Got Budgeting Baggage? Read This.

These books will help you tackle fears, focus on getting out of debt, and get on with your life!

Written by Lindsey Burgess  |  on


At first glance, we sell budgeting software—not a sexy proposition.

Except that money touches on almost every area of life. Oh, the humanity!

In fact, it’s hard to dissect your own habits and attitudes about money without wading knee-deep into issues from your childhood, expectations, questions about identity, core fears, and your biggest dreams. Budgeting can get emotional and significant pretty quick-like.

If therapy isn’t in the budget just yet, no worries. This part—this wrestling with what is most important and changing behaviors—this is what really gets us up in the morning.

In fact, we recently conducted a user survey, and we were reminded of a couple things:

You All Need A Budget

The overwhelming majority of users said that, ultimately, debt drove them to commit to a budget. Would they like to have bigger emergency funds and take more vacations and have money put aside for Christmas? Yes. Those are all great things that improve the quality of their lives. But debt. Debt is the Big Kahuna.

Budgeting With YNAB Works

Our survey showed that, on average, new users saved $600 in the first two months with YNAB and more than $6,000 in the first year. That is a lot of money. And YNAB can absolutely help you get there, but not unless you are willing to stretch yourself, consider new perspectives, and commit to new habits.

If you need some help moving past your past, or just want to go deeper, here are a few of our big picture favorite reads to move you forward in your finances and beyond:

First Up—Focus

We found the impact of this surprisingly quick read deep and wide:

Deep Work by Cal Newport

Jesse read Deep Work and immediately required our entire team to read it. The book defines “deep work” as meaningful, difficult work that requires time and focused attention, but produces wildly different results than it’s seductive counterpart, “shallow work.”

Newport outlines specific strategies for increased discipline, focus, and output in less time. We, of course, saw applications in work, life, and budgeting.

The deep work of budgeting is importing your transactions, cleaning up payees, or looking at reports. The deep work of budgeting is working through hard questions before you give a single dollar a job: What really matters to me? What do I want my money to do? What do I want my life to be? How can my money help me get there?

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that more hours tinkering with your budget will bring about real change, because big, transformative change comes only by asking, working through, and answering big, hard, important questions.

Turn Your Newfound Focus Toward Simplifying

Consider yourself warned—this one might actually change your life…

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

In 2015, most of the YNAB team read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and agreed that it was, in fact, life-changing. We also agreed that the core tenants of the book lined up quite nicely with the YNAB philosophy.

For me, there were lasting effects. Once I saw with new eyes, I was appalled by all the stuff we had that we didn’t need, use, or even like. We got rid of so much clutter, (loads and loads of garbage bags), but also some of the mental overhead associated with all the things, all the places.

I am much more thoughtful about what we consume and it feels great. (Also, I save a lot of money at Target.)

When You’re Ready To Dig Deeper

We (almost) guarantee this book will change your perspective and help you get to the root of what is most important to you…

Your Money, Your Life  by Vicki Robin & Joe Dominguez

Many people feel stressed, anxious, and discontent. They think if they made more money it would solve the problem. But more money doesn’t deliver peace; peace comes from the discipline of focusing your money toward the things that matter most to you.

Happiness is dependent upon taking the time and space to dig deep and decide what is most important to you—what brings you joy—and spending your time and money accordingly.

Your Money, Your Life makes the argument that you exchange time for money. If you accept the premise, you can’t help but re-evaluate your spending, your habits, and your focus. Don’t settle for a life where your money is in control, be in control of your money, so you can make the life you want to live.

But, Maybe You Just Want Someone To Tell You What To Do

If you are looking for straightforward help getting out of debt, start here…

The Debt Consolidation Myth: A Proven Method to Help You Get Out of Debt While Still Living Your Life by Jesse Mecham

If you are in debt, and it’s stressing you out and holding you back, and generally, putting you in a bad mood, decide right here and now that getting out of debt is your top priority.

Perfect timing. Jesse just wrote a practical, to-the-point guide to tell you exactly how to get out of debt and stay out of debt.

It’s everything you need to know to get out of debt—as soon as possible—in one quick read.


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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?