How to Stop Fighting about Money

Meg interviews the founder of YNAB about his new budgeting book

APW + YNAB logo

I have a confession to make: I may be the only long-term staff member at APW that doesn’t use the budgeting app You Need a Budget. I’ve seen it totally change the lives of people around me, in ways that are actually sort of staggering to watch. So it’s not that I don’t use YNAB because it’s not a great system. I don’t use YNAB because I’m the person that has budgeting spreadsheets dating back to the launch of Google Drive. (I once asked Maddie, “So it’s called You Need A Budget, but everyone already has a budget right? That’s just a cute name?” And she looked at me with a mix of pity and confusion. Apparently, no, most people DO NOT have a budget.)

And now that I know that most people do, in fact, need a budget, I’ve become an extra big proponent of YNAB for all the people in my life struggling to get a grip on their spending. (Which is… mostly everyone… if we’re being honest?) So when YNAB invited us to check out an advanced copy of their new book: You Need a Budget: The Proven System for Breaking the Paycheck-to-Paycheck Cycle, Getting Out of Debt, and Living the Life You Want, I was excited. When they asked if I wanted to interview the founder of YNAB, Jesse Mecham, I was even more excited. Doesn’t everyone get excited about reading personal finance books and interviewing personal finance gurus? Given what I’ve learned about budgeting, possibly not. But this book was worth my excitement, and I feel like I’ll end up buying copies for a lot of people in my life, for a few reasons:

  • YNAB does for budgets what APW does for weddings. That is to say, it takes all the things you’re worrying about, and helps you cut through the mess to take action. It helps you distill what you really want from what you’ve been told you should want—no latte shaming here. (In fact, a few pages in, I was like, “Did I write this book in my sleep? It reads like the book I’d write if I’d written a finance book.”)
  • The book is super helpful whether or not you use—or ever plan to use—the YNAB budgeting app. It feels like a must read for anyone struggling to get out of the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle. (And tons of people I know are in this cycle, even if they make pretty good money). But it’s also a thoughtful read for those of us working on building savings and figuring how we want our money to work for us.

One of the reason we’re always promoting the APW books here is because it really is helpful to have all your information in one place, laid out in a way that makes sense, rather than cobbling it all together on your own. And that’s what the YNAB book aims to do for your budget. (Tip: Jesse suggests that the YNAB book would make a great wedding present, and he’s probably not wrong.)

PLUS. If, say, you’re working on budgeting these days and not spending on splurgy vacations (though the YNAB book will help you figure out how to do both, with no judgment), to celebrate the launch of the YNAB book on December 26th, the YNAB team is giving away an all-expenses-paid trip to New York City. To enter, purchase your pre-ordered copy before the 26th and then head here to fill out the entry form. (And if you order two books or more, you also get a free YNAB shirt, or with a purchase of ten books you can get an hour Skype session with Jesse himself.)

Now, here is the next best thing to that Skype session with Jesse: my interview with him.

graphic design featuring the cover of the new YNAB book over pink and purple abstract shapes

Meg: Given that you’ve been running YNAB for thirteen years, I assume you’re as much of an expert on getting people out of the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle as I am on helping people stay sane during wedding planning. So walk me through it. As someone who’s always been something of a money nerd, I’ve had a budget since I was living on $18K a year in New York (which was frankly pretty awful). Everyone in my life tells me this is really not normal. How are most people trying to make their financial lives work when they come to YNAB?

Jesse: Honestly, most people aren’t trying to work any kind of plan financially. They’re being whipsawed back and forth from one crisis to another, stressed out even from small purchases, and feeling guilty when they buy things they actually want. They’re reactive instead of proactive, and when they come to the point where they realize they need a budget, they’re ready to make some changes.

Meg: I’ve watched people in my life—who make pretty good money but still live paycheck to paycheck—spend money, and it often feels sort of terrifying. They seem scared, and like they don’t know how to get control of their spending. Why do you think people get stuck in these patterns, and how can people break their emotional patterns with money?

Jesse: One truth I’ve seen play out again and again is that living paycheck to paycheck very, very rarely has anything to do with how much income you have. The fact of the matter is, 80 percent of people are stuck in the cycle, and a good chunk of those 80 percent make “pretty good” money. They’re scared because they think 1) that they’ll never get control and/or 2) that getting control means living on rice and beans. Both are completely false. They’ll break the pattern by turning their behavior around completely. They’ll start by just asking themselves one simple question: What should this money do—only the money I have in my bank account right now—what should this money do before I’m paid again? And then they’ll repeat that same question every time they get some more money. That’s it. It’s really that simple.

Meg: Reading your book I was shocked by how much what you were saying lined up with what my abundance mindset life coach says to me about money. I’d think that a professional budgeter and a professional dream expander would think in the opposite ways. But both you and my coach talk about figuring out what we want out of our money and setting goals (even if they seem like pie in the sky goals at first) to help us move forward. Why do you think figuring out what you really want your money to do is an important first step to setting up a budget?

Jesse: It’s the only step! If you don’t know what you want, why even budget at all? A budget is merely a tool to help you get from where you are now, to where you want to be. It’s just that “from here to there” mentality viewed through the lens of that resource we call money. The reason people skip this step is because it’s actually really hard! You start thinking, “Well wait, what should I want? Should I Google ‘proper goals for a twenty-something making $56,000 per year’ and see if there isn’t an article written about it?” Fact of the matter is, you have to get real with yourself and really dial in what you want right now. The budget is just the framework you use in making decisions to help you get there.

