Nearly one year after they were engaged, Brendan, a digital content strategist, and Alisha, an administrative assistant, faced a very disappointing possibility: postponing their wedding.
They realized funds were tighter than they thought during a conversation with Brendan’s parents. Alisha said, “We thought, originally, that we would have a large wedding. But, even with help from our families, we didn’t know how we could do it. We had nearly $15,000 in credit card debt, two car loans, two student loans, monthly bills and whatever other unplanned expense would arise.”
With a ton of debt and no savings, Alisha, now 27 years old, said, “It felt as though we were behind everyone else. People our age were already having kids, pets and buying houses. We felt like we were doing everything right, yet, not getting the results we wanted.”Something Had to Change.
See, the couple had tried budgeting—at the time, they’d been using software that starts with an ‘M’ and rhymes with ‘hint’—it’s just that it didn’t seem to be helping them (so uncool) …
Alisha said, “We felt defeated by the lack of success in any previous budgeting endeavors. Our ‘financial future’ didn’t feel like it’d be much different than how ‘today’ felt—broke. We were going to need to pay off a lot of debt before we could justify putting money away into savings [for the wedding].”Then They Found YNAB.
Their outlook changed when Alisha heard about YNAB at work. Brendan said, “A coworker mentioned to Alisha that he had money set aside to...
Sometimes it’s the details that can really derail your budget, amiright? Like, when you’re elbow-deep in a sink full of dishes, and your teenager asks if she can join friends at the movies. You quickly agree and, oops, it’ll have to go on the credit card.
Or, you’re halfway done painting the spare room (and halfway covered in paint) when hunger strikes. You scram to the nearest drive-through—this calls for large fries and a milkshake—but decide not to record the transaction with your greasy, paint-covered fingers. And then you forget!Record Scratch
What if, instead of acting impulsively, you’d asked YNAB, “How much is budgeted for Entertainment?”
Or told YNAB to record your lunch: “Log $8.54 in Eating Out from checking.”
Well, if you’re an Alexa owner, you can! Here’s how it works:
Start the Conversation, Now!
Control of your money is the ultimate goal. With the YNAB ecosystem (apps for web, iOS, Android and voice), you’ll never have to wonder if you’re spending within budget. When in doubt, just ask!
YNAB is available to Alexa devices in Australia, Canada, U.K. and U.S. For help linking your YNAB account to Alexa, click here.
Today, let’s look more closely at Rule 4, Age Your Money. It means exactly what it says: when you get paid, put that cash in the bank, and wait at least 30 days before you spend it. But why?
The short answer is that it’s the ultimate pressure-release valve for the part of your brain that thinks about your finances. I mean, who wouldn’t love to pay bills—as soon as they arrive—without even batting an eyelash because, of course, you’ve got the money. It’s been in your account for a month (or longer)! Nobody, that’s who.
But how can an ordinary person, with an ordinary salary, get so far ahead of their expenses that new paychecks simply lay, unused, on top of the pile? The answer is bit by bit. Get creative, find ways to spend less and watch your money grow (old). Here are some ideas to get you started:How You, Too, Can Have Old Money.
Unfortunately, you can’t simply take your dollars to the beach, sans sunscreen, and let the sun work it’s age-accelerating magic. You’re stuck waiting on the sands of time to get the job done. Luckily, there are unlimited ways to encourage those gainful granules to fall a bit faster. And here are ten strategies that I’ve used, myself:1. Sell Stuff You Don’t Use
One time, I thought “To heck with stock photos! I want to take photos for my personal website, myself.”
That thought lead to a pricey mistake, the purchase of a fancy-pants...
We hear this question a lot: “Should I pay off my debt or save for emergencies?”
They’re both good goals, but which one is gooder, er, better? That’s a tricky one. Whenever you’re dealing with multiple financial goals, they all elbow for your attention (and your dollars). But there is a method to this madness, and that’s what I’d like to talk about today.First, the Basics.
Before we can talk about saving for emergencies or crushing your debt to smithereens, there’s the matter of your basic needs:Immediate Obligations
You have to cover your immediate obligations. These are things that:
Typically, they’re expenses related to survival, like groceries, utilities and rent. Immediate obligations also include your minimum payments on debt. Once you’ve got those covered, you move on to …True Expenses
True expenses are the purchases that:
True expenses include things like auto maintenance, trips to the hair salon and spending money for Christmas. You want to make sure you’re setting aside a little money each month so that you’re ready when these costs come up. Obviously, you have a little wiggle room here (gifts), but you can’t ignore these categories, entirely (oil changes).Why the Basics Matter So Much.
