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4 Aug 2016

Money Lessons I Wish I Had Learned When I Was 25

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by Lindsey Burgess

Mariah and Chris Long live in Newport, KY, “which is right across the river from Cincinnati, OH, so that is where we claim to live.” (This made me laugh and being from Fresno, CA, I completely understand).

Mariah, 25, works for a museum and Chris, 26, is a motion graphics designer, and they are just adorable, ordinary twenty-somethings. Except not at all because they are debt-free and annoyingly smart with their money.

If only I had been like Mariah and Chris in my twenties! (I actually have to stop thinking about it because it is too depressing.) Here are a couple lessons, Mariah and Chris have already learned and implemented, that I wish I’d learned years and years ago:

Budgeting Together Ruins The Bliss Of Ignorance

And that is a good thing! Three months prior to marriage, Mariah and Chris joined their bank accounts and started YNABing together: “It was the hardest three months and we almost gave up so many times.”

Why? Because “it is so hard to explain to another person why you spent $60 at Target when you only went in for one thing.”

But it gets easier and ultimately, “the overall awareness and accountability of a spouse was so beneficial for us.” Many of us run from awareness and accountability because they seem scary and hard and bossy, but if you want to be in control of your finances—if you want to transform your money for the better—it is this simple: awareness and accountability.

The sooner you start, the more money you will have. Period.

Learn to Live On One Income From The Get-Go

Not only did Mariah and Chris get some solid advice as newlyweds, they were smart enough to listen: “There was no need to get used to a lifestyle with two incomes, if eventually, we planned on one of us staying home with kids. So that was our plan, we would live on one income and put the other toward debt and saving. Now, we know we can live off one income, and if anything were to happen to one of our jobs, or we have kids, we know we will be fine.”

No stress. No mess. Living well below your means gives you options and freedom and peace of mind.

Financial Control Leads To Financial Peace

After 1.5 years of using YNAB, Mariah and Chris (have I mentioned they are in their twenties!?!) have complete financial peace: “YNAB forces you to engage with your finances, and logging every transaction was definitely an adjustment at first, but it has allowed us to control our finances, instead of letting our finances control us. I do not stress if I want to buy some craft supplies or clothes because I know we have budgeted for it. We don’t worry about going out to dinner because we have made sure that there is money in that category.

That doesn’t mean we still aren’t constantly adjusting our budget because each month and each week is different. But that is the beauty of YNAB, it allows you to respond to life as it happens and keep pace with things, instead of just responding to things and causing worry.”

Budgeting Does Not Equal Deprivation

“Now that we have paid off our 45k of student loans in a year and a half we are saving for a couple vacations to celebrate. I will say that while we threw a lot of money toward debt I didn’t feel we had to go without too much, we still budget for date nights and vacation and were able to give a significant amount away. If you have control over where your money is going you’ll be surprised with how much you can do with what you have.”

There is just not much more to say here—Mariah really nailed it.

If You Think You Don’t Need A Budget…

If you are saying, “But I never overdraft,..” or “I have money in the bank,” sure that you don’t need a budget, just hold up there a minute, Mariah has some wisdom just for you:

“If you are thinking you don’t need a budget I can say that I was with you, I never thought I needed to stress myself with tracking every little thing but the amount of money I am saving simply by being aware is crazy. If you want to feel peace around your finances and spend your valuable time focusing on other things, try YNAB. Like anything it requires you to put in some effort but the return on your investment is beyond worth it.”

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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