You Need A Budget Personal Budgeting Software for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android Fri, 31 Dec 2021 15:09:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 5 Healthy Money Habits Sun, 02 Jan 2022 11:00:00 +0000 When you want to build better money habits, sometimes the best thing you can do is to start small.  Last year, I had a simple goal to check in with my budget every day. To do that, I attached the budget check to something I already do without fail—put on sunscreen. It doesn’t matter the …

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When you want to build better money habits, sometimes the best thing you can do is to start small. 

Prefer to watch instead of read?

Last year, I had a simple goal to check in with my budget every day. To do that, I attached the budget check to something I already do without fail—put on sunscreen. It doesn’t matter the day of the week, or if it’s raining or sunny, I always put on sunscreen without fail. While the lotion sinks in, I check my budget. A double whammy of good habits.

Establishing that new task as part of my existing routine got me thinking about what other good money habits could potentially compound over time. 

And here’s what I came up with: a list of five healthy money habits that can drastically benefit your future financial health.

How to Build Healthy Money Habits

#1: Set Financial Goals and Review Them Often

 Building goals and savings targets into my budget 100% changed how I look at my money.

Create a savings target in your budget to help you meet your goals
Create a savings target in your budget to help you meet your goals.

Establishing personal finance goals provides an opportunity for me to decide today who I want to be and what I want my life to look like in the future. Is that going back to school, buying a house, paying off debt, setting aside money so I can have a life of adventure? Whatever it is—we all have different priorities—it’s important to find your inspiration and the “why” behind your goals. 

In 2019, I got really excited about planning our next vacation — Italy Summer 2020. I bought a guide book, created a Notion page with all the places I wanted to visit, and started to save money. When the pandemic hit, I thought, “I’ll just leave that money in there so it’s ready to go whenever we can travel again.” 

As time went on, though, I fell into a bad habit. I started making impulse buys that would overspend a category because in the back of my mind I knew I had money sitting in the vacation fund that I could “borrow” from.

 I didn’t like that feeling! But the thing is, my priorities had changed (hello global pandemic) but that shift wasn’t reflected in my budget. Going to Italy wasn’t my most pressing priority anymore. 

I went back to the drawing board, thought through our priorities, and realized replacing our car was actually my #1 goal. The Jeep Fund was created and suddenly my motivation to stick money in our savings account was back! It helped me reign in my spending habits because I wanted every extra penny I could get my hands on for the Jeep Fund so that I could reach that goal faster. Everything else felt like a waste of money once I knew what I really wanted.

#2: Plan Your Purchases

Look ahead into the next year and identify things you’ll have to buy that don’t fall into monthly bills or big goals. These are things like: 

  • Birthdays
  • Friends having a baby
  • Getting a new job
  • Random Acts of Kindness
  • Gardening
  • Home maintenance
  • Home upgrades
  • Fun purchases
  • Giving

We often operate under the assumption that these one-off expenses are “surprises” or throw off a normal month—but in reality, they are wholly predictable and a little intentionality goes a long way at smoothing out your spending, avoiding credit card debt, and planning for the future.

See a list of other non-monthly categories to add to your budget. 

#3: Check Your Budget, Not Your Bank Account

I was that person. I had my bank’s app right on the home screen of my phone, and I was always proud of myself if I remembered to check it before making a purchase.

I’d pull it up, see my checking account total, and think “Ok. I have that bill coming out tomorrow, and then…um…did the mortgage already come out? And is personal property tax this month or next month? Mmmm…I think I can afford this. I’m sure it’ll be fine.” 

That financial habit got me in trouble more times than I can count.

Now, instead of doing that, I check my budget. I pull up YNAB, and I look at the category I want to spend money from to see how much I have available. With this approach, I always know exactly where I stand and my zero-based budget gives me clarity about my financial situation in a way my bank account never could.

Learn the magic of a zero-based budget.

#4: Automate Your Investing

After reading I Will Teach You to Be Rich by Ramit Sethi and The Simple Path to Wealth by J.L. Collins I ended up opening up a brokerage account and setting up a monthly transfer. I don’t think about that money. To me, it’s like a bill. I have a line item in my Monthly Bills category group called Investments. It’s nonnegotiable. And because I don’t think about it, I’m taking out the human element—aka the frequent urge to buy something else with that money.

I love what Jesse said in a recent podcast episode about how some people look at buying shares of an index fund as a purchase. So you can get just as much satisfaction from buying stocks, bonds, or contributing to your 401k as you can from buying things at Target. When I make those long-term purchases, I think of how I’m setting up future me to reap the benefits.

#5: Spend for Your Health

Like that 401k or Roth IRA, everything we can do today to prioritize our health is an investment in ourselves. 

On the blog, Janelle tells the story of how her financial priorities shifted after some health issues. Her #1 focus had been on paying off student loans, but she realized she had to dedicate a bit more of her budget to the quality of food she was buying. Our well being — physical, mental, emotional—is worth investing in. It’s one of my favorite posts. Definitely worth checking out.

I’ve had a fitness category in my budget since the beginning to pay for things like a gym membership, but last year I added “/wellness” to the name. I bought a HappyLight, the premium versions of a couple wellness apps, and paid the copay for chiropractor appointments out of that fund. Much like checking my budget while my sunscreen soaked in, creating a budget category for products and services relating to wellness helped establish even more healthy habits. It all adds up…in a good way.

Maybe your habits look slightly different from my list, but one thing I know for sure: if you focus on those small, bite-sized healthy money habits today, you’ll completely transform your tomorrow.

Ready to start a budget of your own so that you can build your own healthy money habits? Try YNAB for free for 34 days.

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How to Create a Budget Template Sat, 01 Jan 2022 11:00:00 +0000 So, you’ve decided to sit down and figure out how to create a budget template, once and for all. Or maybe for the third or fourth or fifth time, but you’re serious about the “for all” part on this go around.  Good! Let’s get started.  How to Create a Budget Template  The hope offered by …

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So, you’ve decided to sit down and figure out how to create a budget template, once and for all. Or maybe for the third or fourth or fifth time, but you’re serious about the “for all” part on this go around. 

Good! Let’s get started. 

How to Create a Budget Template 

The hope offered by a new process, system, plan, or notebook can be slightly intoxicating—it feels like the universe might finally be handing you that one pesky piece you’ve been missing that would complete the puzzle of Responsible Adulthood. 

Seriously—the only reason you’re not perfectly organized/physically fit/financially independent/able to find matching socks in the morning is because you didn’t have the right system! If only you had bought a new notebook, matching sticky notes, highlighters, colored pens, patterned washi tape, and fancy paperclips for that particular project, you’d be killing it by now. 

Okay, at this point, I’m talking to myself about myself. We can stop buying the notebooks; they’re not the missing piece. 

The point I’m trying to make is that the system is important, but implementing the actual habit into your day-to-day life is critical to long-term success, in both sock-matching and money management. So let’s talk about setting up a budget that will become a part of your normal life instead of another abandoned notebook. 

Skip all of this good advice and jump straight to a Todoist checklist to create a budget template. Don’t you wish recipe bloggers would do this? (You’re more likely to succeed in a way that sticks if you forge ahead though.) 

What You Need to Create a Budget Template 

Before we get started, you’re going to need to make a list of the following things:

  • Monthly expenses
  • Non-monthly expenses 
  • Savings goals 
  • “Just for fun” expenses 

Then add a category at the bottom for “Stuff I forgot to budget for” because let’s be realistic, there’s always stuff like that. 

Choose your budgeting tool of choice. It can be a budget app (ahem, YNAB), Excel or Google sheet, or…a brand new notebook…whatever works best for you.

Potential expenses to include as categories when you create a budget template.

How to Set Up a Budget Template 

Once you’ve listed your different category groups and the categories that fall under each one, create two additional columns: label one column “Assigned” and the other “Available.” The rest of this process will be easier to set up and maintain on a spreadsheet, or even easier, in YNAB. 

Here's an example of YNAB's fully customizable budget template.
Here’s an example of YNAB’s fully customizable budget template.

Step One: How Much Do You Need?

First, you need to come up with an estimate of how much each of those expenses will cost. Don’t get bogged down in this as you’re getting set up the first time—guessing is just fine. Your budget is going to evolve as you journey down the path of financial enlightenment. Hopefully. 

Expenses like rent, cell phone bill, electricity, etc. are pretty easy to figure out. For non-monthly expenses, like Christmas gifts, auto registration, car insurance, or annual subscriptions, divide your estimate by the number of months it takes for that cost to recur so that you can contribute manageable chunks on a monthly basis instead of choking on the whole cost when it comes up. 

You’ll have a little more wiggle room when it comes to fun expenses and savings goals, but use those numbers to create a little accountability in your life—is your priority bottomless mimosas at brunch every Sunday or a three month emergency fund? There’s no wrong answer (regardless of what your dad would think). Your budget should be a reflection of what matters to you. 

Now, before we get to step two, I want to call out that perhaps when you’ve previously thought of “budgeting” or “making a budget” that you’re done after step one. But you’re missing out on the best and most effective way of managing your money if you stop there! Keep going because this is where it gets good. 

Step Two: How Much Do You Have?

“How much money do I have and what does it need to do before my next paycheck?”

Next, take a look at your bank balance. That’s how much money you have to distribute to each of these categories right now. It’s best to assign your dollars to categories based on due date and/or urgency. Ask yourself how much money you have and what it needs to do before your next paycheck. Keep assigning money from your bank account to your categories until there’s none left. That’s the goal! 

n YNAB, you'd move money from your "Ready to Assign" section to the "Assigned" column. You can see how much is left after transactions in each category in "Available to Spend."
In YNAB, you’d move money from your “Ready to Assign” section to the “Assigned” column. You can see how much is left after transactions in each category in “Available to Spend.”

(What you’ve just done? It’s called zero-based budgeting, and it’s about to change your life.)

Don’t make plans for dollars that you don’t have yet, like future paychecks…I know that seems hard but, trust me, it’s important. You don’t have to have the money for every category right now; focus on the money you have and what jobs it must do before more money arrives. 

Zero-based budgeting will change the way you think about money.

