You Need a Budget!!!

That’s not me telling you what to do – promise!

That’s the name of the app I recently started using to track our budget!  After my last post on How We Budget, a lot of people asked for the Excel spreadsheet I created.  I guess we’re not alone in our struggles to find that perfect budgeting tool!  It worked for us for a long time because I didn’t like anything out there, and I customized it to suit our needs.  However, it had its fair share of limitations, with one major issue being it didn’t track roll-overs.  What to do when you go over budget or fall under budget?  It was also easy to forget about where we were with our budget unless I diligently kept track of it every couple weeks.  And let’s be honest here – there were times (many times) when I’d track it too late… the money had been spent, the damage done!  There’s a reason why that popular saying, “Out of sight, out of mind!” exists.

Anyway, one of the highlights of my recent Vegas trip was a conversation I had over dinner with my friends, Maggie and Jon.  We had all finished eating, so I pulled out a sheet of paper and started writing down what we spent on dinner so I wouldn’t forget to log it when I went home.  They asked what I was doing, laughed when I told them, and said they were doing the exact same thing at that moment!  Except I didn’t see them busting out a lame-o paper and pencil like me.  Jon was tracking something on his phone.  Then they started passionately (and I mean passion!!) talking about an app called YNAB.

(source)

I was skeptical at first.  Was it going to be the same ol’ same ol’ like Mint or Quicken?  Plus, I wasn’t too keen on tracking everything via phone… but my ears perked up when Jon said it’s better to get setup and started on a computer.  The app is just an extra perk so you can easily see how close to are to hitting your budget maximums at any given time.

These were a few of the factors that swayed me to check it out:

  • It tracks roll-overs!
  • Once you itemize and categorize something, it remembers it the next time.  This was one feature that was sorely lacking in Mint.com – I constantly had to go back and re-categorize what I had done before.
  • It doesn’t pull info from your other accounts automatically, so you don’t have to link anything.  Just type in your “starting budget” for the month then it takes that number and decreases it from there.
  • Budgeting at your fingertips – get a quick snapshot of your budget via the smartphone app!
  • 34 day free trial… it doesn’t hurt to give it a try!

I’m a week into my free trial and I LOVE it.  It was time-consuming at first because I had to go through all my account statements and categorize everything, but I quickly became fascinated with all the nifty, simple features.  For example, when you go in the red for a month, it will take it out of your next month’s income, so you are really kept accountable for what you spend.  There is no, “Oh well, I will just have to do better next month” with this app.  It also has a pie chart visual to show you where all your money goes.  I even watched a series of Youtube videos on it – I wanted to get as much out of it as possible and not miss a thing.

I chose to create categories based on the layout in my already existing Excel spreadsheet.  Here’s a snapshot of my categories (there are more, but I couldn’t get them all in one screen capture):

Screen Shot 2013-01-24 at 10.48.25 PM

So anyway, if you’re still on the hunt for a good budgeting tool – I highly recommend this one!!  Happy Budgeting (do those two words even go together??)… 🙂

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5 thoughts on “You Need a Budget!!!

  1. Thanks for the tip, I’ve just downloaded the free trial. Getting to grips with the finances is probably the most overwhelming practical aspect of my marriage break-up. I need to take control back and YNAB looks like it will help!

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