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.
I am a stay at home mom to three young children. Because of our financial situation, about a year ago, I began working most weekends. I’m an occupational therapist at an inpatient rehabilitation hospital. My husband is a water resources civil engineer. His place of employment avoided laying people off, but they did establish a freeze on salary increases for two years. We have been married almost ten years. Our oldest daughter is six, our son is five, and our youngest daughter is two.
My husband had left a fairly high-paying private engineering job for a lower salary public City job several years ago. For him that meant less stress. More time at home. Easier commute. Shorter work days. They were great reasons for leaving his previous job. Unfortunately, we hadn’t been able to save a dime at the previous job, and now he was looking at a $12K pay cut. How would we manage? In short, we didn’t.
For two years, we watched our minimal savings dwindle down. We had to cut in to it every month just to pay our bills. Leaving my three small kids at home with my husband every weekend, I went back to work to help make ends meet. No matter how much we tried to cut down on spending, eating out less and less, clipping coupons, and watching for sales, we were still scraping to get by. It didn’t make any sense. Our credit cards continued to slowly inch up and up, and it felt like we were never going to get out of that hole.
Then, our heater/air conditioner went out. Surviving a Texas summer without an air conditioner isn't an option, so it absolutely had to be replaced. The interest rates for a bank loan were just too high for us to afford. We already had $5,500 on credit cards, and we had to find the $2,500 replacement cost from somewhere. We ended up turning to my dad for the loan, something I never wanted to do. We knew then that we had to find a better way to manage our money.
We’d actually tried several different programs over the past few years. None really seemed to help. They could track what we had already spent, but lacked the ability to help us plan ahead. After some extensive research, my husband suggested we try YNAB. I initially balked at the idea. Why spend money on a money management program to tell us our monthly outflow exceeded our input? We already knew that. How would “seeing it on paper” even matter? YNAB’s free trial was the green light. I watched as my husband spent hours setting up the program, entering in our data, and watching the web classes. Then I watched him suddenly have a plan.
After a couple of months, it became evident where our money was going and where we needed to cut back. With help from the program, it showed me how we could get out of debt in less than eight months. It wouldn’t be a quick-fix, in fact, it would take a lot of effort and determination on our part. But it was possible, and it was right in front of me. The hardest part was trusting in the budget and sticking to it, rather than keeping watch of the bottom line in our accounts. We had been focusing on the wrong thing the whole time. It all suddenly became so clear.
Within just four months, I saw changes in our accounts. We stopped pulling money from our savings account to pay our monthly expenses. We made extra payments on our highest-interest credit cards, and actually stashed a little money in to savings, for the first time in almost two years. Because of how the YNAB program is designed, we had money allotted to upcoming expenses, like property tax and home insurance. We didn’t need to worry about suddenly having a huge payment or wondering where it would come from.
While we still owe $1,500 on credit cards, we’ve put away $800 in savings. It has been refreshing to see our income level hover just above our expenses, as it had been below for so long.
Although our incomes haven't changed, our spending habits have. We are much more aware of where each dollar is going. As our accounts slowly grow, our stress levels decrease. It’s actually fun now to think of our financial future. Getting completely out of debt is within our reach, and we can start thinking about the family vacations we've always wanted to go on.
We had money allotted to upcoming expenses...We didn’t need to worry