Over the years, my husband and I have tried a number of different budgeting methods, but none have been quite right for our needs. Maybe you can relate to that story – you start a month gung-ho to try out some new-fangled budgeting system or Excel spreadsheet only to end up frustrated. Well, I finally found a system that is working so well for us and I wanted to share it with you! It’s called You Need a Budget (YNAB) and it’s the very best budgeting system I’ve ever come across. It’s clean, it’s easy, and best of all, it works!
Here’s what makes YNAB unique and effective:
- You only budget with the money you actually have in your account right now. Every other budget system I’ve come across requires you estimate your month’s income and budget off of that. Well, that’s pretty problematic and frustrating for this small business owner! With YNAB, you look at the money in your account and ask yourself, “what do I need to do with these dollars until I get paid again?” Then you assign jobs to each of those dollars. It’s kind of like the envelope system, but without having to take out all that cash and physically put it into envelopes.
- You can customize YNAB to fit YOUR needs. I love how YNAB doesn’t moralize money. You set up the goals that are important to YOU. Want to pay off debt? Awesome. Want to make sure you have $1,000 to splurge on dining out each month while still paying your bills? Go for it. You can set unique categories and goals within YNAB that speak to you.
- YNAB syncs with your bank and mobile! With YNAB you can enter transactions as they happen via your mobile phone! I also love that both my husband and I have the app, and all that data syncs up! No more waiting until the end of the day or week to input transactions. It also talks to my bank, so I can clear transactions as they happen and make sure everything is reconciled and happy.
- Amazing community and customer support. The folks at YNAB really want you to succeed. In addition to tutorials on their website, they offer complete FREE webcasts every day. I have attended a few already and found them incredibly helpful in understanding how to get set up and maximize YNAB’s ability. The owner also has a podcast (with short, usually 10 minutes or less in length episodes) to listen to. There is also a Facebook group you can join. Bottom line, it’s an incredibly supportive community!
My husband and I have been using YNAB for over a month now and I can already see lots of benefits, beyond just gaining greater control of our money. Here are just a few I’m seeing right now…
- Eliminates the need of lots of accounts. In the past, my approach to saving money would be to set up a lot of individual savings accounts. With this program, I can see that’s pretty unnecessary. So long as those dollars have been assigned a category, there is really no need for this. My husband and I also created a category for fun money for each of us.
- Helps you recognize your true expenses. This is a recurring theme in YNAB, but they want you to “embrace your true expenses.” Yes, we all have mortgage/rent, groceries, and utilities… but we also have those expenses we don’t tend to think about. Stuff like Christmas gifts, auto and home maintenance, clothing, and kids’ sports. Setting aside small amounts in this categories will prevent those “gotchas!”
- Meeting big financial goals little by little. There are so many ways you can structure your goals within YNAB, and I’m excited to tackle them! We have a couple big vacations we’d like to take in the next 5 years, and I can totally see how YNAB could help us save little by little for them.
There is really a lot more I could say about YNAB. If this has been an area of struggle for your family – or hey! maybe it’s not, but you’re intrigued to give YNAB a try, I encourage you to do so. They have a FREE 34-day trial and best of all, there is no credit card required. To make the most of YNAB, I recommend you sign up, and then spend about an hour or two learning how to work the software, installing the app to your phone(s), and signing up for a webcast.
Here’s a short video to learn more (they also have an entire YouTube channel full of tutorials!):
To get started, head on over to YNAB.
I’d love to answer questions if you have them! Also, if you’ve been using YNAB, I’d LOVE to hear about it. How long have you been using it? What kind of financial goals have you achieved? What else would you add to my post? Please leave a comment below!