Welcome to YNAB Money Snapshots—where you see a real picture of someone else’s budget and finances. They’re all anonymous, because sharing money is still a squirrelly topic for many, but we think airing them out in the open makes you better with your own money story.
As you read these budgets, keep in mind that some people make lots of money and some people make a little bit of money, but we know it’s what you do with that money and how you feel about that money that means more than any yearly salary.
See how a family of five in Seattle making a variable income of roughly $120K a year budgeted their money in April.
- Names: Mimsy & Jax
- Ages: 41, 45
- Location: Seattle
- Jobs: Nonprofit fundraiser and home inspector
- Living situation: We’re married and have three elementary-aged kids. One of our nieces lives with us. She is just out of college, unemployed and helps with childcare (when we aren’t all home due to COVID).
- I (Mimsy) make $90,000/year as a nonprofit fundraiser
- Jax has highly variable income as a home inspector but typically makes $30,000+
This is money in our checking account and it covers the current month, plus two months of expenses, plus about $25K in true expenses saved. Beyond that, we don’t have savings built yet. We had been paying down non-mortgage debt and just finished earlier this year.
We were going to switch to adding a dedicated savings category with the extra money, but instead we moved the dollars towards getting more than a month ahead, which seemed more prudent due to COVID-19 uncertainty.
- Mortgage: $275,000
That’s it! As of February, we only have mortgage debt—thanks to YNAB and fully funding our true expenses.
April Inflows: $12,515
- Mimsy payroll: $5,322 (we pay $1,400/month pre-tax for health, vision, and dental insurance for the family)
- Jax income: $2,827
- Economic Impact Payment: $3,900
- Auto Insurance Refund related to COVID: $237
- Gift: $200
- Credit Card Refund on Returned Item: $22
- Checking Account Interest: $7
|Credit Card Payments|
|Alaska Credit||$2,104||Credit card payment|
|Dumbledore's Army||$0||Building 3 months worth of savings|
|Have Fun Storming The Castle!||$0||15% retirement goal – 2021 start|
|Brakebill's Tuition||$0||$1.2K college tuition goal – 2021 start|
|The Burrow||$0||Mortgage paydown – 2033 start|
|Extra Bi-Annual Mortgage Payment||$0||Currently have $612 saved|
|Utilities||$299||Currently have $612 saved|
|Software & Apps||$379||(billed annually) YNAB, RealPlans, Prime, Netflix, Spotify, New York Times|
|Other Fees||$0||$309 saved|
|Groceries & Fuel|
|Groceries – Big Box Shop||$813||Bought an extra month’s worth of groceries. Usually budget $400|
|Fresh Groceries – Week 1||$237||Budget $250/week for fresh groceries|
|Fresh Groceries – Week 2||$163|
|Fresh Groceries – Week 3||$272|
|Fresh Groceries – Week 4 & 5||$523|
|Dining Out||$521||Budget $350/month|
|Family, Health & Joy|
|Well Being & Medical||$20||Budget $250/month|
|Personal Care & Fitness||$0||Budget $155/month|
|Kids' Allowance||$60||Kids have their own budget in YNAB|
|Kids' Clothing & Supplies||$142||Budget $75/month|
|Adult Clothing & Supplies||$7||Budget $25/month|
|Family Fun||$225||Budget $150/month|
|Date Nights||$0||Budget $75/month|
|Friend Dates||$0||Budget $75/month|
|Friend Gifts||$91||Budget $50/month|
|Jax's Fun & Self Care Money||$0|
|Mimsy's Fun & Self Care Money||$0|
|Kids' Toys & Books||$107|
|Reimbursable Work Expenses||$173|
|True Expenses – Home|
|Car Maintenance & Tabs||$47||Have $772 saved|
|Home Maintenance & Repair||$146||Budget $200/month|
|Peaches||$0||CSA share because peaches are the world’s most perfect food and I love them. Save $38/month|
|Computer Replacement 2024||$0||$266 saved|
|Car Replacement 2029||$0||$1,209 saved|
|True Expenses – Family|
|Kid Back to School Shop||$0||$289 saved|
|Kid Parties & Gifts||$0||Fully funded! (Budget $62.50/month)|
|Kid Extracurricular||$0||$1000 saved. Budget $100/month|
|Kid Camp||$0||$462 saved. Budget $230/month|
|Kid Summer Childcare||$0||$1,432 saved. Target balance: $2500/year|
|Kid Halloween Costumes||$0||Fully funded ($200)|
|Adult Continuing Ed||$0||Budget $50/month|
|15th Anniversary Extravaganza||$0||$1,071 saved|
|True Expense – Medical|
|Kids Braces||$0||$763 saved. $5,000/each|
|Jax's Surgery||$0||$1,125 saved of $8K by Nov '21|
|Mimsy's Dental Surgery||$0||$10,000 saved (fully funded for Jan '21)|
|Glasses||$0||$62 saved. Budget $20/month|
|True Expenses – Holidays & Travel|
|Gifts||$0||$1,075 saved. Budget $150/month|
|Advent||$0||$542 saved. Budget $83/month|
|Annual Letter||$0||$103 saved. Budget $39/month|
|California||$0||$533 saved. Budget $133/month|
|Michigan||$0||$1,499 saved. Budget $165/month|
|Other Vacation||$0||$61 saved. Budget $50/month|
|Total Expenses $9,155|
My Savings Categories
Right now my top savings goals are:
- Budgeting in future months
- Big surgeries
- True expenses
It took a while, but we got a month ahead about a year ago, after using YNAB for a year and a half.
