Last week we talked about the fact that you need a budget of some sort. If you’re like us you have tried making a budget before but got overwhelmed because it got so complicated and too much to keep up with. Fortunately, we found a solution that I want to share with you. Michael did lots of research and reading and testing to find something that he liked, he shared it with me, we gave it a try, and (spoiler alert!) we both loved it.
The budgeting software that we use is called You Need a Budget (or YNAB, for short). If you are familiar with the Dave Ramsey envelope system it is similar, but an electronic version (no carrying your money around in actual envelopes). You download the software onto your computer and that’s where you will set everything up. It syncs across multiple devices so Michael and I each have the app on our phones; either of us can see at any time how much is in each budget category. And when we make a purchase we enter it into the app and it updates the category on all the devices.
I’m not going to go into how everything works because 1) Michael did all the initial set up so I’m not even sure how it all works, 2) that would take way more time than just one blog post, and 3) the You Need a Budget website has a TON of information to help you get started so you’d be better off going over there to learn about it. If you are interested, I highly recommend you check it out. You can download a 34 day free trial to see if you like it, and then if you decide to purchase the software, you can use our referral link and get $6 off the cost.
This is what it looks like on the computer (this is an example shot from the website). On the left of each month is the budgeted amount you have set for the category, in the middle is how much you have spent from that category so far that month, and on the right is your balance.
Take a look at the water category. In May $50 was budgeted and there was a $250 balance. Then in June $50 was budgeted again and there was a $300 balance. If you do not use all of the money in a category one month is rolls over to the next month. So if the $50 from May was not spent then that is added to the $250 that was already in that category.
Some things that I really like:
– You can set all your own categories. We have things like Everyday Expenses (groceries, fuel, eating out, clothes, household goods), Giving (like to our church and other organizations we support), Monthly Bills (mortgage, internet, insurance, phone, electric, water), Fun Money (we each have a fun money category where we get a little bit of money to spend on whatever we want), Infrequent Expenses (car repairs, home maintenance, church events), Quarterly, Semi-Annually, and Annual (things that don’t happen every month but that we go ahead and set some money aside for every month so that when they do happen, we already have the money budgeted, like our car insurance, Amazon Prime, my blog hosting fees, car tags and license renewals), Gifts (Christmas, birthday, other random stuff), and Savings (new computer, new car, vacation, rainy day funds).
– You can have more than one budget. When my Young Living business started to become more of a real business and less of just a hobby, we started a second budget for me to use just for my YL stuff. It’s still linked to that account so we can see both budgets but that keeps it separate from family funds and will allow for better documentation come tax time. But all that to say that it’s really nice to be able to have more than one. That would be really helpful if you were teaching your teenager about budgeting and wanted to give them their own money and budget.
– You can split transactions. If you buy things from several categories in one transaction (say you go to Walmart and buy some groceries, some gardening stuff, and some clothing items) then when you enter that receipt you can split it and take money from each of those categories.
– It does not matter what method of payment you use. You could pay for something using cash from your wallet, or your credit card, or you debit card, or a check, or whatever, and the program keeps that all straight so that it adjusts the budget accordingly. Very convenient!
– Entering a transaction is super simple. Here are screenshots from an example one I did on my phone using the YNAB app.
When you open the app there is an option to “add transaction”. You pull that up, choose “expense” or “income”, and enter the amount. For this example I did expense (buying ice cream). Expenses will show up in red, income in green.
When you hit “next” it will take you to a screen to fill out info. Payee is who you paid the money to (in this case I used Kroger), category was groceries, account (method of payment) was my wallet, date, and then there is a spot to write a note so I made a note of what I hypothetically bought (ice cream).
I love this program! There is a bit of a learning curve, but once you get it all set up it’s super easy to use.
And Michael loves it even more than me. He tells people about it all.the.time and is always encouraging people to give it a try. Although I’m not quite as gung ho as him, I still find myself wanting to be all “Oh man, you SO need to get this program!!” when my friends start talking about money and budgeting.
Ready to give it a whirl?
You can download a 34 day free trial. That’s more than a month to give it a try and see what you think! And then if you love it and want to purchase it, you can use my referral link to get $6 off the cost of your program (making it $54 instead of $60). That is a one time fee (you don’t have to renew annually) and it has more than paid for itself in how much money we have saved by creating and sticking to our budget.
Also, super exciting if you are a college student – you can get your program for FREE! All you have to do is show proof of being a student. (read the details here).
What are you waiting for?
Homework for this week: Download the free trial. Sit down one evening with a big bowl of ice cream (or comfort food of your choice) and spend some time setting it up.
(This is not a paid review. We bought the software with our own money and I wanted to share with you because we love it so much. We do get a small commission if you use our referral link but I would have shared with you about YNAB whether or not we got that.)