How To Spend The Money You Save, Guilt-Free

Why the annual YNAB Team Retreat is a non-negotiable category for us...

Written by Reema Al-Zaben  |  on


Every year here at YNAB, we plan an annual retreat for our team. We’ve been to Costa Rica, The Outer Banks in North Carolina, a ranch in Montana, and more. This year, we all met up in sunny Laguna Beach, California, and it was even more amazing than we could ever have imagined.

Our team works remotely, all over the world, and this is our chance to come together. Sometimes, we get to meet people we’ve worked with for years but have never met. It’s so important for our growth as a team and our work overall.

The retreat is our chance for in-person work sessions, team-building activities (no trust falls…well, maybe a few trust falls), and just good old fashioned quality time together. We work together, play together, and reinforce the bonds we’ve made as a team and company. Every year, we leave refreshed, motivated, and excited for the year ahead together.

When we first started out, there were only a few of us, so planning (and spending money on) the retreat was pretty effortless.

These days, we’re 70+ team members, so creating an unforgettable experience take a bit more time and, of course, money (I can see the numbers running through your head now).

Know Your Priorities—And Save for Them

Despite the (exponential) budget increase year over year, we never, ever feel guilty about spending on our retreats. It’s something we plan and prioritize all year long. The YNAB team retreat is a non-negotiable category that is 100% aligned with our priorities.

If you’re feeling guilty or second-guessing spending money on your vacation (or anything else), that guilt can come from one of two places:

  1. The spending is out of line with your priorities.
  2. Your priorities are out of line with your spending.

You might be thinking, “But those are the same thing.” Yes, they are. There is only one reason why you feel guilty when you’re spending money, and it’s because it’s not actually in line with your values. That’s it, nothing else.

Go Ahead, Spend Your Money!

When you’re about to spend money in a category you saved all year for (or even all month for), it can feel a little nerve-wracking. And even if your spending IS aligned with your priorities, it’s still a little scary to let it all go after you’ve been working towards that goal for so long.

So the next time you plan on spending a huge chunk of change, notice for a moment how it feels. Just notice it. Don’t judge that feeling, just observe it.

If it’s guilt, don’t feel guilty about feeling guilty. Just recognize, “Hey, whoa! There’s a little signal. Let me slow down, analyze that signal a little bit, and see if I can separate noise from signal and get to the bottom of this.”

And you find out a lot of times that yes, your money isn’t quite aligned with your priorities and you’re just kind of going with the flow, that’s fine too. You might end up doing stuff you don’t want to do, and that’s ok. Just pick yourself up and get right back on track with the priorities you set initially.

And we’ll be here for you the whole way, helping you save AND spend.

PS – Want to join us on one of these awesome retreats in the future? We’re hiring! Check out our open positions here, and we’ll see you soon.


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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?