Author Topic: We've fallen off the YNAB-horse. Has anyone else?  (Read 25557 times)

jeromedawg

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We've fallen off the YNAB-horse. Has anyone else?
« on: December 22, 2014, 12:32:51 PM »
So I purchased YNAB back in January with high hopes of it really helping out on our budgeting and spending. After about a year of use, I really don't know how much it has helped. I was never fully in-tune with the whole process and workflow of it; I mean, I think it's a great idea but I just found it really difficult to get started. I watched the tutorials and it kinda made sense, but the learning curve is still really high it seems (it almost felt like going back to school and taking classes just to learn how to use this app). My wife got into it a little more since she's more into tracking expenses penny-for-penny. We've also been using Mint for the past several years and have gotten really used to it. But YNAB is so different in that you are doing a lot more manual entry or importing.

That said, I guess I'll have to admit that I fell of the YNAB-horse way early (or perhaps was never on it to begin with!) and my wife fell off once the holiday season came (pretty much since Thanksgiving). She tells me she just gets super-tired of entering every single thing (that's actually a bit surprising coming from her, as she considers herself "OCD" about stuff like this and also the fact that she's an ACCOUNTANT lol). I dunno, I still have mixed feelings about all of this. We're not struggling really and outside of "retirement" and "unforeseen/rainy day savings" we're not really setting goals for ourselves like "buy a new car" or "buy a new home" etc at this point in time. I just find the YNAB concept to be kind of hard to grasp unless you are in some sort of trouble or debt and have had a history of trouble with budgeting and cash-flow. I know some people prefer and others don't. Right now, I'm trying to figure out where my wife and I stand with all of this, and if it's worth it to keep 'troubling' ourselves to keep learning it or if we would be better without. We just both find it very tedious and difficult to grasp. It never really made me very excited about finances once I realized a lot of it was manual entry, and I know you can import statements and what not but even that seems tedious (and then checking for duplicates, etc even if they say they account for them).

Anyone else have similar thoughts on YNAB as we do? Or are we missing something huge? It just seems like a really huge time-investment to get going the right way with it.
« Last Edit: December 22, 2014, 12:34:43 PM by jplee3 »

Professor Ecks

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Re: We've fallen off the YNAB-horse. Has anyone else?
« Reply #1 on: December 22, 2014, 12:42:17 PM »
I can sympathize with the difficulty you had getting on board with YNAB. I started with the free trial and gave up after a day or so because I just didn't get it. However, I revisited it and forced myself to take a live class they offered on getting started. That made a world of difference for me, as it finally "clicked." We came from a position of not sticking to a budget and not tracking where we spent, so YNAB has been pretty beneficial for us. That being said, if your issue is the manual entry and reconciling, well, there's really no way around it if you want this particular tool the way it was designed. So if you are doing OK with your budgeting and spending, then you may not get enough benefit from YNAB moving forward to justify the hassle you feel with continued use.

Philociraptor

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Re: We've fallen off the YNAB-horse. Has anyone else?
« Reply #2 on: December 22, 2014, 12:44:13 PM »
Budgets work for some people, they don't for others. I hate YNAB and love Mint. The best thing you can do is be mindful of your spending, ask yourself if you're really getting your money's (and the life it cost you to make that money) worth when you pay for anything. Have you read Your Money or Your Life? I'm reading the 2008 edition right now, really enjoing it. They don't harp on about budgets, but they want you to review your spending each month and analyse if your spending is fulfilling, aligns with your values and goals, and would be different if you didn't have to work. I highly suggest picking it up and you both reading it.

SMCx3

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Re: We've fallen off the YNAB-horse. Has anyone else?
« Reply #3 on: December 22, 2014, 12:56:47 PM »
It has taken me two months to get comfortable with MINT.  My budget is still a work in progress in regards to saving opportunities, but this tool has helped me tremendously.  The constant theme for all of these sites seems to be time.  The local library had some good books which covered how to use MINT.  I love the automatic uploading of all my spending.

Knowing what is coming in and going out is still the biggest benefit. 

kib

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Re: We've fallen off the YNAB-horse. Has anyone else?
« Reply #4 on: December 22, 2014, 12:57:43 PM »
I haven't tried YNAB but I do go back and forth about extreme tracking.  While part of me really likes knowing the numbers and watching them move in the right direction, my understanding of my life is that I am going to spend what I'm going to spend.  I'm very frugal, I think long and hard about what I buy, and I get off on spending less, but a. within my frugal framework, if I need something I'm going to buy it, and b. I never achieve the satisfaction or data from tracking that I think I will, there are always too many mistakes to make it an accurate picture.

TimmyTightWad

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Re: We've fallen off the YNAB-horse. Has anyone else?
« Reply #5 on: December 22, 2014, 01:02:54 PM »
I love the ability to dissect my spending on a granular level, the manual insertion is not that bad since all the transactions are right there in my bank and credit card accounts. It takes about a hour a month to do everything, what's so hard about that?
« Last Edit: December 22, 2014, 01:19:54 PM by TimmyTightWad »

Bob W

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Re: We've fallen off the YNAB-horse. Has anyone else?
« Reply #6 on: December 22, 2014, 01:05:37 PM »
Have you tried paper?  No need to log in.  Takes about 1 minute per day.  At the end of the month you use your calculator for about 30 minutes and boom your done.

They probably taught you how to use paper, pencil and calculator in school.

When I did this I made a pretty pyramid on an 8 by 11 sheet.  Big categories at the bottom, small at top.   After a few months we eliminated categories by not spending on them anymore.  Went from like 31 categories to 12.   We then reduced each category.  It was actually "fun."

For me it was important to really break down the category -- For instance Grocery store went to Real food,  junk food, wasted food,  juice, milk, tea, coffee,  booze,  toiletries,  cosmetics etc...

That way I could see how much was spent on "real food."   

In order to do that requires breaking down the receipt --  so for instance we determined my wife spent $100 a month on soda --- which became it's own special breakout category.

