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26 May 2015

The Surprising Key to Your Financial Future (Psst – It’s Simple)

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by Jesse Mecham

From Podcast #170, Simplicity Matters, the one in which Jesse talks about why it’s so important to keep things simple.


I’m going to talk for the next several weeks, in short little bursts of massive inspiration, about simplicity and why it matters.

I think we often confuse the idea. And at YNAB we know this is important. We talk a lot about engagement, or we say awareness. We want you to be engaged with your budget. We don’t want you to have a “set it and forget it” mentality.

We believe—and I think our experience with hundreds of thousands of customers holds true—we believe that an actively engaged person will make more progress financially. We believe that simplicity and active engagement are not at odds with each other.

A lot of times, you might see something claiming, “Hey, we do this all for you,” and you might think, “Oh, that’s simple, so that is better.”

But at YNAB, we would submit that simplicity supports the idea of being actively engaged. So, why is simplicity itself important? Because if something is simpler then the odds of you engaging increase.

I’m reminded of Stanford’s B.J. Fogg and his Persuasive Technology Lab. I’m a big fan. He’s the founder of the Tiny Habits movement and I’ve talked about him a lot. I had him on the podcast a couple of years ago, maybe. The idea of Tiny Habits is that you make something so approachable, so simple, that you will certainly engage.

So, you don’t say, “I will got to the gym every day.” You say, “After I set my toothbrush down, I will move my gym bag to the foot of my bed,” and then when you get up you see that the gym bag is there and that’s supposed to spur you toward the gym. That’s not the best example. Flossing is the one that I used the Tiny Habits for. After I’m finished wetting my toothbrush, or after I cap the toothpaste, I will floss one tooth — not many teeth, but one. The idea is that because the task is so simple, you will engage.

And that’s where we want to be with YNAB.

We want your financial life to be simple, because if it’s simple you won’t procrastinate the work that’s involved. You’ll reduce the work that’s involved, absolutely. But you also won’t procrastinate the whole effort all together. And you’ll be able to have something sustainable.

That’s why we like simplicity so much—its lasting effects. Not because we want to be a “set it and forget it” quick fix or have someone else do it for you; only because we want you to engage. And we know that a simpler approach is an approach where you will engage more readily.

Until next time, follow YNAB’s four rules and you will win financially. You’ve never budgeted like this.

This episode aired May 18, 2015. 


For more about how to stop living paycheck-to-paycheck, get out of debt and save more money, faster — subscribe to the You Need A Budget podcast today!

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