I’m Cash-Flowing My Home Renovation: See My Budget

YNAB Money Snapshots

Welcome to YNAB Money Snapshots—where you see a real picture of someone else’s budget and finances. They’re all anonymous, because sharing money is still a squirrelly topic for many, but we think airing them out in the open makes you better with your own money story. 

As you read these budgets, keep in mind that some people make lots of money and some people make a little bit of money, but we know it’s what you do with that money and how you feel about that money means more than any yearly salary. 

See how this woman making $104,000 a year uses her money to cash flow a home renovation.


  • Name: L
  • Age: 37
  • Location: An island somewhere 🌴
  • Job: Professional 
  • Living situation: I live with my partner, M but sadly I have not convinced him to use YNAB yet.

Income: $104,000

Savings: $95,000

  • This is kept in investment accounts, and built up since I started using YNAB in 2017!

Debt: $0*

  • Our fixer-upper home was purchased with cash (the home was not actually mortgageable due to the problems with the roof, windows, and doors, so cash was the only option).
  • I paid off all my student loans (approximately $22,000) since starting with YNAB. I had just been making the minimum payment, and I finished paying it off at the beginning of 2019 because I was sick of looking at the balance! 

*Note: you’ll see in the budget below there is a balance on a 0% credit card with money earmarked to pay it off. L likes the security of the money in her account for as long as possible but does plan to pay off the balance with no interest accrued. Though in the technical sense of the word, this is debt, L considers this a separate sort of debt than something like her student loans.

August Inflows: $6,625

  • Payroll: $6,000
  • Freelance work: $625

August Budget


Catego­ry Target Amount Notes
Credit Card Payments
Freedom $0 Charged $637 from the expenses listed below
BoA $0 This is a 0% card with a $4k balance
Reserve $0 Charged $175 from the expenses listed below
Hyatt Card $58
Preferred $0
Amex Blue $0 This is a 0% card with a $3k balance. Charged $364 from the expenses below
Investment Accounts
WealthSimple $2,300 This is a set-it-and-forget-it account
Vanguard Brokerage $1,235 I play around with individual stocks in this account (so I put less money here).
Vanguard Trad IRA $850
Immediate Obligations
Health Insurance $32
Crossfit $0 Decided I didn’t need to splurge on this right now.
Zwift $15
Hulu $6
Power and Internet $111
Groceries $365
Swim Group Breakfast $65 This is a standing breakfast with friends.
Dining Out $0 I like cooking and try to only cook at home!
Snacks $14
Lunch $0 My goal is to keep this at $0 for 2020.
Emergency Fund $0 We have about $10K in here.
Transportation/Gas $47
Car Stuff $293
Car Insurance $0
Home– exterior building materials $0
Home– interior $657 Paint and wood for projects! Have $700 still left in this category.
Dishwasher $0 $225 saved
Doors $0 $500 saved
Garden $9 $165 saved
Extra Shipping $0
House Stuff– Cleaning, etc. $0
House Insurance-May $0
Propane Gas $0 $50 saved
Property Tax-June $0
HOA-February $0
Sports Stuff
Sports stuff $0 $78 saved
Training $569 Virtual training group for running
Other Athletic Stuff $108 Swimsuits– a lapse in self control!
Self Care $0 Massage, dry needling, etc.
Race Fees $0
Kitchen/Baking Stuff $0
Clothing $188 Retail therapy 🙁
Books/Media $7
Other $0 For movies/entertainment
Sinking Funds
Taxes $0 $961 saved
Vacation $0
Donations $0
Gifts $0 $190 saved
Mail Post office $0
Medical $0
Subscriptions/CC fee $50
Stuff I Forgot to Budget For $0 $125 saved
Credit Card Rewards
BOA cashback rewards $0
Total Needed $6,979

My Story

I started using YNAB in 2017 because I was looking for a budgeting tool that would hold me accountable and make me understand where my money was going. I watched all of the videos and it took a bit of time to trust my budget, but I am so happy that I kept with it. 

I like to re-start my budget on January 1 of each year to re-evaluate how I spend money from year to year. I am still trying to get to a 50% savings rate while renovating this home. I really don’t spend very much on “fun” stuff. I bought a new bicycle this year, but I justified it because I use it to commute to work 3 days a week.