So yeah,  paper works just as good as computer IMHO. 

Iron Mike Sharpe

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Re: We've fallen off the YNAB-horse. Has anyone else?
« Reply #7 on: December 22, 2014, 01:09:04 PM »
I'm with Timmy.

It takes me 5 seconds to enter in each transaction into my phone.  Maybe an average of one transaction a day.

Then once a month, I take 30 minutes to reconcile my bank, credit and cash accounts and enter in any missing auto payments / credits.  And then budget all of the money I made in the previous month.  Finally, I log into Vanguard and make any deposits I need to my taxable investments and my IRA.

I find the whole process of YNAB to be extremely easy and efficient.  I now know what every single penny I have is supposed to be doing for me.

Nothlit

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Re: We've fallen off the YNAB-horse. Has anyone else?
« Reply #8 on: December 22, 2014, 01:14:44 PM »
Like someone above said, I don't find that YNAB particularly helps me to control my spending, which is already pretty frugal, but it does help me understand it. (I'm not comfortable giving Mint all of my banking passwords, so I prefer YNAB for that.)

I'm about 50/50 when it comes to manually entering transactions into YNAB, but that doesn't really matter, because at the end of every month I just download the Quicken files from my various banking web sites and it only takes about 5-10 minutes to import all of them into YNAB and assign categories to any that it couldn't automatically figure out. I like having the historical picture of spending and net worth, to see if there are any trends I should be aware of.

yandz

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Re: We've fallen off the YNAB-horse. Has anyone else?
« Reply #9 on: December 22, 2014, 02:35:59 PM »
I'm with Timmy.

It takes me 5 seconds to enter in each transaction into my phone.  Maybe an average of one transaction a day.

Then once a month, I take 30 minutes to reconcile my bank, credit and cash accounts and enter in any missing auto payments / credits.  And then budget all of the money I made in the previous month.  Finally, I log into Vanguard and make any deposits I need to my taxable investments and my IRA.

I find the whole process of YNAB to be extremely easy and efficient.  I now know what every single penny I have is supposed to be doing for me.

This.  Mint worked for us until it didn't.  I could never make peace with the budgeting functionality in Mint.  YNAB plans, tracks exactly, and adapts as needed.  We still use Mint. I look at transactions as the EOD and enter them into YNAB. 30 min to reconcile/budget/invest at EOM.  And most importantly, "I now know what ever single penny I have is supposed to be doing for me."  That is the key.

Milizard

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Re: We've fallen off the YNAB-horse. Has anyone else?
« Reply #10 on: December 22, 2014, 02:38:18 PM »
I never even got on the horse.  I purchased it when it was on special--probably 75% off--about a year ago.  I watched a few tutorials, but I haven't used it yet.  There's something about it and what I want it to do for me that I can't wrap my head around.  I just want a way to track my spend in a very detailed and flexible way.  Unfortunately, I'm not very methodical, so it has to survive my irregular spurts of motivation.  My default is frugality, and I originally wanted YNAB to help me spend.  After discovering MMM, I no longer feel like I want help to loosen the purse-strings.

QueenAlice

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Re: We've fallen off the YNAB-horse. Has anyone else?
« Reply #11 on: December 22, 2014, 02:57:40 PM »
I found YNAB a few months before finding MMM. It was actually a post on YNAB's forum that lead me here. The initial time investment was high for me, but necessary to figure out how to use YNAB. I probably spent two solid days digging through the help articles, clicking around the forum for answers, and setting up my accounts and budget. I have to admit I am a bit obsessive about new things, though.

While I think YNAB is useful for anyone, debt or no debt, I think it mostly appeals to those who are in debt/bad at managing their money initially. I knew a big transition in my life was coming up and I also knew I was terrible at managing my money. There was a specific need for some type of tool to help me budget. I will probably continue to use YNAB once I've finished off my student loan debt just because I'm a data nerd.

I would guess that for the majority of people on this forum, YNAB would be more of a data collection/analysis tool rather than a debt management tool.

jeromedawg

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Re: We've fallen off the YNAB-horse. Has anyone else?
« Reply #12 on: December 22, 2014, 03:03:37 PM »
I'm with Timmy.

It takes me 5 seconds to enter in each transaction into my phone.  Maybe an average of one transaction a day.

Then once a month, I take 30 minutes to reconcile my bank, credit and cash accounts and enter in any missing auto payments / credits.  And then budget all of the money I made in the previous month.  Finally, I log into Vanguard and make any deposits I need to my taxable investments and my IRA.

I find the whole process of YNAB to be extremely easy and efficient.  I now know what every single penny I have is supposed to be doing for me.

This.  Mint worked for us until it didn't.  I could never make peace with the budgeting functionality in Mint.  YNAB plans, tracks exactly, and adapts as needed.  We still use Mint. I look at transactions as the EOD and enter them into YNAB. 30 min to reconcile/budget/invest at EOM.  And most importantly, "I now know what ever single penny I have is supposed to be doing for me."  That is the key.

I get the concept. I do. And maybe it's just me, but I really think it can get tedious tracking every little thing. Maybe that's just normal for some people (who have an accountant's mindset) but I find it funny that my wife, an accountant, gets exhausted by doing this very thing haha.

