I needed a Budget...

Exactly a year ago today I started my YNAB Journey. I remember it well.

I was sitting at my desk, in the middle of February feeling completely out of control with my money. I had no idea what I was paying, when I was supposed to be paying it and perhaps worst of all, I had no idea where I'd spent my money!

I knew I had a huge expense coming up in 2019 and it would involve me taking on a lot of personal debt, for which I knew I needed a plan.

After doing a little bit of research I found YNAB mentioned on a UK money website and the name immediately stood out to me: "You Need a Budget" - yes I did!

The fact that there was an app I could use to track my spending along with the website was a huge plus for me. I was using an app sporadically to track my money, but it didn't really take into account my true expenses and I wasn't completely honest with it and logging everything.

YNAB, with its ledger view allowed me to reconcile my account against the actual bank account on a regular basis and highlighted where I was haemorrhaging money through the budget categories.

It was tough to begin with - on the advice of this forum, I created a category of "Stuff I forgot to budget for" and that had the highest funding in the early days. However, when I needed to WAM from that category, I'd create a new category and set a goal on it so that next year/month/due date I could make sure I had enough funds (things like car tax, insurance, subscriptions).

I had to read the often-linked article https://www.youneedabudget.com/the-relationship-between-your-budget-your-accounts-its-complicated/ several times before it finally 'clicked'. I started out with several savings accounts - now I have just the one and trust in my budget to tell me what that money is set aside for.

I was able to take on the debt that I was expecting, but most importantly I was able to plan how to pay it off.

I've also been able to treat myself. I'm a sucker for Lego, and last year they released the fantastic Mustang model. My brother (also a Lego aficionado, but not a budgeter)  went out and purchased it on release day. I saved gradually over a number of months and actually had a great sense of satisfaction when I finally purchased it. Yes, I was still in debt, but I was paying down the debt at the same time as treating myself.

Could that £120 have been better spent paying down the debt? possibly - but you've still got to live haven't you? YNAB was able to put that into perspective for me, and satisfy the sense of guilt. I was paying down £1,000 perm month on my debts, and saving £30 per month for the Lego. The old me would have bought the Lego on release day, then the next month spent more on something else to trigger those happy vibes. Having the goal in YNAB gave me something to work towards.

We've also planned (and paid for) a holiday to Disneyland. When the Travel Agent was doing their 'sales' job and offering extras, I was able to talk to my Wife and show that we could afford it if I WAM'd from another category, but that would mean that the home decorations would have to wait... In the past I'd have just gone with the flow and somehow figured it out later.

This year I've had to take a drop in wages, and to top it off, January's pay packet was less than expected. Again, YNAB has come to the rescue. By only budgeting with the money I actually have I was able to see what needed to be paid before my February pay packet and move money out of those categories into categories that needed to be paid sooner.

In short, my first year of YNAB has been a revelation!

I now have a plan to pay off that large debt and as a result feel a lot less stressed about money, all thanks to admitting to myself that "You Need A Budget"

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  • That's great!

    Important question: Is the Lego Mustang model a car, a horse, a guitar, or all three in the same box?

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    • Matthew Haha! Ostensibly it's the Ford car (specifically the 1967 GT model), however, as it's Lego it could be all three! (It's primarily blue though, so I think the horse might look a bit weird!)

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