YNAB's 2020 34 Day Challenge!
Happy New Year, YNABers!
Tomorrow, we'll be starting a brand new 34 day challenge to kick off your new year! Whether you're brand new to budgeting or are a seasoned pro, we'll have little prompts for you everyday to connect with your budget and start the year off right.
No need to sign up anywhere - I'll post the prompts in this thread every day and feel free to leave a comment with your reflections or thoughts if you'd like to participate.
Ps. Where possible, click Reply on the main post for the day you're replying to so we can keep things threaded and folks can continue to join in!
Set aside ten, distraction-free minutes today. Find a quiet space, actual pen and paper, and write down why you’ve been inspired to start budgeting.
New habits are easy when a challenge is fresh, but if you want your goal to have staying power, it’s important to stay focused on what you truly desire. So, what do you hope to gain through budgeting? Imagine a future where you’re in control of your cash—you’ve smashed your money obstacles and life is good. When the going gets tough, remember this vision and let it inspire you to stay the course!
Next, imagine that you’ve accomplished your financial goals—that you’re totally in control of your money. What would life look like? Jot it down. Use bullets, or fill up a whole page in your notebook. The important part of this exercise is to visualize and capture your “why”.
Finally, end with a positive statement, committing to change your life for the better. And, for best results, leave your notes somewhere visible, and reread often!
If you're ready, share your thoughts below for day one!
Attend a free, 20 minute workshop. Pop into a Learn the Four Rules workshop and let our teacher be your guide.
At YNAB, we do things a little differently than other personal finance apps, and that’s why it works! As hundreds of thousands of YNABers can attest, there’s magic in the method (a.k.a., The Four Rules), so let’s take a look …
Sign up here. Stick around to the end, and they’ll answer all of your questions, too.
Even if you've attended a workshop before, give another one a try - or even a new teacher! Every one brings a unique perspective to the table!
If you’re itching to listen, stat, then check out the recorded version.
When you're done, reply to this post and let us know which workshop you attended and if you got something out of it!
There’s no one right way to organize your categories. Consider your financial priorities, and customize your budget to match!
Setting up your budget is both an art and a science, and If, for example, you’re trying to dial back your spending on to-go coffees, maybe you’ll create a coffee category to monitor those purchases more closely. Or, maybe you’ll add emojis for easy, at-a-glance budget check-ins.
Are there any categories you can combine? For example, if you buy pet food, toiletries and groceries at the same store on a regular basis, would it make sense to keep them all under one budget category? Are there any categories you should add or remove?
Whatever you do, just make sure that it works for you.
There are many ways to customize your budget, and that’s what today’s challenge is all about.
Take a cue from Erin’s Dunkin’ Donuts category—see “The Dunkin Donuts Clause”.
And, how about those names? Are you more inspired to fund your “Vacation” category, or your “Epic Vacation - Summer 2018” category?
Have some fun, and make your budget uniquely yours! Reply below and tell us something you edited to work better for you in the new year!
Why not start saving now for Christmas 2020? When December rolls around, you’ll have the cash on hand!
Simple, but true: YNABers who set goals are far more likely to succeed. See, when you have money, you will inevitably spend it. But, when you have money and goals, you’re incentivized to set aside some of that cash to make your goals a reality. So, without further ado, let’s make a goal!
For some inspiration, read Make Your Budget Sticky with Goals That Inspire. Let us know in the thread which of your goals is your favorite or if you created a new one!
Add a goal to every category and get an instant glimpse into your total monthly expenses. This makes planning a breeze!
There’s a reason that we tell you to only budget the money that you have, but it can be a little confusing to new YNABers. In short, if you don’t have the money, yet, then you shouldn’t bank on spending it! So, what do you do if you don’t have a full month’s worth of income, and you’re itching for that month-long view of your budget? Enter the budget template.
For each debt, write down the name of your lender, current balance, interest rate, minimum payment and due date.
Many a YNABer has shown up on our virtual doorstep, motivated by the desire to escape debt. Big debt, little debt, credit card debt, student loan debt, medical debt. All kinds of debt. The good news is, you can! The first step is to simply look your debt in the eye. And, that’s what today’s challenge is all about.
It’s not as hard as you think! Many folks on the forum have jumped into the 2020 Debt Smackdown Challenge, a yearlong pursuit of focusing our intentions on debt payoff.
Reply below and let us know what you found as you wrote out your debts. Did that exercise make you feel anything unexpected or new?
