The Kids Are Coming! Quick! Hide the Budget!


Howdy, YNAB folks! Jeremy here. My last post, called Allowance Wizardry, was about how my twelve-year-old is using YNAB on her own as a result of us having switched our allowance system to YNAB.

Jennifer chimed in with these questions:

“I’d really like to know HOW to set up a separate YNAB account for my daughter (14). I don’t want her to have access to our YNAB account so it can’t be just her own major category. Do I need to buy another license? Does she get her own sign-in? I’m just really clueless on how to actually set this up. Any words of wisdom on this?”

Great questions! I went through the same thought process when we were doing it. As far as the additional license goes, YNAB doesn’t require one as long as you are using it in the same household (I think that’s super cool).

Timothy Wolfe kindly responded with some ideas on setting up the budgets and cloud sync separately. Check it out if you’re interested in going that route.

Jennifer, I can completely understand how you would want to keep your budget separate from your daughter’s, and I don’t doubt for a second you know what’s best in your situation. I wished I could password protect our budget so our daughter couldn’t access ours. (Might not be a bad feature, but I digress.)

For lack of said feature, however, we just went for it. The first time I knew she had seen our budget, it was awkward at the gut level, like she’d walked in on me in a towel or something. I didn’t love it. Still don’t, truthfully.

However, it had an unanticipated, positive effect on her. She’s less anxious about our family’s finances. She used to get concerned when we would tell her that we didn’t have the money to buy something. She wondered, sometimes aloud, if we were out of money. That’s a scary thought, especially for a young person.

Since she’s seen our budget, however, she understands that the decision not to buy something reflects our priorities and our plan–not the balance of our bank accounts. She’s comfortable with it and understands that we have specific things we’re working toward.

If things ever get thin financially, she’ll be aware of it. I can imagine being very humbled or even embarrassed in that situation. But for now, I feel like the openness has added to the peace in our home and it doesn’t startle me (as much) to see our family budget up on the laptop screen in the kitchen.

I should add that my daughter is exceptionally discreet and has proven herself trustworthy in many important situations. I would probably feel differently were it not for her character.

I realize I’ve gone outside the scope of your question, Jennifer, but I hope I’ve given you and others in the YNAB community another angle to consider. Thanks so much for asking!

Editor’s note: Some YNAB users might not be aware of their ability to create additional budgets by going to File > Create New Budget. You’re able (and welcome) to have multiple budgets in YNAB, moving back and forth between them by going to File > Open. 🙂