You Need a Budget

21 March 2016

I'm one of those annoying people that really hates talking about money but sometimes it's unavoidable - obviously! So, let me type your eyes off for the quickest of minutes.


looking over our monthly budget: in a perfect idyllic dream world

We've never been the strict budgeting kind (I know tsk tsk, seriously) because we've always done a decent job of recognizing and abiding by our spending limits. Despite Simon still in training and making the salary of a trainee while his med school debt sits and accrues interest we still decided to start chipping away ever so slowly at said debt this past year. Our thought was that when he's finished with training in a couple years we won't be staring down an even scarier med school debt mountain than if we hadn't. Factor in the fact that we'll have two kids in school next year and tuition is due soon ... we've had to sit down and do some budgeting and "fun-fund" rearranging to make the next couple of years less daunting on the financial front.


looking over our monthly budget: in the real world, minus a mother soldier and all. Also, sorry about that Jim Carrey a la Dumb and Dumber homegrown (budget-friendly) haircut, Bash. 

As fortuity would have it, You Need A Budget (YNAB) very recently contacted us about trying their brilliant service and sharing it with you all by way of this here sponsored post. And so, here we are.

YNAB teaches these four rules to help people get out of of debt, and save money faster:

1. give every dollar a job
2. embrace your true expenses
3. roll with the punches
4. age your money

What I loved most about YNAB is that their philosophy is not about restriction but rather about embracing what truly matters to you and giving you total control of how you spend your hard-earned dollars. It's also a very flexible system and understands that things come up (in our case ... car repairs galore) and stresses the important of education (old dogs can do new tricks if you teach them!) when it comes to budgeting and offers daily online classes to YNAB members.

During residency, we had grand plans of taking a big + celebratory kid-free trip (sorry angel faces) when Simon was finished. Obviously some happy circumstances by the names of Bosco and fellowship got in the way of our big dream but we're hoping to make it happen when fellowship is finished and it's a great motivator to see our "big trip" goal fund on YNAB grow little by little as we get through these last years of training.

While it's not impossible for Simon and I to sit down together and look over the state of our finances and input all the pluses and minuses on a regular basis ... it's tough to make it happen while we're both alert and awake after the troops have been put put down for the night ... YNAB has an app for that.


So in between diaper changes, child wrangling, and outfit changes (don't look too closely at Bosco's shirt that doubled as a bib that day) I can input that dangerous Target-why-am-I-smiling-run and update Simon instantly. Genius.

Here's a peek at the web interface ....

 ah, nothing like a blank budget canvas.

And this is not our budget -- worry not.

... and a sample of the app (compatible with Android and iOS) interface ...


 ... not our budget either. Hulu & Costco forever.

You Need a Budget is free for students and all you non-students can get three free months by clicking here! (no credit card required)

I'm curious to know if you budget and what has/hasn't worked for you as we get our feet wet in the big bad budgeting pond. Thanks in advance!

40 comments:

  1. I had to come over right away to sing the praises of YNAB. Christopher and I have two friends who turned us on to it and now literally all of our friends in DC use it. It is genius AF, has been the first time we've ever stuck to a budget, and had enabled much smug back-patting for us. I am obsessed. I'm like the most annoying budget missionary for the app. It's so easy to use, easy to stick to, totally flexible, and I feel like I actually know what is happening with our money for the first time ever. I cannot say enough good things about it. We've doubled how much we've been saving since we started in August, and it's been basically painless.

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  2. wow - you should've written my post! I can't wait until we are a little further down the road. I just wish we'd found it a little sooner!! Thanks lady!!!

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  3. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for doing this post! As I am a soon-to-be grad student and I've been searching for something that would make budgeting easier. Can't wait to try this out!

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  4. We have used YNAB for two years now. We even paid full price for it. As I was taking over budget/recocilling responsibilites from my husband who had been doing it for years on Excell. I got it, but YNAB just works better for me. And I think I have some ownership since I helped from the beginning rather than acquiring a 10 yr old spreadsheet that I didn't design the way my brain works.
    I love the App. SO nice to see catagories on the go!

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  5. We've used YNAB for about a year and a half and gone from "we never have money" to putting about 25% of our income towards getting out of debt! And we have - no more credit card, paid off a few personal loans, are saving for a new car AND should have our school loans paid off by the end of the year (2 years early). During that time we've paid for home repairs with cash. Christmas with cash, become better about tithing/charitable giving and still have money to enjoy life and take care of ourselves. I really have to stress that I say this as part of a family (2 incomes, but with childcare costs) that really don't make a lot.

    Stick with it!

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  6. We've used YNAB for the last 2 years. Started with just the desktop version and have the classic on our ipad/phones etc. I wish we had it for the 25 years prior. It makes it so easy to see how much is left in a category and right down transactions right away. We can track each running errands or on trips. Look he's just left the gas station in PA because it just showed up on my ipad. We do swap things around from category to category when needed. As in this afternoon's 108 bill for the plumber to unclog the vapor rub container my 4yr old tried to flush. We just love it if one can love budgeting.

