Yesterday was officially my one year anniversary of using the budgeting tool You Need a Budget. I actually started using this because my sister was using it and had rave reviews… and I figured, what could it hurt?
Personally, I love finances. I love numbers and math and mostly, seeing the numbers go up. When the numbers do not go up, I am not as much of a fan. But who is?
In my past life, finances were a huge stressor… I had this insane spreadsheet (that I sometimes look at now and wonder why I didn’t see that there was an issue given how many columns and formulas I made in it but that’s another story) that I would track every penny in hopes that it would magically mean that the debt would go down, instead of up. Ha, no, unfortunately, it does not work that way… I felt like my bank account always looked like Diddy with his money.
Fast forward to now and it’s a different situation, much of which I am happy that I use You Need a Budget for… so in case you aren’t familiar with it, what is You Need a Budget? It is an app (I use the web-based version) where you basically track your budget — pulling in your accounts, categorizing your transactions and seeing how it adds up. Somewhat like Mint, but I like it a LOT better.
One of the things I love (and hate) is age of money (AOM), which tells you, on average, how many days you let your dollars sit before having them do the jobs they’re assigned. That is all. (read more on it from the YNAB team HERE).
So, since it’s been a year, I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve learned and changed about budgeting in this time:
Flexibility is key. I used to operate with a pretty rigid budget, but I’ve learned over time that you can’t control what’s going to happen throughout the month. Over the past two months, I’ve spent 5x more on my cats than I usually do, due to some unexpected vet visits.
It feels so good to pay with cash. Whenever I used to go for a trip, I would charge it… mostly because we didn’t have the money to pay with cash (so why we were going on the trip…). Anyways, every trip I go on now, I pay with cash and it feels amazing to not see the credit card bill go up.
BUT, I do love using my AmEx for miles. I got an AmEx about a year ago to get more miles on my Delta account (I’ve gotten one free flight and am super close to an international flight!) and it’s been amazing. The key is making frequent payments (and YNAB makes it really easy to track what you charge on your credit card + assign dollars to it, so you can easily track your payments as you go).
Money doesn’t have to be stressful. After money being a huge stressor for so long, it feels good for it to NOT be. And no matter what you use for your budgeting tool, you have to find the system that works for you. I used to use Dave Ramsey, and that wasn’t my style, but YNAB fits me perfectly for what my financial goals are and what type of budgeting support I need.
One of my goals for this year is to get that age of money up to 45… it’s currently at 20 and I have only a few months in the year to nearly double that. Fingers crossed. 😉
Note, I wrote this blog post on my own — YNAB has no clue who I am! But, I truly love the product and love sharing it with you guys. If you are interested in checking it out, click on my link here for a free trial (and we both get a free month!).
Lastly, I’m linking up with Amanda @ Running with Spoons for Thinking Out Loud Thursdays.
Ever tried YNAB? What did you think?
Any other budgeting/money tips?
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