Now look at your spending categories. The amount listed in your “Available” category is how much you have to spend on those items. When you make a purchase, the amount spent gets subtracted from your available total. If you accidentally go over that amount, you didn’t fail at budgeting. It’s no big deal. Just cover your overspending by moving money from another category. 

Step Three: Profit

Keep doing the steps listed above until you become more aware of your spending and how it affects your life. At that point, you’ll make more intentional choices and you’ll eventually be able to pay next month’s bills with this month’s money. 

Sound complicated?

Let’s Summarize and Simplify

The Four Rules of YNAB

Rule One: Give Every Dollar a Job

Decide how you’re going to spend every dollar you have by assigning each and every dollar to a category. Why? Because it will bring you peace of mind to be able to see where your money is going and what it needs to do. It will also help you focus and commit to what’s important to you. 

Rule Two: Embrace Your True Expenses 

Unexpected expenses aren’t really unexpected, are they? You know your car will need new tires, the holidays come every single year, and you’re probably not going to cancel that Amazon Prime subscription. Dividing those irregular expenses into monthly amounts so they can accumulate by the time the total cost is due lets you hit the brakes on that financial rollercoaster. 

Rule Three: Roll With the Punches 

Okay, you didn’t join a money monastery. Don’t turn budgeting into deprivation or a self-imposed source of shame or you’ll quit doing it. If you overspend from one category, just cover it by moving money from another category. Each category is like an envelope full of cash—you can borrow from one if there was an oversight or indulgence. You will need to cover the overspending though, because when your Dining Out “envelope” is empty,  you really don’t have the money to dine out. You’ll learn from experience. 

Roll Four: Age Your Money 

With thoughtful, intentional spending, saving, and expense tracking, you’ll have more breathing room in your monthly budget. That’s when the magic happens! Start working towards your long term financial goals, save money more easily, and fund your future. 

Or, you know what? We could do the “create a budget template” part for you. We actually already did. Try YNAB for free for 34-days (no credit card required) and get started right away. 

Just hit that bright blue button below.  

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20 Money New Year’s Resolutions for 2022 Fri, 31 Dec 2021 11:00:00 +0000 Looking for some New Year’s Resolutions to master your money in 2022? Here are 20 ideas to get you saving more, paying off debt, and building wealth in the coming year. We’ve got a grab bag of ideas for bank accounts of all shapes and sizes. 1. Do a month-long money challenge Looking for a …

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Looking for some New Year’s Resolutions to master your money in 2022? Here are 20 ideas to get you saving more, paying off debt, and building wealth in the coming year. We’ve got a grab bag of ideas for bank accounts of all shapes and sizes.

1. Do a month-long money challenge

Looking for a financial challenge this January? Try the More Money Challenge to slim and trim your spending and get your finances in shape. There are only three rules, and you do them every day for 30 days:

  1. Track your spending, every dollar.
  2. Only buy essentials (You decide what counts as an essential.)
  3. No eating out. No exceptions.

At the end of the 30 days, you’ll have a little nest egg saved (on average, people save $1,000) and you apply that to the goal you set at the beginning: maybe it’s to pay off debt, save an emergency fund, or maybe it’s something fun like buying that big thing you’ve always wanted and paying for it in cash.

2. Pay off your credit card debt.

Debt isn’t free, and you’ve had enough of the expensive credit card variety. Do a full roundhouse kick on that debt balance this year as your New Year’s resolution.

Not sure where to start? Check out this free video course that’s full of lightbulb moments of why paying off debt has been so hard, and it’ll give you a new mindset that will make it easier to get out of debt fast (and stay out for good).

3. Break a vice.

We’ve got a great recipe for this one: pick that vice (for some, Starbucks iced chai, for others smoking). Break it out as a category in your budget and assign zero dollars to it. That means every time you want your vice, you’ve got to take money from things that might matter more. We’re not saying don’t buy it: we’re saying de-fund it. There’s an important mental clarity dance that will help you break the vice for good.

4. Pay off your car loan. 

Get one step closer to that debt-free life with a paid-off car. The average used car payment costs $381/month (and new cars cost $530/month). Imagine all the other things that money could buy instead. Need some inspiration? Success stories abound for paying off double-digit debt in a short period of time.

Get some accountability by using YNAB’s loan planner tool for extra motivation.

5. Break the paycheck to paycheck cycle.  

Make your 2022 New Year’s resolution to finally break the paycheck to paycheck cycle! You can, you really can. Learn how to get a month ahead with your money and feel that cycle of stress just wash away.

6. Fund a new computer/phone before your old one dies. 

Just picture the feeling when your phone does a triple backflip into the toilet (not even a splash! Perfect 10!) and then realize you already have a pile of money waiting to fund a new one. Just add a Category to your budget for “New Technology” and start funding it. $50-$100 a month will get you ready for a new phone or laptop by the end of the year. Technology will break, and you can be ready for it with cold, hard cash.

7. Refinance your mortgage.

Could a global pandemic be the best time to refinance your mortgage? Well, turns out if you’re in a solid financial position and you plan to live in your house for awhile: the question of if you should refinance actually has a clear answer.

8. Build wealth.

You make decent money but it never seems to accumulate. Get your finances organized and optimized with a wealth-building tool like YNAB. For Ivan, a software engineer in Silicon Valley, he’s been able to painlessly trim 20% off his monthly spending and easily track his FIRE progress.

Those with large incomes might find their salaries become even more powerful with the intentionality and analysis of a budget.

-Ivan, Software Engineer in Silicon Valley

You’ll have the data all in one place for making informed financial decisions, you’ll know exactly where your money goes, and you’ll supercharge your hard-earned dollars to get what you want out of life. Start your free 34-day trial of YNAB (no credit card required).

9. Save $1,000 for a rainy day. 

Statistics are scary when 60% of Americans can’t pull together $1,000 from savings in case of an emergency. Get on the brighter side of that statistic by pulling together a buffer for when the unexpected hits (because it surely will).

Want to build this nest egg and have it done in just over a month? The average person doing the More Money Challenge saves $1,000 or more.

10. Get the full employer match for your 401k. 

If you’ve got extra money sitting around, put it to use by upping your retirement contribution. Employers will often match 3-5% of your contributions. If you’re hovering around the low end of that number, bump it up for the full match. For a greater challenge, see if you can push yourself up to a full 15% retirement savings rate. Any additional funds can help! Set it up on auto-deduct and watch the balance grow.

11. Cut your student loan payment term in half. 

If you’re on a ten-year repayment plan and have a little extra wiggle room (or extra motivation) in your budget, consider crunching it down to five years. This doesn’t necessarily have to include any refinancing, it just means increasing your monthly payment and a sprint to the finish line, especially now while federal loans are on pause from interest.

12. Pay for someone else’s groceries. 

Spice up your money life with an extra heap of generosity this year. We heard the heart-warming story last year of one woman who paid for another person’s groceries at Aldi when she realized their card had been declined. What makes the story even more incredible is that she used to be that girl. Read the rest of her turnaround story.

When opportunity strikes, don’t miss your chance.

13. Don’t eat out for a month. 

Are you up for the challenge? Eating out is a perennial thief of hard-earned dollars and can be a good reset after a busy (and treat-filled) December. Try to go without spending any money on food or drink outside the home for one whole month. May the odds be ever in your favor.

Make the no-spend month more fun by doing it with others in the More Money Challenge!

14. Pay for your dream vacation in cash.

Wine-tasting in Italy, whale-watching in Alaska, the Great American Roadtrip—we can dream of these in the not-so-distant future, right? Start turning that hope to reality by saving up for it in cash. It’s easy to set aside dollars and keep track of your progress in your budget! Happy travels!

15. Open a Roth IRA. 

If you’ve been doing the 401k thing and have heard of this Roth IRA jazz, maybe it’s the year you check it out. Some financial advisors recommend both types of savings (especially if you’re an avocado-toast-eating millennial or woke gen-z’er with compound interest on your side). This gives you greater flexibility in your golden years (having both lets you choose from a taxed or tax-free pot of money).

What’s the difference between a Roth IRA and a Traditional IRA?

16. Give more away. 

To quote a country song, “never seen a hearse with a trailer hitch.” You just can’t take it with you! Maybe this is the year you start siphoning money off to that animal shelter, that literacy program, that community garden. Find a cause worth spreading and support them. Dollars can be a remarkable (and rewarding) support structure.

17. Rollover your old 401k. 

Take that old 401k from a prior job and consolidate. This will involve some phone calls or emails with the holding institution and new one, but you’ll feel great once it’s done. The biggest benefit: simplicity. Read more about how to do a rollover here.

18. Do a debt sprint. 

You don’t have an amount in mind, you just know you want to start crushing it. Check out this framework of how to pay off $26,000 in debt on a $35,000 per year income. Plus, don’t miss our debt bootcamp to get all the support and resources you need to race to the finish line.

19. Grant some of your wishes. 

Maybe you’ve been wanting a dutch oven for a long time, or a new pair of Wicked Good slippers. This is your year. Set up a category group for all these wishes, and whenever you are assigning dollars jobs, see if any are up for the task. Learn more about setting up a Wish List in YNAB here or watch the video below.

20. Pay off zero percent interest loans. 

Just because they’re zero percent doesn’t mean they won’t mess with your money mind. If you’ve got an impending end to your 0% APR perk this year, hustle to pay it off before that date hits. Read this story of a nightmare year of zero percent interest for further inspiration. 

How to Make Your New Year’s Resolutions About Money Stick

If you’ve done this song and dance before you know the feeling come January 31—or January 3—when the wind goes out of your sails. Whoooooosh.

Here’s how to make this New Year’s money resolution stick. It’s all about tricking yourself.

Do it with a friend.

Yep, talking about money goals can be squirmy but sometimes you’ve gotta tell another living soul the very thing you want to do, in hopes that their iron with sharpen your own.

Take yourself out of the equation.

One of the greatest technological advancements of the century in the world of personal finance: automatic transfers and payments. If you’re trying to up your student loan payment, your mortgage payment, your retirement contribution, your savings rate, success is just a few clicks away with an automatic transfer from one account to another.

This one is quick: it doesn’t take more than a few minutes to do, then the hard work of saving is already done for you!

Shorten it. Sometimes, by a lot.