Meg: Because I didn’t grow up with a lot of money, I’ve spent years trying to get myself out of restrictive, zero-sum thinking about money. You clearly believe that a good budget shouldn’t be all about no, and it shouldn’t trigger those of us fighting our way out of restrictive money thinking. How does that work?

Jesse: It’s not about no; it’s about tradeoffs. When you’re clear about what you want, and then you’re presented with a decision to do/buy something else, you’ll just frame it in a way that’s still very much all about what you want. “If I buy this now, it’ll delay my desire to do X by several months. Is that worth it?” You’re just balancing your own wants, and that’s the perfect thing to be doing. What we need to be cautious about is when “wants” are dictated to us by our social circle or cleverly written advertisements.

Meg: In the book, you talk about the twin questions of “Should I” and “Can I.” Now that I’m not broke, I spend a lot of time on the “Should I” question. For example, I really want to give my kitchen a makeover, and I have some cash to do it… but “Should I?” I find it really paralyzing. How do you suggest people start answering these questions for themselves?

Jesse: Should is a horrible word. We should all stop using it. 😉 As it relates to your kitchen, and then thinking about any other goals you have, do you want to renovate the kitchen? Why? Be honest with yourself. Why do you really want to do the renovation? If you can come up with some solid reasons behind why you want to do that, and you can do it because you have the cash on hand that isn’t spoken for by another higher priority, my word, go get some bids and have fun. Sometimes you just want to because you want to, and that’s good enough if it fits within your larger goals (code named: budget).

Meg: You talk in the book about getting to know your money partner (aka your spouse). I’ve been in a relationship with my husband for thirteen years, and it has taken most of that time for us to fully get on the same page and form a joint approach to money. We were always good budgeters, but we grew up in very different financial situations, so for a long time we really struggled to understand each other. How do you think couples should open the conversation to really get to know how the other person uses their money, and how they approach it on an emotional level?

Jesse: As far as how you first get started talking about money as a couple, don’t talk about numbers at all. Talk about money in the larger sense of the word. What were your parents like with money? What was the first lesson you learned as a kid? Did you get an allowance? How did you earn money? What did you like to spend it on? How did it feel to spend all of your money on baseball cards in the ’90s, and then realize only twenty-five years later that your investment is absolutely worthless? Stuff like that. You’re getting to know your spouse’s ideas about money. Then, get into habits. Do you have any quirks with money? Do you like to carry a $20 bill in your left shoe? Do you get a bit of a high from shopping? How long does the high last?

All of those questions are just meant to get to know each other as it relates to money. They’re just as fun as they are informative. The spouse should just answer, “How interesting!” with every one of them. No judgment, just sharing.

Once you’ve established each spouse’s habits and ideas around money, you can start to talk about goals. Again, still not money. Just what do we want. Those kinds of conversations are critical in a relationship, and once you get that far, then you ask, “How can we make sure our money gets us toward these awesome goals?”

Meg: Can you describe the concept of “personal fun money”? We manage ours through individual checking accounts, but it’s been the backbone of our shared financial life from the beginning. I think my husband spends his mostly on electronics, but frankly, I don’t really know and I don’t care. But many couples that I talk to seem to think it’s all or nothing—either you keep your accounts totally separate, or you clear every purchase you make with your spouse. Why do you think this concept is important, and how have you seen it play out in people’s lives?

Jesse: My wife, Julie, and I share one account and then inside YNAB (our software), we have separate categories for each of us. We’ve had a budget meeting where we’ve agreed what the budget will be for the entire month, and if we have to juggle things around throughout the month, we’ll make sure both are in the know. But when it comes to Julie’s fun money, she can do whatever she wants with it, and I certainly don’t want her to tell me about it to get some kind of permission. If it’s about some extra piece of clothing she wants to buy, I’d much rather have her do that kind of hemming and hawing debate over text with one of her friends!

We like the idea of a joined account because it makes the process simpler, but if I’m talking with someone that’s nailing the budgeting with their spouse, and their system is working and they’re hitting their goals well, I’ll be the last to dogmatically tell them they need to switch it. If it’s working, leave it alone! If it’s not working well, maybe give that a hard look.

Meg: So many of us are haunted by guilt no matter how we spend money. Why do you think that is, and what can we do to solve it?

Jesse: The guilt only comes because we aren’t really clear about what we truly want, and the spending we’re doing isn’t lining up with that truth. You’ve got to be crystal clear about your goals and then once those goals are being met at a pace you find reasonable, let the other smaller spending go. Don’t sweat it! (He said to himself.) Be clear on the big goals, like the pace you’re at, and be content. It’s a choice.

click any of the images below to buy the ynab book now!

This post was sponsored by the brand new book, You Need a Budget: The Proven System for Breaking the Paycheck-to-Paycheck Cycle, Getting Out of Debt, and Living the Life You Want. I’ve watched several APW staff members use the YNAB method to finally get on top of their finances, pay down tens of thousands of dollars in debt, and stop living paycheck to paycheck. And now YNAB’s founder, Jesse Mecham, has distilled everything he’s learned in thirteen years of running YNAB into one super approachable book. You Need a Budget is out on December 26th, but if you pre-order now, you’ll be entered to win a free tip to New York City and a meeting with Jesse himself. So click here and buy copies for all the people in your life who could totally use a budget.

Featured Sponsored Content

  • Ashlah

    Question for the hive mind: Would you gift this book to a parent? A sibling, a friend? Would it be appreciated, or is it like an unsolicited gift of Weight Watchers? (I.e. passive aggressive and rude AF). I know the answer depends entirely on the person and your relationship with them, so I know there is no one correct answer.

