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 started my own business as a facilitator and consultant on a wing and a prayer. Things were going well for a couple of years...until the global financial crisis struck! We use strength-focused approaches, combining Appreciative Inquiry and Tai Chi within a framework we call "AQ-KQ" (Appreciative and Kinaesthetic Intelligence." We work with organisations and community groups in areas such as future planning, team building, leadership development and the like.
I've been using YNAB since the start of 2009.
Prior to finding YNAB, my business had been going well for a year or two. Though it wasn't producing a great deal of income, I was getting by. Then the bottom fell out of the global market and work in our area dried up. Potential clients were also tightening their belts in the dire financial situation the world was facing, and the services we provided were no longer seen as 'business critical.' For a time I kept putting my head in the sand. I was adding my personal expenses--including my mortgage payments--onto my credit card and kept telling myself things would turn around. But, as everyone knows, things did not improve. Although our business was generating enough income to pay business expenses, we had NO personal income from it for almost nine months! Before this happened, I'd always paid my credit card debt in full each month. Instead, I was able to pay the minimum only--which came out of my ever-dwindling bank account and then spilled over into coming from my overdraft.
My 'pivot point' arrived about three to four months into that 'no personal income' period. My credit card debt had blown all out of proportion--many thousands of dollars. My overdraft facility was almost at its limit. The old head-in-the-sand approach was ok during the day--my conscious mind managed to delude itself for a time. But I was increasingly finding it hard to get to sleep. When I did, the anxiety I'd been denying manifested itself in bad dreams from which I woke in a panicked sweat. Finally however, I woke up to myself, and it's crazy to think now how long it took for me to do so! I knew I had to take action of some kind, or risk losing my home!
First, I thought of accessing my superannuation, which could pay off my debts (though not pay out my mortgage). But on further investigation I learned I'd have to 'prove financial hardship' by receiving payments from Social Services, i.e. put the business into bankrupcy and go on the dole! Was I going to do that? No way! So I had to find another way out. After much 'toing' and 'froing' with my bank, I was able to arrange an extension of my mortgage. They were willing to pay off my credit card and overdraft debts in this way, although not to give me any 'buffer' funding to pay other debts. This done, I was at least clear of all debts except my mortgage. Whew! But I also knew that unless I began working to a very tight budget, I'd end up in the same place from which I'd just managed to extricate myself.
Budgeting had never been a strong point for me. But that had to change. After trying several other budgeting programs, including an Excel file that a friend shared with me which she used for her own budgeting, I was becoming frustrated with the process. Then one day in a web search I discovered YNAB. What an epiphany that was too! :) Finally there was a budgeting program that worked the way I did, gave me a system that made sense, and provided heaps of support and help to get started.
I felt a HUGE sense of relief! I'd found a way to plan my spending--to allocate income clearly to different expenses and monitor my finances in a way that made sense and was easy to do. With the help available through the support documentation, forum and videos, I was off and running with YNAB in no time. As time went on, that sense of relief persisted. No more restless nights and bad dreams! :) I was finally 'in control' of my financial situation. And even though business was still erratic, I was able to see where I could 'shave' my spending and keep on top of it so my bank account didn't slip into the red.
Unfortunately 2010 saw two elections here in Australia--Federal and State. Although the first half of the year went well in our business, work dried up again in the next few months. A large proportion of our clients and potential clients are in the nonprofit and local government areas, where spending was being curtailed as they waited to see which way the Federal and State coffers would cough up funding for them. However, through using YNAB, I'd been able to manage my finances well in the previous year, and had created a 'buffer' of a few thousand dollars. This enabled me to pay bills, even though money was not coming in.
I had to use up all my buffer, but I'm sure I wouldn't have had it in place without YNAB! The predictive aspects of YNAB also helped me to see the need to generate immediate income in some other way as well, or I'd find myself in debt again. I registered with several temp agencies so I could do some additional, paid work that way until our business picked up again. Once again, I am indebted to YNAB for helping me stay aware and in control of my finances...and my life! :)
These financial positives have manifested in other aspects of my life. They relieved me of the stress I'd been feeling prior to finding YNAB. As I said, no more restless nights and bad dreams, and no more sweaty palms and breathlessness as I contemplate my financial circumstances. I am finally feeling in control and have a renewed confidence that I can manage this roller-coaster ride that is a part of running a small business.
I felt a HUGE sense of relief! I'd found a way to plan my spending