Maybe you wanted to pay off $800 a month on your student loans for the whole year. We love the tenacity. But by now maybe you know you’ll get to the end of the month, miss your goal by $200, and throw in the towel. It was too exhausting.

Instead, what if you just did $400 by January 15? 

Here’s what we love about this approach: you’re going to get to Jan 15 and hot dang, you’ve paid off $450! Then January 16 comes and you say—you know what, I can do that again. And you pay off another $400. Shortening your goals might be the wind in your sails you need to keep going, and you might get to the very same spot with more of your mental energy intact.

Write it down.

Ugh, I know this one feels so lame. But it’s SO TRUE. Printed, written, block letters, curly letters. WRITE IT DOWN.  We’ll even accept an email or a note in your phone on this one. You’ll be more prone to keep that promise you made to yourself when it’s clear and you can see it with written proof.

There you have it—20 ideas for your New Year’s resolution all about money, and how to make them stick. We can’t wait to hear your success stories. Send ’em over here when you’re ready or do some reading for your own inspiration of what’s possible. 

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We’re Hiring Humbly Confident Full Stack Developers Fri, 31 Dec 2021 08:19:00 +0000 We’re hiring not one, not two, but FOUR remote full-stack developers to join our fast-growing team. Help us build an even better budget! About Us and Why We’re Hiring We build “You Need a Budget,” the best budgeting software and life planning tool around. (Those in the know call us YNAB, which is pronounced “why-nab.”) …

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We’re hiring not one, not two, but FOUR remote full-stack developers to join our fast-growing team. Help us build an even better budget!

About Us and Why We’re Hiring

We build “You Need a Budget,” the best budgeting software and life planning tool around. (Those in the know call us YNAB, which is pronounced “why-nab.”) For more than a decade, people have been buying YNAB and then telling their friends what a difference it has made in their lives. Google us, or read some of our reviews on the app store, and you’ll see what we mean. We love building something that has a huge positive impact on people’s lives.

We have big plans for our entire app ecosystem, including our web app and API. All of those plans necessitate changes on our back-end that runs on Rails/Postgres and our front-end Ember app written in TypeScript. That’s where you come in! 

We have one overarching requirement when it comes to joining our team: our Core Values Manifesto has to really click with you. If you’re nodding emphatically while reading this, you’ll probably like it here, and we can’t wait to connect with you!

Of course, we have some firm* requirements too, like five years of professional full-stack web application development experience. For us, this means you know the server-side really well and have some client-side experience, or you’re an absolute expert on front-end development and have some server-side know-how, or you have extensive expertise in test infrastructure and automation for SaaS apps.  

*Well, firm-ish. If you know you’re a great fit for this role but fall a little short of the five-year requirement, we encourage you to go ahead and apply. We don’t need you to be the perfect candidate on paper. 

On a similar note, we know imposter syndrome can be a powerful force, and may discourage fantastic people from applying. Please apply anyway. Many of us here have it too, so you’re in good company.

YNAB is hiring four people for this position: three that focus on product development, and one on technical leadership for our QA team. 

Okay, let’s talk about life at YNAB, and then we’ll go into detail about what we’re looking for. 

Who You’d Be Working With

Our development team is about 30 people strong, and we frequently operate in cross-functional teams, so you’ll get to work with awesome people from all different parts of the company. 

Regardless of their varied interests, all of our developers have one thing in common: They are a joy to work with. You won’t find heated arguments and raised voices here. We save our competitive spirit for YNAB’s external competitors (or the occasional lively board game session), but internally we build up our teammates and celebrate their successes. We all love to program and solve problems in creative ways, and we regularly take time to geek out and show each other something cool we built or found to make our lives easier.

And of course, as a developer, you’ll work closely with our amazing designers. They have the awards (including at least one actual Emmy®) to prove they’re good at designing stuff. More importantly, they welcome feedback and suggestions during the development process and are happy to tweak an interaction if you tell them it will save you significant development effort. 

How You’ll Work at YNAB

We also work really hard, together, to make working at YNAB an amazing experience, and we were (humbly) proud to be named Fortune’s #1 Best Small Company to Work For the last two years. We have a team of truly exceptional people—the kind you’ll be excited to work with. Here’s how we operate:

Responsibility and Empowerment

YNAB appreciates, respects, and trusts the expertise and judgment of our developers. We empower them to do what they think is right. 

We also work collaboratively. We continuously seek the right amount of structure and unity necessary to maximize productivity. Where it makes sense, we designate someone to make a call. 

Even though our developers are right a lot, it’s okay to make mistakes here. Exploration and calculated risks are vital to velocity and growth. We freely admit when we’re wrong. If something doesn’t go as expected, we learn, bounce back, and make corrections. 

You won’t be alone; others will be there to help, review, reassure, and back you up. We own our processes and collective outcomes as a team.

Live (Almost) Anywhere You Want

We’ve always been a fully remote team, and have people all over the world. For this role, you’ll need to be located somewhere between the Pacific Time Zone (UTC-8) and the Central European Time Zone (UTC+1). Wherever you are, just make sure you have a reliable internet connection.

No Outrageous Hours

We want everyone to have a full life outside of YNAB, and we seldom work more than 40 hours per week. There have been a few occasions where things got busy and people had to put some extra time in. But then they took some extra time off, so it all balances out. We work hard and smart, but we’re in this for the long haul.

Take Vacation (Seriously)

We want you to take vacation. In fact, we have a minimum vacation policy of three weeks per year. Five weeks feels about right (plus two extra weeks for our company-wide December break). It’s important to get plenty of downtime and get out and do something. We’ll look forward to seeing pictures of your adventures in our #office_wall Slack channel.

The YNAB Retreat

When the pandemic isn’t keeping us from traveling, we get the whole team together once a year to catch up on spreadsheets and powerpoints in a Best Western conference room. Just kidding. So far, we’ve done Costa Rica, a gigantic cabin in the mountains, a beach house in the Outer Banks, a ranch in Montana, and most recently, Laguna Beach. We do really fun things at these retreats, but the highlight is inevitably just being together and having a blast.

Up Your Game

We’re serious about helping you improve your craft. We budget for it (hey-o!). Think conferences, Lynda/Skillshare subscriptions, books, and dedicated time away from work to learn something new. We love to see our people grow.

International is Absolutely Okay

Our team is spread across the globe, including Switzerland, Mexico, Canada, Brazil, the United Kingdom, and all over the United States. We set up team members in the US and UK as employees, and those in other countries as independent contractors. 

As mentioned above, we have some time zone restrictions for this role, but as long as you’re between UTC-8 and UTC+1, we’re good!


We offer excellent health, dental, and vision insurance for our US employees, where we cover 100% of the premium for you and your family. No need to check your vision, you read that right—100%. Although if you did need to check your vision, we’ve got you covered!

We also have a Traditional and Roth 401k option. YNAB matches your contributions, up to six percent of your paycheck. Matches vest immediately. (Are you a personal finance junkie like our founder Jesse? He set up YNAB’s 401k to have the lowest fee structure possible, where all plan costs are paid by YNAB, not your retirement nest egg. The investment funds available are fantastic, passively-managed, ultra low-cost index funds. Not a PF junkie? Trust us, it’s awesome.) 

For UK employees, we also contribute six percent to your pension.

Competitive Compensation

Typically, the starting salary range for this position is $131,000-$162,000 USD annually. We consider raises every year, and have a bi-annual profit-share bonus. YNAB wins, you win—that kind of thing.

Other Tidbits

  • Once you start, we DEMAND (in a friendly, ALL CAPS IS YELLING way) that you fill out your “Bucket List” spreadsheet with 50 items. (That’s harder than it sounds!) 
  • The bucket list really helps in deciding what we should give you for your birthday and the holidays. 
  • We’re all adults. There’s no need to punch a clock or ask for permission to take off early one afternoon to go see the doctor. We look at what you accomplish, not how long you sit (have you tried standing?) in front of a computer.
  • We want you firing on all cylinders so we’ll set you up with a top-of-the-line computer and will replace it regularly.
  • Did we mention we make a huge, positive difference in people’s lives? 

If this sounds like your ideal environment, read on because now we want to talk about you. You will play a big part in building something easy and joyful to use that helps millions of people discover budgeting as an essential financial and life-planning tool. You will change lives

Apply Now

You, Our New Senior Full Stack Developer

You’re a full-stack developer with at least five years of experience building, shipping, monitoring, and maintaining SaaS apps at scale (not just websites). 

You’re an expert in at least one modern server-side framework (Rails, ASP.NET, Node, Django, etc).

Some client-side experience is required as a minimum, meaning you know enough HTML/CSS/some-client-side-framework to get stuff on the screen matching a designer’s spec. We work in small, cross-functional teams where you will likely find yourself responsible for implementation on both the back-end (Rails and Postgres), as well as the front-end (using Ember or Vue and written in TypeScript).

If your focus has been more on front-end development, then you’re among the best of the best with a client-side framework such as Ember and also have some server-side depth.  

Or you’re the sort of full-stack developer who obsesses about software quality and enjoys using your development expertise to build the kind of efficient automation infrastructure that gives the entire team leverage to deliver every release with high confidence. 

You’re not necessarily the “Ops” person where you work, but you certainly understand the infrastructure well enough to aid in architecting and maintaining scalable solutions. We host on Heroku, so experience there is a bonus, but experience with AWS or other popular IaaS/PaaS is just fine.

You’ll do things like help vet and improve our server-side layer, implement new features, integrate with third-party APIs, and shepherd our application. We might have conversations that start like this:

  • “How can we be certain that our application is going to scale as we grow? How did the other apps you worked on handle similar load conditions?”
  • “We want to expose these parts of the API to 3rd party developers. Will that API need to differ from our internal API, and if so, how?”
  • “We want to make it possible for users to sort their transactions in a new way, and we are thinking of using drag-and-drop to make that possible. What changes on our client and server will be necessary to accomplish this?”
  • “We need to integrate a new data aggregation partner to connect bank accounts and import transactions. How do we set it up so that we can reuse most of that work if we bring on another partner later?”
  • “Our developers spend a portion of their time building out the tests that accompany functional changes. What improvements can we drive in our technical infrastructure to make this as efficient as possible?”