    I would love for my mom to read it. She used to be terrible with money, has gotten much better in the last few years, but is still (I think) somewhat of a compulsive shopper who has trouble meeting long-term savings goals. She loves self-help books and often praises my budgeting habits in a “if only I could do that” kind of way. But she bought YNAB after my suggestion…and then never used it. So I can’t decide whether this is a book she’d appreciate (helpful even if you choose not to use the software?), or if she’d take it as a criticism. It seems like a great graduation gift, maybe, but I can’t make my mind up about other situations.

    • Sarah E

      Maybe suggest the title next time she compliments your budget-savvy? And then you can gauge her response, or buy it for her after you mention it as a “oh, this is the book I was talking about” gift.

    • Lisa

      Oof, I feel you on this. I seriously considered getting YNAB as a wedding gift for some close friends who carry debt but decided that maybe it would feel too much like a judgment of their circumstances.

      I like the idea of bringing up the idea of the book with your mother as part of a larger conversation and seeing how she reacts to it. She might be totally into the idea of the book, but also if she bought and never used YNAB, it might be another thing she gets excited about but never utilizes. (Kind of how I like the idea of cookbooks, but after acquiring a shelf’s worth and still trolling the internet for recipes, I’ve given up the idea of buying or requesting that type of book for myself.)

      • Ashlah

        I’ve also decided against gifting YNAB as a wedding gift before! To my little sister and her husband. Largely because I was worried how they would take it, and if I’m honest also because I would be frustrated if they didn’t use it. (Which I am fulllly aware is totally unfair and unreasonable)

      • penguin

        I still buy new cookbooks and keep shelves of them even though I usually just search the internet for recipes #keepthedreamalive

    • Jess

      I think it would depend on how often we talked about those things? Like, if regularly she talked about it and you shared ideas and it was like, “Here’s this thing I use and they wrote a book, and I thought it would be a good source” type of gift (not a Christmas gift…)

      But I love the idea of using it as a graduation gift!!!! Nobody can be upset about “Hey, here’s a life skill you will need as you move into the world as an adult!”

      • Ashlah

        That seems reasonable. I could definitely see buying it and reading it myself, and then passing it along after talking about it during a separate conversation about money. So it’s more of a “this helped me, check it out” than a “you need this.”

        • e.e.hersh

          That’s how I was thinking you could frame it. “I loved this book – it totally helped me. And since we were talking about money, I thought you might like to check it out as well.”

      • Her Lindsayship

        I agree – I can’t imagine anyone I would give this to, but there’s really no one in my personal life that I talk about money with (aside from my husband, who would probably sort of like the book, but is honestly excellent at talking about/dealing with money already and wouldn’t get much value from it I think).

        Funnily enough, the emotional aspect to personal finance that makes it a taboo in friendly conversation is probably also why people need this book! Why they think in terms of ‘should’ rather than ‘can’. Still, there’s not a single person I’d feel comfortable gifting this to.

        • Jess

          Exactly – it’s hard to talk about, which is what makes the book useful, but is also what makes it a little bit insulting to give someone a book about it.

          I would, however, totally give it to new high school/college graduates, because that’s exactly the right time that it wouldn’t come off as pushy.

    • rg223

      Hmm, this is a thought-provoking question! I think there’s a bit of a catch 22 with giving this as a gift. If you know the person NEEDS it, then yeah, I think it’s going to feel like a comment on their situation. So then I was thinking, if you DON’T know their financial situation, then it would be a good neutral gift… but also perhaps a little random? I think it works as a wedding gift though because of the “combining fiances” element.

      I likes Sarah E’s idea about feeling out your mom first. I don’t think I’d give it to a parent without that initial conversation.

    • Amy March

      No. Never. They are called “self” help for a reason. I’d give it as a parent to a child but other than that hard hard pass.

      • Ashlah

        Fair point! This is the way I’m leaning, I think. I’d be comfortable suggesting the book during a larger conversation about money and budgeting, but giving it to her myself is too much.

    • Jan

      I think my mom would cry if i gave her this book. I mean, she cries over everything. But, still.

    • AP

      My husband and I have this same debate all the time. He is so into our budgeting system and wants all our friends and family to be on the same or similar pages. He tries to give The Simple Path to Wealth and YNAB subscriptions to people, and I almost always veto him because it’s just not our place to tell people how to manage their finances. If they ask for advice, sure. But never unsolicited. I think your comparison to Weight Watchers is apt, it’s like saying you know what someone’s life (be it health, finances, whatever) is like just by looking at them, and it’s just not true.

      In reading others’ comments, I do think a graduation gift makes sense, or a gift for someone who has already expressed to you that they want help with their money. But for everyone else, I think it’s dangerous territory.

      • I recommend A Simple Path to Wealth a lot! But….I can’t think of a situation where I’d feel comfortable giving it as a gift. But I do like the idea of giving it as a graduation gift…maybe YNAB and A Simple Path to Wealth, kind of a 101 and then more advanced finance combo deal. :)

        • AP

          I seriously wish someone had given me that gift for college (even high school) graduation! But then again, I was the weirdo 20-year-old who listened to Dave Ramsey on the radio, so…

    • I would, if it’s something I talked about with my mom. I have my hang ups around money, but talking about it really isn’t one of them, so I’d see no problem with it.

    • Lawyerette510

      I think in the instance that you’ve discussed it extensively and it’s someone you’re really close to. You could always include a note about how this made you think of X conversation.