It’s easy to see why paying our monthly bills is the top priority. You need a roof over your head, and food to keep you alive. But what about those true expenses? It’s harder to put aside dollars for car repairs when...
Every year, in late December, YNAB’s operations come to a near-halt as many of us gather with friends and loved ones to celebrate and relax. It’s one of the many, well-appreciated benefits of working for a company that understands work-life balance.
Now, I say “near-halt” because there’s one aspect of the business that we just can’t close down, entirely—customer support. We simply can’t bear the thought of leaving a YNABer hanging when a budgeting question or software issue pops up.
And that’s how my introduction to the inner-workings of our customer support team came to be. Here at YNAB, we call it “Support Day” and every member of Team YNAB participates for one day during the winter holiday. It’s how we share the workload so that our highly-deserving support representatives can partake in the break, too. After all, isn’t refreshed support the best kind?
When my day to man the support desk came, I anticipated answering questions and sharing links to YNAB’s many resources. What I wasn’t expecting was that I’d learn something, too. For example:
First of all, let me say that, if you’re frustrated with direct import,...
They say that a picture is worth a thousand words and, it turns out that, a thousand words are worth considerably more if you add some pictures! Now, you’re probably thinking, “What does this have to do with my budget?”
If you’re a financial blogger, the answer is “Everything!”
(You are a financial blogger, right? Did you even read my headline?) If you’re not, stick around. Maybe you’ll be inspired to start a new side hustle.
This could be YOU (but actually, it’s Erin, our Education Manager).
So, back to that budget of yours. As a financial blogger, the better your content, the more dollars you bring in. Since the name of the blogging income game is engagement—measured in shares, click-throughs and bounce rates (oh my!)—how can you be more competitive? Hmm. Well, according to these fancy statistics compiled by HubSpot, images can help you boost all of the above! Check it out:
Here at YNAB, we talk a lot about how to claim your slice of financial peace (and why it’s such a tasty dish). Of course, budgeting is a primary ingredient to success, but if you look a little closer, you’ll realize that awareness is what holds it all together.
It’s easy to get swept up in budgeting logistics—how to create your first budget, how to get out of debt, and even how to get your spouse on board—so, instead, let’s turn our attention to that awareness bit:
And if you don’t use it, you lose it! So try out these three exercises to keep your awareness in tip-top shape (and make budgeting much easier!).1. Meditate on It.
There’s a phenomenon in meditation known as “getting behind the waterfall.” Dan Harris, the author of 10% Happier, describes it as “the ability to know what’s happening in your head—right now—without getting carried away by it.”
The idea is that, if you slow down and simply observe your thoughts, you’ll be less likely to react impulsively. In other words, meditation helps you practice awareness—and the benefits include less stress, reduced emotional reactivity and an improved sense of calm.
Even with Rule Three, Roll With The Punches, sometimes a budget can feel a little, well, rigid. In fact, fear of cutting back prevents many people from ever even trying to budget! Add in the fear of missing out, a.k.a., FOMO, and you’ve got a recipe for financial ruin.
But here’s the truth—and it’s not just my experience, we’ve seen this with thousands of YNABers—when you start giving every dollar a job (that’s Rule One, by the way), you’ll feel freer than you’ve ever felt! That’s right, when you follow a budget, you’ll get more of what you want (and less of what you don’t).Your Budget Aims to Please
Your budget isn’t there to make you feel broke or boss you around. Your budget’s job is to help you channel your financial power towards the things that will make you feel safe, secure and, the thing everyone seems to forget, happy!
Now, I don’t know about you, but I could never be happy if I felt like I could never make a purchase on a whim or change my plans. We all need flexibility—so plan for it! I know what you must be thinking, and it’s probably along the lines of, “Uh, Ben? Isn’t ‘planning spontaneity’ an oxymoron?”
I know that it sounds counterintuitive, but I’m here to tell you that it’s doable: You can both bask in budgeting peace and, at the same time, go a little off the rails with your spending. Let me give...
According to our website traffic over the last 10+ years, we can confirm with scientific accuracy that a lot more people consider, revisit and/or research budgeting in January than any other time of the year.
If you are one of them, allow us to save you some time and frustration. We’ve helped hundreds of thousands of people fall in love with what budgeting can do—give them total control of their money, eliminate money stress, and help them achieve goals they never thought possible.
There is really only one thing you must do to experience this budgeting nirvana—don’t quit. Luckily, we can help with that, too.
