Rewriting money story and removing debt from family tree

Writing a New Money Story for Your Family

Written by Rachel Ellen  |  on


If I asked you where you learned about money, it probably wasn’t in school. If you’re like many people, it likely came from your family—and that financial knowledge was likely absorbed rather than spoon fed.

But maybe our parents weren’t all that confident in their own money decisions. And maybe our parents’ parents were just winging it too. It becomes this generational thing—maybe your family heritage is full of small business owners, but maybe it’s full of debt, or maybe no one in your family has ever broken the paycheck to paycheck cycle.

So what if you want to be the first one to rewrite your money story? Is it even possible?  

Ryan’s Story

Ryan, the digital marketing manager here at YNAB, reached that fork in the road.

“I got married and we were terrible with our money in our 20s. Any fight we would have was centered around money.” (BTW Ryan—it happens to the best all of us.) 

They had their first child and bought a house with this anxiety around money lurking. Somewhere along the way, Ryan and his wife Meghan had an epiphany. 

The Turning Point

“You reach this age where as an adult you figure out what kind of life you want to live,” he says. 

“We need to be adults and do this right.”

But at the time, they weren’t really sure where to look to tackle their financial woes. They found Dave Ramsey and had their first game-changing moment after saving a thousand dollars as an emergency fund, a cushion that had never been a constant before. But that was just the beginning of their turnaround.

You reach this age where as an adult you figure out what kind of life you want to live.

“The biggest thing was when we started living on last month’s income with YNAB.” 

(Guys we don’t even pay him to say these things. We do pay him, but not to say these things.) 

A New Money Story: No Looking Back

“It took a few months to understand the process and have it kick in, but then once we started living on last month’s income, there was no looking back. Ever since then, it hasn’t always been 100 percent perfect, but it’s a part of our life we can’t live without.”

Ryan says it took he and his wife a little over a year to get from feeling stressed and anxious about money to where it finally felt like it was under control.

Money Story Debt Family Tree

In fact, they recently took their family to Spain for an extended vacation. Growing up, neither Meghan’s nor Ryan’s families did much traveling. Ryan remembers a family road trip from Seattle to Minnesota to visit his grandma when he was 12. For Meghan, it was a bigger road trip from Alaska to Massachusetts, but she wasn’t old enough to remember a lot of the details.

They wanted that to change for their young family and made traveling a priority. After saving for almost a year and a half, they took a three-week trip to Portugal and Spain last summer. It was a trip they’ll never forget. This trip would not have been possible with their old money habits, but with YNAB, they set a goal, saved and went from Lisbon to Seville to Valencia for the vacation of a lifetime.

Ryan and his family had a new story of peace, financial mastery, and vacation memories, but that wasn’t even the biggest bonus. 

“My kids are budgeting, saving, and learning about investing. To be able to pass this down is so exciting to me. You can make decisions that will impact generations. I’m happy that I know now, but I’m even happier that I can pass it on.”

You can rewrite your own family money story too. Learn more about how to live on last month’s income (Ryan’s game changing moment) by aging your money.


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Your Next Step

Budgeting is not restrictive. You won’t be spending less, you’ll be spending right. So what do you have to lose? Except all that debt and stress?