Headed into the grocery store? Pull up your grocery category! Stopping for gas? Check your fuel category. You’ll have total budget awareness!
Mind-blowing, but true: your bank account balance is not a good gauge of your money! Think about it, if you have $500 in the bank, you’d feel safe spending $100 on a trip to the grocery store, right? But what if your $425 car payment is due tomorrow, and it slips your mind?
… if you’d consulted your budget, you’d know that you only have $75 of wiggle room before your next paycheck. And that’s why checking your category balance in your budget (not your bank balance) is so important. The good news is, it’s super easy to do!
Now, start a new habit of checking your category balances before you spend! If you don’t have enough money in a category, try moving money in your budget before making your purchase.
Open your budget and move money between two categories. Rule Three is Roll with the Punches! It’s okay to change your budget.
Become a money-moving master. Your budget is a reflection of your priorities and we predict the best we can. Sometimes your prediction will be wrong as circumstances change. This doesn’t mean you failed, it just means you can’t predict the future!”
Today's prompt is to join the community and you're already here!
They say it takes a village to raise a budgeter (or something like that). And it makes sense. When we surround ourselves with people who have similar goals, it propels us and makes us better. So, it is with great humility and pleasure that we invite you to stick around our virtual community—a place where you’ll meet some of the best people on the planet. You see, YNABers are far more than just money-minded smarties—they’re truly wonderful, caring people. But you don’t have to take our word for it …
Browse around the forum, connect with someone through their journal or start your own!
Once you get into the groove, you won’t believe how little effort it takes to be a brilliant budgeter. Learn how through our video course!
We have a brand new, watch-it-whenever-you-feel-like-it video course that walks you through everything you need to know to get started and keep things humming along. Let Ben, Kelly and Hannah hold your hand as you start your budgeting journey.
Head over to Youtube and get started!
Set up scheduled transactions for any regular, recurring bills.
Make it easy to budget for your recurring bills, and set up scheduled transactions. You’ll get a reminder to budget for the expense, and spend less time entering transactions. Winning.
Learn how, here.
It could be checking your budget categories before every purchase or establishing a regular budgeting date with your sweetie.
Financial wellness is like any other wellness goal—do a little bit, every day, for optimal results. Make it part of your regular routine, and you won’t even realize you’re doing it!
Today, choose a new habit that will help you succeed at budgeting.If you need some inspiration, here are a few resources to help:
Grow an epic vacation, new kitchen cabinets, a coffee maker or a pizza party for your five-year-old—the sky’s the limit.
So, what the heck is a wish farm? It’s an awesome way to prioritize your spending in YNAB.
Budgeting isn’t all about crushing debt and breaking the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle (as awesome as both of those accomplishments may be). To make sure that your new, budgeted lifestyle is sustainable, you need to leave yourself some wiggle room, a.k.a., fun money! And that’s what today’s challenge is all about.
Read this post, and plant your first wish, today!
Let us be your cheerleader, and sign up for our weekly Roundup—an awesome, short, informative (and occasionally hilarious) newsletter.
You can unsubscribe at any time, but we don’t think you will … ;) A weekly dose of inspiration, education and the latest YNAB news.
Come and get it!
Quit the extraneous purchases for 24 hours, or try it for a month—the time frame is totally up to you.
Spending is easy, too easy. It’s so easy that sometimes we don’t even realize that we’re doing it. And that’s where a good, ol’-fashioned spending fast comes in handy. So, The important thing is that you break your habitual spending long enough to get in touch with your true priorities. This is the ultimate exercise in recalibration.
For a successful spending fast, you need to decide on two things:
1. What you’ll cut—are you banning all discretionary purchases, or just a particular type of spending? Be specific. For example, do you want to stop eating out, altogether, or just stop visiting the drive-thru?
2. How long you’ll fast—is this a weekends-only fast? A 24-hour fast? A 34-day fast? Commit to a doable timeframe that’ll challenge you.
Next, grab a pen and paper. Write down how you feel during your spending fast, and keep track of how much money you’re saving. Estimates are fine, but do keep tabs. If you’re miserable, that’s a good indication that you should budget some dollars for this category. If you’re doing well, then maybe you’ve found a place to cut back for good!
Enter transactions on-the-go, immediately after you make a purchase using one of our mobile apps.
Dear YNABer, today we’re going to practice a small, easy and hugely empowering maneuver: entering a transaction into YNAB. If you’ve been relying on direct or file-based import, then you simply must experience the magic of doing it by hand.
