Why We Budget


Photo credit: YNAB

I sat down to write this post the first time and words would not come, I had an idea but no bullets or comments on the subject. Then we went to plan two summer vacations (both to California) and I remembered why we budget.

During our engagement, we started using You Need A Budget (YNAB) to try and manage money for wedding planning. It was very helpful when managing a large lump sum however it also instated good habits of checking in about money with each other. Since we were starting a new phase of life together it was a natural time to evaluate our money habits and work on changing both for the better. Now, two plus years later, we use it…

  1. To pay off student loans before too long. We are currently on track to pay off within 5 years of graduation! This is more of an accomplishment when you realize we both went to a private university 🙂
  2. To take vacations or travel without freaking out about money. One of my favorite budget lines is “travel” we pull from this for large trips but also for when we go to Eastern Washington for a long weekend. It allows us to pick up the check when on vacation with friends or to take two trips to California this summer (Sonoma and Palm Springs) without credit card debt or severely cutting back the month before to afford it.

However to meet these goals we have to make decisions about how much money is spent where, it’s hard to save for traveling if we don’t control how often we grab take-out.

Before YNAB my natural bent was to put tight limits on the necessary items such as rent, electricity, groceries, and anything not spent at the end of the month was put in savings. This might have worked (unlikely but I’m being optimistic 🙂 ) however I never accounted for eating out, a latte on my way to work, or the random weekend trip away, because they didn’t fall into my list of “necessary” items.

One of YNAB’s major rules is to give every dollar a job, this oddly gives you permission to spend! We each have a personal category to spend however we like (most of mine goes to coffee) and we aren’t guilty about it.

YNAB has four basic rules:

  1. Give Every Dollar a Job
  2. Save for a Rainy Day
  3. Roll With the Punches
  4. Live on Last Month’s Income

Overall, we don’t love being told “no” you can’t get Thai take-out every night yet we do love being able to say “yes” to a vacation to Palm Springs or paying off debt quickly.

Note: We are currently running YNAB 4 and have not updated to the current version. We have plan to eventually but not yet. Also this post is in no way sponsored, I just like the product.


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