Everything: YNAB (You Need A Budget)

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What is YNAB?

YNAB, which is short for “You Need a Budget,” is a very intuitive budgeting program. It makes budgeting expenses, whether real expenses or manufactured expenses, a breeze (which is why I love it).

If you fall into any one of the following categories…

  1. You’re looking for a new budgeting program or don’t budget at all.
  2. You don’t keep track of your manufactured spending.
  3. You don’t know how to budget.

…you should definitely consider trying out YNAB. Hit the break to learn more.

Disclaimer: I was NOT approached by YNAB to write this post and the following opinions are not those of YNAB or any other company. They are mine and mine alone. I have a referral link listed below for this program, however, this post is not intended to sell you a program. I am simply showcasing a product that I use daily and would suggest to friends. Feel free to use my link or not. Either way, I appreciate you reading my blog!

Why should I use it?

My brother gave me YNAB as a wedding gift two years and I’m extremely glad he did. Before YNAB, I never budgeted. I lived at home and had very few bills, so budgeting my money was the last thing on my mind. This was also pre-manufactured spending for me, which meant that my money did not move around near as much as it does now. If I could do it again, I would have budgeted the first dollar I ever made. To bad you can’t change the past.

Since then, I have tried Quicken and Mint. Frankly, they both suck. Quicken seemed outdated and clunky to use/navigate, while Mint was, and still is, full of ads that get in the way of budgeting. YNAB, on the other hand, is completely opposite. It’s intuitive, easy to use, and works seamlessly between all of your devices.

YNAB Features

  • YNAB syncs through Dropbox, so you can access it anywhere. Your budget syncs flawlessly between your computer, laptop, and phone.
  • YNAB makes it easy to prepare for large bills and save for upcoming purchases. You can simply add money to the category of your choice every month, then when the bill or purchase hits, it doesn’t seem like a burden.
  • Your bank does not automatically sync with YNAB, so you will be required to check on your money often. For some this may seem like a chore, but I find it refreshing to know where my money is and what it’s doing at all times (especially in the points and miles world),

You can find the full list of features here.

The YNAB Method

YNAB Rules MethodYNAB has a method that consists of four rules when it comes to budgeting. This method is designed to help new budgeters and to keep seasoned ones sticking to their budget. They also offer free classes to help you through this method. If you want to learn more, check it out here.

Keep track of your MS with YNAB

My favorite thing about YNAB, is just how easy it is to keep track of my MS. When money is flying in and out of your accounts, thousands of dollars at a time, it’s EXTREMELY important to know where it’s all going and what it’s doing. If you don’t keep track of it, bad things can happen.

Here’s how I keep track of my MS with YNAB.

Example #1
For this example, let’s say I went to CVS to buy a $500 gift card that I plan to liquidate with Evolve Money to pay my mortgage.

YNAB Manufactured Spending TrackingAs you can see in the photo above, I have all my accounts tracked with YNAB, including my mortgage. Now, let’s go to CVS and buy that gift card.Track Manufactured Spending with YNABAs you can see, I only actually spent $4.95 at CVS, which I tied to my Manufactured Spending budget. I transferred the remaining $500 to my “Gift Cards” account, since that is basically what we do when we MS anyway. That also ensures I can keep track of my money even if I decide to wait a few days to use the gift card.Use YNAB to Track Manufactured SpendingThis time, I did almost the exact same thing as when I bought the gift card; I transferred the $500 to “Evolve Money” from “Gift Cards”. Money often sits in Evolve Money a day or two before hitting the bill it’s supposed to reach, especially if you submit the payment on the weekend. Since I like to keep track of my money at all times, I let the money sit in my “Evolve Mone” account until it hits my mortgage.Track Manufactured Spending in YNABThe money has now left Evolve Money and entered my mortgage. As you can see in the upper left-hand corner, YNAB has now taken the $500 out of my budget and removed $500 from my mortgage. Isn’t it easy?

Example #2
For this example, I will “buy” a $200 gift card at Staples and load it to Serve (or Bluebird).

Manufacture Spend with YNABAs with the previous example, you can see the $200 simply transfer from “Credit Card 1” to “Gift Cards”. Then, the fee is budgeted as “Manufactured Spending”. In this case, Visa SavingsEdge applied to my purchase, so I budgeted the credit I earned under “Manufactured Spending” as well.Manufactured Spending



As with the previous example, I transferred the $200 from “Gift Cards” to “Serve”.

Track ms with YNABNow, to complete the circle, I transferred the $200 back to “Credit Card 1”.

Example #3
For this example, I will “buy” a $500 Paypal cash card at Walgreens and load it to Paypal. Then, I will load Serve with my Paypal debit card.

YNABIt starts off with the same old song and dance. First, I add the $3.95 fee as a transaction that I budget under “Manufactured Spending”. Then, I transfer the money to “Gift Cards,” because Paypal Cash cards are basically gift cards. Once I load the Cash card to Paypal, I will transfer the money from “Gift Cards” to “Paypal”.

YNAB MSFrom “Paypal” I load Serve with my Paypal debit in $200 intervals (up to $1k per month). By doing that, I earn 1% cash back which leaves my Paypal account with $5 after loading Serve.

This may sound like a lot of steps, but each step really only takes a few seconds. I enter the transactions on my phone as I wait in line to buy my gift cards. That’s why I love the mobile app!

Is it worth $60?
That depends on you. This program is different from any other budgeting program I’ve seen, so there is a bit of a learning curve. I suggest you trial YNAB before buying it. If you like it and you think it’s something you could utilize in your daily routine, then you should definitely buy it. If you buy it through this link, I earn a $6 referral credit and you get 10% off. If you’re a student then, you can get YNAB free! Check out this blog post for more information.

Have you ever used YNAB or do you have a different budgeting program you prefer? Either way, I’d love to hear any tips and tricks you may have!

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