shopping mania that follows), I’d like to share with you the five reasons that I’m so, exceedingly, grateful for my budget:
1 – Living Within My Means Feels Doable
I’m grateful that I’ve got things covered. With my budget, even when my income dips—which trust me, over time it has fluctuated greatly in both directions—it’s nothing short of amazing to know that my bills are covered. Every month, I have enough money for groceries, gas, and other essentials, and my debts are getting smaller (even if it’s just by a hair some months!).
Before I started using YNAB, I never felt like I had enough. Ironically, that was when I earned the most! It was inevitable that some months I’d come up short, and there were always “emergency” expenses. Now, I pay everything like clockwork, there are rarely emergencies, and I always budget for a little fun money. It feels so good.
2 – I’m More Present
I’m grateful that I can relax and enjoy life. Budgeting has weakened the emotional charge around money because I have a clear view of reality. There’s no fear of missing out—if my friends want to plan a vacation together, I can opt in (and save up), or take a pass. I might choose to prioritize more frequent nights out, a fitness membership and some extra clothes this year, instead.
With a clear view of my priorities, it’s easy to decide where to spend my cash … or not spend it, as it were. I don’t feel deprived because I budget and save my money for the things I truly want. I enjoy the things I buy more, too—guilt-free.
3 – Shopping as Therapy? Ha!
I’m grateful to say goodbye to compulsive shopping. It’s been quite some time, but I remember the days when a trip to the mall could last all day. The smell of the food court, the twinkling lights, gorgeous window displays …
… and, just under the surface? Guilt. I remember feeling somewhat ill with every swipe of my card. I didn’t enjoy forced chit-chat with salespeople. Crowded parking. Crowded walking. I saved my receipts, too, just in case my guilt got the best of me. And then there was all of the stuff. (Maybe, instead of decluttering, we just stop accumulating all of this junk in the first place, eh?)
At some point during college, I realized that I was simply too broke to shop as a hobby … my heart shattered. Today, I can’t remember why! I’d much rather spend my money on things that improve my life—for me, that’s reading, yoga, writing, nature and time with people I care about. Guess what? They’re a lot easier on my wallet, too.
4 – The Freedom to Change My Mind
I’m grateful for a budget that bends. I tried budgeting a few times before YNAB, and I was lucky if I lasted a month. The problem was that, if I needed to change my plan, I felt like a failure and gave up.
With YNAB’s method, there’s room to roll with the punches. This month, for example, I realized that working out at home was not really working (read: I never did it) so I decided to go to live classes—classes that weren’t in my November budget.
Thanks to the power of Rule Three and the stockpile of Costco food in my freezer, I was able to move some money from my grocery category into my yoga category and go to class. Namaste on budget. Winning.
5 – A Crystal-Clear View
I’m grateful to see the big picture and all of the possibilities. Before YNAB, I was actually scared to think about my financial future because saving—much less saving enough money to ever retire—didn’t feel possible. Now I experience the power of planning on a regular basis.
Thanks to my budget, I can see how my daily choices add up to my monthly outcomes, and how my monthly choices add up to yearly outcomes. It’s something that I don’t think you can truly appreciate unless you’re managing your money very intentionally, which is exactly what YNAB is all about.
Suddenly, big ‘scary’ goals feel completely within reach. And I’m not just talking about the serious stuff, like paying off debt. I’m talking about realizing my full potential. It’s exciting to see how my decisions are slowly shifting my course, and that I have more power than I thought I did to create a future I can look forward to. Travel, saving, and investing, I’m looking at you!
What About You?
If you use YNAB, what is the biggest win you’ve experienced so far? I’d love to hear what you’re grateful for, too!