Staying motivated and persisting through doubt

HI all,

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? 

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  • To Be Budgeted is supposed to be $0. That means you're following Rule One. That should cause 0 anxiousness. 🙂

    Like 3
  • 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. 

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      • Binary
      • binary
      • 5 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Move Light Sound Life But, can I budget out the entire month? Say, for instance, my vehicle payment is due the 25th of this month and I know I'm getting a check on the 15th that I will use to make that payment just put the money I have now toward another category?

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    • Binary 

      That's why people save up to get the Classic Buffer of Rule 4 from the old YNAB, which was called "Live on Last Month's Income." If you do that, then, yes, you can budget the whole month at once, because you earned all the money you need for the month in the previous month. 

      But, for now, only budget the money you truly have. When you get paid again, budget again. 

      It took us 16 months to get buffered (we prioritized paying down debt). During that time, we tried to fund as much normal monthly expenses with the first paycheck, and hit the long term savings categories with the second paycheck. 

      It helped us to write out the plan of what we would do with what paycheck outside of YNAB, just for peace of mind.

      Since being buffered, I wouldn't give it up.

      Like 2
  • Not for me, I just feel like I'm trying to force money into categories and will probably need that money somewhere else. I know you can move it around, I just feel like getting I'm getting it to 0 just to get it to 0. 

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    • Binary 

      The longer you do it, and stick with it, the more comfortable things will get. YNAB works because it forces a feeling of scarcity, which makes you prioritize your allocations, and then spending. 

      You're probably feeling "YNAB Broke," which is a state of having money, but not having it for THAT (whatever it is, and you can always reevaluate your priorities and reallocate).

      It was really tough at the start - we had a hard time making the money fit what we needed. But, it helped us to eliminate our debt faster than we thought possible, and save more than we thought possible.

      Give it some time following the rules. You will likely find a happier situation then.

      Like 2
  • The rules are tried and true. Follow them. Otherwise, find a different budgeting system.

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      • Binary
      • binary
      • 5 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      I'm not questioning YNAB's rules, maybe this forum thing isn't for you...

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    • Binary Naw, there have been a lot of people who resist using the rules and then come here to ask why the software doesn't work their way.  Glad you're not doing that!

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      • Binary
      • binary
      • 5 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Move Light Sound Life thank you, I know the rules but maybe I haven't quite grasped a good enough understanding of them to feel confident in what I'm doing. I paid for the software and I used it back during the version 4 days but I didn't make much money then. Now that I'm making more money and know that I need to properly budget I'm just trying to get in that groove and stay there. 

      Like 1
  • 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!

    Like 1
    • macattack14 Yes, except I don't budget into the future. I use an Income for Next Month category to hold my May income until I get it all, then I budget all of June at a time. This mimics what YNAB 4 used to do with paychecks. 

      OP, if you're interested, search for Income For Next Month on the forum to see instructions for workflows.

      Like 2
  • 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. 

    Like 4
      • Binary
      • binary
      • 5 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Peppr2 I do modify the categories a bit, not the primary but definitely the secondary categories. I can budget those monthly bills no problem but I tend to seize up when it comes to budgeting for paying off debt or vacation, things like that. I think, maybe I'll just put something in them, even if it's just 25 bucks for now. Maybe set it at a small amount and increase it as I see that I can do that. 

      Like 1
      • Peppr2
      • peppr2
      • 5 mths ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      Binary It's worth a shot. There's enough flexibility that sometimes it means you have to play around with it until you hit on the setup that works for you! And that will probably change over the years, too, as your circumstances change. So if it's not keeping your attention, change it up!

      Like 2
    • Melissa
    • Routinely questioning every assumption I have about my budget, my spending, and my savings habits.
    • todays_mel
    • 5 mths ago
    • 2
    • Reported - view

    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!

    Like 2
  • 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! 😉

    Like 1
    • In my personal budget, setting aside money for Rule Two: Embrace Your True Expenses is what motivated me. I still get a thrill when life happens... and there is money waiting to do it's job. 🔮 We have a giant hole in our roof right now, and I've never been more excited about the Home Maintenance category. 

      For my husband, it was saving up for a new gaming computer that made things click for him!

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      • Binary
      • binary
      • 5 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Nicole Gaming computer! Now you are speaking my language. Thank you for the advice, I'm determined to stick with it. 

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    • Alemap
    • Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler -Albert Einstein
    • alemap
    • 5 mths ago
    • 1
    • Reported - view

    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!

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      • Binary
      • binary
      • 5 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Alemap Thank you, I'm determined to keep at it and stay motivated. I know it works, I just have to prove it to myself.

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  • 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. 

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      • Binary
      • binary
      • 5 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Ceeses The cumulation of response here are great and give me a good idea to not only motivate myself but also get my spouse involved. "Hey honey, you know that ring you really want?" ;) I've got this.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

    Like 3
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