For the past 10 years, The Man and I have been trying to do our best to be good stewards of what we have been given. Specifically in the area of our finances. This seems to be something that a lot of people struggle with, and we certainly aren’t exempt! Though we truly believe that God will supply all our needs, it is up to us to do what is best, right, responsible for our future and honouring to the Lord, allowing us to have the freedom to help others in need and bless ministries.

Backwards Budgeting : Not the Best Plan

There are a lot of good ideas out there for budgeting, and we’ve tried quite a few of them. We started off our first years of marriage using Quicken to track our expenses – it was a bit of a shock to see just how much money went into different areas that we hadn’t really been paying attention to what we were spending!

calculator budgetPhoto credit reynermedia via Compfight cc

But the problem with a product like Quicken is that it focuses mainly on transactions that have ALREADY OCCURRED – essentially making you budget backwards. And though there is a way to set up a budget, realistically, if you’re not carrying it around with you everywhere and running to your computer every purchase to sync and balance everything, it just does not work effectively to keep you sticking to a budget.

From No Budget to the Envelope System

After a while we stopped trying to budget all together, and just tried to keep each other accountable for purchases. We’d try to communicate with each other before we bought anything over a certain amount. Turns out, that wasn’t such a great idea. Though we weren’t blowing big bucks, our spending was still a bit out of control.

Then along came Dave Ramsey’s program, which my husband and I both fell in love with. It focuses on cash on the barrel, no credit being used, and saving up an emergency fund for the unexpected. While we both love Dave Ramsey’s ideas and his concepts make absolute sense, we just could not make envelopes and cash work for us.

With 4 kids, trying to ensure I had the cash on hand for when I was out shopping with all of them was turning into a bit of a nightmare. Not to mention pulling the cash out of the bank a couple times a month and figuring out what to do with all the loose change. And then there was the sliding around of cash from one envelope to another in which it perhaps didn’t actually belong….yeah, that.

So here we were, empty envelopes (save for a bucket full of dimes, nickels and pennies) and a frustratingly fluctuating, ebbing and flowing, monthly budget with which we felt we had very little discipline and control over.

Enter : {YNAB}

That’s when we heard about You Need A Budget. Or YNAB.

Yup, that was us! We needed a budget, big time. We are now a couple of months into using it, and while there’s a good deal to learn, retraining the way you think about budgeting has been mind opening.

I’ve been sitting on this gem for far too long, and though I’m not quite ready to give a full review of it, I wanted to give you a bit of a taste (and a little treat, so hang in there with me!).

YNAB = You Need A Budget Photo Credit Ashley Elizabeth Artist via Compfight cc

You Need A Budget Budgeting Tool: Why It Makes Cents

And sense! You see what I did there? Sense? Cents? ;0)

YNAB focuses on getting you out of the spending canyon (because it’s much more than a rut for a lot of people!) and into a habit and mind set of budgeting. It does NOT accomplish this by dividing up last month’s expenses, leaving you reeling and saying “We’ve got to do better!”, nor by limiting you to the cash money and spare change you have available in your envelopes.

Rather, YNAB seeks to make you work FORWARD on your budget, and not backward. Just how does that work, you ask? There’s more on their website about the methods behind their madness, but briefly, this is how it plays out:

1. Each month, you enter your INCOME as it comes in (based on your pay cycles, you may have to enter this in twice – for example, The Man gets paid on the 15th and at the end of every month, so we enter them as they come in)

2. Budget out EVERY.SINGLE.LAST.CENT of the money you make. Every cent has a place.

3. You CAN use debit or credit when you spend. BUT, you HAVE to enter it in on the app and designate it to the budgeted-for category.

4. My favourite part – the 4th method – learn to live on last month’s income. The goal is that you will have a nice little buffer in the bank for a whole month of expenses. For example, on the first day of July, you would have enough cash ALREADY in the bank, to cover your expenses for the entire month. That way, you never have to worry about WHEN to pay your bills – you can pay them as they come in! Mind blowing isn’t it?!

I’ll be doing a follow-up review over the next little while when I’ve had a bit more experience with the program, but for now, a couple of months in, I can tell you this – it’s working! Having the apps on our phones, updating for each purchase, lets us see immediately what we have left in our budget for each category, and even makes us less likely to spend money on something we might not necessarily need.

My friend Stephanie has been using YNAB for a few years and has this to say about it:

YNAB Pays for Itself

‘There are very few types of software where I can say to someone, “This might cost a few dollars but it will save you hundreds if not thousands.” But I can say that with YNAB. It will be worth the cost and pay for itself, many times over.

How is that possible? I’ll explain. In typical budgeting, you make a plan and usually fail at your plan. I can remember months of Excel spreadsheets that left me further in debt than when I started because they had no ability to help me use the money I currently had or to ensure I didn’t go into further debt. My spreadsheets only served to show me that I didn’t wasn’t doing a good job of staying within my means.YNAB works under different principles. Each time you receive a paycheque, you assign a job to every dollar you have just received. When money “has a job”, it doesn’t get wasted-it gets used for that important purpose it has been given (bills, groceries, debt, savings etc). The software allows you to see clearly how this is happening. On the other hand, without YNAB software, it’s often unclear where how our money should be spent, and so we find millions of little ways to waste it. ‘

save money, makes cents!

That’s why the YNAB budgeting tool makes sense – and cents! And that’s also why you need to check it out right away! There are plenty of videos and tutorials to show you how it all works, so if you’re feeling challenged on that side of things, have no fear, help is here!

Here’s the treat I mentioned above – you can download a free 34-day, full-featured trial of YNAB for Mac and PC (the companion apps for your smartphone are free). If you decide to purchase YNAB after your trial, you can save 10% if you use our You Need A Budget discount Link. See, YNAB is already saving you money!

To sweeten the deal even further, the generous people at YNAB have given us 2 LICENSES to give away! Everyone wants to help you get started saving money, so what are you waiting for?!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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