Home Renovation

We purchased a home a few years ago with a lot of deferred maintenance. Housing here is very limited (and thus VERY expensive), so the only option was to buy a fixer-upper.  The home had leaky windows, missing doors, a blown-out skylight, lots of rotting wood, a patio door that was about to break, no working kitchen appliances, a rodent issue, etc. We moved in right away, even though we didn’t have hot water for a long time, and we got to work.

What We Did

 First, we installed two exterior doors, sanded and refinished the top floor, and rebuilt the ground floor, including all vertical supports and replacing all windows and walls and siding that was rotting. 

Then, we installed new built-ins in the kitchen for more storage, bought a new fridge and stove, installed a new gas tank and gas lines, added a new rain shower, new bedroom doors, painted the upstairs, and installed drywall to keep the rodents out. 

While we initially hired people to do a few jobs, they did less-than-adequate work and so we do it all ourselves now.

What’s Still Left

We still have a long to-do list to finish:

  • Purchase a dishwasher
  • Install cabinet fronts
  • Get new doors for the other two doors that lead outside
  • Build a second bathroom, so there is one on the main floor
  • Install a patio door
  • Railings for the patio
  • Build a deck
  • Do landscaping (including terracing a hill)
  • Solar system

We are taking our time and we expect this entire renovation really to never be finished, but we think it will be mostly finished in 5-7 years. I try to get a lot of joy out of the small things, like the fact that we have hot water, our Flic button that we use to turn off the lights and lock the doors at night, and our kitchen LED lights come on automatically at 5pm and they can change colors. I also love my rain shower!

How We Budget for Home Renovation

I typically add our next project as a category in our budget and then save for those until we have the money. So for example, I added categories for a dishwasher and two new doors, and then we’ll probably start budgeting for solar panels and battery back up. All the spending you see in the budget above is solely from my income!

I am always trying to think of ways to spend less. M’s income can vary a lot from month to month, so that can be a little stressful. Everything we install in our house has been purchased after doing a tremendous amount of research and evaluating the pros and cons for energy and electricity consumption. For example, we determined a gas hot water heater would be better in the long run given the high cost of electricity in our area. M installed a new buried gas tank and ran new gas lines. I am more in charge of the outside areas and I am trying to grow more food, so we can be more sustainable. This will involve using gray water, so our plants can survive the dry season.

How We Split the Home Expenses

We don’t worry too much about how the expenses are split up between M and I. Right now, I budget for the full amount, pay the minimum on the 0% credit card, and then when it’s time to pay the full amount, we’ll probably split the bill 50/50, with L making his payment directly to the credit card. I treat that money as an inflow in my budget. We consider the house to be 50% each even though I paid for 75% in the initial purchase—he works a lot harder on it than I do now and we split things mostly 50/50, so it seems fair to us.

My Month (August)

It was a fairly normal month. We incurred some extra shipping fees because we have to use a freight forwarder when a company does not ship to us. The freight forwarder charges by the size of the box, so it is difficult to predict how much shipping will be. 

M usually pays the extra shipping, so it does not appear on my budget this month. We use 0% apr credit cards for large purchases because we like to be able to keep the money in our savings account for a longer period of time to earn interest. I don’t use the money for anything else (it’s accounted for in my budget), but this gives me some peace of mind.

I like using YNAB because I still will not make the large purchase if I have not budgeted for it. I trust my budget and I know that even though my savings account has what looks to me like a lot of money, I know that those dollars have already been given jobs and I can’t just go spend them. We do not use a separate budget for our home renovation, but after watching the video about how to budget for a home renovation, I think we should!

My Financial Goals

My last day of work is going to be at the end of October (received a lay-off letter), so I am focused on building up a larger emergency fund. I’ve cut down my investment savings for October and I will stop contributing to investment accounts after October 31. I feel worn out from my work environment, so I am going to take some time off before looking for a new job (unless by some miracle I get the other job I applied for).

I hope to use the last quarter of the year to go on a long hike (multi-week or month) or long bike ride and to go visit my family. 

I would rate my current financial situation: 4/5

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