Do you need a budget?

Let’s talk budgets! 

I’ve been an avid budget follower since I was old enough to babysit. I would put all of my money in jars that I marked with categories. Realistically, back then my categories were simply “spend” and “save,” so I’ve come far since my early budgeting days.

Shortly after I started college–after several years of budgeting with an Excel spreadsheet–I was itching for a change. And I found it! 

YNAB (You Need a Budget) filled my craving for a change, and I’ve been using it successfully for over 10 years.

While the title of the program is a little corny (sorry, YNAB!), I appreciate its straightforward system for money management. YNAB is all about giving each dollar a job, flexibility in your budget, and not living paycheck to paycheck.

In the early days, YNAB was a stand-alone program. For one fee, you had the program for life. It’s recently changed its platform and has switched over to being web-based with a yearly subscription of $50. Some people hated the change, but I love it. What’s there to love?

  1. Direct imports from financial institutions. There are no manual inputs, unless you enjoy doing it manually.
  2. Apps. With apps for Android and Apple, you can take your budget with you wherever you go.
  3. Easy to use. The web-based platform is very easy to use. The website is laden with tutorials, tips, and tricks, so newbies can jump in and get started.

So how does YNAB differ from Mint, a free program? The biggest difference is that Mint is a money tracking system, whereas YNAB’s system is built around budgeting and understanding where you’re spending your money. I tried Mint for a couple months several years back. Mint is great for those who want a passive money tracking system, but it’s not the best choice for those who want to be intimately involved with their finances.

When I was in college, I used YNAB to budget every penny to make sure I could eat each week (seriously, y’all, the college days can be rough!). My focus has now shifted to ensuring I have money set aside for family vacations, annual expenses like car registrations, and unexpected expenses like a home repair. 

How do you budget? If you’re looking for a new system, check out YNAB here.

Note: I do not work for YNAB, nor am I receiving anything in exchange for writing this post. I just really love this system!


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