My boyfriend has just turned me on to a new budgeting software and I am in love! The only thing I am not in love with is the price. You Need a Budget is well worth the $60 price tag, but I am going to hold out from paying full price if at all possible, more on that later.
This software is in someways a glorified, easier to use spread sheet. I am sure that if you are a complete wiz you could make yourself something comparable for free. The part that would take a bit longer is the money management system that comes along with You Need A Budget (YNAB). If you have read the blog before you know that I love Gail VazOxlade’s money management system. I have also read some of Dave Ramsey’s things which are pretty similar. I stick largely to Gail’s principles, but I like to see where I can add and subtract to the system to fit my personal budgeting needs.
YNAB follows 4 basic rules that closely align with both Gail’s and Dave’s principles. Here are the rules:
1. Give every dollar a job. (I think Gail has even used this exact phrase.) Basically if you account for where every dollar is going to go, you won’t be tempted to spend it on something unnecessary. You can still have a place in your budget for fun spending, but you won’t look at your statements at the end of the month and realize you spent more than you thought.
2. Save for a Rainy Day. This is something that has been difficult for me. I have also read different ideas on how much this amount needs to be. I am still building my Rainy Day/Minor Emergency Fund and I plan to get it to at least a couple months worth before allocating that money to go towards other goals. This rule has always been difficult for me because when I see the money in my bank account I forget that it already has a job. YNAB is great for this because even though that money is in your bank account, it shows that it already has a job and that it is not money to be spent.
3. Roll With The Punches. This was my BIGGEST downfall before really taking hold of my budget and learning about my finances. I would miss a payment or some unexpected expense would come up and I would be so overwhelmed at the failure or perceived failure that I would ignore all of it for as long as I could stand. It felt horrible and it was a disastrous snowball. The longer I kept it going the worse it got and the hard it was to look at let alone dig myself out. Roll with the punches reminds you that shit happens. You have to get through and it resolve to do better next time. No budget is perfect and things will need to change as life changes. Realizing that budgets are meant to be fluid has been instrumental in getting myself on my feet and becoming financially independent.
4. Live on Last Months Income. I am not at level 4 yet, but I can’t wait to be. By allocating some of your budget each month as a rollover, you build up enough extra that you are no longer living paycheck to paycheck. You have a buffer for a payment that needs to be made earlier or if you move and need first and last months rent all at once. Really what it means to me if comfort. Obviously at this point you can’t abandon all your work and say “I’ve made it! No more budget!” But for a person who quickly becomes all encompassed by stress especially financial stress, its a nice little safety blanket.
I am very excited by everything about YNAB and will absolutely obtain a copy when my trial expires. Here are some ways to get discounts!
1. Download the free trial at http://www.youneedabudget.com and sign up for free live classes. At the end of every class, one person will win a free copy. To increase your chances of winning, sign up for classes at more obscure times of the day.
2. Go to http://www.steampowered.com , sign up for a free account and add YNAB to your wish list. They will notify you when it goes on sale. It looks like it goes on sale at least 2x a year for only $15!
3. Google coupon code for YNAB. There are tons of coupons for $6/10% off good for any time of year.
If all else fails spend the $60 it is totally worth it. But go ahead and watch some of the free videos and read their blog even if you aren’t sure. There is a lot of great advice even if you never buy the software.
Thanks for reading!