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  7. This is empowering me to start budgeting! I've heard of YNAB but haven't tried it yet. This is coming at the perfect time as my husband and I are submitting FAFSAs for the last year of med school/grad school...so thankful that we'll only have one year of debt to stare down, but it's still daunting. Kudos to y'all for taking that first step!

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  8. I loathe talking about money too! I am naturally pretty frugal (read:cheap), so we've never really "needed" to budget. I can't imagine paying school tuition for 5+ kids.
    I may need to check out this budgeting app though. I could definitely be more responsible with our saving.

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  9. We started YNAB last year. It feels like kind of a lot of work until it becomes a habit, but it IS really good for my anxiety to see where all of the money is, and to be reassured that, in fact, we are not going to end up in the poor house...this month. Thank goodness for the app! Even if we had billions of dollars, I think that irrational mom-worry that my little chicks are going to be covered would always loom large with me!

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  10. I highly recommend reading "Total Money Makeover" by Dave Ramsey (or any of his books, really). I found it at the library when my oldest was a baby and when my husband and I realized that we really needed to budget and not just try not to exceed our income. 15 months later, we send our last check to the federal government and have been debt free ever since. Dave Ramsey is similar to YNAB, I think, except he really emphasizes eliminating debt before other investments. Now that we don't owe that monthly check to the Fed, it's been much easier for us to cash flow car repairs (also a problem for us lately), unexpected hospitalizations (ugh), and other unpleasant expenditures.

    We've been using a Google document shared between our email accounts for our budget, but we'll have to look at YNAB.

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  11. I went to a class on it two weeks ago, but I was kind of intimidated that I would have to personally enter all the transactions when I can't even keep toothpaste on hand and have one million receipts, but can never find the right one. Maybe I'd have to actually try it to love it? And obviously I just need to grow up and need to prioritize accountability :)

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    Replies
    1. I may or may not let receipts build up in my wallet for weeks until my accountant husband asks for them so he can update the budget... :)

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    2. That's the great thing about YNAB is you can enter things as they happen with the app. I enter target receipts as I'm walking to the car. I enter restaurant receipts before I leave the restaurant. It takes less than two minutes. And the more you use it, the more it remembers so all I have to insert now is how much I spent and where and YNAB will input the rest based on previous spending (like which card I used and which category it goes in). It's genius and totally worth the annual fee!

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  12. Love this Grace! We are graduating Dental school in May and already like "umm, money? Not sure what to do with that and budget, and goal plan and how to pay off debt," so yay! We're totally going to be using this!

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  13. We use YNAB too! We are still working things out - I'm the consummate spender, and my husband is consummate Scrooge. We both eagerly await the replenishing of our small, respective spending money accounts each week, but for different reasons: he because he loves to watch it add up and roll over; me because I spent all of it the day after it was there and I'm desperate. Anyway, though it hasn't eliminated money "discussions" (code: arguments) by any stretch, it has definitely eliminated that panicky feeling I used to get when I thought about our finances. It's a great system!

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  14. Those pictures are fantastic. The group shot is especially sweet!

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  15. That's what we've been working on lately! Since September 2015 we've paid off our new floors, 2 credit cards, a personal loan, and lastly we are working on my husbands student loans which should be paid off by October. I just love the debt snowball. After that we just have our house left! Dave Ramsey method is awesome.

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  16. We use Mint and that works well for us because even though it automatically inputs and categorizes your purchases, both of us are pretty ridiculous about keeping a close eye on it, and it helps us see where we're getting close to our limit in each budget category per month.

    Here's a nice article highlighting the differences between the two.

    http://lifehacker.com/budgeting-software-showdown-mint-vs-you-need-a-budget-1764607246

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  17. This is awesome. (And your living room looks amazing) We use Dave Ramsey's "Every Dollar" system which seems similar, but we've thus far been too cheap to pony up for the paid version that would interface with our phones and bank accounts (probably because I'm in denial about how much financial infidelity Target and I commit every month and I don't want to face the music.)

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  18. I agree with Bethanny, Meredith, and Jenny U! DR is fantastic. I keep track of our bills via my paper desk top calendar (yes, wonderful - huh?) so, the bills get paid but - good grief, debt payoff is killing us! Maybe YNAB is worth a shot...

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  19. I started with YNAB a year ago, and I love it. I (usually) keep up with entering things because of the app, and being able to see what's coming up is hugely helpful. I'm not going to go buy the new clothes that I want just because my bank account looks a little more full this month, because I can see so much more easily when things like car registration is coming up.

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  20. We absolutely LOVE YNAB. It has seriously changed the way we budget. It takes such discipline to enter everything into the program, but it definitely pays off.

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  21. We took a Dave Ramsay class when we first got married and moved through a lot of debt with "gazelle-intensity". But now we've been dragging our feet and not paying off debt like we should. Definitely going to look into this to see if it will help us stay on track! Thanks!

