Friday, March 14, 2014

Becoming a budget sleuth

We've been using YNAB for about a year now.
You'd think I would have it 100% figured out by now, right?

I learn something new every time I check out the blog,
every time I visit the forums,
I most importantly -- when I learn from my mistakes.

Now I could be way off when I say this,
but I'm sure Jesse (the guy that started YNAB) still learns new things from time to time too.

I'm no budget guru.
I don't have it all figured out.
Our budget is nowhere near perfect.
In fact, it has plenty of flaws.
Which means we have plenty to learn from & plenty of room for improvement.
We're just an average couple that set a goal last year to make some major budgeting changes.

We had kind of reached a net worth plateau
& it wasn't until September or October this past year
that I started to really grasp what was going wrong with our budget.
We weren't truly following the 4 rules...

1. Give every dollar a job (Be the boss of ALL of your money)
2. Save for a rainy day (Break all big expenses into manageable monthly chunks)
3. Roll with the punches (Be flexible & address overspending before it becomes a problem)
4. Live on last month's income (Stop living paycheck to paycheck)

It's amazing how well those rules work when you follow them correctly,
& depressing how quickly that net worth can drop or become stagnant when not following the rules.

We were assigning every dollar a job
& rolling with the punches by moving things around when we would overspend.
But we weren't checking the category balances before spending,
which of course led to overspending.
Our rainy day funds would then become depleted as we moved things around,
making it near impossible to live on last month's income.

It's been quite the bumpy road,
(okay, maybe more like a roller-coaster)
but now we are debt free except for the house AND have a one month buffer going!
(meaning we are finally living on last month's income)
Such an awesome feeling!

Our next step is to remember to use the YNAB app on our smartphones religiously.
Because without checking the balances ahead of time,
we tend to very easily get sucked into the black hole of bad spending habits
& then we end up pulling from categories that we would rather not have to pull from,
simply because we are less aware of how much money is in each category.
There was an awesome post about that on the YNAB blog recently.
You should definitely check it out.
If that doesn't solve our problem,
we'll at least have one better budgeting habit under our belts.

We'll also have another reason to pull out our detective caps & magnifying glasses
to figure out what else we can do to better our budget & increase that net worth.

photo credit:

It's kind of fun being a sleuth when you think about it.
The delayed gratification that comes with solving a mystery after following the right clues
can parallel to the delayed gratification that comes with finally making a purchase
after saving up for it the right way.

I've noticed less & less delayed gratification in today's society.
We have cell phones at our fingertips with the ability to look things up in an instant.
We don't have to wait to receive a hand-written letter by snail mail since we have texting & email.
We can buy things on credit cards when we don't have the money saved up for an instant purchase.
However, I highly advise against that habit.

Seriously though, just don't do it.

I think it's human nature to want to take the easiest or quickest route to get things done...
We're constantly looking for shortcuts or life hacks.
But remembering things without looking them up keeps your brain healthy,
hand-written letters are so much more meaningful than a text,
& saving up for that purchase the right way can help you appreciate what you bought
so much more than just putting it on a piece of plastic & racking up more debt.

Because debt makes nobody happy.
Except for debt collectors.
Other people's debt is job security for them, so they probably appreciate it.

What I'm getting at is that if you take a step back & look at your budget with a new perspective
you may find something that you can easily change,
and have one of those "By Jove, I think we've got it" moments.
Then you can improve your budget, save more money, & feel better about your purchases.

Take the road less traveled.
Enjoy the scenery along the way.
It will be worth it.

Delayed gratification, folks...
Keep it alive.

Interested in buying YNAB?
Check out this link to get $6 off your purchase!

Also, you should check out my Building a Better Budget post if you haven't already read it...



  1. What a great post! Will you please stop by my blog this Tuesday night 7pm EDT when my Wonderful Wednesday Blog Hop goes live and share this? My readers will LOVE it!
    Ducks ‘n a Row

  2. This is a really great post! Thanks for coming over and sharing at The Weekend Retreat!!



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