You’re our person if:

  • You are an excellent developer that can adapt to new languages quickly.
  • You write code that is easy for other programmers and your future self to understand and use.
  • You have plenty of war stories to tell about the last time you launched a big SaaS application, or weathered a massive spike in load, or recovered from an outage.
  • You are comfortable with JavaScript and have developed a user facing front-end with a web framework such as Ember, Vue, React, or Angular.   
  • You know your way around SQL and relational databases. If the database layer turns out to be the culprit behind an issue, it’s not a black box to you. (Experience with Postgres is a bonus.)
  • You have an understanding of algorithms and data structures beyond arrays and “for loops.” That doesn’t mean you have to be a computer science PhD or even that you have to know “Big O” notation, but you should know when to use a Dictionary/Map, and why finding an element in a sorted array is faster than finding an element in an unsorted array.
  • While perhaps not a security specialist, you are aware of how websites and services can be exploited, are security conscious while you code, and protective of customer data and privacy.  
  • You have excellent debugging skills. You know how to find problems and how to architect apps so that problems are discoverable in the first place.
  • You have a quality focus and are great at crafting efficient automated integration, API, and UI tests.
  • You already use and love YNAB. (Not a requirement, but we’ll give you bonus points for this one.)

Examples of things you might work on at YNAB:

  • Integrating with 3rd party APIs like Aggregation Providers, Payment Gateways, and Analytics Services
  • Profiling our most common API calls using tools like pganalyze or Sumo Logic and acting on the information to reduce response times
  • Helping improve our public and private APIs to make them easier for external and internal developers to use
  • Working with our external database and security consultants to make sure we haven’t missed anything
  • Installing monitoring tools like Rollbar to help us detect client-side and server-side issues
  • Updating behavior or adding a new UI component to our web app
  • Writing automated tests for new features or improving our existing test suites
  • Submitting and reviewing PRs in GitHub, collaborating in Basecamp, and jumping on a Slack call to get an extra pair of eyes on a gnarly bug


YNAB is an equal opportunity employer. We believe a diversity of backgrounds, beliefs, abilities, and experiences is critical to our success. We are passionate about creating a welcoming, supportive, and collaborative environment for all employees. All are encouraged to apply as we continue to grow a smart, experienced, and diverse team that loves working together to build something that matters.

How to Apply

  • Apply by filling out this form. You’ll need to log in to your Google account to access it.
  • The deadline is 11:59pm PST on January 16, 2022. 
  • If you’d like to disclose the need for an accommodation in connection with the recruitment and hiring process, email us at Please indicate in the subject line that you’re applying for the Senior Full Stack Developer position. 

We’re excited to hear from you!

Apply Now

P.S. If you’re not interested in this position right now, but know someone who might be, we’d appreciate you passing this along!

The post We’re Hiring Humbly Confident Full Stack Developers appeared first on You Need A Budget.

Top 10 Frequently Asked Budgeting Questions Thu, 30 Dec 2021 11:00:00 +0000 So, you’ve decided that you need a budget and this is the year you’ll finally tackle your finances! You’ve signed up for YNAB’s free, 34-day trial, then cracked open the app to get started on your shiny new personal budget. That’s when it hit you: this new YNAB budgeting system seems a little…well…different. And now …

The post Top 10 Frequently Asked Budgeting Questions appeared first on You Need A Budget.

So, you’ve decided that you need a budget and this is the year you’ll finally tackle your finances! You’ve signed up for YNAB’s free, 34-day trial, then cracked open the app to get started on your shiny new personal budget. That’s when it hit you: this new YNAB budgeting system seems a little…well…different. And now you have new budgeting questions, too. 

We don’t budget to the same beat as the other guys. But those differences? They’re exactly why YNAB works so well—and why hundreds of thousands of people have finally gained control over their money.

YNABers who stick with it go on to achieve amazing feats (like retiring without fear, turning their financial lives around, and even quitting smoking). Heck, after just one month with YNAB, one guy had money in his savings account for the first time in a decade.

Of course, because we’re different, we take some getting used to. It’s kind of like that nerdy kid in high school that ends up becoming your best friend. We’ve seen where new budgeters get stuck and frustrated, and we want to help you avoid the same. Keep reading for answers to ten of the most commonly asked budgeting questions that new YNABers send us as they start to prepare a budget.

Budgeting Questions From New YNABers

1. How Do I Start?

The first step toward long term financial control is deciding that you need to create a budget (great work!). But how do you actually get started in YNAB? It can feel a little overwhelming to face your personal finance situation or to learn a new app, so juggling both at the same time is bound to feel challenging.

It’s a lot to take in all at once, so it’s no wonder that you’ve got budgeting questions. We’ve got a ton of resources to help you get started, all depending on your learning style:

  1. If you learn by watching YouTube videos: watch this video. Learn everything you need to know on your time. You’ll learn the YNAB method, plus how to start and use your YNAB budget.
  2. If you like to work with a real, live person: join a free open Q&A session. Sign up for one (or 10) of our live workshops. They’re short, jam-packed with useful information, and our amazing teachers always have answers for your specific budgeting questions.
  3. If you learn by reading: Check out our Ultimate Getting Started Guide. When you’ve digested that novella, read up on our breakdown of the Four Rules.
Ben breaks down the process of creating a YNAB budget in this step-by-step video.

2. How Do I Enter My Income?

If you’re scratching your head and trying to figure out how to plan your monthly budget, or wondering how you enter your total income for the month, the following should help:

YNAB Doesn’t Use Forecasting

YNAB helps you budget the dollars that you have right now—we’re very intentional about that. A lot of new YNABers want to plan out their entire month, budgeting all of the dollars that they plan to receive within that month. In other words, they want to forecast.

The problem with forecasting is that it eliminates scarcity because you can cover all of your bills and expenses with future money—money you don’t yet have—and speculation like that can really get you into trouble. Sure, you might guess correctly that you’ll get a paycheck on your usual payday, but what if you don’t?!

YNAB’s method is about allocation, which means assigning the dollars that you have in your bank account (right now!) to the jobs you’d like them to perform. It’s a big shift from traditional forecasted budgeting, and it can change the way that you think about money management.

Practically speaking, this means that if you only have $500 in your bank account, you can only budget $500 in YNAB. You’ll have to wait until you receive more income to budget more dollars.

Only budget the money you actually have right now.
Only budget the money you actually have right now.

If you try to budget more than $500, your “Ready to Assign” number in YNAB will turn red, like this:

If you budget money that you don't have, you'll be prompted to fix that.
If you budget money that you don’t have, you’ll be prompted to fix that.

To get out of the red, you have to prioritize. If the electric bill, water bill and groceries are non-negotiables, then you can only budget $250 towards the rent until you get paid again. This gives you a much clearer picture of the scarcity of your cash, and it helps you prioritize your most important expenses.

You Can Still Plan Ahead!

So, if you can’t forecast, then how do you plan for an entire month, you wonder? Isn’t this budgeting thing supposed to help you anticipate upcoming expenses and plan accordingly? Why, yes, it will! You just need a budget template.

3. Do I Have to Wait for Payday to Start My Budget?

You don’t need to wait until payday to start budgeting (and no need to feel left out if you’re not paid monthly). YNAB works for every pay cycle (weekly, bimonthly, monthly, quarterly and even variable income), and it works whenever you’re ready to start—and, it works especially well once you do!

All you have to do is budget the dollars that you have right now. It doesn’t matter if you have two dollars or two thousand dollars, your mission is to allocate all of that cash to the most important, most urgent jobs in your budget. When you get paid again, you’ll budget, again.

Hannah shows you how to budget on any pay cycle in this video.

4. It’s a New Month, and Now I’m Confused.

One day, probably more than one day, but less than 32 days after you start (okay, definitely less, definitely), the month is going to “roll over.” And, with the new month, you’ll notice a few changes in your budget:

Your Overspending Disappears

If you overspent in cash, the previous month’s category balance will display in red, but the current month will show a balance of zero. So, what happened? YNAB automatically deducts the amount that you overspent from “To Be Budgeted” in the new month.

If you overspent in credit, the previous month’s category balance will display in orange, and the amount that you overspent will be added to your credit card balance. If you can’t cover the overspending in the same month that it occurs, you’ll need to budget directly to the Credit Card Payments category to pay back the debt.

Assigned Amounts Disappear

With the new month, all of your assigned amounts will be empty. In other words, it’s time to budget, and there are a few ways that you can tackle it:

  • Go category by category, working down your list of priorities and using the Inspector as your Guide. When you get to $0.00 “Ready to Assign,” stop!
  • Use the “Underfunded” option in Auto-Assign to budget one category, or category group, at a time.
  • Use the “Assigned Last Month” option in Auto-Assign to fill in this month’s budget with the same amounts that you budgeted last month. Then, adjust as necessary for the current month.
  • And, when you’ve got more history—at least four months or so of YNAB experience—try out “Average Assigned” or “Average Spent” in Auto-Assign. These options rely on data that ties back to your actual spending habits.

You’ll also see that any positive amounts left in your categories from the previous month will be sitting there, just where you left them.

5. Why Doesn’t My Budget Match My Bank Balance?

On the left-hand side of the screen in the YNAB web app, you can see your account balances. The first thing you should do when you open your budget is make sure that those balances match your bank account. Using the example budget, below, you’d want to log into your Acme Bank account and confirm that your balance is $500.

Check to make sure your bank balance matches your budget.
Check to make sure your bank balance matches your budget.

If your bank balance doesn’t match the account balance you see in YNAB, it’s time to reconcile.

Reconciliation is simply the process of entering all of your bank transactions into YNAB so that your budget knows how much money is in your bank account. If you try to budget without reconciling, you’re working with incorrect data and your budget won’t be right!

Imagine that you have $500 in the bank, but you see $600 in your YNAB account balance. If you are in the habit of reconciling before you budget, you’ll spot the $100 transaction that’s missing from YNAB and correct it. If you don’t, you’d budget $600 and potentially overdraft your account!

For a detailed explanation of how to reconcile, check out this help doc to learn how to reconcile.