I don't know, I'm sure more of it is just laziness. I have issues sticking with methods, obviously. I mean, I can't even stand to open the app up on my phone to enter in details from my cash purchases or other receipts that may have not made it onto the credit card statement. And even more so, I went and removed the app from my phone because I tend to do that with apps I never use and are taking up space (my phone only has 8gb of memory - Moto G). Anyway, we are generally pretty frugal people but will tend to spend a little more when it comes down to food (of course, that's within the context of using coupons on many occasions). Otherwise, there are generally no 'surprises' with our month-to-month expenses; perhaps with the exception of the holidays, in which we [read: myself and not necessarily my wife haha] are a little more 'flexible' with our spending. While it's easy for my wife to get behind on the YNAB entries, she does remain fairly meticulous regarding any purchases that she is unaware of and that usually I have made (which sometimes results in a little meltdown or blow-up depending on what I've purchased LOL). I suppose if anything, this helps keep me in check too :P
« Last Edit: December 22, 2014, 03:12:43 PM by jplee3 »

yandz

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Re: We've fallen off the YNAB-horse. Has anyone else?
« Reply #13 on: December 22, 2014, 03:14:13 PM »
I thought I would die over the tedium, but for me, the fear turned out to be unfounded.  BTW, my husband wants nothing to do with it which is why I use Mint to get our transactions.  The thing that motivates me to use it is really know exactly where everything goes, which requires you to be anal. The value it holds for me is a feeling of security in knowing exactly what our expenses are, no wondering.  This is be more valuable to me as we close in on FI/RE.  And then once FI/RE, I think it will help me stay about peace about our portfolio supporting our REAL spending. 

Before making FI/RE a goal, I would NEVER have touched YNAB with a 10 foot pole.  We make plenty, are naturally frugal, and who cares.  So yeah, I totally get get where you are coming from. I just got motivated when I felt it supported my goals.  Not because I am into accounting :)

jeromedawg

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Re: We've fallen off the YNAB-horse. Has anyone else?
« Reply #14 on: December 22, 2014, 03:28:19 PM »
I thought I would die over the tedium, but for me, the fear turned out to be unfounded.  BTW, my husband wants nothing to do with it which is why I use Mint to get our transactions.  The thing that motivates me to use it is really know exactly where everything goes, which requires you to be anal. The value it holds for me is a feeling of security in knowing exactly what our expenses are, no wondering.  This is be more valuable to me as we close in on FI/RE.  And then once FI/RE, I think it will help me stay about peace about our portfolio supporting our REAL spending. 

Before making FI/RE a goal, I would NEVER have touched YNAB with a 10 foot pole.  We make plenty, are naturally frugal, and who cares.  So yeah, I totally get get where you are coming from. I just got motivated when I felt it supported my goals.  Not because I am into accounting :)

Now that you mention goals in this context, it makes a lot more sense to me why people would be so into it (outside of the group of people who just love analyzing every penny of their normal cash-flow). If you have a specific goal, I can see how this helps you track to stay on top of it. Now, that is very useful. And tangible goals, in my mind, would include things like "getting out of debt", "saving for a home", "saving for a car", "saving for that sweet super yacht", etc. Then again, I like Mint for this purpose too, albeit with a largely higher-level view. I think it's harder to use YNAB when you've been under-budgeted for a while (again, like all my friends who love analyzing their cash-flow a little too closely hahaha) versus anyone who is over-budgeted and totally needs to figure things out on that end of the spectrum.

happy

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Re: We've fallen off the YNAB-horse. Has anyone else?
« Reply #15 on: December 23, 2014, 06:10:23 AM »
To be honest I'm not good at details, so tracking does not coming naturally to me. I use YNAB for tracking and find it invaluable to analyse expenditure and track progress.

I think the thing is to find a system that works easily for you ( or in this case your wife). Some people have the app on their phone and enter as they spend, which is probably the easiest, but I have a dumb phone and can't run apps.

Whats made it easy for me is making sure I spend/pay as much as possible by card . I keep all receipts and cross check with my bank statements and enter: but I don't do the  automatic reconcile thing on YNAB. Usually the balances match my accounts to within a few dollars. Good enough for me.  I keep cash purchases to the absolute minimum.

The second thing is to stop making so many purchases! The less you spend the less you track. Especially irritating are those small 1 or 2 item purchases for a few dollars that are cash because they are too small for the card. Bundle all your purchases into less frequent but bigger shops at one place.

Thirdly I actually don't sweat the small stuff: for example 3 days a week I typically spend $1.50 a day on  a cup of coffee. (my total coffee consumption per week). Now some weeks I might only have 1 or 2. Very rarely I might have 4. But I just enter $4.50 in YNAB every week.


lizzzi

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Re: We've fallen off the YNAB-horse. Has anyone else?
« Reply #16 on: December 23, 2014, 06:34:27 AM »
I am on the free trial, and expected to love itÖbut I have to say I agree 100% with what the OP said Öand I am on board with Bob W. Like Bob, I've tracked closely with pen and paper in the past, and due to some major life transitions, plan to do it again for 2015. I thought YNAB would be perfect, after reading all the glowing reviewsÖbut no. The learning curve seems ridiculously high, and why in the world would I spend money and hours driving myself crazy when I know I can do the job easily by hand for free.(There's something very real about seeing the grocery spending in front of your face on the refrigerator door.) FWIW, I have no debts, good savings and investments, and a very low COL. Like most MMMs, I'm not much of a shopper or spender, although I do need to be careful about books and DVDs.

pachnik

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Re: We've fallen off the YNAB-horse. Has anyone else?
« Reply #17 on: December 23, 2014, 07:41:43 AM »
I used YNAB for several months and then fell off the YNAB horse.  I spent quite a bit of time doing the tutorials before i got started.  I am glad that I am not the only one who thought there was a steep learning curve with it. 

I prefer using a fresh spreadsheet every month and tracking my expenses in columns.  At the end of the month I total it up and see what my month's spending was.  For some reason I can see it better in an Excel spreadsheet than the YNAB sheet.  Then I track my net worth separately.  I think YNAB would really work well for someone with a lot of debt who now wants to stay within their income.

Jags4186

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Re: We've fallen off the YNAB-horse. Has anyone else?
« Reply #18 on: December 23, 2014, 08:24:55 AM »
I use Mint.  Tried YNAB.  I found I could never get it to sync properly between my phone and my computer.  If it's not going to sync, I would rather just use excel, which I know how to use, rather than YNAB which always seems to have some sort of peculiarity when entering a transaction.

madmax

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Re: We've fallen off the YNAB-horse. Has anyone else?
« Reply #19 on: December 23, 2014, 08:49:48 AM »
For me, the value with YNAB isn't the budgeting but the balancing across accounts. Every weekend, I enter my transactions and at the end of the month, I know EXACTLY how much I can sweep into savings, retirement etc down to the cent after deducting next month's expenses.

