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In January 2017, Christian, 28, and her husband Cedric, 32, were facing bankruptcy.
Christian said, “We were in way over our heads … Businesses that had loaned us money were coming to collect—all at the same time—and we did not have the money to pay them. It was terrifying.”
The couple lives in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, where Christian stays home with their three kids. Cedric is a supervisor in the automotive industry and, before they began budgeting, payday never seemed to come soon enough.
Christian said, “We’re a one-income family, and my husband gets paid monthly. Once a month! It’s very hard making a paycheck last a whole month when you don’t have a plan.”
And, that was just it. For years, they didn’t have a plan, so the debt accumulated. But, when the threat of bankruptcy emerged, Christian and Cedric had finally reached their tipping point. Christian said, “At that point, we knew that we had to do something drastic.”
Looking back, Christian said, “Cedric has a great-paying job, but money always just disappeared every month … For years, we would get paid, pay bills and then spend money on what we want—and then find ourselves struggling the last week or two of the month, before the next check. The stress of that put a lot of strain on our relationship.”
They had tried budgeting, before, but it never stuck. Christian said, “We’re very different when it comes to handling money! … I’ve always wanted to budget, but it was so difficult to get him on board, and it would always just fall apart. I felt like we were destined to continue on our path of living paycheck to paycheck because we couldn’t get on the same page.”
Cedric’s tendency to spend and Christian’s preference to save made it difficult to agree about how to manage their money. And, Christian admits, they lacked discipline. She said, “We tried Dave Ramsey’s zero-based budget before, but I just could not keep track of all of the transactions we had every month (so many debit card swipes!).”
But, luckily, in February 2017, the YNAB fairy visited their doorstep …
OK, there isn’t actually a YNAB fairy, but the ending of this story is pretty darn magical, nonetheless. Christian said, “A good friend of ours introduced us to YNAB and spent hours with me setting it up, explaining how to use it and answering all of my questions.”
She was an instant fan: “I love the way YNAB keeps track of all of the different categories. I love that I can see how much money is in each category and that I can move money from one place to another if something goes into ‘the red’. It makes so much sense and has given me such a sense of security!”
The Saving Sam that she is, Christian was excited to have a customizable framework to help her save up for the things that mattered the most to her, Cedric and the kids. She said, “I make my category for Christmas, our anniversary, whatever it is, and start putting money in that category every month so it never just sneaks up on me. That is brand new to me, and I love it.”
A funny thing happened when Christian and Cedric began to budget …
Christian said, “Ever since we began using YNAB, in February 2017, we haven’t—not even one time—run out of money before the end of the month. In fact, we’ve been able to pay off an insane amount of debt, save money for a down payment on a house, and [start] a Christmas fund! We’ve actually had money leftover from the previous month—a completely foreign concept to us, haha!”
And it gets better. Christian said, “We’ve paid off $8,251 in five months. I’m still shocked at that number! It shows just how wasteful we’ve been in the past, but I’m so thankful that we are now able to see how much extra money we have available.”
That’s $1,650 per month in debt repayment, not to mention the dollars that Christian and Cedric budget towards their savings goals. Not too shabby.
By August 2018, Christian and Cedric expect to have paid off all of their debt, except for Christian’s student loans. Christian said, “It’s been life-changing, literally. We went from ‘We have no choice but bankruptcy’ to being back in control of our finances!”
Next up? They look forward to shopping for their first family home—something that never felt possible, before. Christian said, “We wanted to pay off debt so that we can buy a home. We rent our house, and I hate renting! Our goals are the same, except now they aren’t some far off, distant dream. It’s becoming reality.”
Overhauling their lifestyle hasn’t been a walk in the park. Christian said, “In order to pay off the amount that we have, we’ve worked very hard. My husband takes on every, single overtime opportunity, and he often works seven days a week. We put every bit of our tax return, his whole yearly bonus, and every hour of overtime pay towards debt. That’s how we’ve paid off as much as we have. We’ve had to sacrifice a lot, but it has been so worth it.”
Not only have Christian and Cedric evaded bankruptcy and taken control of their future, they feel closer because, when it comes to their finances, they finally feel like they’re on the same team. Christian said, “Since we’ve been doing YNAB, and we both see how well it’s working, we are in such a better place. We are finally on the same page! We’re working together in this!”
If you’re feeling buried by debt, why not give YNAB’s free, 34-day trial a shot? As Christian said, “Just do it! Once you get started, it is so incredibly freeing!”
Remember, budgeting is not restrictive. You won’t be spending less, you’ll be spending right. You can do this! Today. Right now. What do you have to lose? Except all that debt and stress. (Ok, so kind of a lot.)
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