6. Direct Import Isn’t Working. Now What?

Direct Import helps make sure you have all your transactions in YNAB. Transactions import once they clear your bank (which can take a day or two), so it’s best to record your spending right away. When transactions are imported, they’ll match right up with the ones you entered (without creating duplicates)—and you’ll know you haven’t missed any.

Direct Import is amazing, but there are quite a few moving parts, and sometimes the process needs a little troubleshooting. If you’re having issues establishing a connection with your bank, transactions aren’t importing, your connection stops working or your financial institution isn’t listed in YNAB, check out this handy guide.

And don’t forget, whether you’re using Direct Import or not, you can enter transactions into YNAB yourself! That’s right, it’s totally OK to enter your transactions manually. In fact, some of us prefer it or even do both! (Here’s why some of us do both: we enter transactions manually to bring awareness to our spending and then pull in the direct import as an assurance we didn’t miss anything. Best of both worlds!).

You don’t have to rely on Direct Import to record transactions.

7. What’s with YNAB’s Credit Card Payment Category?

When you spend money on a credit card, you create debt. Whether you buy a $35 shirt or a $0.35 pack of gum, you owe that money to the credit card company. The important thing is that you reserve some of your money to pay off that debt (because we hate debt!), and that is what your YNAB budget is designed to do.

For an overview of how credit cards work in YNAB, read this.

About Credit Card Payments

  • To budget money for your credit card payment to reduce your starting debt, you need to allocate dollars to the “Credit Card Payments” category. This amount will display in green in the “Payment” column of your budget.
  • A red payment amount means that you paid more to your card than you budgeted for.
  • If you made a budgeted purchase—in other words, you planned to spend the money—and you use your credit card as payment, the money will be subtracted from the appropriate category in your budget and added to your credit card payment category. For example, if you buy $30 of groceries on your card, you’ll see a $30 drop from your grocery budget and a $30 increase in your credit card payment category. This way, you can pay off the card in the same month that you bought the groceries, avoiding debt and interest!

8. How Do I Categorize a Credit Card Refund?

Scenario 1

Let’s say that you charge $100 for clothing on December 5th, but then you decide that swoveralls just aren’t your jam, so you return your purchase. When you enter your refund into YNAB, record it as an inflow to your credit card account, and categorize the transaction based on the appropriate budget category. In this case, your clothing category.

This causes the following: $100 is added to your clothing category, and $100 is removed from your Credit Card Payments category. Done!

… but, wait, there’s more!

Scenario 2

Let’s say that, after you charged $100 for clothing on December 5th, you pay your card in full on the 21st. You don’t realize that swoveralls aren’t the new hotness until January (Egads, you’ve already made the credit card payment!). That $100 refund will show up, in red, under your credit card category. Why’s that, you ask?

It feels a little counterintuitive, but the red number indicates that you have a $100 credit on your card. (Remember, if you budget for your credit card payment, that figure is green. The green number is the amount you will pay your credit card this month. Red is the opposite.)

So, how can you avoid this confusing red number? When you record your refund in the credit account screen, categorize it based on the purchase—in this case, you’d put it under your clothing category. Don’t need money for clothes, right now? Then move the $100 to whatever category you like!

9. What About My Savings?

Per Rule One, every dollar gets a job—and that includes your savings! It doesn’t matter if that job happens this month or in twenty years. Create a category in your budget for whatever your intentions or savings goals may be (e.g., job loss, vacation next year, an emergency fund, a new bike, etc.). Here’s how to assign your savings. Doing this will help you save money, so don’t skip this step!

10. What’s This “Age of Money” Thing?

Rule Four, Age Your Money, seems pretty straightforward—hang onto your cash as long as you can before you spend it (Watch the Rule 4 video here to learn about aging your money). The longer you have the money in your bank account, the older it becomes. It’s a great financial situation to be in, too, because, when you don’t need to spend new income right away, you’re able to budget those dollars into the future.

When you first start budgeting, you won’t have an Age of Money number. That’s because you don’t have enough activity in YNAB, yet, for an accurate calculation. Give it a little time.

How Is Age of Money Calculated?

Let’s say that you start budgeting today. Let’s pretend that you put all of your current money into a bucket with the label “Bucket #1.”

Now, imagine that payday is tomorrow. You put that money into Bucket #2. Your partner gets paid this Friday, and boom! You’ve got Bucket #3. Next week, your grandma sends you a birthday card with a cash gift. Yup, that’s Bucket #4. Every time you get more money, you add a new bucket.

When it’s time to pay a bill or refill your gas tank, you dip into your buckets, in order, starting with Bucket #1. When a transaction pulls funds from more than one bucket (e.g., it finishes one bucket and starts taking from the next), the age is a weighted average of how old those buckets were.

Every time you spend, your Age of Money is recalculated based on the average of your last ten cash transactions. And that’s the number that appears just above your budget. The older it grows, the less you’ll worry about when payday arrives.

More Budgeting Questions?

Between our Getting Started Bootcamp, live Q&A sessions, and endlessly helpful support, we are here for all of your budgeting questions.

Wishing you the best in this budgeting journey. Give that mirror a good bicep flex because here you are, gaining total control over your money.

Interested in more answers to your budgeting questions? Have the YNAB Weekly Roundup delivered to your inbox!

Get the Weekly Roundup

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YNAB Budget Reports: See Your Spending Trends Wed, 29 Dec 2021 11:00:00 +0000 Budget reports! Budget reports! Long live, budget reports! You want to slice and dice your financial data every which way? Check. You want a high-level view of how you’re doing? Done. You want to get down to the nitty gritty details of a particular category? Woot! You want colorful graphs and pie charts? Bam. We’ve …

The post YNAB Budget Reports: See Your Spending Trends appeared first on You Need A Budget.

Budget reports! Budget reports! Long live, budget reports!

You want to slice and dice your financial data every which way? Check.

You want a high-level view of how you’re doing? Done.

You want to get down to the nitty gritty details of a particular category? Woot!

You want colorful graphs and pie charts? Bam. We’ve got you, fam. 

So, without further ado, here’s how to do all of that and more:

See Your Budget Reports in YNAB

With budget reports, you’ll be able to isolate and focus on the data that is most important to you—and analyze your finances from several different vantage points. In all three reports, you can filter by categories, timeframe, and accounts. Just use the filters found at the top of each report screen:

This budget report example shows how to use the filters to isolate specific trends.
This budget report example shows how to use the filters to isolate specific trends.

Know How Much You Spend on Immediate Obligations

The default view shows all of your categories, but if you want to compare specific master categories or even specific subcategories, you can toggle those categories on and off. You can “Select All” to easily go back to the default view of all categories, or you can “Select None” to start with a blank slate and choose the categories you want to evaluate.

Select which categories you want to view for your reports in YNAB.
Select which categories you want to view.

Splice and Dice Data by Dates

Using the preset filters at the top of the timeframe dropdown, you can toggle between “This Month,” the “Latest 3 Months,” “This Year,” “Last Year,” or “All Dates.” If those presets are too generic, you can enter custom start and end dates in the “From” and “To” fields, to query a specific timeframe.

Sort data by date in your YNAB budget.
Sort data by date.

See the Growth of a Specific Account

Most people handle unique accounts differently. Maybe you just want to look at your checking account, or you want to see the growth of an investment account that you’ve been tracking. In the accounts selection dropdown, you can  toggle individual accounts on and off or select “Budget Accounts” or “Tracking Accounts.” Easily view all accounts by checking “Select All,” or start with a blank slate by checking “Select None,” and then simply check the accounts that you want to see.

View specific accounts in your YNAB reports.
View specific accounts in your YNAB budget reports.

The Spending Report

The Spending Report brings all your spending to life! You can view your spending totals in a pie chart or your spending trends in a bar graph with a simple trendline that shows the data by month.

See Your Spending Broken Down by Category

In the Totals section of the Spending Report, you will see a color-coded circle graph showing your spending totals as a percentage of your overall money spent. You can hover over each section of the circle graph to see both the total amount spent for each category along with the percentage of the total amount spent. You can also use the legend on the bottom right to determine which color corresponds to which category.

See your spending broken down by category in YNAB.
See your spending broken down by category in YNAB.

On the right-hand side, you’ll see the timeframe, and which categories and accounts you are currently viewing. You will also see your spending totals and averages for the selected categories.

See your spending over time with YNAB reports.
See your spending over time with YNAB budget reports.

The default view will show you all selected master categories. If you click on a category in the circle graph (or in the legend) you can then drill down into the subcategories of that particular master category. The section on the right will now show you the totals and average for only that master category.

Zero in on specific categories in your YNAB spending trends report.
Zero in on specific categories in your YNAB spending trends report.

Inside of that master category, you can drill down even further to see all of the transactions tied to a subcategory by clicking on on that subcategory in the circle graph or in the legend on the right. (Watch out, Groceries can be a painful when viewed as a whole!)

See all your transactions tied to a specific category.
See all your transactions tied to a specific category.

To go back up a level to see all of the master categories, just click on the “All Categories” (or “Some Categories”) link in the breadcrumbs in the top left:

Use Budget Reports to Check Your Lifestyle Creep

To see your spending trends, from month to month and over time, click on the “Trends” button in the upper right corner:

Select the trends view to see progress over time.
Select the trends view to see progress over time.

The Trends report is set up in the exact same way as the Totals report. You have your color-coded categories (now in a bar graph) on the left side of the screen and your total, average, and graph legend on the right.

Select the trends view to see progress over time.
See your spending trends report in YNAB to monitor lifestyle creep.

You can hover over each colored category in the bar graph to see the total and percent of the total spent for each month. By clicking on a colored category, you will then drill down into that category to see the total spent for each subcategory. As with the Totals report, you can click on each subcategory (in the bar graph or in the legend on the right) to view all transactions tied to that subcategory.

Drill down into specific categories in your spending trends report.
Drill down into specific categories in your spending trends report.

Reports can be…revealing. Check out this video from the Budget Nerds on how get a handle on your impulse spending if you’re inspired to make some changes!

Track Your Net Worth

Breaking the paycheck to paycheck cycle is awesome, but building wealth is a close second. The better you budget, the faster your Net Worth graph will climb. Your net worth is determined by subtracting your debt from your assets. This report will hinge a lot on Tracking Accounts for things like mortgages, savings and investment accounts along with your everyday accounts like checking and credit cards.