Professor Ecks

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Re: We've fallen off the YNAB-horse. Has anyone else?
« Reply #20 on: December 23, 2014, 09:23:12 AM »
It's pretty obvious from this and other threads about YNAB that the learning curve really does affect a persons satisfaction with the product (no surprise there). I've noticed many people mention viewing the "tutorials" and still struggling with the concept. I wonder if those people are referring to the little slideshows that are provided in emails when you first start using YNAB? Or are they referring to the "Free Online Classes" offered on the site which can be viewed live at scheduled times allowing for interaction with the instructor, or by viewing a recorded version at your leisure, without the interaction? I found the tutorials provided in the emails to be pretty insufficient, however after viewing the online class (which runs about an hour) I had a thorough understanding of how to use the product. I suggest that if you haven't viewed any of the online classes, give one a shot before you give up on YNAB. I personally recommend the following classes:

1. Getting Started with YNAB
2. Improving Workflow
3. Dealing with Different Pay Cycles

There are a couple others, but those three are VERY useful. Again, each one runs about an hour. Here is a link to the page to sign up for live classes, and the link to watch the recorded version of the classes if you find that suits you better.

Sign up for live classes: http://www.youneedabudget.com/support/training-and-education

View recorded classes: http://www.youneedabudget.com/support/article/introduction-to-ynab-class-materials

Like I mentioned in my earlier post, YNAB may not be the right tool for everyone, but for those who DO think it will help them, these classes may prove invaluable.

yandz

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Re: We've fallen off the YNAB-horse. Has anyone else?
« Reply #21 on: December 23, 2014, 09:40:56 AM »
For me, the value with YNAB isn't the budgeting but the balancing across accounts. Every weekend, I enter my transactions and at the end of the month, I know EXACTLY how much I can sweep into savings, retirement etc down to the cent after deducting next month's expenses.

We also found this to be true.  We like to run light on cash. Knowing exactly what expenses are coming and that there is enough cash in checking for them actually meant we found ourselves investing MORE each month because we weren't keeping cash on hand "just in case."  We knew exactly.

Carlsky

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Re: We've fallen off the YNAB-horse. Has anyone else?
« Reply #22 on: December 23, 2014, 10:34:40 AM »
I don't think I can add anything that hasn't already been said.  But I can say that YNAB saved my families personal finances.  My wife and I now track our money for each pay cycle and give every dollar a job.  That knowledge really helps us to adjust our spending to our income.

For me, the turning point was taking a class.  Once I took the class, everything just clicked.  And making a fresh start with the budget was easy and has helped us when my wife combined her work account with our family budget.  Thankfully, we have separated them now.

Mesmoiselle

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Re: We've fallen off the YNAB-horse. Has anyone else?
« Reply #23 on: December 23, 2014, 10:41:48 AM »
I haven't fallen off but I nearly never started because the auto import function totally doesn't work as an every two days method. Works great as an every other Saturday or once a month method but at the point, I'd be reactive rather than proactive. Reactive is fine if you don't have a funding and/or spending problem. If you're scraping by paycheck to paycheck or just have no idea why you have no savings at the end of the month, you need to be aggressively proactive rather than passively reactive.

My biggest love of YNAB comes from the rule "every dollar has a job."  I had an excel spreadsheet but it only remembered what I did. So before YNAB I had $1800 cash and I didn't trust myself that I had paid all my bills. I mean, surely that $1800 was because I hadn't paid a bill somewhere out there.

But week into YNAB, after thoroughly going through two months of trans action history, reviewing old spreadsheets, and going through the "suggested categories for your YNAB" I finally concluded that $800 of that was just money with no job or unintentional savings. And I paid off a small credit card. Without YNAB, The balance would probably have grown for two months before I decided I finally hadn't forgotten anything.

If I were FIRE with a default setting of Frugal with no difficult to achieve goals, than something far more basic would probably be alright. Basic ingoing vs outgoing, the end.

can't stress enough that taking the classes can make or break you.
« Last Edit: December 23, 2014, 10:44:44 AM by Mesmoiselle »

CryingInThePool

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Re: We've fallen off the YNAB-horse. Has anyone else?
« Reply #24 on: December 23, 2014, 12:26:22 PM »
YNAB is more painful during the holidays but I think thatís a good thing.  It lets me know that I am spending way too much if suddenly an activity that was previously super easy and simple has become painful.    Generally I donít spend much money during the week or month so using the app on my phone on those few occasions and then approving the auto monthly payments is hardly a trial.  But then all the December parties hit and it does become tedious but partly thatís guilt so I say donít blame YNAB blame the over spending.

Iím super thankful for YNAB.  Itís made so much of RE planning fact based instead of estimates.  Also I canít be the only one who is super excited to have my first full year of data (Started YNAB in fall of 2013) and to take down budgets in certain areas as my goal for 2015.
YMMV: Iím debt free/FI but not yet RE.

jeromedawg

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Re: We've fallen off the YNAB-horse. Has anyone else?
« Reply #25 on: December 23, 2014, 03:35:54 PM »
It's pretty obvious from this and other threads about YNAB that the learning curve really does affect a persons satisfaction with the product (no surprise there). I've noticed many people mention viewing the "tutorials" and still struggling with the concept. I wonder if those people are referring to the little slideshows that are provided in emails when you first start using YNAB? Or are they referring to the "Free Online Classes" offered on the site which can be viewed live at scheduled times allowing for interaction with the instructor, or by viewing a recorded version at your leisure, without the interaction? I found the tutorials provided in the emails to be pretty insufficient, however after viewing the online class (which runs about an hour) I had a thorough understanding of how to use the product. I suggest that if you haven't viewed any of the online classes, give one a shot before you give up on YNAB. I personally recommend the following classes:

1. Getting Started with YNAB
2. Improving Workflow
3. Dealing with Different Pay Cycles

There are a couple others, but those three are VERY useful. Again, each one runs about an hour. Here is a link to the page to sign up for live classes, and the link to watch the recorded version of the classes if you find that suits you better.