Here are the top four reasons why people quit budgeting (and how to overcome them):1. You Fall Off of Your Plan.
Unless you are a fortune teller or you’ve mastered the secrets of the time-space continuum, there is no way to predict exactly how any given month will go. Regardless of how well you budget, life will happen. Your circumstances or your priorities (or both!) will change, and you’ll need to adjust your budget.
This does not mean you’ve failed—in fact, quite the opposite. It means you’re actually budgeting!
Remember that your first budget is just a starting place. To get the most out of your money, you will move your dollars around, right and left, adjust your categories, and then do it all, again. This is budgeting. And you’re doing it exactly right. Go, you!2. It’s Too Much Work.
So, maybe budgeting is a new habit. And, yes, there is...
We first published Matthew Ricci’s story in 2016. It’s a story that many YNABers can relate to—that you don’t even realize how much mental space your money worries take up … until you feel the sweet freedom of a budget. And we want that for everyone! So here it is, again. If you want to learn more about Matthew and his money story, you’ll find him in Jesse’s new book, You Need a Budget.Now, Let’s Meet Matthew
Matthew Ricci, 29, lives in New York City. He’s a smart guy, a contingency planner by trade, and he was pretty certain he didn’t need a budget.
His financial plan consisted of using 0% credit cards, only carrying “good” student debt, and keeping up with personal finance blogs, which is where he stumbled across a thread that made him question some previous assumptions and sign-up for YNAB.
After an exciting Friday night, getting his first YNAB budget squared away and learning more about budgeting with YNAB, the writing was on the wall: “I was actually in pretty bad financial shape.”
Two years, and two days after that first Friday night with YNAB, Matthew celebrated being completely debt-free. It was a huge $43,000 milestone, but in a lot of ways it was just the beginning:You Might Not Even Realize How Much You Stress About Money
For a guy who thought he was doing pretty OK with his finances prior to YNAB, Matthew had no idea how much he had been stressing about money until...
Do you feel a twinge of guilt every time you pull out your wallet?
Do you hide shopping bags in the trunk so your spouse won’t see them?
Is your credit card balance growing faster than your kids?!
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, chances are, you’ve got some bad spending habits. They’re nasty, little troublemakers, that’s certain, and they’re far more common than you’d think (it’s hard to spot a problem that nobody wants to talk about!).
The root cause? You spend more than you make! If you’re one of the millions of consumers affected by bad spending habits, there’s hope. Thousands of YNABers have already evicted their bad spending habits with these basic, but powerful, techniques:Talk Is Cheap.
Yep, a good old-fashioned heart-to-heart is an amazing cure-all, and it’s especially effective for bad spending habits. Bonus: talking isn’t just cheap, it’s free.
If you’re married or otherwise financially partnered, this is a critical first step to regaining control of your money. If you fly solo, find a good friend, mentor or confidant. You might also drop into an online forum, like the YNAB subreddit. Working through your problem with others is healing—you’ll feel better when you’re no longer suffering in silence, and you’ll make room for solutions-seeking conversation. Two heads are better than one, right?
Talking to your spouse can be difficult, especially if they have no idea about your money problems. Be straight-forward, but gentle. And if the...
I’ve been teaching people how to budget for about ten years, and if there’s one theme that permeates nearly everyone’s financial story, it’s shame—shame about credit card debt. Shame about spending patterns. Shame about not, yet, hitting financial goals. And even budget shame.
Yep, even people who carefully plan where they’ll spend their dollars every month feel shame when life happens and they overspend on, let’s say, eating out. Or back to school clothes. Or whatever.
And the insidious thing about shame? It wears you down and kills your motivation. I’ve heard many people come right out and say, “I’ve just never been good with money.”I’ve Been There, Too.
If that’s you—you feel like money management is an impossible task—let me first say that I understand where you’re coming from. I, too, once felt lost at sea, financially speaking. I had a boatload of debt, and I never thought I’d be able to build a buffer.
… but then I got serious about my money and started setting (and achieving!) some big financial goals. Fast-forward, and now I teach thousands of new YNABers how to finally control their cash. I’d say it’s a miracle, but this story is far less magical.The Secret Weapon
If you’re ready to be debt-free, to spend without worry (and to experience a host of the not-so-obvious benefits of gaining control of your money—like amazing sleep and unexpectedly high levels of peace and joy), then all you need is the proper dosage of knowledge!
You know that euphoric feeling of cruising through your favorite store (in real life or online), plucking up something that catches your eye, and deciding “Hm. Yeah, I’ll take it!”