    • LindseyM

      This is a great jumping off point for another question. What do you do when you have parents that you fear are in, or will someday be in, financial trouble based on poor saving and investing habits? My husband is extremely worried about his parents’ finances, something that he has zero visibility into besides them complaining about money a lot. My husband is worried that we will someday end up supporting his parents, and that this could maybe be avoided if they were transparent now with their financial condition and made some changes. We are trying to think of some way to tactfully recommend that they see a non-fee financial planner, who can maybe give them advice, if they will not talk to us. It also is awkward because as a couple we make much more than they do. Has anyone else dealt with a situation like this?

      • Ashlah

        I very, very much sympathize, but unfortunately have no advice. It’s something we’re wrestling with too.

      • AP

        We’re dealing with this on my side. My husband’s parents are terrible with money, but they do have some saved and are open to conversations about investing. They followed the bad advice of a financial planner who sold them on a bunch of expensive gimmicky annuities (and also hit them up to invest in his side business…writing a children’s book about a flamingo) but they’ve finally come around to letting my husband move their investments into lower-fee Vanguard accounts and just letting the money grow. He’s set them up pretty well for when they finally stop working. My parents though…lots of debt, weird about talking about money, I think they have 401ks but I’m pretty sure they are relying on Social Security…it’s distressing to me and they refuse to talk about it. I’m hoping that by role-modeling some of the things we’re doing and talking about money in a really casual way, they might be more open to a conversation (for instance, my mom saw me enter a charge into my mobile YNAB app one time when we were shopping together and was really curious and interested in it.)

        No helpful advice really, just sympathy.

  • Sarah E

    Another title to add to my Christmas list.

    I’d also add that I think you can replace “goals” with “values” in a lot of this conversation. I did a really helpful exercise in therapy of nailing down my top values with a lot of specificity. The exercise was more generally about decision-making and how I spend my time, but I think it directly relates to money and resource allocation, too. I can get anxious looking at the numbers of just how much we spend at the grocery store, and the proportion of our income that uses. But I can remind myself that spending is exactly in line with our values of eating well, supporting local food systems, and buying organic when possible. We’re making those desicions on purpose for much bigger reasons, and that makes the spending feel comfortable.

    • e.e.hersh

      Yes, yes, yes. I think budgeting is ALL about values. When you read a lot of budgeting books or sites you sometimes sense a bit of a shaming mindset about spending, like “I feed my family of 5 on one sack of quinoa and a rotisserie chicken per month – why would anyone need more??” and I find that really off-putting. It’s important to understand your own values (like the local, sustainable ones you mentioned) so that you can feel good about the fact that your spending aligns with them, instead of just looking at dollar figures and feeling crappy about total amounts!

      • penguin

        Yes to that shaming mindset! It’s like those one-up competitions people get into for who had a cheaper wedding.

    • NolaJael

      Generally I agree with this, but the flip side of this is that when you have to make hard choices you are seemingly saying you don’t value something, which isn’t necessarily true. My husband thinks that every purchase he makes is important because he values camping ($), and values home improvement ($$, if we don’t fix it, won’t it get worse / cost more money?) and on and on. For me it’s easier to say, yes, I value a lovely home BUT there’s 27 cents in that account, so I guess it will have to wait.

      • Sarah E

        I guess my sense of values is a little more abstract. For me, it’s concepts like stewardship, fun, intelligence. So of course I want to spend cash on going out, but I also reckon with my financial reality.

        I don’t see it as “yes, I value it” or “no, I don’t,” but more along the lines of why a choice is hard. Like, “I’m frustrated we haven’t gone out in a while because I value fun and having a good time together.” For me, acknowledging that makes it easier to take a deep breath and chill when I don’t have the cash short-term, and sometimes is means stretching to make it happen with the knowledge that I’m not being thoughtlessly frivolous even when my action is, say, going to happy hour.

    • I like this reminder to frame spending as supporting your values. I’ve been trying to buy more ethical things as I make needed additions to my wardrobe (thinking about where things are made and under what circumstances), so I’ve had to remind myself that if I want to make more purchases in line with those values, yes, even if these items are on major sale, the prices will not be the cheapest prices I could find otherwise. The “cheap” prices for those things are on the “expensive” end for me. But I remind myself about my values and reassure myself that these items should way outlast a fast-fashion equivalent (as long as I have made good choices abut construction, etc., which I am trying to do).

      So I like your idea of considering values when looking at the budget overall. I think it’d be good for me to deepen my thinking about values and budget choices. I hope to revamp and reanalyze my budget in that week off at the end of the year and start fresh in 2018. I guess I am in the same finance-loving minority as Meg because I’ve been looking forward to that time off to work on my budgeting and investment plans! :)

      • Em

        I try to think of ethical purchases as reflecting the true cost of the item, and the cheaper items as having stolen that savings from somewhere (wages, quality, etc.)

    • AmandaBee

      I like both goals and values in different ways – values are those big-picture things I care about (like eating good food) and goals are concrete things I’m aiming for (like being able to buy a house). But yeah, it’s helpful to remember that some spending may not be driven by a concrete goal so much as a more amorphous value.

