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20 Mar 2014

I resented my budget…until my husband tossed it to me like a hot potato.

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by Jesse Mecham

Meet Annie, the last (but not least) of our new blog contributors.

I’m not gonna lie; I haven’t always loved budgeting. In fact, I hated it – a lot. I blame a poor introduction into this world of financial responsibility for my prior disdain.

As a teenager with my first real job and first real crappy car, my dad wrote a budget out for me on a yellow legal pad and told me that I needed to stick to that if I wanted to keep my car maintained, gas in it, and insurance for it. With the level of responsibility that he expected of me combined with my meager BBQ restaurant earnings, there was no money left for a teenager’s highest priorities – clothes, music, and going out.

(I know you’ve never done this, but…) I figured that if I just ignored the budget, then the realities of my responsibilities would just magically work themselves out as long as I bought everything that I wanted first, you know, so I’d have the money.

My dad’s heart was in the right place, but in his effort to teach and even protect me, he didn’t “teach me to fish.” (See what I did there?)

College continued pretty much like high school, and then when I got married we had no choice but to budget. We were $80k in debt as precious 23 year olds. Precious, credit card-abusing 23 year olds.

A few years into our marriage we started using YNAB and finished paying off our debt. My husband made the budget, showed it to me, maintained it, and then complained when I went over in my categories (and sometimes he didn’t even complain, so I didn’t know about it). I still felt the familiar frustration of not having enough money for what I wanted to do. The budget was very constraining for me.

I secretly resented it.

Finally, one January a couple of years ago, my very frustrated husband decided that February would be the month that I maintained YNAB. I would make the budget, pay the bills, import the transactions, and balance the budget as needed – for one whole month.

One long, excruciating month.

You see, why on earth did I have to worry about the budget before that February if my very smart, capable, computer-programming husband was there to do it for me? He was the one with the passion for it, so he’s more suited for that role, right?

Well, that February was the turning point, my friends. It wasn’t so much that I saw the error of my ways or felt sorry that I put my husband through all that work, but it was then that I saw the freedom in budgeting.

Instead of feeling that familiar sense of powerlessness, I felt in command of my household – a protector of it, even, no longer vulnerable but controlled and able.

For those of you with spouses that are merely an observer or even a saboteur of your budget, I encourage you to let them experience first-hand the freedom that it brings. It requires some letting go on your part, but it’ll be worth it in the end!

Today, I’m a YNABing force to be reckoned with, but it all started with my husband relinquishing some control in order for me to discover the freedom that was available to me.

I look forward to sharing more of my story with you in the weeks to come!

Your Next Step

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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