any advice for checking the budget LESS? :-/

A little over a year ago, I left a lucrative corporate job to join a startup. Our household cash income dropped drastically as a result of this change, as we knew it would. [We'd been saving most of our income for years, and it seemed like we could "afford" this shift.] I dove deep into YNAB shortly after switching jobs, and it's been indispensable in navigating our new money reality.

Although YNAB on the whole has been a real help, I now believe that the particular way I've settled into using it is causing me significant stress. Specifically, I check and interact with the budget ALL the time. I open the app at least 10 times a day. I'll compulsively reconcile after any new transaction clears. I've stared at the category balances so much that I can quote most of our monthly budget template from memory.

All of this started from a place of fear and anxiety after I'd switched jobs. Taking an 80% pay cut and "discovering" additional True Expenses each month for the first N months ... I was frequently in a minor panic: "did I make a huge mistake? can we actually live within our means now?" Staring at YNAB was the only life-raft I could find in this scary ocean.

But now, even after rolling with so many covid punches, things have actually settled way down. There's still a lot to think about and work through each month, but YNAB would be serving me just as well in *every* practical respect if I was engaging with it once a week instead of once an hour.

Has anyone struggled with YNAB addiction/compulsion in this way? Do you have any tips for relaxing into a more sane rhythm? I feel like I've put in the hard work to get our financial house in order, and now I'd like to enjoy some of the peace and "unclenching" that I thought/hoped would come with that. :-/

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  • If your budget is fine, you are living on a zero based budget, you can always just ignore the app. 

    I will warn you that if you are spending a lot DAILY, it might tend to wreck things, but if you are in a situation where you buy weekly groceries, or don't really expect any sudden big expenditures every day, it's totally doable. 


    Why don't you just set a time during the week to reconcile instead of daily. My cousin normally has weekly discussions with her husband, and sometimes not a daily thing. 

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  • You probably should follow Slate Blue Pilot (2903ac015cdb) 's advice.  But what you describe seems to be common and many do not consider it upsetting.  I, myself, do this because I can hardly believe I'm doing ok and everything is under control.  Good for you on your new venture.

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    • Melissa
    • Routinely questioning every assumption I have about my budget, my spending, and my savings habits.
    • todays_mel
    • 8 mths ago
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    I understand the stress of reconfiguring your budget due to a significant decrease in income. I left my old job 10 years ago, making nearly double what my take-home pay is now, and was stuck in panic-mode until I finally found YNAB in Sep 2019.

    You've already done the hard part, which is to get everything accounted for in YNAB and roll with the punches as they come. Now you just need to trust the process and continue to follow the 4 rules.

    A question to ponder is: What amount of financial padding would make you less anxious with your current income+budget/or the need to constantly check it?  Once you identify how much that is, you can make a plan to get there. Or maybe you already are there and you just don't realize it yet!

    As an example, the first steps I completed to erase my financial panic were:

    1. Stop the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle/get a full month's income buffer in "Income for Next Month" - June 2020 ✅
    2. Get another month's income buffer saved in "Loss of Income" - Jan 2021 ✅
    3. Save $1000 in "Sinking Funds" main group; this has individual categories but I total the entire group - Feb 2021 ✅
    4. Pay off $7k in credit card debt - Mar 2021 ✅ (I'm counting this because the final payment is already scheduled! 😉)

    Completing these goals really helped me de-stress (at least financially, lol). I used several windfalls (Tax Refunds, both Covid Stimulus checks, a 2-year overdue Pay Increase, and two separate 3-Paycheck Months) along with just throwing every extra overtime $ toward them, and cutting back non-essentials/variable expenses as much as I could without going crazy. 

    Next to tackle on my list:

    • Save for an eventual car replacement by end of 2022
    • Save for an eventual laptop replacement by end of 2021
    • Add another month's buffer to "Loss Of Income" category, due date open

    So my long-term goals are constantly being updated, and that padding keeps growing. And the really nice side effect is that my Net Worth continues to rise (up 220% since Jan 2020), plus I know there's more breathing room in my budget than there has been in years.

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