Sign up for live classes: http://www.youneedabudget.com/support/training-and-education

View recorded classes: http://www.youneedabudget.com/support/article/introduction-to-ynab-class-materials

Like I mentioned in my earlier post, YNAB may not be the right tool for everyone, but for those who DO think it will help them, these classes may prove invaluable.

My wife and I both attended the live courses and referenced the recorded classes. Maybe we're just dumb but I think a lot of it didn't click that much. Of course for me, I never had the patience to really sit down and thoroughly go through applying what was learned in the courses to the YNAB budget. But it might have helped more for her. Perhaps re-taking the classes again would help. At this point though, I think I'm OK not dealing with YNAB for the time being. There may come a time where I'll finally have enough patience (and the urgency) to sit down and learn it well but right now I'm more focused and interested in high-level cash flow (via Mint) as well as tracking investments (Fidelity & Personal Capital). I'll continue to encourage my wife to get back on the YNAB horse, however :)

r3dt4rget

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Re: We've fallen off the YNAB-horse. Has anyone else?
« Reply #26 on: December 23, 2014, 04:27:22 PM »
YNAB is not a spending tracker, it's a budget app. Mint is not budget app, it's a spending tracker. This is completely clear once you grasp the zero-sum budget employed in YNAB. You don't have to buy YNAB to use a zero-sum budget approach as others have mentioned. If you don't understand zero-sum, you won't get YNAB.

The main thing you need to do is stop checking your bank accounts and rely only on YNAB to make spending choices. The only time you look at your bank account is to reconcile the accounts (make sure the balances are accurately synced) weekly or daily depending on how many transactions you make. If you aren't 100% involved, YNAB doesn't work. But once you are, everything makes sense.

jeromedawg

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Re: We've fallen off the YNAB-horse. Has anyone else?
« Reply #27 on: December 23, 2014, 05:00:07 PM »
Quick question, for those of you who *have* fallen off the horse and managed to get back on. How exactly do you pick things back up? I mean, we haven't actively entered anything in YNAB for the past month... do we just forget about it and move forward or something?

cthoops

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Re: We've fallen off the YNAB-horse. Has anyone else?
« Reply #28 on: December 23, 2014, 05:20:41 PM »
YNAB is not a spending tracker, it's a budget app. Mint is not budget app, it's a spending tracker. This is completely clear once you grasp the zero-sum budget employed in YNAB. You don't have to buy YNAB to use a zero-sum budget approach as others have mentioned. If you don't understand zero-sum, you won't get YNAB.

The main thing you need to do is stop checking your bank accounts and rely only on YNAB to make spending choices. The only time you look at your bank account is to reconcile the accounts (make sure the balances are accurately synced) weekly or daily depending on how many transactions you make. If you aren't 100% involved, YNAB doesn't work. But once you are, everything makes sense.

This.  100% this. 

YNAB has literally changed our lives, and I will never be without it.  Mint didn't work for me at all.  I usually enter transactions on the YNAB app when I'm in the store, but when I don't it literally only takes a minute or two to update it on the days that I make any purchases.  That, and a few minutes at the end of each month to make sure I'm perfectly reconciled, and I'm golden. 

cthoops

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Re: We've fallen off the YNAB-horse. Has anyone else?
« Reply #29 on: December 23, 2014, 05:21:57 PM »
Quick question, for those of you who *have* fallen off the horse and managed to get back on. How exactly do you pick things back up? I mean, we haven't actively entered anything in YNAB for the past month... do we just forget about it and move forward or something?

You can do a "Fresh Start", which is the equivalent of forgetting about it and moving forward.   The nice thing with the fresh start is you don't have to recreate any of your categories. 

Joel

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Re: We've fallen off the YNAB-horse. Has anyone else?
« Reply #30 on: December 23, 2014, 05:26:18 PM »
I started using YNAB over 7 years ago, and don't intend to ever fall of the horse.

In your case, you can always just do a fresh start, and move on, if you want to begin using it again.

ScroogeMcDutch

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Re: We've fallen off the YNAB-horse. Has anyone else?
« Reply #31 on: December 23, 2014, 05:40:54 PM »
I can't add much to what has already been said, except for personal experience.

I started out in YNAB without reading up on the methodology, and got completely confused. Watching their online videos (but not the classes) made it click for me after two tries. I enter my spending transactions as I do them on my smartphone, and check weekly if any standard payments have been done and enter those then.

For me it has value as a budgeting app, spending tracker and as a spending threshold. I still do quite a bit of cash transactions and it has helped tremendously to chart those. Furthermore, because I have to record every single transaction I do, it's starting to work as a limiter on that spend, so helping me to reduce the more frivolous spend. I absolutely hate going over budget in the "inflated lifestyle" categories, but still do it sometimes. In my case, it usually means I'd have less saved up for holiday or somewhere else, as I refuse to take those overbudgetted spends off savings goals like pension and so forth.

As for jplee3's question - YNAB recommends just starting fresh and not record historic transactions, as it doesn't care about your history. That shows it's a forward looking, budgetting tool. If you use it for some time, you can also use it for spend analysis.

I am now 3 months in and find great value in it, especially with figuring out how much room I would have left from a liquidity point of view to save extra in 2014 and get some additonal tax breaks. Unfortunately each of those months has had quite some irregular pay and expenses, so I don't have a clear view of my expenses just yet, but those come from my particular situation. Anyone in a standard work / payment schedule should derive that in month 2 already. Your first month will always look a bit weird due to having to allocate initial balances.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: We've fallen off the YNAB-horse. Has anyone else?
« Reply #32 on: December 24, 2014, 05:41:12 AM »
I'm a pen and paper guy. It's one of the few things (!) that Bob Werner and I agree on.

