How to go from stressed out to certain with your finances in 2014.

An effective budget will take you from stress to certainty with your finances. Check out this budgeting success story from “petra09″ in the You Need A Budget forum to see how she transitioned from constant money worries to peace of mind – in spite of losing her job.

“In Feb, I hit a wall with controlling my finances. The year prior, due to a generous gift, I had become debt-free and yet within a few months I was again on the way to credit card debt hell. Despite all my efforts, I was still confused each month as to how my expenses were miraculously covered by my income and the credit card [debt] was growing again.

On top of this, I knew my job was going to be cut in a matter of months and despite shoving money into an account each month, I had no idea if it was enough or why I didn’t seem to be getting anywhere with savings. Then there was a car to buy, a cat surgery required, and my own surgery to pay off. Going to the grocery story was an exercise in guilty “I think I have enough” purchases, going out with friends was a drink away from a panic attack, and no matter what I did, I never felt confident all the bills would be covered.

I would neurotically check my balances, but never know whether it was enough despite spreadsheets, post-it notes, and a very patient boyfriend who couldn’t understand my feeling of helplessness due to his own innate budgeting ability. Worst of it: I knew I wasn’t in true danger. I had friends in far worse situations, not to mention folks who were relying on friends and family to keep them from losing their homes. Why couldn’t I just get this right? What would happen if I didn’t do something?

I googled budget software and threw myself at the mercy of YNAB hoping I wasn’t a completely lost cause. I gave myself completely to the Four-Rule methodology, gave every dollar a job, and told myself that even though I didn’t know where that $60 was going to come from to pay for it, at least it was better than doing nothing.

Ten months later, I was happily reviewing my end-of-year numbers and came across a note I’d made that day in my “Rainy Day Funds” line item:

My 2013 Financial Goals:
1) Pay off debt ($1103.20)
2) Save $6000 in emergency money ($600/mon)
3) Put $1000 down on car payment in Nov ($111/mon)

I sat back in my chair and was overwhelmed in gratitude and pride. Thanks to YNAB, I had not only completed each and every one of those goals with money to spare, I had done a complete 180 on how I felt about finances.

I no longer worry about if I can pay off the credit card balance – now it’s always paid off in full each month. I can go out to drinks with friends and not sit there in a state of panic of whether that cocktail means I can’t make rent at the end of the month (I don’t even understand how that could happen now). When I got the layoff date, I was quickly able to finance my car (with a generous down payment) without worrying about how I was going to make the monthly payment while unemployed. Why? Because I had not only met my emergency savings goal, but I had modeled out what life unemployed would look and had budgeted appropriately. Now that I’m job hunting, I’m armed with data to know whether or not a salary will work for my life rather than hoping everything will be covered “somehow.” I’m confident in my spending and saving decisions rather than paranoid and stressed.

YNAB gave me the control I needed over my finances to take back my life and make my money work for me rather than hold me hostage each month. Every time I open my app and add a transaction or budget for Feb in Dec, I feel good. I know I’m taking care of myself and with the habits YNAB has helped me form, I’m just kinda a better human being. This year, my 2014 financial goals won’t be a “hope this works…” dream – they’ll be solid numbers I know I can make happen.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, to the YNAB team and this forum. You’ve changed my life and I couldn’t be more grateful. I think my friends are a little sick about how much I love this software, but seriously, I couldn’t be where I am without it.

Have an awesome successful 2014 and happy budgeting to all!”