YNAB and Reconciling Reality.

I'm just over 6 months into using YNAB and it's been a huge game changer. It's taken a huge amount of guilt out of money usage and has made managing my money far less stressful (even... FUN...).

And yet.

What it's put into very sharp focus for me is how far behind I feel and how insurmountable so much seems. I'm in my early 30's, with extremely low overhead: to kids, no car payment, no mortgage, not even pets. I have a terminal degree in my field, which was attached to some hefty student debt, but it's being tended to.

And yet.  I can't make it much further past a 30 day buffer, and that's in a good month. The amount of money I'm making is really just enough to cover the bills, and some of the bills next month. The other jobs I'm applying for aren't offering a whole lot more, and are quite competitive. I'm so, so, so grateful for YNAB. Two years ago I couldn't see the forest for the trees with my finances but now that I do I don't even really like the forest that much.

Anyone else have harsh wake-up calls with YNAB? So happy for the tools, but a little bummed about the reality check.

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  • Have you really explored your current expenses and made sure they are all necessary or priorities? Have you looked into lowering the costs of those you can't or won't live without? How much of your income is going towards debt? Once you eliminate that, you'll have more income to throw at savings. Over time, you will also continue to get raises and increase your salary. Try not to raise your standard of living as that happens so you can snowball that increased income.

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      • sgard
      • sgard
      • 4 mths ago
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      Superbone Thanks for this. I've done some pretty heavy evaluations of my expenses and while not all of the them are necessary for me to literally stay alive and breathing, I feel pretty good about where I've landed for them. Unfortunately, the possibility of eliminating debt seems pretty unlikely in my lifetime, but that's what it took for me to go to school when I went. Luckily, I'm really satisfied with my current standard of living, so should a raise in salary happen (it most certainly won't in my current position), I should be able to breathe a bit more easily. 

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  • I think this is a totally normal level of "YNAB Broke." In addition to Superbone 's suggestions, I'd say that really bulking up your True Expenses categories and getting a decent buffer going takes time—it sounds like you've come a long way already in 6 months!

    For controlling spending, I suspect you're already doing this well, but I find that the YNAB magic—spending less without realizing how it's happening—works better the more consistently you're able to check your categories (and moving money when necessary) BEFORE spending.

    But you're right: YNAB is really good at showing you the forest, even when the forest looks more like a clear-cut. 🌲

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      • sgard
      • sgard
      • 4 mths ago
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      Matthew It's good to hear that the slow and steady comfort I've gained from YNAB thus far may just continue to grow. I think I have the usual amount of financial uneasiness creeping in with the holidays approaching, but now that I have YNAB this year, I'm fairly confident I won't have my usual hair-pull-out madness of figuring out, "WHAT HAVE I DONE?!" in January. Also! January is one of those magical 3-pay-checks-in-one-month months for me, so I'll have double opportunity to re-coup.

      If nothing else, I've noted a really interesting side effect of YNAB is that it's been a very clear motivator to find a better job, or even career path, which I was absolutely NOT expecting, and didn't fully realize until a month ago or so. Similar to a work-out accountabilabuddy, YNAB helps me remember that my financial goals stretch beyond just getting my bills paid, but also into security for what's a fairly uncertain future right now.

      So much of budgeting is waiting and fostering patience. Who knew?

      Like 4
    • sgard Waiting is such a huge part of it! It sounds like you've found, like me, that the more you YNAB the more your financial goals just sound like, "Have more money sitting around in my budget so I can worry less."

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    • Cirrus
    • Living mobile and solo
    • miriamnz
    • 1 mth ago
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    A few years ago someone shared about moving towns in order to manage $ better. I mention it, because some of those very big choices might not come to mind as s choice. Living in a part of the country that has lower living expenses could make a difference if your kind of work could be had there.  Sorry i cant remember who it was who told the story. One of the ynab stories on the old forum (which seems to have disappeared now). 

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