If YNAB had a Linux client, I might do the 30 day trial just to check it out for academic curiosity, but I'm quite happy with my current method.

DoNorth

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Re: We've fallen off the YNAB-horse. Has anyone else?
« Reply #33 on: December 24, 2014, 06:20:07 AM »
sorry...I didn't want to make that guy richer doing something I can do with a free excel spreadsheet and mint.com.  One of the many benefits I've gained since reading this site is now asking myself the question, "is this (whatever I"m about to do) going to make me or someone else more wealthy?" 

Being able to track expenditures and budget is not a technical skill; kids learn how to balance checkbooks in high school (or at least they used to).  It's a tedious, boring process that requires self-discipline.  In other words, he (Jesse I believe his name is) convinces folks that have difficulty with tedious, boring work and have a hard time with self discipline that they should pay him so he can make budgeting easier.  Fair enough and it's clear from the other posts that people like it, but I liken it to counting calories, raking leaves or anything else that requires patience, time and a little effort (but not money).

Travis

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Re: We've fallen off the YNAB-horse. Has anyone else?
« Reply #34 on: December 24, 2014, 12:33:56 PM »
I've been a YNAB user for almost 2 years now (it's how I found MMM) and it's been great for a couple reasons.  The first was making a mess out of my spending and I needed to figure out where all my money was going.  It showed me to the penny how I was spending and forced me to plan for everything (you can budget a month ahead and set aside money each month for long term stuff).  The forums there are mostly for people who struggle with overspending and getting that basic level of stability going for them.  Another benefit of the program is because you input every transaction it can force you to question every purchase you make.  I'll enter a few transactions from the week and ask myself if there was a point to that purchase.  Having a real-time snapshot of your budget for the current and next month also gives you a place to nitpick your overall spending and squeeze every penny of efficiency from it.  I've been using this program for 2 years (and MMM for less than a year) and I still get excited every time I can find a few dollars to trim and add to my investment category.

Mesmoiselle

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Re: We've fallen off the YNAB-horse. Has anyone else?
« Reply #35 on: December 25, 2014, 06:41:10 AM »
sorry...I didn't want to make that guy richer doing something I can do with a free excel spreadsheet and mint.com.  One of the many benefits I've gained since reading this site is now asking myself the question, "is this (whatever I"m about to do) going to make me or someone else more wealthy?" 

Being able to track expenditures and budget is not a technical skill; kids learn how to balance checkbooks in high school (or at least they used to).  It's a tedious, boring process that requires self-discipline.  In other words, he (Jesse I believe his name is) convinces folks that have difficulty with tedious, boring work and have a hard time with self discipline that they should pay him so he can make budgeting easier.  Fair enough and it's clear from the other posts that people like it, but I liken it to counting calories, raking leaves or anything else that requires patience, time and a little effort (but not money).

Neither I nor my Mother in Law Paid for ours. Because we won ours free in the live classes. They give one free in every class. You can take the classes endlessly technically although I find the idea a smidge unethical. I won mine in 6 classes, and my MIL won hers in 8. Better odds than the lottery, that's for sure.

ScroogeMcDutch

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Re: We've fallen off the YNAB-horse. Has anyone else?
« Reply #36 on: December 25, 2014, 07:51:14 AM »
sorry...I didn't want to make that guy richer doing something I can do with a free excel spreadsheet and mint.com.  One of the many benefits I've gained since reading this site is now asking myself the question, "is this (whatever I"m about to do) going to make me or someone else more wealthy?" 

Being able to track expenditures and budget is not a technical skill; kids learn how to balance checkbooks in high school (or at least they used to).  It's a tedious, boring process that requires self-discipline.  In other words, he (Jesse I believe his name is) convinces folks that have difficulty with tedious, boring work and have a hard time with self discipline that they should pay him so he can make budgeting easier.  Fair enough and it's clear from the other posts that people like it, but I liken it to counting calories, raking leaves or anything else that requires patience, time and a little effort (but not money).

I agree with that the desktop software doesn't provide much that you cannot create yourself in Excel or Google Docs, but the app it has is what pushed me to purchase the software. Budgetting isn't the problem, but tracking the day to day spending, including cash, was something I couldn't develop myself within 4 hours. I also use a freeware app for counting calories for example, because it is tedious to bring along pen and paper everywhere, while I do have my smartphone on me. That said, mint.com isn't available where I am, although there is another web service that I could use for comparable functionality. I will probably try that one for the combined expenses with my girlfriend, rather than my private finances.

I am curious how you measure wealth in the question you pose, because money isn't the only measure for wealth. If so, you would never spend any money on anything that isn't related to your basic survival or on anything that isn't related to making more money.

TerriM

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Re: We've fallen off the YNAB-horse. Has anyone else?
« Reply #37 on: December 25, 2014, 08:12:04 AM »
I think YNAB is most useful for people who would make better spending decisions by knowing what their money is allocated towards.  My parents used to do the paper budget and stopped after money stopped being tight.  If you're already very frugal *and* you're banking two out of three paychecks, why waste your time?  If you're not sure whether you've saved anything in the last couple of months, budgeting and tracking is immensely helpful.

I used Quicken for a long time many years ago until I got married.  I started because I bounced a check back in my college days thinking that I had the money in my account to cover it, but turns out that I'd written one too many checks, and my boss didn't pay me on time.  When I got married, my husband thought it was a waste of time so I agreed to stop and see how I felt about it.  Never went back to doing either budgeting or tracking spending until last Christmas, when I bought YNAB.  I fell off the horse pretty quickly and am getting back on now (using the fresh start).

