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On average, new budgeters save $600 by month two and more than $6,000 the first year! Pretty solid return on investment.
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We first published Matthew Ricci’s story in 2016. It’s a story that many YNABers can relate to—that you don’t even realize how much mental space your money worries take up … until you feel the sweet freedom of a budget. And we want that for everyone! So here it is, again. If you want to learn more about Matthew and his money story, you’ll find him in Jesse’s new book, You Need a Budget.
Matthew Ricci, 29, lives in New York City. He’s a smart guy, a contingency planner by trade, and he was pretty certain he didn’t need a budget.
His financial plan consisted of using 0% credit cards, only carrying “good” student debt, and keeping up with personal finance blogs, which is where he stumbled across a thread that made him question some previous assumptions and sign-up for YNAB.
After an exciting Friday night, getting his first YNAB budget squared away and learning more about budgeting with YNAB, the writing was on the wall: “I was actually in pretty bad financial shape.”
Two years, and two days after that first Friday night with YNAB, Matthew celebrated being completely debt-free. It was a huge $43,000 milestone, but in a lot of ways it was just the beginning:
For a guy who thought he was doing pretty OK with his finances prior to YNAB, Matthew had no idea how much he had been stressing about money until there was nothing more to stress about: “It’s so liberating! Oh, the stress it relieves. And the joy it brings!” He wasn’t expecting the joy. The new lease on life was an added bonus.
At different points over the years, Matthew had tried “everything else” to manage his money. And nothing worked. Not even a little bit. “Honestly, I held off on trying YNAB for so long because it was so manual. Turns out that was the whole point! This post actually summarizes my feelings better than I could. I send it to anyone who says ‘No, I use Mint’ when I recommend YNAB.”
Learning to talk about money, priorities, and the future, helped Matthew and his girlfriend work together so much better. Now they communicate better about money (and everything else!), and have the tools they need (both technical and verbal), to spend money, guilt-free, in a way that aligns with both their individual and shared priorities.
Matthew began this journey to get out of debt. But armed with a completely new relationship with money and very aggressive early retirement goals, he’s living life quite differently: “I find that I consume so much less overall. When I do buy things, they are high-quality items that bring me joy.”
His goals are bigger, better defined and much more likely to be accomplished. First up, maxing out his retirement accounts and piling up cash in order to have the option to take bigger risks.
“It sounds a bit extreme, but YNAB truly is life-changing. Now that I am debt-free, I am far better equipped to take on the rest of my life. I’ve been keeping the momentum going, enhancing my exercise, nutrition, continuing education, and career growth. I feel like I’m able to focus so much better in other areas because my head is so clear on money. I was always taught that money isn’t everything in life, but I sort of disagree now. Money impacts everything. It’s not the point of life, and it’s not something that should be sought after all else, but there is a difference between earning money, and keeping (and growing) your money.”
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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