YNAB acceptance path?
I'm just wondering is there a fairly common YNAB acceptance path? Like steps or stages, obviously some could go through faster than others.
Here's a guess:
1. So many videos, guides, podcasts, etc where do I start? Panic.
2. Whys my saving account or emergency fund need to be budgeted? Confused.
3. I think I can do this, the videos helped. Support didn't yell at me. Confident.
4. Next month, I have no idea what I'm doing. Panic.
5. Everything is clear now on what I should do.
6. Why can't some of this be automated? Can't it learn everything purchased from Shell is gas for the car?
For me it was this (my first year using YNAB):
- Great! An app that can replace my hand-rolled, complicated Google Sheet for budgeting and forecasting. I’m sold.
- Wow, so I shouldn't forecast anymore? Only budget the money I have, got it.
- Only budget the money I have. (This is a harder transition than I thought.)
- This seems to be working great! Financial problems solved!
- This is not working at all! Why are my cash account balances _less_ than what I have budgeted?
- Start fresh budget.
- Repeat step 6 as many times as needed.
- Numbers are lining up better, and I’ve learned how the software works. I’ve finally got the hang of this.
1. Great an app that will actually keep me organized so I'll know where all my money is going.
2. I spend THAT much on all THAT? No wonder my bank account is always near empty.
3. Cancel all the things, start killing loans.
4. Something unexpected came up, panic.
5. Realize I have money in the bank now and a decent chunk of my income is extra payments on the loans and available for emergencies. Stop panic and roll with it.
6. Start trying to figure out some new savings method or how to handle something, get confused.
7. Ask forums, get loads of great suggestions, confusion cleared.
8. Make progress, occasionally repeating 4-7.
1. So excited to finally track my spending and stop the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle!
2. This is great! I'm a week in and I'm sticking to my budget categories!
3. Wow. That money I planned to last x days in gone in half of the time. Start feeling overwhelmed and bury my head in the sand, avoiding YNAB. False start.
4. Okay! This time is going to be different. I'm going to actually try to change my behavior!
5. During a really busy workweek and short trip, lose track of entering transactions. Feel overwhelmed at the thought of "catching up" after a few weeks of not using YNAB. Another false start.
6. As usual, I've used my income tax refund to zero out my credit card balance. I feel I often do this, not using extra money to get ahead but rather to break even. Something has to change! Going to dive into YNAB once again.
7. This time is different. I've taken tutorials and been participating in the forums. For accountability, I've talked to my partner and several friends about YNAB and my goals, and have even encouraged a few people to embark on this journey with me.
8. A few weeks in, I feel great! I'm entering all transactions manually and have linked my accounts for reconciliation purposes only. A few unnecessary expenses pop up and I cut them.
9. A month and a half in, I'm feeling as if I'm not making as much progress as I wish. I'm WAMing a lot.
10. Almost two months in, I still feel I could be doing better, but I remind myself that my awareness about spending is at an all-time high, I haven't created any new debt, I've sent some extra money to my off-budget student loan account, and have been rolling with the punches. Long-term goal is to pay off huge student loan in a little over six years instead of the fourteen years left on the term. Short-term goal is to fund a vacation that is happening in under 4 months now, so that when I get the credit card bill, it's no big deal because I already have all of the money set aside. I think I can do it!
Hey Ben Khaki Storm ! This is such a great question. Looking forward to reading the responses on this one. 😄
Recently, we released our Ultimate Getting Started Guide to help with that first one! It's designed to get folks up to speed in about 20 minutes. Let us know what you think!
My acceptance path took less than a week! But, my circumstances are a bit unique. I have no debt except for a small mortgage and have been using an envelope system since the early 1990s first on paper, then on the PC and then online with Mvelopes. (So, that's why we have no debt!)
The newest version of Mvelopes (where I'm a lifetime member) isn't working well and I tried YNAB a few days ago and had everything set up in a very short time since I was able to use most of the data that I already had on hand. It took a little while to learn some of the nuances in YNAB. But, after a week now, it's working great!
1. I played with YNAB 3, bought into the philosophy, thought it all made great sense, but fell away from it.
Fast Forward 8 years...
2. I am tired of feeling like I'm just treading water. I want some control. I should set up YNAB again!
3. Okay...this is different than I remember and now it's web-based and subscription based? Hmmm... NOT enthused about the ongoing costs or the fact that if I had come back 6 months earlier apparently it would have been a lot cheaper.
4. Wait, this is actually much better. I think I'll take some of the free webinars.
5. This is going well...it's payday and I still have almost half a grand in my checking account...go me! Yay YNAB!
6. Mortals Plan And Gods Laugh...The Midwest has some of the heaviest rains in history. The apartment floods. Associated random costs. Whack a few moles. I go to get my oil changed and a tire repaired and discover something is cracked that can't be cracked. Guess I'd better whack again...wait...Auto Repair and Maintenance has enough money to pay for it! WIN! Apartment floods again. Eating out budget explodes as the electric stove is sitting in three inches of water...and frankly I want to get out of the house. Whack. Whack. Whack. The cat starts acting very out of character...which in a cat usually means illness or pain. Trip to the vet. Whack. Whack. Make a note to prioritize funding the Vet category over the Auto for a few months as in a pinch I can ride to work with a coworker and living things>>>>inanimate objects.
7. The apartment floods again. Cat and I move to hotel and let the landlord deal with it. Landlord will pay but I'm out of pocket for it upfront. Look at spending for May. Realize I never want to think about the first three weeks of this month again and it is such an outlier that it's useless for future information. Wipe it all out with a Fresh Start and take deep cleansing breaths.
8. Take a few of the classes again as the instructors are awesome and after working with the software for 45 days I know better what to listen for, ask about, and think about. Link my accounts for the first time. Set up all my auto payments as recurring transactions. Create some new Category Groups and move stuff around. Feel that I've moved to the next level of understanding.
9. Payday! Discover that all the overtime I worked this month has paid off. Astonishingly, everything is green heading into June and I can even set aside money for my Christmas plane ticket. Am reminded of the old Motley Fool book from the nineties: "You Have More Than You Think."
Denial. “I have always made ends meet. I don’t know why this software is requiring me to pretend like I won’t get any new income, ever.”
Anger. “You people who are telling me I should use the method and learn about envelope budgeting obviously just aren’t as sophisticated as I am!”
Depression. “Crap. If I budget for my mortgage out of this one paycheck, I really will overspend dining out.”
Bargaining. “But if I just pretend to overspend this category here, then I can kick this expense down the road a bit. How do I do that? What do you mean I shouldn’t do that?”
Acceptance: “I budget the money I have. I move money when I need to because this is all the money I have.”
1. Desperately searched the internet for the umpteenth time in 2010 for a budgeting app. Found YNAB (not sure how it never popped up for the few years before that).
2. Started using it Sept 1, 2010. Loved it immediately. Everything made sense. Never stopped. Never fresh started. It gave me such a sense of control and peace, I'd never give that up... even if we won a huge lottery, I'd be YNABing. :)
3. 8.5 years later, still going strong, but my spouse and I still don't always let the category balances dictate our spending (so easy to move money when we decide to eat out or buy the thing). That's our only downfall with YNAB... we're not the best with delayed gratification. We have a handful of categories we don't compromise on, but plenty of other categories we shouldn't touch but "borrow" from all the time for non-essentials. Sigh.