  • ruth

    I have a question about budging for couples – I’m kind of a budget geek and have been really wanting to use a budget program like YNAB. My hubby….really doesn’t. Before I met him, I had strict limits for every spending category in my life – whereas my hubby has always had a “floating budget” – he always somehow manages to pay all his bills and never spends over his means, but he’s never kept a spreadsheet in his life. The idea of something like YNAB gives him hives. We’re fortunate to be in pretty good shape financially, but I just have a hard time holding this kind of floating budget in my head the way my hubby does – having defined categories makes me feel safe – whereas my hubby takes the approach of if you spend a little more in one area this month you can make up for it in another next month. (I’m way too type A for that!) He has agreed to compromise with me in some areas – such as automating a set amount each month into our long term and short term savings, setting up a charitable giving budget, and encouraged me to use a budgeting app if I want to – but he doesn’t want to do it with me- I don’t know if it’ll work if just one of us does it? Truthfully, the reason I have categories is because it helps me spend money without feeling guilty – he tells me to just go ahead and spend it without feeling guilty (he doesn’t have the damage I do around this issue) but I don’t feel like I can unless I have set numbers for everything. I feel like we’re like a neat person and a messy person who live together – except neat vs messy with money – neither is inherently better, they’re just different, and I don’t know how to reconcile that.

    • Abs

      Mint might be a better app than YNAB for you guys, because it can be a lot more flexible and less hands on to use. It doesn’t train you to think differently about money, but if you just want a way to keep track of what is going on with your money, it can do that without a lot of active participation from him.

      • G.

        Yeah, I use Mint for just this reason. I’m way more on the floating budget end of the spectrum and like to keep track of the spending, but it matters not a lick to me which category is using more money any given month as long as my rent/bills paid (always), my savings are solid (yep), cash flow is fine (check). When I started using Mint, I tracked by lots of categories and then realized that I really don’t care about the balance between groceries, alcohol, and restaurants as long as the total is basically the same, so it’s all under food now. And if food is high this month and lower next month and vice versa with personal care, so be it. Then again, I’m a very organized Type B sort, so ymmv.

        • Aubry

          I’m the same as you, but with google sheets. basically there are fixed amounts (mostly to remind me to pay all the bills) like rent, phone etc, lines for what I want to put on debt, and into savings, and then left overs. Whatever is left in my daily chequing account at the end of money allocation is what I have to spend until next payday. However that works out is fine with me. I am type A but also hate tracking daily things.

    • Not Sarah

      My husband is somewhat like yours and I’m somewhat like you in this regard. What has worked for us is to have more flexible categories and to use the budget for setting intentions. I don’t get upset if we go over our budget in a particular category, which helps him be on board with writing a budget and checking in on it. We mostly use it as a tool to see if our spending is in line with what we intended when we wrote it at the beginning of the year. Thanks to his influence, I had stopped budgeting before we got married, but now, we’ve realized it’s really important for us to budget again and together. The budgeting would not work if only one of us set it, because then it doesn’t have the other’s buy-in.

      I would really recommend that you find a compromise somewhere between both of your preferences – you’re in this money thing together.

    • Ashlah

      This is pretty much our situation, and I do all the YNAB budgeting in our relationship. We have our own allowances transferred to our individual accounts each month, and he spends his however he wants without budgeting. I have a YNAB budget for our joint account and for my individual account. I do all the actual work of budgeting. It works for me because I enjoy it. YNAB is actually very flexible, so if you can get him to come around (maybe try a demo month?), you might both find that it’s a workable compromise for both of you.

      • Ashlah

        To explain the flexibility a little further: You do budget a certain amount for, say, groceries and an certain amount for eating out. If you need some extra groceries this month, then you can choose to pull money from the eating out budget and put it in the grocery budget. Your budget is “floating” in that it’s easy to adjust for specific circumstances, but it’s concrete in that it prevents you from overspending in *both* groceries and eating out because you know you’ve already spent that money.

      • Not Sarah

        I do 90% of the data entry work in our budgeting system. But we both agree on the budget before it is set and we both check in on the budget every month, which is the more important part to agree on in my opinion.

        • Ashlah

          Oh yes, I should have clarified that I meant that I do all the work of entering transactions and reconciling, and usually coming up with suggested changes. But we certainly work together to agree on the larger picture aspects of the budget!

      • e.e.hersh

        This is how my husband and I work as well. I do it all, but he does participate in the long-game goals and discussions. Part of the tradeoff of this system is that he does have to check with me when he wants to make large purchases, so there’s a little bit of a “permission” dynamic that I don’t totally love. But the alternative to that would be husband taking a more active role in budgeting, which he’s just not interested in right now, so… what can you do? Luckily he doesn’t spend a lot of money. If we were BOTH spenders, I’m not sure having one person do it all would be a good idea.

    • Jess

      As two people who are getting a crash-course in budgeting due to unemployment, and as the person in the couple who hates the idea of spending money but also hates thinking about money… I think budgeting is really, really important and reconciling this is important, even if you are comfortable financially (us!).

      I have read a lot about people doing “buckets” for other sort of spending (Thereby both giving you permission to spend money because that’s what your portion is for and giving him an idea of how much “other stuff” is reasonable to buy), and doing general household expenses, vacations, food, etc. as joint. The joint stuff, one person could tackle.

      It comes down to how much labor you are ok taking on (and equally pushing onto him in another area), and how much he is willing to do. Some couples end up with a person who manages finances, and that’s ok.

    • Lisa

      We sound very similar; pre-YNAB, I’d feel sick spending money on things, especially big-ticket items, because I was always worried that we might not have enough money for things down the line. My husband was also pretty resistant to the idea of YNAB originally, but he went along with it because it gave me peace of mind.

      We had an original budget meeting to discuss our priorities and assign them dollar/percentage values, and I was able to get buy-in from him to manually enter transactions (back in the YNAB4 days). His primary involvement with the budget still is mainly transactional, but we also have bigger conversations about money that he participates in. I think what eventually sold him on the product was meeting the first major milestone–paying off his student loans– and seeing how happy it made me. We still have negotiations over individual categories and how we plan to use our money, but it feels much more collaborative now. There’s a direction, we have a plan (even if it’s loose), and we’re working towards it together. But this took 2+ years to get here.

