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2 Jan 2018

Please Stop Saying You’re Bad at Money

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by Erin Lowell

Be a brilliant budgeter: learn the skills twenty minutes at a time.

I’ve been teaching people how to budget for about ten years, and if there’s one theme that permeates nearly everyone’s financial story, it’s shame—shame about credit card debt. Shame about spending patterns. Shame about not, yet, hitting financial goals. And even budget shame.

Yep, even people who carefully plan where they’ll spend their dollars every month feel shame when life happens and they overspend on, let’s say, eating out. Or back to school clothes. Or whatever.

And the insidious thing about shame? It wears you down and kills your motivation. It makes you feel like you’ll never get the hang of this money stuff. In fact, I’ve heard many people come right out and say, “I’ve just never been good with money.”

I’ve Been There, Too.

If that’s you—you feel like money management is an impossible task—let me first say that I understand where you’re coming from. I, too, once felt lost at sea, financially speaking. I had a boatload of debt, and I never thought I’d be able to build a buffer.

… but then I got serious about my money and started setting (and achieving!) some big financial goals. Fast-forward, and now I teach thousands of new YNABers how to finally control their cash. I’d say it’s a miracle, but this story is far less magical.

The Secret Weapon

If you’re ready to be debt-free, to spend without worry (and to experience a host of the not-so-obvious benefits of gaining control of your money—like amazing sleep and unexpectedly high levels of peace and joy), then all you need is the proper dosage of knowledge!

That’s right! You, too, can be a money whiz. See, no matter what you’ve come to believe up until this point, you’re not inherently bad with money. And, I suspect that deep down, you know it.

Now, imagine for a second that your thirteen-year-old, unlicensed neighbor snuck out of the house with the family car. This was definitely not an authorized excursion, and the kid ended up in a snowbank (thankfully, unharmed). After hearing about the event, would you say, “Wow, what a terrible driver!”

Of course, not! You’d say, “That kid got lucky! He had no business behind the wheel—he’s never had a day of training!”

In other words, he needed to learn how to drive (let’s leave the topic of the missing license for another day). And the same is true for you with budgeting! All you need is the right tools to get you started.

Think about that for a second: this isn’t about a lack of skill or ability. This is purely about a lack of understanding. A lack of knowledge. Well, it’s your lucky day …

You Get Some Knowledge!
And You Get Some Knowledge!

Look under your seat, folks, because today (OK, every day) all of the tools that you need to be a brilliant budgeter are available to you for free. Leave the phrase “I’m not good with money” in 2017. Acknowledge that, even if nobody ever taught you how to manage your money before, you can learn now. Take a break when you feel overwhelmed or frustrated, but never quit.

Remember those thousands of YNABers I mentioned, above? Some of them were dangling from a scary financial precipice, about to lose it all! Others were better off, but only relatively, as they blew through money without ever realizing their totally-within-reach financial goals.

New budgeters come to YNAB’s classes with bank accounts and financial pictures of every shape and size, but they all start at the same spot:

The possibilities are as limitless as your ambition, and I’d be honored to show you how to finally gain control of your finances, too.

Join One of YNAB’s Free, Online Classes

Join me (or any of my fellow YNAB teachers) for a free, interactive, online workshop. We’ve got topics for just about every budgeting subject that you can think of, from debt to saving (and everything in-between).

These 20-minute classes are easy to squeeze into your day, and we always leave time for questions from the attendees. Plus, they’re actually fun.

If you’re more of a self-study type, YNAB also offers a ton of online resources, including our help documents and the brilliantly-supportive YNAB community forum (also free). So check them out.

This year, make a goal to master your money—it’ll pay you back for life! You got this.

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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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