The second installment in my budgeting series, two more tips for successful budgeting. We all know that the key to being successful with money is having a budget. Budgeting, in a nutshell, simply tells your money where to go. It’s a far better option than looking at your bank statements at the end of the month, wondering where your money went. That being said, there are two tips for successful budgeting that are rarely talked about.
Today I have a special guest post by David from MillenialPersonalFinance.com. Most of you, along with David and myself, are parents of young children. Saving for kids college may not be the most fun subject to talk about, but it’s a very important discussion! Remember that it’s never too early, or too late, to start thinking about saving for kids college. Find out why and how David is saving for his daughters education in this informative post!
It’s really important to teach kids about money. The general state of money handling in our culture is just bad. It’s our job to teach our kids how to handle money. I am frequently asked “how to get kids to do chores??” Honestly, my kids do chores because I tell them to. More specifically, my kids do chores because they have grown up doing chores and they don’t think anything of it. They know that chores are a part of life, and they accept that. Has it always been that way? No.
Whether it’s your”new years resolutions” or just an every day habit, it’s best to make goals as specific as possible. If you have a goal of doing better with money, you need to have a budget. If you’re looking for how to start a budget, keep reading!
When I returned from our trip to Hawaii, I got a lot of comments. Most of them were positive, but a few were more along the lines of “I can’t believe you got to go to Hawaii” or “I wish I had the money to go on vacation.” I don’t travel as frequently as some (I wish!) but I am still asked how we are able to afford to do the traveling that we do. The answer is surprisingly simple. Priorities.
I know what you’re thinking. It’s March, why are we talking about ways to save for Christmas?? I am a firm believer that Christmas should never come as a surprise. Christmas happens on December 25th every single year. Yet somehow, it seems that many families are thrown off and forced to scramble at the last minute to shop or come up with cash for Christmas. These 6 tips on how to plan and save for Christmas now will help you evaluate what you want to do for Christmas, and plan and budget for a smoother holiday season later.
I have been wanting to do a YNAB review for quite some time. I originally purchased YNAB (or You Need A Budget) over two years ago. There were plans for a YNAB 4 review, but I realized that I should probably just make the change to “the new YNAB” and review it instead. My husband and I had been using YNAB 4 100% of the time since last May. We both have it on our Android phones and I was also using it on my desktop. This isn’t necessarily a comparison between the YNAB 4 and the new YNAB, but I am pointing out a few key differences in case I have any readers who are still using YNAB 4.
The new YNAB changes things quite a bit. With YNAB 4, everything was connected to Dropbox and there was a desktop application. In the new YNAB (I really feel like YNAB 5 would have been an easier name) everything is online and syncs within seconds. This is taking some getting used to, but overall I feel like it is a definite upgrade. So what is YNAB? YNAB is a budgeting software that uses mobile and web-based apps to track your income and spending. Using a budgeting software can be very eye opening. You can see where your money is going and begin to prioritize your spending. Budgeting software isn’t just for people who are “bad” with money (although if you are, it will certainly help!) but a great for anyone who wants to have control over their money. With YNAB, it all starts with the four rules.
Rule 1: Give every dollar a job
This is just the basic idea that every dollar you earn should be allocated to a certain purpose.
Rule 2: Embrace your true expenses (formerly save for a rainy day.)
The idea of rule 2 is to realize that the large, less frequent expenses should be budgeted for on a regular basis. An example would be paying insurance premiums every 6 months. Instead of being hit with a $600 payment, you can budget $100 per month. Breaking up larger expenses over time makes life easier because when they arrive, you are 100% prepared. Another example would be saving for Christmas (it comes every year and shouldn’t be a shock!), vacations, taxes, etc.
Rule 3: Roll with the punches
This rule is my personal favorite! Rolling with the punches simply means that life happens, budgeting mistakes happen, things come up, and that’s 100% okay. You may overspend in certain categories and it is just fine to move money from other categories. Expecting for things to come up and rolling with the punches helps allows you to be flexible while maintaining your true goals.
