I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions and never have. I’m not about to start now either. However, last year, starting in the last quarter of the year I began using YNAB (You Need A Budget) to assist me in managing my personal finances. I had actually bought the software from the MAS (Mac App Store) sometime in 2013 I think but never actually used it.
I’ve used Microsoft Money in the past, a long time past, and have used Mint.com as well. Both were alright for tracking what I was doing, but with my new insights, they’re reactive applications, in that, they don’t help you look forward and plan. YNAB on the other hand helps you take what money you have right now and make a plan for it’s future use.
I’m a planner; the US Marine Corps taught me that. I try to make a plan for everything that I do, from big tasks to menial ones. Finances had been one area where I didn’t do a lot of planning and more or less just winged it as I went along. It’s past time for me to change those ways as now my student loans are at the point where I have to start paying them back and I didn’t plan appropriately for it.
Since I finally began using YNAB in mid-October 2014, I’ve been able to drastically reduce my frivolous spending and cancel unnecessary subscriptions to various things and prioritize my funds much more appropriately. I was even able to scrounge up much more cash for Christmas gifts than in years past too.
Aside from the student loans, I don’t have much debt, just one credit card with a balance of about $1,300, which I now have a plan, with YNAB and some additional annual income, to pay off by the end of this month. Then I’ll have two credit cards with a zero balance and a budget to pay them off immediately when I do use them for purchases, thus no more carrying a balance ever again and paying interest.
YNAB is awesome and has a fantastic support system for help and learning. They have, free, webinar’s to help you get started using the software, advanced management techniques and credit card debt management within the software among other things. Plus, you can view the non-live webinars on their site at any time. I took all of their courses, and a couple of them more than once to be sure I understood. Then they have an active Internet forum where you can join and post questions and get help from staff members and regular users alike.
YNAB also has a podcast of a few minutes long each week and they will send you helpful and encouraging emails occasionally, if you sign up for them. YNAB isn’t just software, it’s a giant financial support and encouragement system. In three months, I’ve already found ways to save my money and put it to better use and live happier.
Yesterday I saw a retweet from a YNAB user on YNAB’s account about a financial investment company called Betterment. I hadn’t heard of them before and decided to check them out. I spent a few hours reading everything on their site and was impressed. I decided to sign up and begin investing with them and have sent in my first deposit this morning. I figure with all the money I am beginning to save using YNAB, I can afford to start investing in stocks and bonds and, hopefully, get a nice return over time and help pay down my student loan debt.