Or perhaps you’re more prone to put your cash down for experiences, like plane tickets to a winter getaway. Or maybe you just like the freedom of eating out whenever, and wherever, you like: “I’ll take a triple, venti, half-sweet, non-fat, caramel macchiato and, what the heck, a blueberry muffin! Dinner’s not for another two hours.”
… but deep down, if you’re really honest about it, underneath the fleeting excitement of spending that cash, your heart sinks. Your “fun” purchase just added another layer of stress to your already stressful money situation.You’re Stuck in the Worst Kind of Catch-22
We hear about it from new budgeters all the time: you’re chronically stressed about money, and—the cruelest of ironies—only find relief when you’re spending it. In those fleeting moments of spending, you feel in control and happy.
But then reality catches up. It’s going to be tight until payday (and nearly impossible without your credit card, again). If only you’d waited to buy those jeans. Or postponed the mini-vacation. Or packed your lunch last week!
And when your next paycheck arrives? Sweet relief! Let the spending begin! The pattern continues.It Doesn’t Have to Be This Way
If this cycle of abundance and scarcity sounds all too familiar, then let me introduce you to a third option. There’s a sweet spot between spending and, well, an empty...
We first published Alex Hatzenbuhler’s story in 2016. It’s a story that every 23-year-old needs to read. (Heck, it’s a story most people twice that age should read!) So here it is, again. If you want to learn more about Alex and his money story, you’ll find more about him in Jesse’s new book, You Need a Budget.Now, Let’s Meet Alex
Alex Hatzenbuhler, 23, graduated from college in June 2015 and got his first real job. And subsequently, his first real budget. Both have worked out quite well.
After talking with Alex a little bit, I realized his story was almost a little too boring because he is just doing everything right.
He is aware of his spending, budgeting, and saving. (And for those of us who didn’t figure it out at 23, almost a little bit annoying?)
So I asked Alex what advice he’d give to new college grads. I love what he had to share because it is good, solid advice, and the actual things he has just done (and is still doing) to great success. At 23. And so I present to you:The Alex Hatzenbuhler Guide to Adulting Home Sweet Home.
If you can stay with your parents after college, do it! It is a temporary strategy, but even if you are only there six months, you will save a lot! It’s a great way to get a little bit of a head start financially.Get Your Head In The Game.
Go check out the Personal Finance...
Whether you’re ready to dive into your first budget, or just want to fine-tune the way that you handle credit cards, variable income, or your grocery expenses, YNAB’s workshops are an excellent place to start. And they just got even better!
YNABers tell us all the time that they love our workshops (thank you!), but a few of you have mentioned that it can be tough to squeeze them into your day. Or that there’s a particular aspect of a budgeting topic that you’re just itching to hash out workshop-style. You want it? You got it!Announcing New and Improved YNAB Workshops!
Based on feedback from workshop attendees, the wonderful humans that are YNAB teachers have been at work, behind the scenes, breaking down our old 30-minute classes into more focused 20-minute classes. The result?
And best of all? We’re keeping the same great format:
If you’re ready to make this year different—to conquer your finances and finally win at the money game—check out YNAB’s new lineup of workshops! In just twenty-minute bites, you can completely reshape your next twenty years (and then some!).
If you’re plopped on the sofa in new jammies, sipping your brew from a new self-heating mug, and reading this blog post from a shiny, new device, I’d wager a guess that there’s also a new thought stirring in your head:
Maybe the egg nog and cookies aren’t completely to blame for your queasy stomach, and maybe, just maybe, it’s time to get serious about your cash. The holiday magic is fading—and you know what’s waiting—the tab.You Need This Book!
If you need a burst of budgeting inspiration to cure your post-shopping blues, you’re in luck. You Need A Budget, Jesse’s new book, is hitting the shelves at bookstores near, far, and online, TODAY! (And it’s the last day to enter to win preorder bonuses—like an all-expenses paid trip to New York City to eat lunch with Jesse, or a sweet YNAB t-shirt!)
So, gather up the discarded wrapping paper and boxes, and clear away the cookies! You’ll want to make room on your coffee table for this book, a book that will pay for itself (many times over) with a wealth of inspiration and guidance about putting your money to work for you. Don’t just take our word for it.
