Sleeping Like a Baby (on a Budget)


I just wrote about the intangible benefits of budgeting, and there’s one I’d like to dig into a bit deeper.

Better sleep.

Here are just a few benefits of better sleep:

  • Lower cholesterol and blood pressure.
  • Better sleep means fewer stress hormones flowing throughout your body, which means all internal systems are running at their normal levels (vs. at their heightened stressed-out levels).
  • Reduced inflammation, which can help with heart-related conditions, as well as cancer and diabetes.
  • This one may be obvious, but you’ll have more energy throughout the day, will be more alert, and more productive.
  • Important hormones related to regulating your appetite are thrown off balance when you don’t get enough sleep. Better sleep means you’ll likely lose some weight.
  • People that get 7-9 hours of good sleep per night may be less likely to suffer from depression.

And no, I didn’t just make that up (found them here)!

So yes, I’m going to draw the very strong connection between better budgeting, and better sleep.

Which means I need to introduce you to Rule Four:

Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck

Rule Four is the nirvana of money management. In its simplest form, what you earned last month, you spend this month.

It’s literally built right into the software. You classify income as either Available to Budget This Month, or Available to Budget Next Month.

You choose. And yes, you can use the software without following Rule Four. We just want to get you there as fast as possible.

Surveyed YNABers report that it takes them about 4 1/2 months to save enough money to live on the prior month’s income. It’s so darn doable.

Imagine that for a moment. Imagine having the entire month’s money all ready and waiting for you at the beginning of the month. How well would you sleep knowing every bill that arrives could be paid? How much more easy-going would your spouse be if they knew there was an entire month’s paycheck sitting there in the checking account at the beginning of the month?

You work toward Rule Four. In your first month, you might need all of your money for that month. That’s okay. You classify it all as Available This Month and you keep moving forward.

However, even without earning any extra income, you’ll begin finding your dollars are doing what you want. They’re stretching a bit further, and you’re evaluating your purchases a little more carefully. You’ll find “more” money (not between sofa cushions, though it couldn’t hurt to look).

And that extra income will allow you to build your Buffer. That’s what YNABers call that pile of money sitting there at the beginning of the month that will let you live the entire month without touching any current paychecks.

As a matter of fact, once you’ve saved your Buffer, you arrive at this really special place called Bufferville. And, I’m not kidding, everyone sleeps really well there. In bed by 10 PM, up at 6 AM for pilates and egg white omelets.

Anyway–back to working toward that Buffer. It’s gradual. With each paycheck you’ll be able to classify a larger portion of it for Available Next Month. One day in the not-so-distant future you’ll realize you can classify all of your paychecks as Available Next Month because you’re set for the current month.

But Back to Sleep

But we’re really doing this so we can get a good night’s rest. All of those proteins will be buzzing around your body, building and repairing things. Your memory will improve. Your heart will thank you. Your stress levels will drop. You’ll be sleeping like a baby.

A baby on a budget.

(There are other huge benefits to Rule Four. I’ll dig into those as we go along.)