I know Confession Wednesday isn’t until tomorrow, but I have a confession today:
And they have been a disaster for a long time.
I mean, I always manage to get the important stuff paid mostly on time. Particularly my rent and my car payment. The two biggest things. Because I quite enjoy having a roof over my head and a way to get to places like, oh, you know, my job.
But my phone bill is almost always late by at least a week because of the way my due date falls compared to my paychecks. Sometimes I don’t have enough cash for gas to get all the way through the month and have to borrow from savings or put it on the credit card. Same with other luxuries like food.
And don’t get me started on my student loans.
I made the decision last week that 2015 is the year I will finally take control of my financial situation.
Living paycheck to paycheck is painful. Especially since there is usually more month than money, to borrow a saying from someone I used to know.
To make matters even more frustrating, I only get paid once a month. So I have to make that monthly paycheck stretch for four weeks instead of two. I think I honestly had a much better handle on things when I was paid every other week and always knew there was more money coming in soon.
So last week, I was pondering on what to do and I was chatting with my good friend, Google, and I found a website I have long heard about, but have never delved into deeply.
It’s called YNAB. Or, You Need a Budget.
Now, before your eyes start glazing over, let me assure you that this is absolutely NOT a sponsored post. This is a real life “I found this program and love it and I think you will too” kind of post.
I’ve started budgets before, but they’ve never worked for me. Mostly because they’re full of projections and hopes and dreams and leave very little wiggle room and then I get annoyed and stop sticking to it.
But YNAB is completely different. YNAB has four basic rules that help it be very structured, but also very flexible. Two things I really need in this process.
I’m not going to go into all the ins and outs of YNAB, other than to say that there is a desktop application that you can download to any and all computers you use. When you buy the software, you get a household license, instead of a computer license. So, for instance, I have it downloaded to my computer at work, my laptop at home, and I have the mobile app on my phone.
The computer application looks kind of like this:
So you add in all your checking and savings accounts and loans and investment accounts and etc. Then you start budgeting for the current month based on what you currently have in your bank accounts. You don’t need to worry about going back into the past. Even a couple of days. I started this on January 5 with exactly what I had in my account on that day. And I based my budget on what I had that day. Which meant I didn’t worry about the bills I had already paid or the gas I had already purchased or the food I had already eaten. I just moved forward from January 5.
You also don’t plan ahead. You make your plans for your money when you actually have the money in hand. So I won’t sit down and make a budget for February until I actually have my money for February.
This helps me focus on the here and now. Without getting too far ahead of myself and starting into the realm of hopes and dreams and monopoly money that I want to get. Maybe I think I’m going to make X amount of money selling ads on my blog. I can’t budget for that because it isn’t real. I only end up making .X instead. I have to budget for what I have, not for what I hope.
So that’s the basics of the program.
And then there’s the mobile app that is available for Android and iPhone both.
With the mobile app, you can enter transactions as you make them, so you don’t have to worry about forgetting to add a purchase and thinking you have more money than you do.
Because I’m sure I can’t be the only person that looks at the bank balance, forgets about the things I have due or the things that haven’t cleared yet, and assumes I have more money than I really do.
This puts an end to all of that.
I know I’ve only been using it for a week, but my entire financial outlook is already turned upside down. Or, should I say, right side up? I can already feel myself more calm and steady and ready to get myself off the paycheck to paycheck cycle. I realize I waste a LOT of money on things I really don’t need to be spending it on. And I’ve already cancelled a couple of services that I don’t need because I’m not getting enough benefit out of them.
I LOVE THIS PROGRAM. It’s like it was invented just for me.
And you know what’s totally rad? They give everyone a 34 day free trial. Not just a couple of weeks or a month. THIRTY-FOUR days. To try it out in your everyday life.
PLUS, there are free budgeting classes and a series of e-mails that introduce the ins and outs of the program to you, and a blog and all sorts of other things.
OH. And if you’re a student, you can actually use the software for free. (It costs $60, but is TOTALLY worth way more than that.) The information for getting set up for student use can be found here.
So there you go. My totally unsolicited and 100% honest appraisal of You Need a Budget. It is already changing my life, and it can do the same for you.
I’m definitely going to buy the program. Just as soon as there’s room in my budget for it…