How YNAB Saved Me When My Health Let Me Down and Other Short Stories

I'm sitting at my one year anniversary of using YNAB right now. Before I started, I was fortunate not to have anything I considered debt. However, in the past 5 years of trying to save, I'd only managed to build up a pretty pathetic 7,000,000KRW ($6,500ish). And this wasn't even just savings. This was everything I owned. Since starting YNAB, I have more than doubled this amount in just one year, despite only making 2,190,000KRW ($2,000~) per month after deductions.

In fact, at the beginning of this month, I had 18,000,000KRW ($16,700) sitting in my bank account. That's more money than I've ever seen in my life. Since I was ahead of my savings goals, I was able to come up with the money I needed to get the LASIK surgery I had been toying with getting for a while. It wasn't cheap (1,600,000KRW - $1,500), but I knew I could afford it.

Then I got sick. I was having trouble breathing every day. I got the flu. I lost my voice. I couldn't eat. I've been to see the doctor at least 8 times this month. Then I had an asthma attack and ended up spending a day in the emergency room, which not only cost me money I wasn't anticipating (though luckily health care is cheap here in Korea with insurance), but also cost me a day's wages, since my job only offers 10 HOURS of sick pay per year, which had been used up earlier this year when I got some surgery, which YNAB also enabled me to budget for. 

Luckily, out of all of the money in my bank account, 4,500,000KRW ($4,200) of that is an emergency fund! You see, YNAB completely changed the way I looked at money. Before, in my futile 'attempts' to save money, all the money in my bank account served one purpose - of being 'savings'. I would suffer huge guilt at spending any money at all, would restrict my spending to an uncomfortable degree, then would end up cracking and making some huge and stupid expenditure on something I probably didn't need.

With YNAB, all of my money has a purpose. The first thing I did upon signing up was, at YNABs suggestion (I joined some of the workshops), make a small emergency fund. Then, I budgeted for the current month and the month ahead, because I could. The remaining money started going to savings goals - a deposit for an apartment, vacations, clothes, gifts and a Nintendo Switch, because why not.

YNAB has completely changed the way I look at my money. My savings are my savings, not to be touched. My emergency fund is only there when I really need it. The rest of my budgeted money is free to be moved around for whatever purpose I need it - my budget doesn't have to be flawless, because life doesn't work that way. Having my money categorized in such a clear way has stopped me from cheating myself. Before every purchase, I now ask myself if I really need it, and if I can really afford it. It's been so easy and so natural now that my way of thinking about my money has changed. 

So this month has been expensive, but thanks to YNAB, and the emergency fund it helped me build, I made it through, and I still have more than double the money I had this time last year sitting in my bank account. I've even managed to move some of my money around and start to repay the money I used for my hospital visit back into my emergency fund before the month is even through! YNAB has really changed my life by giving me financial security, concrete savings goals, and an exact time frame for when I will finally be able achieve my dream of moving into my own apartment - June 2019! 

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  • Soymylk

    Happy YNABversary! This is truly a testament to how your mindset can change a setback. I'm glad you had that emergency fund to fall back on and the ability to roll with those punches! You've come such a long way in the last year and that's definitely a huge win, victory and reason to celebrate!

    I hope you're feeling better and I can't wait to see where you go in the next year! :)

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