We have always lived on a budget for the most part, but any time we would try to sit down and figure out the nuts and bolts of each month, it just wouldn’t work. The main reason it didn’t work: every month is different! In the winter, gas bills are around $100, while in the summer they are closer to $30. Some months you need to buy gifts, others you don’t. In the summer we do more home improvement. December has Christmas. Our annual garbage bill is due in October. Like I said…. every month is noticeably different. We tried to figure out averages and budget that way, but it just never seemed to line up or give us a real handle on how to plan for our upcoming expenses. So instead, we just watched our spending as closely as possible and hoped that it would work out.
Luckily for us, it mostly worked out. However, we just never felt like we had a good handle on how it worked and where our money was going. So last December, I started searching around for a good app to help us out. I checked all the major finance apps and even a few “just budget” apps. None of them seemed flexible enough to fit the bill. That’s when I found YNAB. YNAB stands for You Need A Budget. It’s pretty much a full financial app (for Windows or Mac) that revolves around a well thought out methodology of budgeting.
And guess what? It worked. I downloaded the trial version. (The trial has full functionality but only lasts for 35 days or something like that.) At first, I was skeptical. It takes a little work to get going. It doesn’t sync with banks, so I put everything in manually (this turned out to be a benefit, as we are just more aware of our spending habits). I decided to go all in, and really use the program for the full trial to see how it would work. I attended a few of their live online classes (really helpful stuff) and watched a few online videos. 20 days later, I purchased the full app and have never looked back.
I could go into the methodology and features, but if your interested in all that you can go check out the website. Ultimately, the reason it works for us? It treats every month separately. Each month we budget our money. This allows your budget to be flexible where you need to be, and to plan for the bigger upcoming expenses (YNAB calls these rainy days).
YNAB takes a little work but it has really helped us get a handle on our finances. The biggest thing for us, is that we no longer wonder if things are going to work out and we have more freedom to spend money when and where we need to. This is what a budget should do!
If you think you need to start budgeting, or you like the idea of budgeting but haven’t been very successful at it… I suggest you give YNAB a try.