Your account type is determined when you set up each account. Tracking accounts do not affect your budget, but can help you track liabilities and assets. To get a full picture of your net worth, make sure that you have all assets and liabilities in either tracking or budget accounts:

Add tracking accounts to get your full financial view.
Add tracking accounts to get your full financial view.

The Net Worth report works rather simply: debts (or negative accounts) are shown in red while assets (or positive accounts) are shown in blue. Hover over each bar (both red and blue) to see the breakdown of your debts, assets, and total net worth for each month.

Net worth report (red shows debt, blue shows debt)
Net worth report (red shows debt, blue shows debt)

On the right, you will see the timeframe, accounts, and total change in net worth for the selected timeframe. Additionally, you’ll see the itemized month over month change.

See your net worth over time in YNAB.
See your net worth over time in YNAB.

See What You Spent vs. What You Made

In the Income v Expense report, your income is shown across the top (under the green “Income” heading) while all of your expenses (read: spending) is shown at the bottom (under the red “Expense” heading). This report maps both your income and expenses month by month along with the averages and totals for each category.

Income v Expense report shows cash flow.
Income v Expense report shows cash flow.

If you want to see subcategories, simply click the arrow to the right of each master category and the subcategories will expand underneath.

Expand your income v. expense report to show subcategories.
Expand your income v. expense report to show subcategories.

Perhaps the most useful information in the Income v Expense report is seen in the totals at the bottom of each month (along with the overall average and total). Over budget months (hopefully these are rare!) are shown in red while under budget months are green:

See your net inflows over time (green shows net positive, red shows net negative).
See your net inflows over time (green shows net positive, red shows net negative).

So, there you have it: all of your income, spending, assets and liabilities in reports that are easy to filter, manipulate and dissect. And pretty to look at and share. Dataheads: go crazy!

Ok, we’ve got to get back to work! Lots more to do!

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This post was originally published in October of 2016. It has been given a bubble bath to be so fresh and so clean-clean, so fresh and so clean.

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Best Budgeting Tips: Habits of Successful Budgeters Tue, 28 Dec 2021 11:00:00 +0000 This post about best budgeting tips and habits was created in collaboration with Todoist—a popular digital task manager. Someone on Twitter compared our collaboration to the Avengers coming together for the first time, and we feel the same way. Without further ado: Becky from Todoist (and also a fellow YNAB user) brings us the habits …

The post Best Budgeting Tips: Habits of Successful Budgeters appeared first on You Need A Budget.

This post about best budgeting tips and habits was created in collaboration with Todoist—a popular digital task manager. Someone on Twitter compared our collaboration to the Avengers coming together for the first time, and we feel the same way. Without further ado: Becky from Todoist (and also a fellow YNAB user) brings us the habits of successful budgeters, and shows us how to use those to meet our financial goals. 

For most of my life, I avoided budgeting because I didn’t want to think about money (or my lack thereof). When you’re living on student loans, money doesn’t even feel real. The numbers are so big, it’s hard to get your head around them. You might as well be playing monopoly. What’s another $5 latte when you have $30,000 of loans and counting? 

But money has a way of creeping into your thoughts no matter how diligently you try to ignore the subject. Will this debit card swipe overdraw my bank account? If I sign that year-long lease, will I be able to make the rent? If I put those Christmas presents on my credit card, will I have the money to pay it off? Can I afford to go out to that restaurant? Buy that coffee? Take that trip with friends? Will I be worrying about debt repayment for the rest of my life? 

Spending money is a part of daily life, and can quickly grow into a constant source of stress. 

Money has a way of creeping into your thoughts no matter how diligently you try to ignore it.

Money Stress Was My Normal State

In my early 20s, money created a vague, background anxiety to my life that became my normal. The more I tried to avoid thinking about it, the worse I felt about it. I still remember that physical sense of dread in the pit of my stomach at the thought of checking my account balances, which of course made me want to avoid checking them all the more. 

Money was something I felt like I should have a handle on which made me feel even more guilty that I didn’t. I would make some half-hearted attempts at getting my finances in order in an Excel spreadsheet or using budget apps like Mint over the years. I’d steel myself to finally look at my accounts, update the numbers, and create a budgeting plan. I’d feel a momentary sense of relief, only to never look at the budget again. It wasn’t until my mid-twenties that I decided I was tired of being scared of my finances. That’s when I found YNAB, which was the budgeting tool that finally made it all click for me.

I was tired of being scared of my finances.

We All Carry Around an Invisible Mental Load

Today, I make a living writing about work and productivity for a task management app called Todoist. I spend a lot of time thinking about the invisible mental load each of us carries around all day every day. Your mental load is made up of all the things you worry about and feel responsible for—like getting an important task done at work, responding to that email from your boss, putting a home-cooked meal on the table, paying your rent, renewing your car insurance, dealing with unexpected expenses, returning your mom’s call…the list goes on and on. 

All of those things require not just the time and energy it takes to do them, but the time and energy you spend thinking about doing them. Your attention is like a computer’s RAM. It can only hold so many things at a time before it becomes overwhelmed.

To make matters worse, our brains are hardwired to focus on scarcity. When you feel a vital resource is scarce—whether it’s food, time, or money—your mind fixates on it, which in turn makes you feel like you have even less of it. It’s a self-reinforcing cycle. The more scarce you feel money is, the harder it is to think about anything else.

I’ve come to think about my budget the same way I think about my to-do list—they’re both external systems for organizing things outside of my head so I can stop worrying about them. It’s a way to offload my RAM and free up mental space for what’s in front of me in the moment—whether that’s writing a blog post for work, spending time with my family, reading a book, cooking a meal, or anything else. 

It’s counterintuitive, but since I’ve started budgeting consistently, I think about money less, not more.

Your attention is like a computer’s RAM. It can only hold so many things at a time before it becomes overwhelmed.

3 Habits of Successful Budgeters

Just like a to-do list, a budget isn’t a set it and forget it kind of thing. I can teach you the best budgeting tips, but you have to find a way to implement those into your routine. How many times have we started over on a budget or downloaded a new task management app on January 1st only to let it drop a week later? You go right back to having vague worries in the back of your head about what you can and can’t afford and all the things you have to get done. 

For a budget or a to-do list to reduce your mental load, it needs to become a long term habit. Luckily, it’s not complicated. Once you have your budget set up (YNAB has lots of excellent advice on how to get started), it really only takes three habits to maintain it, adding up to about an hour of active effort per month once you get the hang of it.

  1. Budget your money as soon as it hits your account (15 min/month) – This is YNAB’s Rule One: Give Every Dollar a Job. Every time you get a paycheck, budget that money right away. This becomes easier over time because you can draw on your historical spending to know how much you’ve actually spent (vs. how much you wish you had spent 🙃). I can quickly budget all of my money on my phone using the auto-assign options for either my monthly funding Targets (for my savings categories) or my average money spent each month for ongoing monthly expenses like groceries, utilities, eating out, etc.
I assign every new dollar to a budget category as soon as it hits my bank account.
  1. Track spending & cover overspending as it happens (1 min/day) – Just like you shouldn’t try to keep track of tasks in your head, don’t try to keep transactions in your head. I enter most spending manually as it happens, especially for Venmo transfers since the transaction only appears as “Venmo” without any payee info. 

As a backup, I also have YNAB connected to my bank accounts to automatically pull in any transactions I may have missed. It matches with any transactions entered manually so there aren’t any double entries. It also pulls in automatic payments I have set up like my utility bills, mortgage payment, software subscriptions, etc.  

I approve any new transactions every morning over a cup of coffee on my phone. The app makes it really easy to cover overspending as it happens so I can easily move money between categories to adjust my budget (YNAB’s Rule Three: Roll with the Punches!). It takes about a minute and I know exactly where all of my spending categories stand. Then I forget about money for the rest of the day.

I approve transactions with my morning cup of coffee. YNAB makes it easy to cover overspending as it happens.
  1. Reconcile regularly (15 min/month) – Reconciliation is key to make sure the system matches up with reality so you can trust that you actually have the money your budget says you have. I reconcile my accounts when I get paid, usually right before I give those new dollars a job (if you’re just getting started, YNAB recommends reconciling your accounts at least weekly as you get the hang of budgeting).
I reconcile my accounts every time I get paid. It takes 15 minutes tops. 

I open the YNAB web app on my laptop and log in to each of my accounts (one checking, two credit cards) on my phone to look up the balances and make sure they match with what YNAB says. I keep my savings account and investment accounts separate from YNAB so I can just let money accumulate there without thinking about it—it’s not in my budget so I can’t spend it. 

Because I use as little cash as possible and have YNAB automatically pull in any transactions that I may have missed entering manually, reconciling usually takes no time at all. 15 minutes would be a worse-case scenario when the balance numbers don’t match, and I have to go into my transaction history for the last month to see what I missed. It’s usually because I manually recorded a transaction from the wrong account.   

That’s it. Those are the three habits you need to master to turn vague money anxieties into confidence that all your spending is accounted for. 