I haven't tried Mint, but YNAB is huge for us because we have both irregular spending and irregular income.  The idea of filling up a bucket rather than putting numbers on a spreadsheet and seeing if they match at the end of the year, is absolutely key for us.  Doesn't do any good to have a huge outlay in August that has no income until December.   Quicken budgets were a poorly done "feature" that never worked for me.   

Since we do have various savings goals (house, car, Christmas vacation, private school, furniture), I do like knowing where the money is allocated, and I would make decisions based on it.  I think the biggest tradeoff for us might be that buying a house might require homeschooling, so I'd rather have that fact staring me in the face in May when I have to sign the contract, not when I have to make a payment--if I don't have enough in the house downpayment bucket, where is that money coming from then?  What are the consequences?  If I haven't saved up enough in the school bucket, then realistically, should I be signing the contract? 

I'm also hoping it'll help me be more conscious of where the money is being spent and that we'll get in the habit of looking at our choices at the end of the year.  I do most of our purchasing on Credit card, so I do have end-of-year tallies, but it doesn't always categorize it right, and certain things may be Gift-in-Kind that end up in other budgets categories.

I've had a good experience with the iPhone link to my desktop via Dropbox, btw.  I"m hoping to get into the habit of entering everything when I'm checking out, or at least before I drive away.
« Last Edit: December 25, 2014, 08:16:09 AM by TerriM »

Freeme

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Re: We've fallen off the YNAB-horse. Has anyone else?
« Reply #38 on: December 25, 2014, 12:55:37 PM »
We had racked up 43,000 in credit card debt by just writing down our expenses. Found YNAB 2 years ago and MMM about 1 year Go. We have paid off 38,000 so far and were hit with a 10,000 tax bill this year due to our son's income was too high to be a dependent. Plus a leak in our dishwasher and our entire floor had to be replaced 4,000. Using YNAB has made a significant difference for us we could pay these bills and continue to decrease our dept. it has been at 0% interest but can't wait to be done in March. Every month we over spent by about 1000 and YNAB did show us why this was occurring. The combination of YNAB and this blog has changed our life. Next year I can max out our 401K. So depending on your circumstances it can make a difference. I did have to do a few live classes to get the hang of it.

Will

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Re: We've fallen off the YNAB-horse. Has anyone else?
« Reply #39 on: December 25, 2014, 02:59:58 PM »
sorry...I didn't want to make that guy richer doing something I can do with a free excel spreadsheet and mint.com.  One of the many benefits I've gained since reading this site is now asking myself the question, "is this (whatever I"m about to do) going to make me or someone else more wealthy?" 

Being able to track expenditures and budget is not a technical skill; kids learn how to balance checkbooks in high school (or at least they used to).  It's a tedious, boring process that requires self-discipline.  In other words, he (Jesse I believe his name is) convinces folks that have difficulty with tedious, boring work and have a hard time with self discipline that they should pay him so he can make budgeting easier.  Fair enough and it's clear from the other posts that people like it, but I liken it to counting calories, raking leaves or anything else that requires patience, time and a little effort (but not money).

Do you use a rock instead of a hammer because you don't want to make the hammer guy richer?  "Will using this rock instead of a hammer make me or someone else more wealthy?"

TerriM

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Re: We've fallen off the YNAB-horse. Has anyone else?
« Reply #40 on: December 25, 2014, 04:29:05 PM »
Do you use a rock instead of a hammer because you don't want to make the hammer guy richer?  "Will using this rock instead of a hammer make me or someone else more wealthy?"

Oh man!  That explains what happened to all my nails.

:) +1

mostlyeels

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Re: We've fallen off the YNAB-horse. Has anyone else?
« Reply #41 on: December 25, 2014, 05:54:09 PM »
It's such a habit with me to enter my receipts into YNAB as I leave the store, I hardly think about it anymore :)

I started using it because I couldn't figure out where a whole months' pay had gone!  These days, I keep using it as a dry-run for when I FIRE -- it keeps me honest and stops spending creep -- and also as a convenient way to track all my income and ensure I'm allocating all I can to investments, after paying the bills.

I "got" the zero-sum thing immediately, but it took a bit longer to stop looking at my bank balances, and concentrate on the balance in YNAB, especially after I got a credit card again (had been using a debit card for a while).

FiguringItOut

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Re: We've fallen off the YNAB-horse. Has anyone else?
« Reply #42 on: December 25, 2014, 06:16:05 PM »
I have to say that YNAB has been godsend to me.  I've tried for years to do in excel what YNAB does for me. 

I've been using YNAB for 18 month now.  Because it is intuitive to me, as it is exactly what I've been trying to do for years, I picked it up very quickly with only needing to watch tutorial on credit cards to make sure I enter transactions correctly. 

I love the app that comes with it.  I love to be able to see all my category balances and go from there as oppose to the bank balance.  I never used the feature that lets you download transaction from the bank accounts.  I enter everything manually, but that is also the reason I love it.  It lets me be very hands on with the budget and I always know where all my categories are at. 

There is a "new start" feature in there, that you may want to use to get you back on the horse. 

Travis

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Re: We've fallen off the YNAB-horse. Has anyone else?
« Reply #43 on: December 26, 2014, 12:50:10 AM »
Quote
I "got" the zero-sum thing immediately, but it took a bit longer to stop looking at my bank balances, and concentrate on the balance in YNAB, especially after I got a credit card again (had been using a debit card for a while).

That took me a while too.  I still have to look at my balances, but only every couple months to ensure there is enough money in them (I have two checking accounts).  There were a couple times I wasn't paying enough attention and almost overdrafted one of them.  According to YNAB I still had plenty of money in that category, but it was disproportionately in the other account.

Will

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Re: We've fallen off the YNAB-horse. Has anyone else?
« Reply #44 on: December 26, 2014, 08:09:35 AM »
Quote
I "got" the zero-sum thing immediately, but it took a bit longer to stop looking at my bank balances, and concentrate on the balance in YNAB, especially after I got a credit card again (had been using a debit card for a while).

