Staying motivated and persisting through doubt
Just curious if you have any tips and tricks on sticking with it. I have a little money in the bank and as I start to go through the budget and give every dollar and start to see it all disappear I tend to lose motivation. Even though I know I'm putting money in non-essential categories that I can move later if needed the closer I see that number above "To be budgeted" get to 0 the more anxious I feel. Do any of you feel the same way and what do you do to combat that?
Your TBB should always be $0. I get anxious if there IS money in TBB!
If you don't have the money to fund a while month at a time, fund what you will need before you get paid again, making sure to keep True Expenses in mind.
If you have money after those more immediate necessities are taken care of, consider starting some long-term savings categories, like "Income Replacement," "Medical," "Vacation," etc.
For me, it feels really good to start budgeting into the next month when I have already budgeted for all things in the current month. It eases quite a bit of pressure knowing that I have next months utilities and mortgage payment already accounted for and the money is available to pay it when I am ready to. I know that is what Move Light Sound Life was also talking about previously. While I understand your feeling of "just going through the motions to get to Zero", I find motivation in getting as far into the next month as I can while still paying down my debts faster than I 've done before!
Hmm, just trying to think of what can make it more motivating for you. Maybe your categories aren't quite right for you. Have you played around with them, or just kept them the software standard? Do you have some fun goals, mixed in with the necessary? A vacation, new cool tech toy or kitchen toy, something like that? I think sometimes people who are not straining to pay their basic bills get stuck because they are tired of meeting all of their needs but have difficulty budgeting for their wants. Maybe the joy of seeing an exciting budget category build upwards, instead of seeing your TBB go down to $0, might help? Also, your net worth graph might help, seeing that on the incline, BECAUSE your TBB is going to $0.
Along with what others have recommended in regards to embracing the rules/methodology, my tip would be carving out a "Guilt Free" money category to give yourself a small reward every once in a while. It can be extremely de-motivating when all of your money goes to bills or debt, and you're left feeling broke. This is exactly when in the past I would go on a spending spree as a little act of rebellion.
Now, I give myself around $5-10 a month depending on what's left over after the necessities are covered. I also let any unused funds roll over to the next month if I don't spend it. The guilt free category allows me to spend on something small, so long as I have the funds to cover it. Like a month ago I bought myself a new sleep mask for $10 - hooray for not being woken up at 5am by the sun on weekends now! Other times, I have combined the Guilt Free money with another category (like Home Goods when I wanted a new set of kitchen towels) but don't have funds to cover the purchase. Either way, this gives me more motivation to save up even little amounts of money - it all adds up!
Hey Binary ! That's a really great question. I'm glad to hear you're budgeting to zero—you're following Rule One: Give Every Dollar a Job, but I hope the suggestions in this thread help with that anxious feeling!
It can be helpful to focus on is your Available instead. You're setting aside money for specific jobs based on your priorities. It's a magical thing! And making sure to include fun, or something you're really looking forward to—seeing it grow, can definitely be motivating.
Once you give a dollar a job, it will sit there waiting to complete the job, unless you decide a different job is more important. Use the Available to inform your spending decisions, and check the category before you spend.
This is a fun video about Rule One from our video course, that I hope will make you laugh! 😉
The biggest shift that YNAB has brought about for me is recognizing scarcity. When I was spending according to my bank balance it seemed like I always had enough money... until an "emergency" came along. Now, I recognize that my bank balance has no correlation to how much money I have available.
Maybe that feeling of losing motivation can be reframed as recognizing scarcity. I'm motivated by defining all of the "True Expenses" I have and setting goals for them so I rarely (knock on wood) will face "emergencies" again. If you're using the YNAB toolkit, it visually indicates in green how close you are to your goal for your savings categories and I love seeing those move toward 100%.
Stick with it and you'll be amazed when you look back in a year at all the progress you've made!
Maybe your issue is you aren't budgeting according to YOUR priorities. What would you like your money to do for you? What is your bucket list? Once you know that, budget according to it. Debt repayment is boring = budget only the min. you need to pay towards it. Gaming computer is motivating = budget as much as possible towards it, where can you budget or spend less so you can budget more here. Etc.
In a way, there is no category that you have to budget towards because someone else said you have to. Except maybe debt repayment as in that case, the law will force you to pay at some point. If you don't budget for your rent/mortgage, you'll get evicted. Is that a big deal for you? Then budget towards rent/mortgage and pay it. It's not a big deal, then don't budget and pay it and find somewhere else to live.
Budgeting is not motivating if you budget to someone else's priorities. It is motivating if you budget towards what you want.
I thought along the lines of Ceeses . Now that you mention it I recall having similar feelings when I just started. Because I came up with more and more mandatory things to do with my money and didn’t allow myself to fund important things that were not ‘usefull’. But now that I’m 9 months in that feels a long time ago.
A while ago I even took from ‘usefull’ categories to pay for a course I really wanted to do. How YNAB helps with getting priorities right (even if it takes a while and while they change over time) is the most intriguing thing for me.
In the early days (I've been using YNAB since late 2017) I would get the most discouraged between paychecks. It would hurt to see how fast my categories dropped and seeing that the only money I had left was saved for bills, not anything I could move out of for fear of being short on an obligation. I would stop entering transactions for a few days and wait until payday to catch everything up because all of the empty cells depressed me.
It got easier over time the more I forced myself to stick with it. The big thing was that although funds were still low, noticeable changes were happening. We never had an overdraft again after starting YNAB, everything was always paid on time, etc. It became easier to say no to that $60 take-out when we had no categories to take from, even though the account balance said we could afford it.
It takes time and energy invested into the system to get there and looking for whatever positives you can find along the way. It is so relaxing to me to be able to look at my budget and know what every single penny we have is earmarked for.