But why, you ask? Two reasons. First, you’ll be more keenly aware of money leaving your budget. And, second, it’ll ensure that you’ve always got the latest, most accurate information. The coolest part is, you can still use direct and file-based import to catch any transactions that you missed without worrying about duplicates.
Check out our help guide about entering transactions.
We think you’re so special, we made you a mixtape. Crank up the tunes whenever you need a boost.
There’s a reason that we budget, and it’s got everything to do with living an enjoyable life. So, as a reminder of why we’re here (and, of course, for even more budgeting inspiration), we’ve compiled the rarely-heard budgeting versions of some pop hits. So, turn up your speakers and, like Lady Gaga said, “Just dance!”
Check out some of our lesser-known features, which are designed to help you up your budgeting game!
If you maybe, sometimes, skip the instructions and dive straight into the fun, today’s challenge is for you. Our software is jam-packed with features to help you YNAB your way—some are simple niceties, and others might blow your budgeting mind. Let’s take a look …
Undo/Redo - Underneath the month name in our mobile app, and next to the import button, you’ll spot the undo/redo button. It’s often-overlooked, but oh-so-amazing.
Inline Calculator - Yes, you can do in-line calculations in YNAB. Try it!
Fresh Start - Everybody needs one at some point, and here’s how to do it!
Grab a cup of something warm and tune into our free workshop about how credit cards work in YNAB.
Want to be debt-free? Then you’re going to love how YNAB handles credit cards. We’ve made it easy to see exactly how much money you need to budget for your next credit card payment. To get the swing of how it works, don’t skip today’s challenge!
Listen to our founder, Jesse, share stories about real people beating debt and winning financially on The YNAB podcast.
Don’t miss the regular, weekly show with Jesse or the special Debt Stories episodes. They make the perfect companion on your morning commute!
Subscribe to The YNAB Podcast And, if you like what you hear, we’d be honored if you leave us a review!
Make a list of all of your subscriptions and memberships and ask yourself, “Does this regularly recurring fee bring me joy?”
(Thanks, Marie Kondo for the inspiration!)
Now call, email or snail mail (ugh!) every provider on your “No” list, per their cancellation policies, and cancel! Congratulations, you just freed up more dollars to put towards things you actually care about. You’re welcome.
Remember that one time, when you signed up for a monthly subscription or membership that has, long since, been collecting dust? Well, ditch that dead weight! You need to keep things lean so you can move swiftly towards the calm waters of financial peace. Even if the cost seems small, it all adds up! So, if it’s not actively making your life better, it’s got to go.
Call your service providers and negotiate a lower price. You may not be successful every time, but it’s definitely worth a shot.
How would you like to spend less money on your bills? Funnily enough, sometimes you can! All you have to do is ask. And the more you can trim your monthly obligations, the more dollars you’ll have to conquer your big money goals!
If you’re not a natural negotiator, fear not. With a little research and a dose of courage, you’d be surprised by how much power you have to influence your rates. First, skim your budget categories and identify your target bills. Insurance premiums, internet and phone service, and even credit card interest rates are all excellent candidates.
Next, research the going rates for these services online. You can even get quotes from competitors. Then call your provider and negotiate a lower price.
Pro tip: stand up and smile while you’re on the phone. It’ll put you in a positive, friendly frame of mind and aid your efforts!
If you’re looking for a fool proof a way to free up extra dollars in your budget, try a strategic meal-plan!
Now, we’d never tell you to stop eating out. But, if you’ve ever thought about trying a meal plan, this is the time!
If you’ve never meal-planned before, check out Ryan’s Adventures in Meal Planning.
If you really want to nerd out (and you’re curious about your net worth)—you can track all of the things in YNAB.
Here’s the thing, your budget will work perfectly fine if you simply budget with your primary checking account. You don’t have to add car loans, mortgages or savings accounts. But—if you really want to nerd out (and you’re curious about your net worth)—you can track all of the things in YNAB. And that’s what tracking accounts are for …
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to read The How and Why of Tracking Accounts. It’s a short read, and it’ll explain everything. Track that.
Commit to your cutback! Decide what it’ll be, and move that money to a higher priority budget category for this week.
What’ll it be? Can you make coffee at home for two of your workday mornings? Or perhaps bring your lunch to work one day, instead of eating out? Maybe skip your Saturday pedicure? It’s up to you!
When it comes to achieving big goals, it's the little decisions that make all the difference. So, this week, boost your bottom-line by cutting back on your regular spending. Short, focused bursts of effort can make a big impact over time.