If You've Ever Felt Guilty Spending Money, Read This.

You don’t have to be frugal to win at budgeting.


We don’t really teach frugality here at YNAB, at least, not for its own sake. We’re more focused on helping you align your money with your values. Once you’ve done that, spend without guilt—go for it!

And what does ‘frugal’ really even mean?

Is supporting your golf habit not frugal?

If you love shoes, and you’ve got the closet to prove it, is that not frugal?

The only person who can decide whether or not golf or shoes (or anything else) fit into a frugal lifestyle is you. It all comes down to your priorities.

For example, I love attending live yoga classes. Whether I pay for a monthly membership, or purchase a punch card, the cost adds up. But I’m paying for much more than a 60- to 90-minute class. My practice improves my experience of life by calming my mind, strengthening my body and connecting me with people in my community, just to name a few benefits. And I’d rather spend $120 every month on yoga than fund dining out, new clothes, shopping at Whole Foods … well, lots of things.

It’s like what Marie Kondo advises in The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: ask yourself what truly brings you joy. Then use that information to give every dollar a job.

We’ve seen thousands of people turn their finances around using YNAB and, in speaking with many of them, it turns out that heavy consumption does not correlate to a high level of happiness. And there’s something to that, but it’s not to say that money won’t contribute to a happy life. We’ve all got our own quirks and preferences, so there’s really no way to prescribe exactly what you should do with your money to optimize your satisfaction. The point is that you’re aware, and very intentional, about putting your money into things that will increase your enjoyment of life.

When your priorities are crystal clear, and you’re spending deliberately, people might think that you’re frugal. They may notice that you don’t spend money on things you don’t really care about—things a lot of people would buy without a second thought.

… or they might notice that you replenish your yoga punch card an awful lot.

Either way, who cares? The point is that you’re in control of your budget, and you know where (and why) you’re spending those dollars. There’s no reason to second-guess yourself when you do exactly what you’ve planned to do.

Every time you work, you trade a little bit of your life for some money, so make that money work hard to bring you happiness for the long-haul! Exactly how will your dollars support your best life? Well, that’s for you to decide.

Start making your happiness plan, today, with our free 34-day trial. Join the many YNABers who already know that a budget will set you free!