9 Tips to Make Your Habits Stick

Of course, when you’ve spent your entire life avoiding your finances, starting and sticking to those three budgeting habits is easier said than done. Here are some of the best budgeting tips I’ve found that have gotten me to the point where budgeting is something I do automatically without giving it too much thought:

  1. Download YNAB on your phone. It makes it easier to pull up your budget and approve transactions anywhere. The easier you can make a habit the easier it’ll be to make it stick.
  1. Use your thumb’s muscle memory to your advantage. What’s the first app you automatically open every time you open your phone? Replace that app icon on your home screen with YNAB. 
  2. Keep the red notification dot turned on so that it shows up on the YNAB icon when you have transactions to approve or overspending to cover. Whether it’s your email, Instagram, or your budget, that red dot triggers a reflex to get rid of it. Your budget is one app you want to be addicted to.
  3. Piggyback off of an existing habit. Research shows that the easiest way to build a habit is to trigger it with a habit you already do every day automatically. For me, I check my budget, approve transactions, and cover overspending while drinking my morning coffee. Because there’s no way I’ll ever skip my morning cup of joe. 
  4. Make a plan for when and where you’ll do your budgeting. Write it down. Put it on your calendar. If you use a  digital task manager, add it as a task with an automatic reminder. Studies show that making a specific plan for when and where you’ll do something—from exercise to voting to getting a colonoscopy—makes it more likely that you’ll actually follow through. And from what I hear, budgeting is far more pleasant than a colonoscopy.   
  5. Pair budgeting with an activity you already enjoy. Maybe you reconcile your accounts while eating a treat you love, watching a show you’re addicted to, or nestled in your favorite window nook with your favorite beverage. Psychologists call this temptation bundling and it’s a powerful way to build any habit.
  6. Build a streak for each day you get to “YNAB Zero” (no outstanding transactions or overspent categories). This is Jerry Seinfeld’s Don’t Break The Chain method of habit-building. Mark each day you successfully hit YNAB Zero on a calendar. Put up the calendar somewhere you’ll see it every day. The longer your streak becomes, the more motivated you’ll be not to break it.
  7. Use YNAB’s quick budget shortcuts “Auto-Assign” and “Average spent”. These shortcuts make it fast to give every dollar a job—even on your phone—and help keep you honest about how much you really spend in each category. The more realistic your budget is, the easier it will be to stick to. 
I always spend more at Chipotle than I think I do. YNAB’s “Average Assigned” shortcut keeps me honest. 
  1. Cover overspending right away. In the past, overspending was always my budgeting downfall. What’s the point of making a budget if I can’t stick to it anyway? YNAB made me realize I can’t see into the future and I shouldn’t expect myself to. A budget that can’t bend will break. YNAB’s mobile app makes it easy to identify overspending and move money from another category to cover it. Overspending might feel like a failure at the start. Instead of avoiding that discomfort, face it head on. I’m four years into consistent budgeting and I still overspend categories all the time, but now I know it’s just a natural part of budgeting.    
  2. Fall in love with boredom. As with any new habit or goal, budgeting can be exciting at first, but the novelty wears off fast. Habits expert James Clear writes about the importance of “falling in love with boredom” in the pursuit of your goals. Whether you’re training for a marathon, writing a book, or trying to save money for an emergency fund, even the biggest accomplishments come down to small actions taken consistently over a long period of time. After four years, I’m happy to report that budgeting has made my money so boring I barely even think about it, and that’s just the way I like it. 
I keep a Finances project in Todoist where I add my budgeting habits as recurring tasks. It helps keep my finances boring. 

Give Yourself Permission to Wipe the Slate Clean

One last tip to end on: forgive yourself for the past money mistakes you’ve made. We all carry past financial baggage with us. Money gets all mixed up with our sense of self-worth and guilt and shame in complicated ways. But here’s the thing: any mistakes you’ve made in the past are a sunk cost—you can’t do anything about them. Don’t let any guilt or shame you may feel about the past keep you from making the next right decision. Give yourself permission to wipe the slate clean.

Ready to take back mental real estate from your money? Todoist partnered up with YNAB to create an Organize Your Finances template. The project template will walk you through all the steps to get your budget set up, pay off debt, and work towards your savings goals. It also includes all the daily, weekly, and monthly recurring tasks you need to make your budgeting habit stick.

See the Template

Becky is a writer and editor at Doist. She keeps her life in order with a lot of help from Todoist and YNAB.

The post Best Budgeting Tips: Habits of Successful Budgeters appeared first on You Need A Budget.

More Money Challenge: Can You Do It? Mon, 27 Dec 2021 11:00:00 +0000 If you’re craving a reset for your finances, join our More Money Challenge to start fresh. Are You Ready for a Reset? A lot of us might be sitting there feeling a little complacent with our financial situation—a little stuck—with a strong desire for more simplicity, better money habits, or a better optimized setup in …

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If you’re craving a reset for your finances, join our More Money Challenge to start fresh.

Are You Ready for a Reset?

A lot of us might be sitting there feeling a little complacent with our financial situation—a little stuck—with a strong desire for more simplicity, better money habits, or a better optimized setup in the new year. Maybe you need a push to clean up a few things from last year, or get a handle on your money for the coming year.

This challenge is just the thing to make that itch go away, push the reset button hard, and make some real progress to shake you out of your current status quo. 

This is honestly the challenge I didn’t know how much I needed.


Introducing the More Money Challenge

For 30 days, we challenge you to follow three rules each and every day that will reset your money, your mindset, and make a tangible difference in your current financial state. Do these three things every day:

  1. Track your spending (if you’re a YNABer, you’re already doing this part!)
  2. Only buy essentials (you decide what your essentials are).
  3. No eating out (yeah I know, this last one is painful. I didn’t say this would be easy).

But what we’ve seen is by the end of 30 days, people have $1,000 or more. And whatever you wished were different about your financial situation, use the money you save to make that change.

How It Works

  • Sign up for the challenge.
  • You’ll get an email confirmation with a link to your More Money Challenge Workbook. It’s a pretty workbook. Fill it out, it will help you complete the challenge.
  • Add your challenge goal in the workbook before you start and set your spending rules.
  • You’ll also get an invite to join the challenge community.
  • You’ll follow the three rules daily for 30 days.
  • After 30 days, use the money saved to complete your goal.

The average participant saves $1,000 or more. 

We ran the challenge on our team and the results were pretty incredible:

  • Kelly saved $1,789 by not spending from specific categories that were deemed “non-essential.” 
  • Shannon saved $900 and finally got her husband more involved with the budget!
  • Veronica saved $3,850, a decent chunk of that was from holding a garage sale and selling a pop-up camper
  • Meghan saved $1000 on the dot! “It was tough toward the end but, I wanted an even $1,000 so I made it happen.
  • Chrissy saved $2,200 through selling things, saving money, and receiving an unexpected windfall.
  • Blair saved $3,259: “Ours was all from challenging assumptions.” 

I’ve truly never been more in-tune with my budget than during this challenge.


And we all know it’s not just about the money, it’s about what you DO with that money that makes all the difference. See what that money did:

  • Chrissy paid off her last debt.
  • Kait bought the paddleboard she’d been meaning to buy, but had never gotten around to it.
  • Jen was able to pay for an unexpected tax bill.
  • Amanda created a Major Home Repairs/Improvement category and put some money toward college savings.
  • Rene bought gifts for family members and an air purifier that was leftover from a wedding wishlist four years ago! 
  • Shannon took her husband on a surprise $100 Target shopping spree with some of the money from the challenge. “He just about died of excitement.”

And these incredible results are all from long-time YNABers who already have their spending and saving dialed in!

Join the Challenge

What to Expect

Before You Start

There will be nerves. You might feel a little overwhelmed. You might be saying to yourself “There’s no possible way. Can I actually do this?” 

A few frantic Amazon orders will be placed before the challenge officially starts (I’m not telling you that you should do this. But you likely will do this. Because that’s exactly what we did during the beta test of this challenge).

Day 1

The challenge officially kicks off and you’ll start your day one. Your brain will be buzzing at the ready: what can you save? What can you sell? What can you cancel? Your engine is revving to stockpile cash at a wild rate: and that’s just the energy we want. Take that motivation and run with it. 

Day 5

You will want to buy SO MANY things. Instagram is just a siren call of products—they just know you so well. During this time, we find keeping a list of all the things you wish you could pay assuages the desire a wee bit. Thumb through that workbook you got with the challenge—there’s a spot for such a list!

Day 12

You’ve been going at this for almost two weeks and the progress is pretty noticeable at this point. Your spending trends are half what they usually are and the money is accumulating! Go progress, go!

Day 17

There will be some agony. Somewhere along the way you will be SO tired of cooking at home. All your heart will want is a Starbucks coffee (money in your app counts as free, yes? I say yes). Keep sprinting: we know your legs are burning at this point but just keep going. It won’t last forever.

Day 24

Loopholes will be sought out and sometimes found. Does it count if I tell the babysitter to pick me up Starbucks on the way over and then she just happens to get paid a little extra that day? I’m not buying coffee. Not me!

Day 28

You’re so close. So, so close. You can’t wait to order takeout. Heck you might even have it delivered. You don’t even care how much it costs because you’ll have saved so much money.

This challenge has been a really wonderful reset for me! I think I had sort of “plateaued” and I hadn’t been looking for opportunities for improvement or increased mindfulness.

-Emily C

Day 30

It’s your last day. It breezes by. You’ve gotten pretty good at this. You feel settled, pleased, impressed with yourself. And tomorrow is a whole new day.

Day 31

You’re done. You crossed the finish line. And wait, HOW MUCH did you save? Your jaw drops open. Success. You buy the thing. Pay off the debt. Stock the cash away for safe-keeping. You feel accomplished, safer, more secure. Delighted! That plateau is no more. You feel lighter, more confident, and dang, you can’t wait to order takeout.

Ready to reset? Learn more about the challenge, or take the plunge by joining below!

Join the Challenge

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Your 2022 New Year Financial Resolutions Toolkit Sun, 26 Dec 2021 11:00:00 +0000 Looking to make some progress with New Year financial resolutions for 2022? Set yourself up for success with this resolution toolkit. New Year’s is an underrated holiday. I’m not talking about New Year’s Eve—which is wholly overrated if you ask me, since I turn into a potato the minute the clock strikes 10pm. But I …

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Looking to make some progress with New Year financial resolutions for 2022? Set yourself up for success with this resolution toolkit.

New Year’s is an underrated holiday. I’m not talking about New Year’s Eve—which is wholly overrated if you ask me, since I turn into a potato the minute the clock strikes 10pm. But I do love the day after—the clear, crisp hope of January 1. There are no plans, no schedules, no traditions to maintain. On that day, most of us find ourselves with a free day of sleeping in and a deep, burning motivation to better our situations. 

If your 2022 resolution is of the money variety (you want to beef up your bank accounts, get out of credit card debt, bulk up retirement savings, or pay off your mortgage), we’ve got all sorts of fantastic tools to help you reach your financial goals. Whether you’re entering budgetland with wide eyes and a little nervousness, or you’re a seasoned YNABer with 10 years of perfect personal finance data, we’ve got something for everyone.