We have several big surgeries coming up in our family that will not be covered by our not-so-great health insurance, so we’re saving up for those.
We also save for many true expenses—the most important and impactful thing we have learned from YNAB. Christmas, annual trips to visit our respective families (currently on hold, so that money may be moved to other priorities), back-to-school shopping, car replacement, computer replacement. We took our wish lists offline when COVID hit, other than saving for a big 15th Wedding Anniversary shindig in 2021 (fingers crossed).
It was the least normal month that I’ve experienced in my lifetime, but it wasn’t that different from a budget perspective. We bought an extra month’s worth of groceries—which meant our “big box shop” was about twice as high as usual. The money mostly came from transportation (because we aren’t driving) and summer childcare (because we think it’s unlikely we will need it now and our niece moved in with us.)
We’re both lucky to still be working and to have a large cushion of true expenses, so we moved money around to give to local organizations, get take-out from restaurants in our neighborhood more often, and to support our friends who aren’t in the same boat with meals.
We both come from upper middle class families, and due to that privilege, scholarships and generous grandparents, we came to our marriage with no college debt or personal debt.
We shifted our spending to allow for a significant job change for my spouse, who was unhappy in his more lucrative corporate job, and stopped generating as much savings.
We had a long, expensive road to pregnancy and our second pregnancy unexpectedly ended up being twins—which meant more costs for the pregnancy and beyond.
We ended up with about $40,000 worth of debt that we consolidated into a home equity line of credit (HELOC). About three years ago, we found YNAB.
Figuring out your true expenses and funding them is magic. When we started our YNAB journey, I was only making $50,000 a year and Jax wasn’t working because we couldn’t afford our fixed expenses, food, and childcare for a two-year old and infant twins. We would make our way out of some debt, and then “be hit” with a car repair or the holidays or plane tickets (five of them!) and then be back where we started or slightly worse.
When we figured out our true expenses and fully funded them, that changed things. To fund our true expenses, we had to cut back on some things we cared about and we let go of some true expenses that weren’t worth it.
As our income grew, we continued our debt pay-down plan, but we didn’t add to it at first. Instead, we got a month ahead. Then we added to true expenses: we made a computer and a car replacement category; we budgeted more towards home maintenance. Our budget also made us be honest with ourselves, and we increased budget categories where we always overspent.
Now, after three years, our true expenses are broad (and expensive), but worth it. When we learn about something new (like a surgery that our insurance won’t cover), I immediately add it as a true expense category (with a due date) and rework the budget to cover the new true expense. It may mean we build savings more slowly, but it also means we won’t be using up the savings we have built or go back into debt. It seems so obvious now, but it still feels like magic.
My Financial Goals
- Build 3-6 months of savings
- College savings for kids
We’re currently two months ahead and that counts for 2/6 months in our minds. It’s been a journey so far: we’ve paid off all that debt, gotten over a month ahead, built our true expenses and we’re now at a point where we’re beginning to think about financial things we had neglected like retirement and college savings for our three kids.
The economic future is very uncertain now, but I often think how much more terrified I would have been if this had happened pre-YNAB.
I would rate my current financial situation: 5/5
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