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.

Jordan, Provo, UT

I'm a student at BYU. I work on campus as a videographer at the Center for Teaching and Learning. I'm on a small team that produces instructional videos, records interviews, and films lectures.

I lived paycheck to paycheck. I'm a student, and I have a good job, so I had enough money to go out to eat once in a while, and go see movies. I tried to keep the number in my bank account above a certain minimum, but often when expenses would pop up, I found myself in very tight situations. Something that constantly weighs on me is a ten thousand dollar debt from student loans. For some time, I have known that if I was more careful with my money, a) the debt might not be there to begin with, and b) I could probably start paying it down before I left school.

One day I realized that I was wasting my money. Failing to watch where my money went made it seem like it wasn't even mine. I knew how much I made every month, but that didn't seem to correlate with my expenses. Add to that a growing concern about approaching graduation with a huge debt hanging over my head. I suddenly felt very motivated to begin learning how to budget. When I found YNAB, it seemed like a better system than the few I had tried in the past.

The learning curve was pretty easy. Install the software and start keeping track of things. Using the "Buffer" confused me for a while, but once I figured that out, everything came together.

Within what couldn't have been more than a month, I had more money in my checking account than I had ever had before. I was spending less, and, paradoxically, enjoying the things I spent my money on more. Within a couple of months, I started to save money toward paying down my student loans, and I felt like I had more than enough for all of my absolutely necessary expenses. I could decide what I could afford in the way of "play money," budget for it, stick with that budget, and be perfectly happy. The greatest change was the sense of financial security that came and stayed with me. I no longer worried about money. My budget was taking care of it for me. I would spend a few minutes each week making important decisions, and then those decisions were made and recorded. The feeling of freedom and control over my life was completely liberating.

My current financial situation is good. I've saved over fifteen hundred dollars toward my student loans, and I've weathered some pretty severe financial storms since I started budgeting. I don't like to consider what situation I might be in now had I failed to start budgeting when I did. Of course, I haven't always been perfectly consistent in my budgeting. Since I started using YNAB, I've started a new budget from scratch twice, after falling too far behind in my records. But the financial dividends of every half-hour I invest in budgeting always far surpass any of my expectations. Sticking to a budget stretches my income further than I ever thought it could go.

Not having to worry so much about money, or feel out of control of what I earn and what I spend, frees me up to think about and do other things. I have more time, more energy, and much greater discipline. It's actually hard for me to think of an aspect of my life that hasn't been affected by my decision to start seriously budgeting. I've started new projects, gotten better grades, overcome bad habits, eaten healthier, gotten better sleep and exercised more. It turns out controlling my finances helped me develop exponentially more discipline than I've ever had, and with that discipline has come control over all other aspects of my life.

I started budgeting seriously eight months before I broke my wrist snowboarding. It was a bad enough break that I had to get surgery. Thankfully, I had insurance, but even so, my medical bills totalled over sixteen hundred dollars. It was a severe blow. I found myself paying these medical bills with all of the money I had saved over the previous months. It took about three or four months before I had full use of my arm again, and that whole time, I was paying for it. But what I realized very early on was that if I hadn't started budgeting when I did, I wouldn't have had the money I needed. I would have had to go into more debt to cover the accident. What's more, I might have given up on the idea that I could ever have any control over my money. Of course there have been other costly surprises since then, but I am still on top of my budget, and I'm still secure. I have continued to save, and I know I'll be able to pay down my debts eventually, because I've learned how to "put every dollar to work."

 

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Sticking to a budget stretches my income further than I ever thought it could go.

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