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.

Heather, Beach Park, IL

I'm a stay-at-home mom with three boys and married to a naval optomotrist. I am a YNABer. Our financial endeavor’s began as so many do--sad and meager. In an effort to track our meager and sad inflow and outflow we turned to everyone’s first step-Excel. Why? Because it’s free. This worked for our undergrad years of potatoes and ramen. Bachelor’s degree-check. Onto optometry school with loans and adult financial obligation. The search began for budgeting software to help us mind our manners during the treacherous years of bulk loans that feel like “free” money. Well, they only feel like free money until the day of accountability--the day when the joy ride comes to a screeching halt. No more deferrment, no more grace. "Give us our money or we’ll steal your children." I like my kids so that only left repayment.

We both came from families where a lack of money ruled the day to day. My husband was the kid with duct tape shoes. Didn't you know, duct tape extends shoe life by at least a few months? A looming doom crept into our lives the day we cashed our first loan check. We didn’t want that life. Couldn’t money be fun? We had the discipline, the motivation, plenty of fear, but no tools to help us take charge of our financial fate. Microsoft money,, Mvelopes, Pear budget all equaled BLAH. They were all programs that felt like wearing a shoe two sizes too small. Why do they even create budgeting software that has you pull up a new screen to do EVERYTHING? And why don’t these programs carry over an unspent allotment to the next month? It was also super fun to pay the monthly fees and pay for required update’s to a buggy newer version of their already hopeless software. We were using Microsoft money when they up and decided to discontinue their software. Thank you Microsoft for finally putting the dirt on top of the grave. If I could find the grave I would give the dirt a hearty pat.

These problems caused my husband to muster all his intellect to initiate a solution. His solution . . . drum roll please, use multiple programs and even more screens. Brilliant. We started using two budgeting programs which left me with a big fat “huh?” and comatose stare every Tuesday night. I wanted to spend all our loan money so we wouldn’t have any to budget. I shuddered every time I heard him say “Oh wait, let me find it, it's right here on this next screen.” Don’t worry my husband wasn’t out of idea’s. Let’s spend more money on another budgeting software. Hmmm . . . . should we create another category in our budget called, “sorry excuse for budgeting software” replacement? Me: “Does this mean we can skip our next Tuesday Night-O-Budgeting fun?” Him: “Sure.” Me: “Then buy whatever the heck you want.” We gave you our $60 and you gave us life after budgeting death. Pretty good trade.

The YNAB philosophy sold my husband. We read through your website and found great wisdom in your four rules. Two rules in particular benefitted our budgeting. We began using last month’s income and created a buffer for the rainy days. Following those rules gave us more flexibility and the confidence that we would have money when we needed it. Feeling confident with your money is indescribable. We felt empowered. We were in control of our financial future. We were not doomed; we could be as successful as we chose to be. Truly it was the combination of the YNAB philosophy and the freaking awesome program that enabled us to find success.

We have found that the best intention without the right tools still equals kids with duct tape holding their shoes together. Now we had the tools. Did I mention that YNAB is freaking awesome? Let me define freaking awesome. You open it up and on ONE screen can see everything. I know I have multiple screen issues with budgeting program’s but truly this feature saved my marriage. All in front of you: a few months worth of allotments, ingoing, outgoing, and you glance down at the bottom to see if you are in the red-or over budgeted. You click a button on the left side to open up your credit cards and start assigning money to your categories. Did I mention, when you click on your Wal-Mart trip to assign your money to food, household items, and diapers it will show you how much money is left in that particular category for the month. Oh you want to assign $28 to diapers….no problem you still have $40 left this month. That was the update that made us spin around in our computer chairs giggling like my two-year-old. 

Optometry school on the Naval Scholarship left us with nearly $40,000 of debt. Did you just shrivel? We did. Debt gives me a tummy ache, so we made a plan. Once the Navy Scholarship began to flow in, we realized it was more money than we needed. How did we realize this? The budget. We used our budget to determine the amount we could start paying while we were still in school. We are now 1.5 years out of school and have 10,000 left to pay off. We will then use the money allocated for debt repayment to save for our first down payment on a house. If that isn’t empowering, inspiring, motivating, fist bumps all around’ing, I don’t know what is!

So here we are now… Every software update has us singing Ring Around the Rosies and spinning nauseating circles in our computer chairs. They are all smart useful updates and you can tell someone actually cares about those of us who use it every Tuesday night. We went from eye rolling and desk pounding to fist bumps and high fives. 

Usually when I find something so delicious, I sneak in the closet and eat it all by myself. Instead I chose to share this software for purely selfish reasons. I wanted my friend ‘s to stop buying big TV’s and trampolines. It was giving my husband way too many idea’s. Alas as all my evil plans tend to do. . . it tanked. Our friend’s Tom and Wendi began to use YNAB and found their credit card company sneaking in an annual charge which they had happily and oh so naively paid for over seven years. They caught the charge, requested the refund and used the big payout to buy Tom a Playstation and Wendi the craft room of MY dreams. A craft room complete with those white Martha Stewart shelves and tiny little jars to hold ribbon and buttons. Uggh. Okay, fine. I was happy for my friends in their success but I think I should have gotten a cut of the money which, naturally, I would have shared with the creator’s of YNAB.

Is your budget tired of being less than awesome? So was ours. Our days of fighting over money, multiple confusing screens, and combination software usage are over. YNAB is our second wife, our fourth child, the pet we don’t have. As my mom would say, it's "slick as snot." We have fabulous budgeting software.


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Following those rules gave us more flexibility...

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