You Survived Back to School, Time to Go Back to the Budget

Written by Jesse Mecham  |  on


This blog post was originally published in September 2015. From Podcast #187: Changing Seasons, Changing Priorities, the one in which Jesse encourages you to take a moment to reflect…

Times they are a-changing, and school is back in session. With the new school year, we usually see a little uptick at YNAB in terms of trial downloads and general chatter about budgeting. And that’s because the summer has ended and we’re getting back into our routines. Back to business.

As you are wrapping your heads around new schools, new teachers, new schedules, new commitments, you can look around and say, “Okay how are we going to deal with this? Because I don’t think I can. I’m feeling super frazzled…” and just get stuck there.

Or you can use it as a moment to reflect, reconsider and reprioritize. This is an opportunity to pay attention to what took you by surprise and tuck that information away, to be better prepared in the future. Maybe it was school clothes or soccer sign-ups or more driving or less working or any number of things. It is an opportunity to think through what is important, what is necessary, what is top priority, as these things may have shifted.

The seasons are good, natural markers for us to be able to look and say, “Hey, is something new? Could I have prepared for this? Should I have?” and then go from there. It’s just Rule Two: Embrace Your True Expenses, and then you roll it back into Rule One: Give Every Dollar A Job, and re-prioritize.

I would caution you, as you’re reflecting, “Oh, we have more school clothes to budget for next year”—if it was an extra $240 or something for the year—you could say, “Gosh, $240. Maybe if we just save $20 a month and make it a Rule Two expense by saving up that cash over time…” Maybe that isn’t worth it. Always look at your Rule Two savings, and make sure that you’re not saving for when the toothpaste runs out—that’s the unofficial Rule Two rule.

But I do want to encourage everyone in a new season, during this big shift as the school year resumes, to examine the changes, your new routines and rethink your budget. Just ask yourself if it’s still on point, how could you improve, and are you moving toward the goals that are most important to you.


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

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?