In 2012, Alanna took a gamble and left her life in England in order to start fresh in Edinburgh, Scotland. She’d fallen in love with the city during a visit, made the decision to quit her job to relocate, and hasn’t looked back. She said, “It took me three months to find work, and I used all my savings within that time. It’s still the best decision I’ve ever made.”
Now 26, Alanna is a software tester for a local tech company—the same company where she met her fiance, and that leads us to Alanna’s “I need a budget.” moment: her engagement. Or, rather, their “We need a budget moment.”
In Over Their Heads
Alanna said, “I think we got carried away with excitement in the early months and, before we knew it, we’d committed ourselves to a large, fancy wedding. After we’d paid for all of the hefty deposits, reality hit, and we realized we had to make some serious changes.”
But, it wasn’t just the wedding expenses. She and her fiance had been living beyond their means, and their credit card debt had crept into the thousands. They felt overwhelmed. Alanna said, “I’d be nervous to look at my bank balance. We have no kids, no mortgage, both earn decent salaries, yet we were still struggling, stuck in this toxic cycle of spending.”
That’s when they began to cut back, which meant skipping their usual Friday night outings with workmates. A colleague noticed and, Alanna said, “After admitting our situation, he told me I needed a budget! He explained how he’d managed to clear his own debt and how quickly he was saving for a deposit to buy a house, just through using YNAB. It was infectious. I realized I had nothing to lose and everything to gain.”
Nothing to Lose, Everything to Gain
Their first YNAB goals included paying off all of the debt and saving £18,000 for their wedding … a daunting mission for someone who had previously viewed budgeting as “restriction, sacrifices and a wholly negative experience.”
And that’s where YNAB helped. Alanna said, “Following The Four Rules, has made me realize that I’m not making sacrifices, I’m just choosing my priorities. It’s a mindset, and I love that I can now look at things positively.”
The software helped, too. In her previous budgeting experiments with spreadsheets, Alanna felt defeated. She said, “I’d tried half-hearted attempts … but I found tracking spending really difficult. Using YNAB’s app to enter transactions as I spend was an absolute revelation. It stops me from impulse buying because I can check my category balances beforehand. I’m always on track!”
But the best part was realizing that life on a budget was actually better than life without! They didn’t have to give up on fun, they just needed to be more intentional. Alanna said, “We still budget fun money and have a ‘Dining Out’ category, but we’re realistic now. The reports in YNAB really helped us to understand how much money we were spending, and dining out was the first thing we recognized we needed to trim.”
Something Far Better Than Dining Out …
Within three months of starting YNAB, Alanna paid off her £1,500 bank overdraft.
Within 10 months, she and her fiance had saved £11,000 for their wedding …
And paid off thousands of pounds in credit card debt …
And they were on track to be debt-free by their big day!
But, as excited as they are about their newly-won financial stability, Alanna said, “I’m not regretful of our debt, because I think it’s taught us a lesson. Now, we can get married safe in the knowledge that we’ve got a handle on things.”
And they definitely have a handle on things. Remember that £18,000 goal? Alanna said, “We managed to save £21,000 towards our wedding (slightly over our target). We had to roll with a few punches, but what a relief having the cash sat there when all those invoices started coming in!”
Also, as of June 2018, they’re officially credit card-debt free!
A Wish Farm In Edinburgh
Alanna credits their success to increased awareness. She said, “I finally realized that I work hard for my money and spending isn’t inconsequential.”
But changing old habits can be hard. To help curb her tendency to buy on impulse, Alanna started a wish farm. She said, “Every time I see something I want, I’ll add it to my wishlist and make myself wait 72 hours. If I still want it after that point, then I move it to my wish farm and start budgeting towards it.”
More often than not, Alanna said, “I realize I no longer care enough to include it in my budget, and I just delete the category! Yes, I want nice things, but our future happiness and financial security are more important.”
For Love and Money
Of course, their money situation isn’t the only thing that changed. Alanna said, “We’re much more mindful about money and have regular discussions about our goals and priorities, which has brought me and my fiance closer.”
If you’re struggling to address your own spending, Alanna offers this encouragement. She said, “Thinking about and assessing your priorities is the hardest part, but once you have those straight in your head, and you’re committed, then the rest of it becomes so easy.”
She adds, “I’m a self-confessed spendaholic. If I can crawl out of debt and get ahead, then anyone can!”
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?