Financial awakenings come in all shapes and sizes.
For Melissa Wiley, a 29-year-old federal employee, living in Washington, D.C., it was a broken A/C unit.
On the surface, Melissa had it all together. She owned her own place. She always checked her bank balance before purchasing anything. She even used Quicken to keep track of her finances.
But when the A/C unit broke and she didn’t have any money to cover the repair she had to face reality: “I didn’t have any money in savings and my spending was out of control.”
At a friend’s recommendation, Melissa tried YNAB, and her entire attitude about money changed. Today, she’s not stressed, she has no more student debt and she has money saved for the Nordstrom Half-Yearly sale.
Here’s what life with a budget taught Melissa:
Simple Is Better.
“YNAB helped me simplify my finances. I consolidated debt and shut down extraneous savings accounts. Not having to keep track of over 30 accounts makes keeping an eye on my finances much easier.”
The Future Is Now.
“I love that the new YNAB forces me to address overspending by rolling it into debt. It’s so easy to use it makes it simple for me to keep it updated – and useful. Knowing my budget can always be updated no matter where I am works better for me.”
Goals Beget Goals.
When she first started budgeting, her goals were a trip to the 2014 World Cup (check), paying off student loans (check) and “what we will call Dumb College Decisions aka credit card debt” (making serious headway). Today, she’s saving for a 2018 African safari, a six-month emergency fund and increasing her TSP contributions: “The goals feature helped me pay down my debt quicker because I can set a payoff date and easily see what it will take to get there.”
Consistency Not Perfection.
“I’m still a work in progress. I overspend (sales at Boden, anyone?). But YNAB has helped me see where and when my overspending occurs and how to adjust it. I’m in such a better place than before I started with YNAB. I even save up for the Sephora and Nordstrom semi-annual sales, instead of putting them on credit cards and worrying about them later.” To progress!
YNAB Is Different.
“YNAB forces me to prioritize, address issues I have now, and plan all the way to zero. But it also allows the flexibility of a) using a debit/credit card (cash back rewards!) and b) moving money around if I end up needing cat food more than that new Gwen Stefani lipstick. I think I stuck with it because it’s web/mobile based, so I can update on the go and I always have access to my budget.”
No Stress Is Everything.
“I am in total control of my financial picture and I can adjust life accordingly.”
Not every budgeting success story is dramatic. It isn’t always paying off six figures worth of debt in a year or retiring at 35. Sometimes it is just slow and steady progress, getting control, and improving your peace of mind.
For anyone on the fence about budgeting, Melissa’s two cents is simple: “It will be uncomfortable at first. And your situation might even feel worse before it gets better, but ultimately it will help you track your spending, meet your goals and stabilize your financial situation.”
And it will feel great.