How I Used Year-End Reports To Cut Costs & Save More

The thing about saving more is that it requires spending less which, let's be honest, doesn't always come naturally. Here's how I freed up some cash and made myself more accountable...


My overarching goal for 2017 is to invest more aggressively for retirement, which for me right now, is now about 10 years away. Eek! I want, er, need, to ramp up my savings. In order to do that, I need to spend less.

And let’s be honest, spending less doesn’t always come naturally. So, I spent a little bit of quality time with Reports in my budget for inspiration. First, I looked at the Income vs. Expense Report to see if I was earning more than I was spending each month. I was. Good news! Then, I went through the spending reports three different ways to see where I could free up some extra money:

Determine Baseline Expenses

To determine my baseline expenses I selected each category that I knew was absolutely non-negotiable. When I was done, YNAB showed me the total and I knew that’s the money that wasn’t available for investing.

Determine Optional Expenses

Then I went through again and selected all the optional categories. That was money that, theoretically, was on the table for investing.

Finding The Wiggle Room

Then I selected categories where I thought there was the most flexibility. I used the spending reports to tell me which areas in the budget were the most expensive. Turns out, I spend a lot on groceries and eating out. I know I can do better there if I really pay attention. I took it one step further and set some goals for those categories to help keep me on track.

I also noticed a few categories that were higher than I wanted them to be, namely, my phone bill and my car insurance. I spent a couple hours researching and shopping the rates, and as a result, I shaved $60/month off of those two categories. Time well-spent!

Heightened Awareness

I know that my success will be largely due to increased awareness over time. I went ahead and created goals for categories throughout my budget, because I know it will help make it more tangible and hard to ignore. I really do want to stay on track and I know the added accountability of setting a goal will help. I also created a category specifically for investing where I can budget any money that I shaved off the other categories and (hopefully) be even more motivated watching that balance grow!

Every dollar helps. They all add up. I’m counting on it!