      • Sarah E

        Yeah, same. I pushed for adopting the YNAB plan, and I’m the main money manager. He was never anti-YNAB, but likely wouldn’t have sought it out. It took a year or so for him to see our savings grow substantially, and he was really grateful for the tool (and my efforts). It took a while for me to get him on board with logging everything, as he’s just very reluctant to use apps, but now he’s more on top of it than I am. After my stint of unemployment this year, we’ve had to have more and more detailed money conversations, but the framework was already in place, and we could ratchet down our spending with good information. I think it’s totally doable to have one person be money manager, but still have your partner on board and engaged with the process.

    • Amy March

      Well, the way I see it he is trying, and you also need to! You say you don’t know if it will work, but the only way to find out is to actually try. It’s not reasonable for the answer to just be that you can only spend money without guilt if he also tracks every purchase. Can you experiment with giving yourself a fixed amount of fun money every month that doesn’t carry over? So you have to get used to spending something guilt free?

    • ART

      I think my approach is somewhat like your husband’s (and don’t get me started on my husband’s, ha) but I also have been resistant to budgeting in this way because my “floating” (I like that description) budget has worked well for me. But it’s not in my head, it’s in a Google calendar and 90% automated. The absolute crux of my success with this method has been Pay Yourself First – at any one point I have 6 to 7 automatic monthly savings transactions for different purposes (IRA, vacations, emergency fund, car maintenance, etc.) that I treat as bills. With extremely rare and well-reasoned exceptions, I never change or skip them. All my actual bills are also automated so I know exactly what each paycheck needs to do in advance, and after leaving that amount in my checking account on payday, I use what’s left to pay off my credit card (used for all groceries, gas, and other and incidental spending) and if there’s more left I transfer that to yet another savings account. My “budget” comes in at the point where I go “aw man, I need to put $X00 on my credit card, so I only have $Y00 left to put in X-goal savings!” and that’s what keeps me, week to week, from spending too much. It’s basically a mindgame where I pretend to live paycheck to paycheck, but actually save a large portion of each because most of my “bills” are savings.

      That said, I feel like our finances are going to tighten, or that we’re going to want them to do yet more for us, once we have this baby in a week or two, so I’m working on some ideas for more radical changes that might eventually include YNAB-type budgeting. We’ll see.

    • rebecca

      YNAB has a really nice importer, so as long as he’s cool w/having the account he spends from hooked up to it, it’s not really a ton of work for you to categorize his expenses if that’s what’s going to make both of you happy. Since the problem isn’t really overspending, after a couple of months tracking your expenses, you could probably set up his categories based on the average of what he usually spends in them and have a pretty good idea of where you’re at so you can have peace of mind about what you’re going to spend. This is pretty much what we do, and after a couple months of me being like “Hey babe is this $17 at CVS “your spending money” or ‘household goods'” he’s started going into the app to do his own categorization more often.

      My favorite thing about starting YNAB is that we found out our avg monthly spend on ourselves is within $1 of each other. I think bc of depictions in the media (and the pink tax and all the xtra crap society expects us to buy) I thought I must spend too much on myself and would feel guilty about “girly” splurges. Now I know I can buy nice mascara or whatever bc I save in other ways.

      • penguin

        Yep this is what we do. I’m the “owner” of the budget, and we got all the accounts linked to YNAB and I just occasionally ask him what category to put something in. So far it works, because I don’t resent being the one to keep track of things, and he’s laid back enough that he is fine with me making financial judgement calls. For example, I just submitted my final student loan payment. He was in favor of waiting 6 months, but the debt was driving my nuts and we have the money to pay it off now, so he didn’t mind.

      • Lawyerette510

        Ditto to penguin. I manage the budget but Mr. Lawyerette (who for a long time didn’t particularly care about us using YNAB) participated as needed. After a few years, he’s gotten much more involved in the budget and come to appreciate it as well (I think mainly he appreciates how much more functional our discussions around money are).

    • You may not need YNAB as a tool, but you guys should try to find someway to keep having the conversation about money and meet in the middle. I do more of a floating budget at this point in our lives, which works just fine. But it’s not in my head, and I still track everything. That way I have facts and figures on what we did spend, even if I don’t freak out if we’re over in one category for a month. But I still want to know that we’re spending OMG HOW MUCH on eating out, so we can try to make adjustments. That seems like it might be a meet in the middle kind of place?

    • AmandaBee

      TBH my husband hates balancing YNAB, so it’s my chore. In exchange, he does chores I hate. Otherwise, it would be a constant battle of trying to get him to categorize his expenses, which I don’t really mind doing.

      This only works because we set up the auto-import and I can tell what most of his expenses are just by the name. But if there’s a string of, say, Amazon purchases, I do have to ask him what those are. It’s fairly convenient though and balances my need to keep track with his desire to not deal with it. Emotionally, this works because I don’t bug him about spending unless it exceeds the money we’ve budgeted for it.

      I don’t think it’s unreasonable to want to keep track of where your money is going – and often when people think they’re tracking things intuitively, they’re spending a lot more than they think. But you may need to find middle ground, with the detail you need and the flexibility he needs. Maybe larger “buckets” (e.g., instead of detailed categories, make broad ones like “food” and “bills”) is something to consider. That way it takes minimal effort to go in and review things, but you still have an idea of how money you’re spending on needs vs. wants vs. savings/investing.

    • LindseyM

      For something in between, I love the free service Personal Capital. It mostly categorizes things for you, and you can still see what you spend each month. It also aggregates all your investment accounts in one dashboard, which is wonderful!