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  22. We have a system similar to this that my husband made. Complete with line graphs to show when our spending is going up (he's an engineer... he likes numbers). I am a spender and will use our card all willy nilly. So we sit down every week and talk about our budget. We also do the cash method for groceries, eating out, and random spending. Once the cash is gone, there is no more spending until the new budget period starts over. With the exception on emergency things, like running out of toilet paper. This has helped us get our budget under control, pay off debt,and save regularly.

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  23. I have a friend that SWEARS by YNAB - being a one income family (who am I kidding its just me) its nice to see all the dolla dolla bills allocated. Im just terrible at the updating part.... and the staying on budget part because, well, target.

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  24. I've been using YNAB for 4.5 years and it has changed my life. I paid off debt, can cover those rainy day items and a few stormy day ones too. I can go on vacations and not worry about how to pay for it. I feel more in control with my finances. YNAB, especially the desktop version, is the best.

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  25. I'm interested in this but do you have to input each expense? We've always had a tracker in Excel (I download the monthly expenses, summarize by category) so we can see and discuss our spending. But I'll be honest, 4 kids, and little time...my problem is not tracking/awareness of money spent, it is a time/money issue. So given the choice between driving 30 min to Costco/Winco, Id rather spend more and shop for groceries 5 min away. Or if I'm buying leggings at Target for my daughter, I grab 3 pairs instead of one because I know she'll eventually need more and don't want to make another trip in a month. Amazon is super convenient so I'll normally order the kids' shoes that way (ship to the house in 2 days, $35 new vs shopping all over to find them $15 cheap/used). I used to be super frugal but lately those little time savers help a lot even if they cost more.

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  26. I love the first photo! Also the kids are so adorable! lol I keep thinking they look too young to have that many cute kids! I have heard budgeting is great and one of these days I need to get on it.

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  27. oh budgeting.. oh finances.
    I am married to an accountant. He has spreadsheets... but this looks like something less scary.

    Also, I am wondering -- who took the first photo? I'm guessing - BASH? or timer.... or remote?? ;)

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  28. Yaaaaaaassssss!!!!! I was looking for a budget doer thingy like this and I didnt even know it! Soooo glad i read your post

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  29. Yessssss. We budgeted before we found YNAB, but it's awesome...way better than a spreadsheet budget...I especially love the iPhone app!

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  30. Thank you for sharing! My husband and I are having a hard time saving for a down payment on our first house. Fingers crossed this helps! I wouldn't mind extra money for a baby free getaway either..

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  31. I am definitely going to try this out, thanks for sharing! I am horrible at budgeting so need to find something to help me. When I've tried before I always get thrown off by overthinking "ok, I need my February 26 paycheck to cover my March 1 rent" and then questioning whether that goes in my February or March budget! I am sure this is not nearly as complicated as I make it ;) I am going to sign up for YNAB now!

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  32. I, too, an a YNAB prosyletizer. I make very little money, but using this app made me see how, and when, I could save, and inspired me to increase my hours at my second job so that I could get one month ahead. (I'm exhausted now but those 3 months were worth it.) I used to use Excel but I could never track expenses easily so I was always behind. YNAB has saved my life.

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  33. we've whittled away debt for a few years, we're older, not wiser, than you guys! I think this sounds like a great way to get in under control. We just cut up some cards, paid a few off and kept for the old emergency fund and start paying down debt. Somehow we've managed to get down to living on one paycheck while we direct deposit the next one so we're actually SAVING money, which is weird.

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  34. YNAB has made a believer out of me too! Just the other day my fiancé had a financial emergency, and I told him I could bail him out. He goes, "Babe, you don't have any money to give. You don't make that much." Well, thanks to YNAB, I did have the money in my emergency fund. Hopefully my YNAB trick will get him intrigued to join my budgeting crusade!

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  35. I'm with you, talking about money makes me cringe, but I couldn't agree more that budgeting is so important. It's important to be honest with yourself about your finances so that you can plan accordingly. Great post!

    -Heather
    http://heatherinreallife.com/

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  36. Think of this like digital money envelopes that you both carry at the same time. You both know instantly how much is in each category all the time. We have the old version and love it! The Total Money Makeover is a great book! If you can get it you should watch or listen to the Financial Peace series. I feel like YNAB and Dave Ramsey go hand in hand.

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  37. I'm a former accountant (in my pre-parenting life) and am all. about. budgeting. I probably talk about that and keeping track of our money/expenses more than my husband would like. I use a different program but appreciate anything that tells me where the money is going!

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  38. My husband wrangled me into YNAB when we first married 18 months ago and, coming from a very anti-budget gal, I was skeptical to say the least! But, after a few months of uncertainty and annoyance, I can freely and truly say YNAB has changed my life. It took me from budget-hating to budget-dependent! Excited for you guys and your journey! Hope it works for you as well as it does for us!

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