Tools I Like – YNAB

You Need a Budget, better known as YNAB is my family’s go to budget application. My wife and I use YNAB for all of our daily spend management and basic management of financial events.

If you don’t have a budget today, I cannot stress enough the importance of having one. It is one of the most basic and fundamental things that you need for your financial well being.

If you are interested in using YNAB here is my referral link. If you choose to sign up, you will get a free month, and so do I. It’s $60 a year if you pay annually and in my opinion worth every penny of it.

My wife and I have lived on a budget for the better part of the last decade. We’ve done the cash only envelope method, we’ve done the Excel method, we’ve tried other tools and finally landed on YNAB and the great system that it uses for budgeting.

My experience with a budget tells me one this – it’ll change. The ability to response quickly is the massive strength of YNAB – you have total flexility and control.

In the corporate world, we typically set annual budgets and work to achieve them throughout the year. While we typically don’t change the budget, we almost always adapt during the year based upon changes in our business. At home – the exact same thing happens… unfortunately I don’t have a finance department to help me out in managing all the risks/opportunities, gaps to plan, year to date and year-to-go math 🙂

YNAB does all that without needing an MBA or finance degree and makes it super simple to track what you actually have, and where you plan to use it. YNAB isn’t a wonderful planning tool – it is a wonderful manage what you have and live within your means tool.

The whole principal of the thing is that you budget what you have in the bank. You don’t budget what you think you will get. This is a simple transition for those that have been working with envelopes and cash, but a total mind blown moment for those that have never thought this way.

To get started, you simple put in your actual balances from your bank accounts and credit cards. You can link them and pull transactions if you’d like – personally that’s how I do it.

Once you’ve got your actual cash and debt loaded into the tool you budget what is left over and actually available. You have to make a choice – are you going to carry credit card float (ie: pay less that the statement balance)? Or, are you going to get your finance house in order and pay those things off ASAP.

When you budget what you have, you very quickly find out where your money has been going that you didn’t realize. It’s funny to me how much we spend when we aren’t watching where it really is going….

Ultimately with YNAB, you should find yourself getting to at least one month in advance for your budget. For our house, we have a bunch of “sinking funds” that carry balances for major purchases or emergency funds or what not. When I get paid each month, the cash that hits my bank account goes into the next months budget.

That means, that at the start of every month all of the dollars we plan to spend that month are already sitting in our bank accounts. We may purchase on a credit card and then pay it off, but the cash is in the bank. This method of managing allows you to neatly plan for any type of event: Christmas (put aside some money each month), for a new car, vacation, home improvement project – whatever! When you budget those dollars into the month, you start to build up balances over time that can be used when needed and planned.

YNAB claims that “On average, new budgeters save $600 by month two and more than $6,000 their first year” and I believe it. Having visibility to our spending has helped my family tremendously, and I’ve helped many friends and family get setup on YNAB with great results!

Anyhow – I can’t recommend it enough. If you don’t have a budget – YOU NEED A BUDGET! So why not get started today and here is my referral link. If you don’t want to use that link – no problem – go to and simply check it out!