The police officer, school teacher, engineer, firefighter, attorney, doctor, professor, designer, manager and rocket scientist all have one thing in common: they’re killing it financially with YNAB.
It is a fairly average rural town. Cost of living seems average, taxes are mostly low. I'm a computer software engineer. I have a lovely wife, and a son--about 4 months old. I write software for a company that creates equipment to detect chemicals in the air. On the side, I'm a parent, an avid reader, and a musician. I've played saxophone on a few albums I guarantee you've never heard of!.
About a year prior to YNAB, I was nearly $10,000 in credit card debt (in addition to a car loan), mostly due to bad decisions I made while working my way through college. I was stressed, had no spare income, and could never tell where my money disappeared to. My credit score was hovering in the mid-400s or so, and I was just in bad shape.
My pivot point was when a friend had his car completely totaled, lost his job, and foreclosed on his house, all within a month. I realized the similarities between my decisions and his, and decided I needed to change the way I treated my finances. Rather than wait for a new year or new month, or some special time to begin, I started that very day. I decided to start paying the debt off, and began by using the envelope and cash method, then progressed to a pen-and-paper budget. When I saw YNAB, I realized it would be so easy to convert my existing system and bought it immediately!
Coming from an envelope system, the transition to YNAB was fairly painless! I had already learned most of the YNAB rules the hard way, so it was just a matter of typing in my categories and amounts. I suppose the biggest pain was in deciding whether I should have very fine-grained control over every tiny category (a toothpaste category, perhaps?), or keep it very loose like I had with the envelopes. The beauty is that it works which ever way you go!
It took so much less time than the manual way! I would spend about a minute or two each night verifying expenses, checking my category amounts, making sure upcoming bills were paid, finding ways to decrease spending, etc. I found that if you treat it as part of a daily (or at least weekly) lifestyle, it seems like it's no effort at all.
About a year into using YNAB, I bought an engagement ring with cash, not on credit. About 1 1/2 years into using YNAB, I finished paying off the final amount of that $10,000! I cannot even begin to describe the emotional relief and complete lack of stress this brought to my life. Even better is that I was able to pay off the final debt right in time for our wedding. We began a marriage with only some student loan debt, which has kept us from a lot of potential tension. These days, we run a financially secure life despite not making a ton of money. When our new baby came, we simply started budgeting about six months ahead of time, and were able to pay the medical bills without a whole lot of sacrifice. We just bought our first home, and still have money left in savings. I would say that though we do not have a lot, we have learned to spend it very wisely.
The effects of YNAB certainly manifest in other areas of our life as well, including our marriage. We have no fights about money, and it keeps all expenses fair and accountable. While I was getting out of debt before marriage, I also dropped about 50 pounds, and I do feel the two are related. Once you learn restraint in one area, it's easier to learn in others.
I cannot wait until my son is old enough for me to teach him about budgeting, and show him how we do it. Had I been taught at a much earlier age, I might have avoided the problems I got into. I think the most important part of getting financially free is being able to pass it on, to family, coworkers, friends, neighbors. Money seems to be such a taboo subject for some reason, but when you start to talk about it with people, you see that nobody is as perfect as they seem. So once you have some knowledge, spread it to whomever will listen. Be a walking success story. Success on TV seems to be "I bought this yacht and a private jet!" But in real life, I think most people just want to see somebody who isn't buried by debt, isn't afraid during tax season , and isn't concerned their credit card will be denied at a restaurant. Bottom line: be that person, for everyone around you. And then when they ask you about it, teach them.
These days, we run a financially secure life despite not making a ton of money.