I Thought I Was Budgeting. I Really Did.


Meet Jeremy, another new YNAB blog contributor. Hey, YNABers! I’m so excited to be talking finances with you. My adventures in helping people with finances range from micro enterprise start-ups in West Africa to my current career in home loan origination. I have been hooked on YNAB for just over a year now and am learning to use it better all the time.

I fell in love the first time I read the Four Rules of the YNAB Method. Before I discovered the YNAB way, I had developed my own system without even being aware of it. Perhaps you’ll relate.

Rule 1: Obsess about the past.

Using a popular website and phone app, I started budgeting by categorizing expenses as far back as I could. It was long and grueling work, but I felt good having revealed where I had messed up. But with my eyes fixed on the rear view mirror, I was still lost and lead-footed.

Rule 2: Brace for impact.

Even with up-to-the-minute spending updates via texts, I kept getting spun out by unanticipated expenses. An alternator gave out. Property taxes came due. A guitar I had my eyes on went on sale (don’t judge me).

Sometimes I ran the margins so thin that a slight spending miscalculation would send me careening toward the guard rail.

Rule 3: Give up.

When my budget got off, I would feel so discouraged. I’d invested tons of time but nothing changed.

So I’d quit.

I lived with an ugly feeling in my gut, knowing that I wasn’t making progress in my finances. The only thing left to do was take my hands off the wheel and…

Rule 4: Hope for the best.

Surely, I’d get a better job and get ahead eventually. Maybe Social Security would be kind. Maybe one of my kids would be rich and generous. Right?

That about sums up my former financial strategy.

There were times I didn’t know if my card would clear at the checkstand. In my college years, sometimes it didn’t, and I walked out of my small-town Safeway, embarrassed and empty-handed.

That’s why I’m passionate about YNAB. It is, for me, a mindset. It means deciding my priorities and having my finances align with them. It means being on the same page with my wife. It means having peace in my home. Recently, it has meant passing along ideas and strategies to my kids that will serve them well in life. How cool is that? YNAB also happens to have the best software I’ve ever seen to encourage and support that mindset.

The YNAB’s Four Rules are so superior to what I was doing before that I seriously wait for someone, anyone, to bring up budgeting so we can share thoughts and geek out. I’m stoked to share stories, strategies, and blunders with you. And after that, we can check out my guitar, the one that didn’t cause my accounts to bounce.