  • Jess

    Well, this book is timely! Consider it pre-ordered.

  • Jessica

    I wish this had come out a week and a half ago when I pre-ordered the book (assuming APW monetized these links)

    ETA: I was mentally spiraling about finances and debt (yay divorce!) and listened to this episode of the podcast, which really helped calm me down. I will be diligent about my budget again once I’ve settled into post-divorce life, and it will be OK https://soundcloud.com/iynab/302-the-costs-of-settling-in

    • Not Sarah

      You could click on any Amazon affiliate link on APW and they would still get the commission for whatever you buy – doesn’t have to be just the item they linked to.

      • Jessica

        Nice!

  • Anna

    So far, Husband and I have concluded that we do not, in fact, need A Budget. I’m in an extremely lucrative field, and neither of us are big emotional spenders to begin with. We have a vague idea of what we spend where, we calculated our maximum reasonable rent as a percentage of our combined after-tax income when we were last looking at apartments, our retirement account contributions are in place, and we can see the money in our account going up from month to month. (We have a single joint checking account). Every time we’ve revisited this issue, we’ve come back to the conclusion that we have the luxury of not needing to keep track in any more detail.

    That’s not to say that all our finances are 100% in place as we’d like them – I keep meaning to take a chunk of the cash that’s currently just sitting in our checking account and put it in Vanguard mutual funds or similar, and open a Roth IRA on top of our employer-provided retirement accounts; I do have a bit of a mental block around investing – but none of it is stuff that would be solved by budgeting further. Sure, there will be a one-time calculation of how much of a buffer we should actually maintain in our checking account when I’m figuring out how much to move over to investment accounts, but not having that calculation ready-made in a budget isn’t what’s prevented me from doing so thus far.

    Really I just want to hire someone to handle this for me. But I don’t have enough of an idea of what’s reasonable to tell if a financial expert is good at their job, so paradoxically, I don’t want to hand it off until I’ve learned a little more.

    • That’s so interesting. At this point in our lives we also make a really decent living. And while I don’t micromanage our spending at this point, I can’t even imagine not having a budget and not doing the books every month. We’re far from perfect at spending (human, etc), but it’s so key to me.

      And budgeting does help us with investing, which we do. I shave off a percentage and that goes right into saving or investment accounts every month.

      • Anna

        Our comfort with this sort of “we know roughly what we can afford and so rarely make purchases that brush up against that boundary that it’s easier to do an ad-hoc one-time calculation” strategy also probably has something to do with the fact that Husband grew up comfortably upper-middle-class and I grew up… significantly wealthier than that (although I had no idea until maybe late high school that my family was anything beyond upper-middle-class). Whatever financial planning my parents did was completely hidden from me as a kid (given that their actual financial status was also hidden from me), so budgeting was always only something I was aware of as what I did with my tiny allowance because it was limited and there were tradeoffs between things I wanted on the scale of individual purchases – “I can get a cookie from the coffee shop once a week, or I can buy a necklace at the art fair next month.”

        Now we have tradeoffs between broad categories of major purchases (“if we move to a more expensive apartment, it’ll add a year or so to when we’ll replace our car”), but at the level of individual purchases, we have enough cushion that whether we decide to buy a Nintendo Switch (which we did) really just doesn’t affect whether we can go out for drinks with friends (which we do, regularly). It’s what we do with all that cushion that’s maybe up for grabs, but in terms of our day-to-day, a more detailed budget just wouldn’t add enough value to be worth “doing the books” every month or so, which would be a noticeable decrease to my quality of life.

        • Jess

          Yeah, I was definitely in that place.

          My parents growing up didn’t really budget either – they talked about the value of things, they said no to buying a lot of things we asked for as kids, and generally lived modestly in comparison to their income (and did a LOT of investing). They talked about trade-offs of buying things, and we learned though that kind of thing.

          It’s a really different mindset from budgeting because you need to, which now that they retired they are learning to do.

          I know some stuff about investments and working with financial planners, which my dad loves talking about because he’s a nerd – now, we’re working with R’s parents’ planner, who is going a bit above in helping us to figure out our goals and how to address that – like saving up for buying a home, or putting aside money for hypothetical kid’s college, or potential health issues down the way.

          We were working through the budget in regards to saving, but a few weeks ago, R lost his job, and accelerated how quickly we needed to budget. I still have a good paying job, and we have savings and some help for the short term through the package. But I do kind of wish we had been more proactive in writing this stuff down and formalizing it back when it wasn’t tied to emotions of letting the other person down.

          If both people are pretty aware of the ball-park major costs (internet/cable, rent, groceries, etc.), which we had been paying for separately, you’re probably a lot better prepared to make that process easier if something should happen!

    • Jess

      One thing we found out in our adventures into financial planning was that… they actually asked us about our budget. It turns out that in order to plan your full financial picture, they like to know the amount of money you need/would like to have for spending, for short term saving, for long term saving and for investing. It also helps give them an idea of how much you may need to save for/gain in investing for maintaining your lifestyle into retirement.

      We were in the place you are, and when they asked us, we just went… “uhhhh I guess we should figure that out”

      • Yeah, I’d second that. I mean, we do invest, we’ve worked with planners, but what you spend is a critical piece of that. And you can pay people to invest for you. You could even pay someone to do your books every month. But you can’t hire someone to make decisions about your spending, or manage your spending.