Rule 4: Age your money (formerly live on last month’s income)
A very interesting feature of The New YNAB is being able to see my “old” your money is. Formerly YNAB wanted us to live on last months income, creating a buffer and breaking the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle that the majority of American’s are stuck on. Aging your money is the same concept, ideally you want your money to be older than 30 days, meaning you are living on income from at least one month prior.
YNAB is accessed via either the web-based YNAB or on an iOS or Android device. The ability to allocate funds, set goals, view statistics and other detailed information is only available on the web-based app. I just discovered that you can actually move money from your “to budget” category into other categories from the mobile app. However, it’s much quicker easier to do from the web-based app. The iOS and Android app allows users to add transactions for both income received and money that has been spent. Both the web-based and mobile apps are very user-friendly. Even if you aren’t a very tech-savvy person, it isn’t hard to figure out how to use either one. YNAB also has dozens of videos on their Youtube channel with helpful information and easy to follow set-up and how-to-use tutorials.
YNAB has a free 34-day trial, and the set-up is almost fool-proof. YNAB will walk you through all of the set up steps, and teach you exactly how to use it right in the app. If you’re still confused, you can always check out the YouTube channel, I have found it extremely helpful. YNAB allows you to seamlessly use multiple devices, even if you are using them at the same time. Transactions entered into the web-based app are automatic, and transactions entered through the mobile app take 60 seconds or less.
Another feature that I love with the new YNAB is the ability to set goals. Let’s say you want to spend a certain amount on Christmas, a vacation, a wedding, etc. Setting a goal will allow you to see how close you are to your goal, and it also tells you how quickly you will reach the goal if you save a certain amount every month. While this isn’t a necessary feature, I will like it’s really nice, especially if you hate math. 🙂
Overall, I have had a very positive experience with YNAB. My husband uses the mobile app, and I handle most of the web-based budgeting. This works for us because he isn’t interested in the nerdy numbers part of it. He likes that the app is simple to use. If you budgeting with someone else, it’s important that they are on board. I think that YNAB makes it easier since it is so simple to use.
Extra YNAB Features That I Love:
The YNAB blog: There are so many helpful articles on the blog and it is updated regularly!
WhiteBoard Wednesdays: This is my FAVORITE extra YNAB feature. I love watching the Whiteboard Wednesday videos on YouTube.
YNAB also has a forum, I haven’t used it but it seems like a lot of people use it regularly and love it.
Things that could be improved:
Initially I wasn’t sure about YNAB switching to a subscription service, but I have come around. I feel like it has allowed YNAB to grow and updates are put out quickly. Personally, I have never had any issues, but I have heard that YNAB customer service has really improved. I had heard complaints about it in the past, but I have heard nothing but positives lately. I also enjoy the interaction that I see on Facebook.
When I wrote this post, I included the fact that I was disappointed that the new YNAB did not include reports. It now does include reports, so that is no longer a problem for me. YNAB vs. Dave Ramsey’s Every Dollar:
YNAB wins, end of story.
…wait, that wasn’t much of a comparison, was it?
Okay, so I love Dave Ramsey’s podcast and books, and I recommend them to anyone who is interested in getting on a budget and making better financial decisions. That being said, I wasn’t very happy with Every Dollar. I didn’t feel like it was easy to use, and I felt like any money that you had “before” starting to budget didn’t really have a place to go. Maybe I was just using it wrong, but I tried on three separate occasions and could never get used to it. Every Dollar IS free, but if you want to connect your bank account (which is included with YNAB) the price is about the same as just going with YNAB.
Closing Thoughts for my YNAB Review:
Whether you are brand new to budgeting or just looking for something new, I believe that YNAB could be right for you! YNAB doesn’t have much information as far as investing, but I am not even adding that to “things that could be improved” because I don’t think that everyone needs that in a budgeting app anyway. The 34 day free trial allows you to use YNAB for more than a month and see how it works. The trial is absolutely free, they don’t even require a credit card! The cost of YNAB is now $5/month or $50 for the entire year. If you aren’t currently tracking your finances, you will be able to save far more than the investment, probably in the first month! If you’d like to get your free 34 day trial, head over to You Need a Budget.
Thank you so much for reading my YNAB review! If you’ve used YNAB, or any other budgeting software, I’d love to hear about it in the comments! If you like this post, make sure to pin it for later or share it with your friends!