A Weekly Date Worth Six Figures (and Then Some)

“I truly believe that out of all the services and products that Carly and I use, YNAB has—without a doubt—made the greatest impact.”

Written by Shannon Marie  |  on


Dillon, a software engineer, and Carly, a corporate recruiter, of Crofton, Maryland, graduated from college in 2015 with $105,000 of student debt between them. Luckily, Dillon knew all about budgeting.

Six months prior, he’d been nervous about having enough cash to last until graduation. He said, “I realized that I didn’t have a good grip on my finances and needed to make the money I earned at an internship last through my senior year.”

So, like so many YNABers, he geeked out on personal finance and stumbled across YNAB.

Dillon recalls, “YNAB stuck with me, immediately, after watching the first of the live courses. The tool was presented in such a way that made it incredibly easy to use and pick up the methodology.”

Carly, on the other hand, was a bit skeptical and resistant about budgeting … at first.

How to Persuade Your Wife 101

When they moved in together, after graduation, Dillon persuaded Carly to watch some of YNAB’s classes and to try out the software. She agreed, and thought that YNAB made sense, but she wasn’t as eager as Dillon.

So, like any die-hard YNABer, Dillon tried badgering her. I’m pretty sure that did little to sway Carly, but what did help was two things:

1. When the Budget Came to Her Rescue

Dillon said, “About a year or so into budgeting and living together, Carly had to have an urgent medical procedure done, and we got slapped with an out-of-pocket bill of $700.”

Carly remembers telling her friends about the bill and their incredulous reactions. They couldn’t believe that she had the money to pay the bill outright, no problem. Dillon added, “Thanks to our emergency fund, it didn’t even impact our month-to-month expenses or saving goals.”

And, that’s when it really clicked. Carly saw, for herself, the value of their budget.

2. Their Financial Wins

Hopefully, emergency medical expenses don’t factor into persuading you or your spouse to budget but consider the power of Dillon’s persistence and proof. He didn’t stop budgeting, even when Carly wasn’t fully on board, yet. He kept at it (the budgeting, not the badgering).

Plus, teamwork is important to them. Dillon said, “We both knew from the get-go that managing our finances together was something that was important to us so that we could get ahead and live how wanted to.”

So, Dillon lead the budgeting efforts, at first, and together, they managed some very big wins:

  • In 3½ years, they paid off $85,000 of their student loan debt.
  • In 1½ years, they paid off $20,000 in auto loans.
  • In 3 years, they saved a $14,000 emergency fund.
  • In 1½ years, they saved $14,500 to pay cash for their wedding (which they did).

Dillon said, “I don’t have our history prior to migrating to nYNAB, but, since December 2016, we have increased our net worth by 337.5 percent.”

All that, and they have plans to pay off the remaining $20,000 in student loans by the end of 2019! Let’s just say, now, Carly is very happy about the budget.

The Secret to Their Success Is Thursday

These days, Dillon and Carly have a standing date with budgeting. Every Thursday, they meet to reconcile, check their category balances, roll with the punches, and take note of their progress towards important goals.

Dillon said, “Picking Thursday was definitely strategic! We chose Thursday because it gives us a chance to evaluate how we did throughout the week, and make adjustments for any weekend plans, while preparing for the following week.”

They meet in the evening, after work, and it only takes about ten to twenty minutes, tops, to go through everything and get on the same page. Dillon is generally more interested in their bigger-picture goals. He said, “I like to stay on top of making sure our emergency fund is replenished, retirement account contributions are maximized, and that we’re saving for annual (or longer-term) goals.”

Carly’s interests, usually their shorter-term priorities, are a nice balance. Dillon said, “Carly is particularly good at preventing me from getting too focused on long-term goals and thinking more carefully about how our month-to-month expenses might change. For example, if we’re planning a trip to see friends or family during a month, she’ll point out that we need to adjust our social or gas/fuel categories … which keeps us from overspending.”

They make a great team, hashing out their priorities, together, and giving every dollar a job, accordingly.

Joint or Separate?

Dillon and Carly share one budget in YNAB, with three major sections:

  1. Shared Savings & Expenses
  2. Dillon’s Savings & Expenses
  3. Carly’s Savings & Expenses

Dillon said, “For our shared expenses and savings, we split the costs/contributions at 60/40, as that’s fairly close to our proportions of income together.”

The couple shares joint checking and savings accounts, but they keep their individual credit cards (which get paid, in full, every month).

Dillon said, “We learned, early on, that YNAB does not care or know what money is in what account. After we got engaged, we decided to stop fighting YNAB and move all of our money into one account as it made life easier and there was no reason not to.”

This arrangement works out great, allowing Dillon and Carly to manage money as a team without sacrificing personal choice. He said, “After we cover our shared expenses/savings we each get the remaining amounts of our individual incomes to budget to our individual expenses and saving goals. This gives us both a lot of freedom and has worked incredibly well for us.”

Life Feels a Lot Different Without Debt

Dillon and Carly credit their huge successes—paying off more than six figures in debt, building an emergency fund and funding their wedding in cash—to sticking with their budget. Dillon said, “We are fortunate to have well-paying jobs, however, without YNAB I am positive that we would be nowhere near the financial position we are in now.”

He added, “Being able to be debt-free and save for the things we care about like vacations, new furniture, or trips to see our college friends feels great.”

Their next big goal, after they finish paying off the last bit of those student loans in 2019, is saving for a down payment on their first house.

Persistence Pays Off

If you’re facing a mountain of your own debt, Dillon offered this, “YNAB has been invaluable to us. It has taught us the core foundations of personal finance and has guided us through just starting—when we had no money and what seemed like an insurmountable amount of debt—to now, where it’s more of a blueprint for our long-term goals and covering the costs of the things that are important to us.”

Things won’t always go as planned, and nobody’s perfect, but persistence can lead you to your own proof! Just like it did for Dillon and Carly.

He said, “We may miss a budget meeting or two, or go a few weeks without reconciling. But, in the long-term, we’ve been able to hold ourselves accountable and stick with it.”

Give it shot with YNAB’s trial. The first 34 days are on us.


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Your Next Step

Budgeting is not restrictive. You won’t be spending less, you’ll be spending right. So what do you have to lose? Except all that debt and stress?