Real People, Unreal Results. (Really.)

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.

Erin, Arbutus, MD

I work part time as a Human Resource Specialist. I was working full time, however, after the birth of my first child, I started working part time (thank you, YNAB) mostly from home. My actual job consists of helping others to organize information and answer questions. I have a husband and a baby. We've been using YNAB about 3 years

To say I was feeling tight on money is an understatement. I was just managing to eek by each month paying all the bills. I was stressed every, single day about money.

I distinctly remember the day I searched for budget software on Google. We had just paid the mortgage for the month and I had dipped into my very meager savings, bringing it below the minimum $300 mark (again). I had $17 in my checking account and about $1,200 on my credit card. Not to mention the monthly student loan payments I was making. I had recently bought a car and my parents loaned me the money so I was paying them a little bit back each month. I noticed a bulge in my tire and took it to the shop where they said I'd need to replace it. However, since my care was low-profile all-wheel drive I couldn't just replace one tire, I'd need to replace them all. $800 on my credit card later I had replaced the tires.

The next day, all I kept thinking was how as an adult working full-time, I should be able to pay for these sorts of things. At my age $800 dollars shouldn't be a huge setback. It should be uncomfortable but doable. What about when we had kids? If I couldn't even afford to replace my tires, how was I ever going to be able to take care of future children? I googled budget software and fount YNAB. I balked at spending more money to fix my money problems. I came back to the site the next day. And the next. I stalked the site for about a week and read reviews and looked online for non affiliated reviews before I finally bit the bullet.

In the beginning I completely immersed myself in YNAB. I think there was a daily or weekly newsletter or e-mail explaining the rules that I signed up for. I stalked the message boards (never posting, just reading and keeping motivated). I read everything I could and followed all the rules to the letter. To be honest, I kind of hated it at first. Not the program, so much as the realization that I really did spend a lot on "extras" and it wasn't very much fun giving them up. Learning how to say no to going out to lunch, no when shopping with friends, no to buying that cute shirt for work. It was actually kind of depressing feeling like I wasn't able to do anything "normal" anymore. Also, I have to admit that while I felt the need to follow the rules, the buffer sounded completely ridiculous to me at first. Like I was ever going to have a whole months worth of "extra" money to just leave sitting in my account...

The first two months using YNAB I was still struggling financially, but I finally felt like I had some direction. I knew what "extra" I had to spend on clothes and restaurants after the bills were paid - I think it was barely anything those first few months... maybe like $20. No wonder I was so deep in the hole! While it was really depressing not being able to spend money the way I was used to or buy anything "fun", I did feel like the program was do-able and I wasn't quite as stressed. In fact, I was starting to feel in control of my money situation. I wasn't quite sure how I used to manage my money without it. How did I used to know what to spend??? (I think that was the problem, I didn't know what I could spend before YNAB)

On any given day my checking account now has over $1,000 (compared to $17). My savings account went from less than $300 to over $6,000. I was able to pay off my credit card debt (albeit fairly minimal) and now I only spend on the credit card what I am able to pay off at the end of the month. To my extreme astonishment, within the first year of using YNAB I was able to save up a buffer. I paid off my smaller/higher interest student loan and then almost doubled the payments I make for the other student loan. The most important and meaningful way that YNAB has impacted my finances is the freedom it has given me. Not only the relief from the stress, but this past year my first son was born. I saved enough prior to his birth that I was able to take the full amount of maternity leave allowed (even the unpaid weeks) and then reduce my schedule to part time. Then, since I was in a financial position that didn't rely on my paycheck, I felt confident enough to ask my supervisor about changing positions so I could work primarily from home. Previously I would have been scared about shooting myself in the foot in my current position to look around for something better or different. Also, Christmas & birthdays are SO MUCH LESS stressful now!

I'm a complete YNAB nerd now. Anytime I hear about someone's financial woes I want to tell them about YNAB (and if I know them well enough and it seems appropriate, I do!). I've converted a few friends and know one in particular who was able to pay off significant credit card debt using YNAB. I know I don't have the most extraordinary story (I've stalked the message board success stories enough to know there are some pretty great ones). But ever since I began using YNAB, I've been wanting to write my own "success story". First I didn't because I didn't consider myself a "success" yet. Then I never did because YNAB gave me the freedom to not be thinking about my money all the time, so I no longer stalked the YNAB site everyday.

Each month before the mortgage is paid (now automatically since I know the money will be there) I sit down and "budget" for what has been spent and for the coming month. In fact, in any given month I think I spend less than an hour of my time using YNAB. I felt it was time to share my success story and say thank you!

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YNAB gave me the freedom to not be thinking about my money all the time

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