Many people realize they have money problems and find ways out of them by themselves. Others seek help from software, a trusted friend, or professional financial coach. A member of the Penny Forward Facebook group told us this story about getting control of his finances using software.
Over the years, managing finances has caused me a great deal of stress. In part because of how much was going out compared to what was coming in, but also because I knew that if I messed up, my entire family would suffer. I also felt very alone through the process as my wife was very happy to just leave all the financial stuff to me despite my trying to get her to take an interest.
Last year, I finally had enough and decided that I needed to bring some structure to the chaos, that waking up at 2 AM remembering that a bill needed to be paid right away was not the way to live, certainly not the way to get consistent sleep. I played around with a few different financial budgeting apps, but accessibility was all over the map with most of them. I didn’t give up though and eventually discovered one called YNAB, which stands for You Need A Budget. Well, they were right and I certainly did so I figured I’d give YNAB a try.
The very basic idea behind YNAB is that every dollar is given a job or purpose, basically allocate money so you know where it’s going. The more attractive thing for me though is that YNAB can import bank transactions from multiple accounts enabling me to see a picture of all my money regardless of where it is. In addition, my wife and I can share the YNAB account so that she’s able to participate more and better understand what’s going on financially which I think is really important.
We’re not out of debt yet, not by a long shot, but I’m sleeping through the night more often now and am a lot less worried about things. If there’s a short-term change in income, I don’t immediately go into panic mode, because now I have a place where I can view everything and make adjustments. What used to cause me headaches and stress is now more like a game, a game in that my focus has shifted from what have I forgotten to pay this week? To hmm, I wonder how I might strategically target debt to be eliminated.
I really can’t stress the awesomeness of budgeting enough, ,I’d always shrugged it off as something incredibly complicated, impossible, depressing, or just plain boring, but it’s helped my peace of mind so much that I’ve become a big fan.
NOTE: YNAB offers a 34-day free trial, but costs $11.99 a month or $84 a year.