Inside, Jesse offers:
We first published Dan and Tracy’s story in 2016. Today, we’re sharing it, again (it’s so good!). And, if you’d like to read more, you’ll find their story in You Need A Budget, the book. Preorder your copy before December 26th, to be qualified to enter our raffle for an all-expenses-paid trip to New York City to have lunch with Jesse! You could even score yourself a YNAB t-shirt. Full details here.Meet Dan and Tracy
Don’t they look so happy? That’s what getting engaged and being debt-free will do for you!
When Tracy and Dan fell in love and got engaged, it was all rainbows and unicorns and credit card debt. Financially speaking, the honeymoon was over before it even started.
Determined to start their life together on the right (debt-free) foot—long before they would take their actual wedding vows—they made two commitments to each other:
I, Dan, promise we will not finance one penny of our wedding.
And I, Tracy, promise we will pay off all our consumer debt before the big day.
Based on their financial histories to this point, this was a complete and total shift, and seemed, what’s the word, oh yes, impossible.Deep Breaths
“Before YNAB, I would consistently run out of money well before my next paycheck and charge my way to payday. Before I knew it I was paying $1,600 in minimum debt payments and all my cards were maxed out,” says Dan. “It got to the point where I was losing sleep at night.”
The older I get, the more I’ve come to believe, that we’re all just faking this whole grown-up thing. I have no idea what I’m doing, but neither did my parents or their parents. We’re all just doing the best we can with what we have to work with (which some days does not feel like much, but I digress).
I would have thought, surely, by the time I was 39, I’d feel settled and mature and generally have-it-all-together, but as it turns out? I feel none of those things.
The other surprising revelation of late—I think I’m OK with it.
This is new for me and since I just admitted to knowing nothing, I’m sure it will mean a lot when I say, I think this late-breaking realization may just be the secret of life.
So, here it is, in my humble opinion, the secret to life: peace of mind.Peace of Mind—What Is It?
There are likely a million ways to define it, but for me, peace of mind is not having to stress about if there’s enough, if I’m doing it right, or wasting time worried about how I measure up.
At this point in life I know what is most important to me. I work hard at focusing my resources toward those things, and then I don’t worry about what could/should/would be or what anyone else is doing/thinking/saying, etc.
Can I change all the imperfect circumstances in my life? No.
Can I turn back time or predict the future, right all the wrongs...
Today’s post is by TJ Horan, vice president at FICO, who oversees fraud solutions and is on a mission to arm consumers with practical knowledge to protect themselves from credit card fraud.
On the heels of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the month of December offers savvy spenders even more opportunities to scoop up great deals on their holiday shopping. With Green Monday, Free Shipping Day, and Super Saturday all happening within one week of each other, consumer spending is expected to rise to record amounts this year—especially purchases made online or via mobile. And that presents a potential issue for individuals swiping their credit cards all month long: a higher sales volume during the holiday season also means a greater risk of card-present and card-not-present (CNP) credit card fraud.
Especially this year, there are a few factors that have made credit card fraud during this period more likely, including recent high-profile data breaches that have leaked millions of cardholders’ personal information. Plus, data from FICO’s fraud detection Falcon platform found that the number of compromised credit cards at ATMs and merchants rose 39 percent in the first six months of 2017, compared to the same period in 2016 so you could even fall victim to fraud when taking cash out of the ATM!
But I’m not saying this to scare you—in fact, I have some ideas to help. If you’re out holiday shopping, expect that criminals are out to get your money and arm yourself with...
We first published Holly Mackenzie’s story in 2016. It’s a story that many of us can relate to—the struggle to say ‘no’ to smaller things today so that we can fully say ‘yes’ to a better life tomorrow. If you want to read more about Holly, you’ll find her in Jesse’s new book, You Need a Budget. Preorder your copy before December 26th, to be qualified to enter our raffle for an all-expenses-paid trip to New York City to have lunch with Jesse! You could even score yourself a YNAB t-shirt. Full details here.Now, Let’s Meet Holly.
If you have ever thought you could never stick to a budget because you just “love to spend money so much”—we’ve got a success story for you.
Meet Holly MacKenzie, a 32-year-old engineer by day and fitness coach by night. She’s spunky, adventurous, and up for anything—which can get expensive.
Up until a few years ago, she assumed she’d live paycheck to paycheck all the days of her life because, well, she just loved spending money. She couldn’t even fathom another way.
But life just kept happening—as it does—and she was forced to face her finances like never before.
Fast forward to today, Holly understands and respects the power of her money. Every. Single. Dollar. She is in complete control of her money and as a result, her entire life (which didn’t surprise anyone more than Holly herself).
Maybe her journey can inspire your own financial revelation:Fear The Status Quo
Despite knowing that she...