Sunday, October 06, 2013

Feeding A Starving Artist - YNAB

So here I am again with the final part of my 3 part post on feeding a starving artist.  You Need A Budget.  But not just any budget, you need YNAB.  And if you use the 10% off discount link here, you save $6 and I get $6 for having reffered you to it.

Remember, I'm not normally one to push random products.  Just look at my blog history.  How often have I begged people to buy stuff?  Hardly ever.  So what makes YNAB so special?  Let me explain.

I've budgeted in all kinds of ways over the years, spreadsheets, cash envelopes, notebooks of graph paper.  Some methods worked better than others over the years.  When it was just me handling the money, I did more or less okay.  I didn't bounce checks or go into debt.  But add in a family household and suddenly, I'm sharing the finances with someone else.  None of my previous systems included my wife very much in the organizing.  Also, although I saved for rainy days, because of lack of organization, days  that were infrequent but expected expenses turned into rainy days because I hadn't planned ahead well enough.

I started reading some personal finance blogs and forums and read about a lot of people touting the benefits of YNAB (You Need A Budget).  I looked into it, watched the training videos, and downloaded the trial and gave it a 34 day free spin before deciding whether to plunk down $60 for it or not (one time fee).

YNAB was easier and certainly prettier than my spreadsheets or notebook paper. You can add and remove budgeting categories on the fly.  It also was flexible in the very common case where your expenses don't match what you budgeted for.  Rather than make the whole budget a failure, you just roll with the punches and reallocate from one category to another on the fly.  A minor correction, making you more willing to stick with the budget.

The categories are like a cash envelope system but tracked electronically so it works for everything from cash to debit cards and checking.  And by using the cloud, you can sync and update your earnings and expenses on the fly with the desktop and mobile (iOS or Android) applications.  Now, my wife and I can both have instantly at our finger tips what funds are available for which category.

Every dollar is given a job.  You don't accidentally spend it for A when you needed it for B because now, before you spend it, you put it in B's category.  It makes it easier to save for those long term infrequent expenses without mispending those dollars elsewhere.

YNAB's methodology and software is more forward thinking than Quicken or Mint.  Instead of tracking what you have spent (which YNAB still does very well), it's primary focus is to plan what your going to spend in the future.  It's forward looking approach puts you in control of the money instead of the money being in control of you. 

The average YNAB user saves $200 more than they were before in just their first month and over several months see their savings reach into the thousands of dollars, all through merely budgeting smarter and spending on what matters most instead of "whatever".  My wife and I had our dishwasher and a car battery go out in our first month with YNAB.  Despite both rainy day expenses, in our first six weeks with YNAB, we still came out with that $200 extra that the average YNABer saves.  We socked the savings away for the next rainy day which might be my wife's dying car.

I'm a fan of Dave Ramsey and being debt free. Too many people in America are living paycheck to paycheck, or worse, going into debt to finance lifestyles they cannot afford.  It leads to stress, lost sleep, and anxiety.  Rather than bondage to lenders, the freedom from debt liberates one's soul to pursue the things in life that bring true happiness and live secure against the financial storms that strike.

If you like this post, need a good budgeting program, and want to help a starving artist*, use my referral link to purchase YNAB today.

* Disclaimer: The artist in question is not actually starving.  In fact, he's a little bit overweight.  However, his finances are tight and he does have to keep a roof over the heads of himself, his wife, his children, and his dog.  So if you won't do it for the artist, do it for the children or the dog.

1 comment:

Deano said...

I have been using YNAB for about a month and a half now and could not be more pleased. I thought I'd developed through the years a pretty good system that accomplished all that I wanted to manage my finances. YNAB does it simpler and better than mine.