No Metric Is An Island

We introduced a new metric—Age of Money—which has sparked a lot of discussion and many questions.

We are still fine-tuning it, tweaking it, and evaluating how we teach it. So be patient with us, but as we continue to dig in on Age of Money, I like the path we are on.

There is one thing I want to clarify. As you are looking at your budget or thinking about your finances in general, there are many metrics at your disposal, to help you learn or better understand all kinds of different things. But it’s important to remember that any one metric cannot tell you everything, or really anything, other than the one thing it sets out to do. We want to be careful not to extrapolate too much—or assign too much value or meaning—to any one metric, Age of Money included.

How we are teaching Age of Money, is that the dollar you just spent, you earned about X days ago. So that metric just tells you, on average, that dollar you just spent you brought in about 30 days ago… or whatever. It will start to give you an idea of how ahead you are. It should not be used in isolation.

What if your last dollar in the world happened to be 100 days old? If it is your last dollar and you spend it, you are not in good shape. Age of Money, all on it’s own, is not going to help you that much. The same can be said of nearly every financial metric.

Metrics are incredibly helpful—I love metrics—you just have to be sure you are looking at them in context of the whole picture.

Personal finance is about so much more than one number. As you’ve used YNAB and implemented it, and used the Four Rules, and gotten ahead and broken the paycheck to paycheck cycle, I hope you have found that to be true. It isn’t about a number, nearly as much as it is about reducing your stress, experiencing stability and enjoying flexibility. Because that is really what we are going for in the end.

If you can’t wait until next week for more whiteboard wisdom, you can subscribe to our YouTube channel here. If you have a question or an idea you’d like us to address in a future Whiteboard Wednesday episode—we’d love to hear from you: [email protected]