Two-year YNAB Anniversary!

I had no idea how stressed I was about money until I was forced to give every dollar a name.

I started YNAB on July 9, 2016, in my slowest season of freelance work. But I trusted my new budget. Got down to $26 in my checking account, but let it stand without transferring from savings because I'd actually done the math and knew it would help us get by until our next paycheck.

In the past 8 days, we've:

  • Completely redone my 2.5-year-old's room (for about $170)
  • Bought a new vacuum cleaner
  • Bought a 4k TV for my husband to use as a PlayStation monitor
  • Bought airline tickets for my kids and I to go to Disneyland in September

And all of it was budgeted for, making zero difference in our bills and groceries. It's kind of an amazing feeling.

We've paid down almost $26k of debt principal in two years, with nearly $46k going toward student loans and mortgage including interest and escrow, and we've earned $127k total in that time (including $20k for a Jetta TDI involved in a class action, with which we paid off the Jetta's loan and bought a "new" car in cash).

Right now we're more or less on track to pay off my student loans by my 31st birthday in September 2019, and that's with being less than "gazelle intense." We went to Disneyland in September 2016, Disney World in October 2017, and Denver in April 2018, and I'm saving up for Disneyland this September and New York next March as well. All of it backed with cash, and, IMHO, totally worth it. (I justified Disney this year to my husband by saying it's the last time I won't have to pay for a park ticket for the 2.5-year-old, and that ticket is about the amount of interest I pay on my student loans each year.)

And, largely thanks to a house that's appreciated a TON, we've more than doubled our net worth in two years.

5replies Oldest first
  • Oldest first
  • Newest first
  • Active threads
  • Popular
    • Kate
    • Joyful Technical Writer 馃尨
    • sweet_sunshine
    • 2 yrs ago
    • 2
    • Reported - view

    That's amazing! Congratulations!

    What is the biggest piece of advice you would give to someone reading your post and decides they want to be you in the coming years? What's the one thing that really made a difference to you and your family when it comes to paying off debt and saving for everything in cash? What are some tips you would give to the rest of us who need it? 

    Like 2
    • Kate thank you!


      I think my biggest piece of advice is to do the hard work first, even though it can suck sometimes. I chronicled my first year of YNAB in a journal on the old forums and I'm sure it's still there. I did not enjoy the first few months at all. We weren't making much money, but I still made getting buffered a priority, so I had--temporarily--cut back on almost everything. Spent next to nothing on eating out, clothes, entertainment, etc. for the six months it took to get buffered.


      However: have at least one indulgence that gets you through the purse tightening. Mine was a gymnastics class I decided was a bill, not a luxury.


      We also worked on true expenses when we could, focusing on the inevitable like Christmas and adding to others when we had extra funds. Once we were earning enough to cover all our basics, we split the extra between debt repayment and vacation goals. Would've gotten a lot farther on debt repayment without vacations, but they were necessary to enjoy seeing the power our money has for good and not just getting by.


      Finally, my husband works a side hustle for which he earns a couple thousand a year. He contributes a portion to the main budget and has the rest to budget as he wishes. Which is how he ended up with a ($320 from Costco) 4k TV. It works well for us to not argue about how he saves up for computer stuff, and he uses his extra freely if we need it.


      That's what I've got for 6am. If I think of more later, I'll add it.

      Like 4
      • Kate
      • Joyful Technical Writer 馃尨
      • sweet_sunshine
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 4
      • Reported - view

      slightlysmall Thank you so much for your answers! I'm going to write this all down in my budget journal to keep myself motivated!

      Like 4
  • Thank you for the inspiration! I agree with your concept: it's important to straighten out your finances and put yourself in a better place, but there has to be some balance to get you through! I've just started, but I'm so excited about the work I've started and the difference it will all make in the end.

    Like 4
  • This is great. I just turned 30 and payed off all my credit card debt. I am lucky enough to not have student loans, and I am still currently renting, so 100% debt free feels good. But I still was just saving money each month (for what? It didn't have a job, just 'emergency account'). My buddy begged me to try this software and I attempted once, but it was too much - too over my head. I gave it another try and one week in I am already seeing noticeable changes in my spending behavior and financial freedom. Congrats on your hard work and success!

    I want to post updates and share my successes with the community. Its nice to have a place to talk about finances with like-minded people.



    Like 4
Like10 Follow
  • 2 yrs agoLast active
  • 5Replies
  • 892Views
  • 4 Following