That took me a while too.  I still have to look at my balances, but only every couple months to ensure there is enough money in them (I have two checking accounts).  There were a couple times I wasn't paying enough attention and almost overdrafted one of them.  According to YNAB I still had plenty of money in that category, but it was disproportionately in the other account.

It wasn't "according to YNAB."  You HAD enough money in the category.  Just because you had it in 2 different places had nothing to do with YNAB.  If I told YNAB I had $20, it doesn't care if I have 2 tens with one in each pants pocket or a twenty in one; I still have $20.  If I wanted to spend $15, then yeah, I might need to take it from 2 pockets, but that isn't the fault of the software.

Prairie Gal

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Re: We've fallen off the YNAB-horse. Has anyone else?
« Reply #45 on: December 26, 2014, 11:56:14 AM »
YNAB has also been a godsend to me. I have been using it for a year. It helped me get my finances back on track after my husband passed away. I paid off a $61,000 loc this year. That being said, I can see how it would not be for everyone. I caught on to the software easily after doing the live training classes. I think I did two of them. But, I am a bookkeeper, so maybe that is why. I don't find it tedious, I find it kind of reassuring, and dare I say, almost fun. I sit down every Sunday morning and enter my transactions for the week and reconcile my accounts. I don't usually use the phone app other than to check how much I have left in my grocery or gas budget. I allocate $100 every month to spending money, and I take that out in cash at the beginning of every month. That way I don't need to enter every nickel and dime.

I am not the least bit stressed about money now when things like car or home repairs come up because I have the money budgeted for them. Ditto with birthdays and Christmas. I decided at the beginning of the year how much I would spend on each, and I budget 1/12 of it each month.

I also have a small budget each month for miscellaneous in case there are things that come up that are unforeseen.

As far as lining someone else's pockets, I don't have a problem paying for something that has value for me. I paid $30 for the software on a Black Friday sale.

TerriM

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Re: We've fallen off the YNAB-horse. Has anyone else?
« Reply #46 on: December 26, 2014, 12:01:59 PM »
I really don't think comparing YNAB to an excel spreadsheet is fair.  If you're happy with excel, then great, but that's like comparing textedit to MS Word.  Some programs have a higher functionality than others, and if you need that functionality, you shouldn't kludge it.

This comes back to the question of frugal vs. cheap.  If you need the functionality of the software then buy it.  In the long run, it'll probably save you more than the $30 you paid for it. 

Runge

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Re: We've fallen off the YNAB-horse. Has anyone else?
« Reply #47 on: December 26, 2014, 01:36:37 PM »
This comes back to the question of frugal vs. cheap.  If you need the functionality of the software then buy it.  In the long run, it'll probably save you more than the $30 you paid for it.

This is extremely true for me. There's no telling how much money YNAB has saved me from letting it fall through the cracks. I know for sure I made that money back within the first month, and I've been using YNAB for 2.5 years now. At this point I mainly use it for setting savings goals. It helps keep my finances organized and it's intuitive to me now. I really like the zero-sum budget philosophy, but I understand how it (the philosophy and/or YNAB) wouldn't be for everyone.

FarmerPete

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Re: We've fallen off the YNAB-horse. Has anyone else?
« Reply #48 on: December 26, 2014, 02:57:59 PM »
If I was single, I wouldn't need YNAB.  I never budgeted at all before I was married.  I knew what my general expenses were, and I always made enough to cover them and then some.  I wasn't very intentional with my saving.  I kept my checking account at ~10k, and if it got too high, I would pay down my mortgage or go on a cruise.  It was great.  Then came marriage.  We quickly created an excel budget that was more or less zero sum.  Problem was, without spending controls, no one was accountable for what they spent.  Every month I got upset at my wife as I saw her account balance go below it's "zero-out" balance.  She would claim XYZ came up and that she'll spend less next month.  Then next month comes up and she went further negative.  Meanwhile, I pretty much spend on whatever I want.  I am frugal, but I certainly overspent or didn't pull the money from the proper categories.  We always made more than we spent, so I let this go on for several years.  Enter YNAB.  Now we know exactly what we're spending, what we're spending it on, and we can actually save money.  I have funds for all of the incidentals.  Rarely does an expense come up that doesn't "fit" a category.  We save for expenses before they come.  I already had been using bank accounts as an electronic "envelope" system, but that only worked well for big expenses.  For smaller more regular expenses, not so much.  That meant that any extra in "fuel" was eaten by overage in "clothing", groceries, etc.  Now, if my wife comes home with a new shirt, I don't have to worry if she is spending food money on clothes.  She can spend her money on whatever she wants, as long as it's out of her categories.  :-)  To conclude, we're now moving $300-$2500 a month into long term savings (brokerage/IRA) instead of it being consumed by budget bloat.

I don't know if I'll use YNAB forever, but I certainly will keep using it until I find a better program.  I'd love an auto-import feature, but I can understand why they don't have it.

fidgiegirl

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Re: We've fallen off the YNAB-horse. Has anyone else?
« Reply #49 on: December 26, 2014, 08:43:32 PM »
Budgets work for some people, they don't for others. I hate YNAB and love Mint. The best thing you can do is be mindful of your spending, ask yourself if you're really getting your money's (and the life it cost you to make that money) worth when you pay for anything. Have you read Your Money or Your Life? I'm reading the 2008 edition right now, really enjoing it. They don't harp on about budgets, but they want you to review your spending each month and analyse if your spending is fulfilling, aligns with your values and goals, and would be different if you didn't have to work. I highly suggest picking it up and you both reading it.

I think this is why YNAB has been hard for me to understand.  I was a YMOYL devotee for many years and had internalized that way of thinking.  I think I should quit fighting and go back to what I know and understand, just perhaps more simplified.

BTW if you do pick up a copy, make sure to get the 2008 edition.  There are a lot of modernizations/revisions that make much more sense for today's world than earlier editions, though the wisdom is the same.