Make Your New Year Financial Resolutions Stick

All of these options are free, free, and free. They don’t cost a cent or require any credit card commitment to watch, sign up, or benefit from their monied wisdom. And yes, that leaves you with one fewer excuse to not join one. 😉 Check ’em out:

Make Your New Year Financial Resolutions Stick

The More Money Challenge

What: Push the reset button on your spending with a 30-day money challenge to get you closer to your financial goals.

What would you do with an extra $1,000 just over a month from now? Well, decide quickly—because for this challenge, you’re going to do just that. 

Before you start the challenge, you decide what it is that you want. Maybe it’s to save for a vacation, buy that gorgeous jacket you’ve been eyeing, or even to build a bigger emergency fund. Then, for 30 days you follow three daily rules to get there—the average participant saves $1,000 or more!

More Money Challenge Daily Rules: 

  1. Track your spending.
  2. Only buy essentials.
  3. No eating out. (I felt you wince there—I know I sure did!)

At the end of 30 days, you’ll have a guilt-free pile of money to get what you want. And just like that BAM—your money is lined up with your priorities.  

Perfect for: Anyone and everyone trying to get in better financial shape. This is ideal for the person who is self-proclaimed “terrible with money” to take the first step for better financial health, but even the most seasoned budgeter will find value in pushing reset if you’ve hit a plateau and want to refocus. 

If your goal is to pay off debt, we highly recommend joining the Debt Bootcamp for all the added support and training it provides (details up next!)

When: Sign up anytime and get your downloadable workbook to fill out before you begin your challenge!

Do I need to use YNAB? Optional

Challenge Yourself

Need some inspiration for your 2022 New Year financial resolutions? We’ve got a list of ideas!

Debt Bootcamp can help you succeed with your New Year financial resolutions!

The Debt Bootcamp 

What: A four-week intensive email series specifically focused on paying off debt. It’s run by our delightful community manager, Ben B., and you’ll learn the secret to getting out of debt (and STAYING out of debt) with resources and encouragement to support you every step of the way. 

Who it’s for: If you’re a YNABer trying to pay off debt, we can’t recommend this bootcamp highly enough! We’ve seen so much success from participants in past bootcamps and many pay off thousands during this sprint. Make this the year you finally tackle that debt!

When: Sign up whenever you’re ready (like today!)

Do I need to use YNAB? Optional

Enlist in Boot Camp

Check out our free video course about how to get out of debt for good!

The Self-Guided Debt Video Course

What: If you prefer a watch-at-your-own-pace approach, this video course will guide you through making a debt plan while teaching you the secret to staying out of debt. There are 14 lessons led by the hilarious Hannah and Ben M., with a total runtime of just over an hour. 

Who it’s for: Anyone who is fed up with debt and ready to be free of it but doesn’t know where to start. Much of the learning material from the debt bootcamp is covered in this course, but if you really want to get traction in your debt payoff, we recommend using the video course as an introduction to debt payoff while also joining the Debt Bootcamp community for added firepower. If you enjoy the video course, check out the rest of YNAB’s video resources!

Do I need to use YNAB? Nope!

When: Anytime!

Press Play to Payoff Debt

Get your budgeting questions answered by experts!

Live Q&As

What: Our live Q&As are interactive online sessions with YNAB teachers that cover a variety of topics. Need help getting started with YNAB? Ask the experts. Looking to level up your savings? Manage credit cards? Maintain your budget? They know about all of that and more. Get practical, hands-on instruction in an informal small group setting…for free! Ask questions, get answers, and learn how to make (and stick) to a financial plan that will help you fulfill your New Year’s resolutions all year long. 

Who it’s for: Anyone! From the brand-new budgeter to the experienced YNABer looking to expand their knowledge. Get extra guided support, extra encouragement, and answers to all of your budgeting questions. 

Do I need to use YNAB? Well, since the live Q&As  teach you how to use YNAB in different ways…yes. But we have a free 34-day trial to help you get started!

When: Check the schedule to find a time and topic that works for you! 

Get Answers

Cut down on grocery costs with our grocery budget workshop.

Master Your Grocery Budget Workshop 

What: Pull up a seat and join YNAB teachers Erin, Ernie, and Dave for a round table discussion about a budget category that’s often bloated…groceries. Get helpful tips and tricks to help you organize your meals, your shopping, your food budget, and your fridge, freezer, and pantry. Bonus: You could win a grocery gift card!

Who it’s for: Anyone who buys and/or eats food. Start maximizing your shopping trips and make your grocery money last a little longer! 

Do I need to use YNAB? No! This information is helpful for anyone who can’t figure out how they’re always spending so much at the grocery store. 

When: There are two sessions scheduled for January, sign up soon! 

Sign up for Monday, January 3, 2022 at 8pm EST

Sign up for Thursday, January 6th, 2022 at 2:30pm EST

Whatever your New Year financial resolutions are, we know you’ll succeed…and we’d love to help!

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The Five-Minute Budget Routine Thu, 23 Dec 2021 11:00:00 +0000 I always think that I won’t like a daily routine. Don’t hold me back, Routine! Stop trying to tie me down, Routine! I’m sorry, Routine, I just want to keep my options open, OK? But it never takes too long before I come crawling back…. Routine, I’m sorry—I’ll never stray again! You complete me! I …

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I always think that I won’t like a daily routine.

Don’t hold me back, Routine! Stop trying to tie me down, Routine! I’m sorry, Routine, I just want to keep my options open, OK?

But it never takes too long before I come crawling back…. Routine, I’m sorry—I’ll never stray again! You complete me! I need you in my life! Take me back!

We need routine. It frees up brainpower, it lets us go on autopilot. Routine allows us to be more productive, more organized, and more centered. With routine, we get the space and freedom that we craved all along.

The Start of the Budget Routine

I’ve been using YNAB, a budgeting system and a way for tracking your spending for ten years now. But it wasn’t until a few years ago that I applied this hard-earned wisdom about routine to my budget. Here’s what it looked like using this budgeting app before and after:

Before/No Routine: Late nights catching up on old transactions and printing out my statements from my bank accounts to do the dreaded reconciliation = BAD.

After/Routine: Make minor updates on my daily spendings that takes no more than five minutes a day, no need to dread a ginormous catch-up = GOOD.

It was a radical transformation once I settled into my budgeting routine. I saved time, saved stress, and felt like I was more in control than ever.

Here’s how I’ve optimized my money management routine:

Daily Budget Routine (Five Minutes or Less)

  • Every morning (okay, almost every morning) I open the YNAB app and my online bank app to compare balances and add any missing transactions. Usually I do this while brushing my teeth (really!), but a couple of times a week I make it official and reconcile my monthly expenses on my computer instead.
  • I also check the budget for red or orange and move money to cover unexpected variable expenses, increases to fixed expenses, or just plain overspending. I make adjustments as necessary (and adjusting my zero-based budget isn’t just expected with YNAB, it’s encouraged!). 
  • During the day, I enter purchases on my phone as I make them. Usually. 

Once-a-Week Budget Routine (About Ten Minutes)

For me, this once-a-week check of my spending habits usually happens on Sunday while I plan my week. I’m sitting on my laptop doing it while I watch TV with my family. Here’s what I do:

  • Reconcile accounts: If I haven’t actually fired up my computer all week, this is when I open it up and reconcile (which means I match my budget to my bank account and make sure they match). Did I mention reconciliation is super important?
  • Match credit card balance: I visually match my Credit Card payment category in my budget and the account balance to make sure that I’m still a paid-in-full credit card user. This means I pretty much just use my credit card like a debit card and never carry a balance month to month (this is an underrated habit if you want to save money).
  • Clear out transactions: I look at all my accounts in my budget and sort by cleared—I investigate any uncleared transactions that are older than a few days. 
    • Do I need to deposit any outstanding checks? 
    • Are they duplicates that need to be deleted?

Once a Month Budget Routine (About 20 Minutes)

I have a calendar item that repeats monthly on my calendar app to do this monthly check. I’ll start thinking about it naturally toward the end of the month when I’m wondering what I can buy next month and how I’m tracking on my financial goals. It often gets shuffled around to fall on the weekend before the month rolls over or when I get paid, but sometimes I get behind and it waits until a few days into the month. Here’s what I do:

  • Check my Next Month’s Money Category: We’re living a month ahead with our money, and I use a holding category in the current month that houses all money earned that month. I do a quick check against my checking account to make sure all the paychecks that month are accounted for.
  • Budget the money for next month: My favorite day of the budgeting month! I act like my own little financial advisor, but instead of trying to decide what I want my money to be doing decades from now, I’m honing in on what I want my money to do for this month. Money I earned this month moves from my Next Month’s Money category to the Ready to Assign, click forward to next month, and then budget all of next month. I use the Auto Assign buttons with some manual adjustments to fund my targets, keeping in mind any special events or purchases I’m planning next month.
budget routine YNAB. At the beginning of the month, I take money I earned last month and assign to to categories in YNAB.
At the beginning of the month, I take money I earned last month and assign to to categories in YNAB.
  • Tracking Accounts: I reconcile investment accounts to the current balance and check out my Net Worth report. Usually I’m trying to meet an annual Net Worth goal, so this is when I celebrate progress toward that goal!
  • Then just lather, rinse, and repeat!

Making Your Budget Routine Stick

It’s worth mentioning, that part of the reason I’m able to budget so quickly is that, over the years using YNAB, I’ve simplified my accounts so they no longer feel overwhelming and unwieldy. 

Simplifying means having fewer accounts and fewer pieces in the air—which means reconciliation goes much faster. I never have extra transfer transactions to worry about, and my daily routine takes less than five minutes.

Another thing that has helped tremendously is YNAB’s Rule Four: Age Your Money. Aging your money means that all your income this month just sits around until the end of the month (or even longer!) so you can budget only once a month. It took me a while to get there—but, boy was it ever worth it!

The biggest hurdle is making the routine…well…routine. To help a shiny new habit like this stick, set an alarm for the daily check and calendar events for the weekly and monthly checks. 

Before long you’ll be doing your budget routine with your eyes closed. Well, wait, no, we wouldn’t recommend the eyes closed piece. Keep your eyes open for that one. Happy budgeting!

Still using pen and paper for your money management? Create a budget with YNAB and you’ll have an organized and convenient setup to make your budgeting habit more likely to stick!

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