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.

Geert, Kaohsiung, Taiwan

I have my own import company. We import Belgian speciality beers and distribute them all over the island. The company in one form or another is 15 years old. It was hard in the beginning as for 10 years I did everything myself and there was very little extra cash around. Now the business is doing rather well. I have 3 people working for me and we plan to hire 2 more in the near future. To set up this business I borrowed money from my parents and my ex-mother-in-law. I paid back the loan from my ex-mother-in-law back and got divorced from my first wife.

My first marriage lasted 17 years. There were no kids. After my first divorce I was in a hurry to get started again and start a family. So I rushed into another marriage a year and a half later. That lasted 6 months. And another large financial blood letting. On my way to sign the divorce papers, I met my current wife. We got married 5 months after the 2nd divorce was final. It was a bit rough the first year but now we are a very happy family with one boy  (1 1/2) and a girl (3 months).

While running my business 13 years ago, someone asked me how I knew I was making money. He pointed out I was not using any accounting system or software. After 2 years running the business, that proved to be vital advice. I got software and entered all the data. It gave me an understanding of where the money went and if the company was profitable or at least on the right track. It was an eye opener. Yet it never dawned on me to do the same for my personal finances.

Just spend less than you earn,save, and you will be OK. I know it should be that simple. Still I am 48 and, as yet, have been unable to save a single penny. After working for 22 years I am over 60,000 Euro in debt. That is about 80,000 US$. My turning point came when I realized I was going to become a father for the second time and my finances were a mess. Something needed to change and I had to think about our future. My wife agreed so it was easy to get her on board.

I was looking for software or a program that could help me with my financial problems when  the YNAB software came up during a search. I liked the new approach. I had never budgeted before; I always thought is was difficult (waved it off as 'stupid'). I tried it out for one week and bought it. Seriously I thought it was a great, new and innovative way to look at one's income and the money one spends. YNAB proved different from accounting software, but it taught me one, pivotal skill I never mastered while running my business: how to budget money. It was strange, the best way to describe it, to look at money and income from a different point of view. Entering the starting data proved painful. It was something that I should have done a long time ago. The situation was pretty dire.

It still takes a bit of getting used to the YNAB way of working. But I love the help files which are clear, concise and surprisingly relevant--always having the information needed to use the program correctly. I can honestly say this is rare these days. Only once did I need to go to the forum and there, too, the information was exactly what I wanted. We noticed we were overspending. I have large payments to my ex. Add to that the rent and utilities and a large chunk of my income gone every month before we can spend it on any essentials, let alone holidays and other such niceties. During the first 2 months, my wife and I had a thorough look at our finances, made some hard decisions, made some changes to our spending and started to save. Knowing all that and being able to plan gives us peace of mind.

After 4 months, the turn around was profound. We were halfway to our one month buffer (1200 US$). On top of that, we put aside a little extra money for our kids every month (+/- 70$ a month/kid). The debt was down by 2000 Euro (2600 US$) in just 4 months.

All this has given us confidence. We hired a maid. This will allow my wife to set up a little business she can run from our home. It is very likely my company will make a nice profit this year and I will get a nice bonus as well as a raise in salary. The bonus will complete our monthly buffer and the raise will allow us to pay down my debt faster. All this reflects positively on the rest of our lives. For the first time in years I feel relaxed. My wife is happy at the prospect of adding to our finances and our kids' future. What started out as a difficult year has turned into one of the best ever for me and my family. A large part of that turn around is thanks to YNAB and the alternative look it gave us at our financial situation. We now believe in a better future. Thank you.

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YNAB...taught me one, pivotal skill I never mastered while running my business: how to budget money

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