1 Year of YNAB = Positive net worth
April 2018: Unemployed with student debt. Got the YNAB trial and paid down debt by $11k once I gave my dollars jobs and knew that no, I was not going to starve.
Apr-Aug 2018: Lived on $700/month while making aggressive ($900/month) debt payments.
September 2018: Got a job! Reduced debt payments to minimum payments because the debt had been reduced to a comfortable amount for me (estimated $300/month for the next 12 years at 2.5% interest). I also started investing at this point.
October 2018: Refinanced debt thanks to Mom loan at 0% interest. She agreed that I could pay her once a year for the next 10 years. 🙏🏼 (I'm lucky that my mom is very frugal and also happened to have a bond mature at the time.)
Nov 2018-Jan 2019: Continuous months of year-end bonuses (pro-rated as I only joined in August) and gifts, which all immediately went to my Income Replacement category (which had been depleted while I was unemployed, which is ok since that's its job).
February 2019: Net worth at -$600! So close!
March 2019: Salary is in and I reached positive net worth 💃🏻 Have no one to celebrate with except my gf and YNAB community hahaha.
Reflections: After being forced to live frugally* while unemployed, I found that it was relatively easy to continue doing so while employed. Lifestyle inflation is my NEMESIS. Now I stubbornly put 50% of my take-home pay towards saving for things like a masters degree and retirement (basically long-term goals).
Having more income helps tons. It feels like I'm playing life on easy mode, at least for now, since I have gotten used to my cheap lifestyle (now I spent about $720/month) and I don't have any dependents.
Probably the most important gift YNAB has given me is clarity. Clarity on what my priorities are and where my money is going and where it's been planned to go. For example, I feel like almost everyone my age has caught the wanderlust bug and travel at least 2x a year, but for me travel is just not as important compared to my savings goals. The only travel I'm saving for is a big trip in 2021.
I used to be anxious (and sometimes I do still feel anxious) about how "behind" I am compared to my friends who have been employed for a year or more and they all don't have student debt (they either had scholarships/bursaries or their parents paid for uni). However, I'm trying to tell myself that I don't need to compare myself to them and that at least I'm on track for my own goals (i.e. eventual financial independence). I am curious how they manage without a budget though, since my close friends have told me they don't need one (!) when I asked.
Next goal: $100k net worth by age 30.
*I feel like I have to put a disclaimer here and say that I already have low expenses in the first place compared to other people in YNAB community because I live with my parents in a country with good public transport. So I mean frugally compared to other people my age in my country who also live with their parents (it is common for people here not to move out of their parent's place until they get married).