        Edited to add: if you’re doing basic investing like Vanguard, I’d suggest trying to do the (hard) work of figuring out your mental blocks and getting over them. Financial planners are really not something you should be paying for until you A) Have a LOT of money, B) Really understand basic investing and your own goals and comfort level. I’ve known WAY too many people who lost piles of money with Financial Advisors. Not just because they didn’t need to pay for the services, but also because they didn’t understand investing and didn’t want to watch the ball, and the advisors made bad investments that were too risky.

        • Not Sarah

          Yup and this is why I (and we) are firm believers in tracking your spending, even if you don’t budget.

          • Anna

            I mean, we informally keep track of our spending, insofar as I kept grocery receipts for months until I got to the point where I knew about what to expect each week; now I have a good feel for what we spend on groceries per week. I keep track of our credit card bill every time I pay it off, so I have a rough sense of what we’re spending overall. I could probably hone that sense more finely with a little work; all the data is there in our transactions (since basically everything is one credit card + one checking account).

          • Yeah, I mean actually tracking it though. Like having a budget, however loose, and every month (or week, or what have you) putting all your charges in different categories. Groceries, restaurants, personal spending, etc. I just feel like it’s hard to make smart decisions in terms of building wealth if you don’t have a clear idea of where your money goes, and what your monthly overhead is every month, etc. For example, if you can’t off the top of your head rattle off what your monthly expense number is, how are you going to know what you need in an emergancy fund, before you start putting money on the market? (Because emergancy funds should never be on the market, obvs.)

          • Lizzie

            I hear you, and I’m really glad that you have a system that works well for you. That’s a huge achievement! I gotta jump in, though, and gently push back on the idea that if you don’t carefully track your monthly spending in different categories etc, then you automatically aren’t making smart decisions about building wealth, creating an emergency fund, etc. Money management systems are not one-size-fits-all. And, more importantly, I think the idea that if you don’t have an involved day-to-day system, then you aren’t Doing It Right, is potentially off-putting to people who want to learn more about their money but don’t feel ready or able to keep up a high level of involvement.

            There’s a big difference between being totally head in the sand, which I fully agree is an, ahem, ~inadvisable~ place to stay, and monitoring your finances at a medium-high level. For people who are able to adopt a semi-hands-off approach, I’d argue that meeting the below criteria is well within the bounds of being smart with your money:

            – Do you have a general sense of your post-tax/insurance/deductions/investments monthly spending (not broken down by categories)?
            – Do you know what that feels like as it plays out in your daily life?
            – Do you make automated contributions to a retirement account every paycheck?
            – Do you have a fully liquid emergency fund that you could live off of for 4-6 months +?
            – Do you have a separate savings account that you contribute to every month, if desired?
            – Are you stashing extra money in a place that’s earning dividends?
            etc.

            This top-level approach is certainly not a budget, there are no categories, it works best with a pretty robust income and gets complicated when kids/homeownership are involved, and so on. But if this works for you, and trying to do more detailed management just doesn’t jive, for whatever reason? This is still a Really Great place to be.

          • Oh to be clear, I don’t monitor every day. I basically monitor once a month. But I do think that monitoring your expenses IS critical, along with all of the questions that you ask.

            As someone dealing with kids, daycare bills, and homeownership, I think the more complicated things get, the more important it is to make sure you have a basic lined out budget, and a basic idea of where you’re falling on that budget every month. I also think that knowing that is always going to be pretty vital to having answers to the rest of those questions.

            So yeah, I’m never going to agree with the idea that it’s fine to not have a budget, just because you make a lot of money. I think it’s critical for everyone, even if you have the luxury of doing it in a a much less involved way.

          • Lizzie

            Ah, I hear you. I think the conflation of “tracking things” with “daily check-ins / category monitoring” is what’s tripping me up! You can absolutely do one without the other, and for a while I thought that if I wasn’t doing the latter, any efforts at the former were automatically Not Enough. After a decade of trying to budget with categories, I finally accepted that my spending is simple enough that I don’t need categories in order to have a grasp of my cash outflow.

            And, of course, kids & daycare & homeowner stuff & & & … yeah, that’s a lot to manage. I’m sure I’ll need more detailed systems when I get to that point myself!

          • GCDC

            Not that you aren’t, but I would caution everyone to keep an open mind and be flexible when it comes to whether/when to budget. We used to be exactly as you described – we didn’t keep track of our spending categories, but we knew our post-tax income was sufficient to pay for our lifestyle, were investing, had a life happens fund, etc. Then we had kids and bought a house and that way of spending and viewing money no longer works for us. It took us a good 18 months to realize we needed to change the way we viewed our household expenditures, and now we do track our spending much more closely (using YNAB). Because we have these giant expenses (I’m looking at you, childcare that costs more than college), our incomes don’t go nearly as far as they used to, and we have had to pump the brakes hard on all discretionary spending a few times. But because we had tracked our expenditures, we knew when we needed to do that, and we also knew that we could limit our spending for the month while meeting our needs/avoiding debt.

          • Lizzie

            Yeah, that totally checks out! I’m sure when life gets more complicated, those situations call for more involved financial planning. I think my defense of a looser financial management system comes from years of trying to fit my money organizing into the pervasive ~general social sentiment~ that In Order To Be Fiscally Responsible You Must Have Budget Categories For Gas, Clothes, Shoes, Entertainment, Restaurants, Groceries, Drinks But Not Dinner, Cable TV, Regular TV, etc. (heh.) My life situation is such that it just… doesn’t work that way. Partly from imposed frugality of working in publishing and living in NYC, partly from the luck of no student loans or big medical bills, etc – my categories are, like, rent + utils + metrocard + as little else as poss while calorically thriving thx. But rather than feeling proud of myself for saving money in a tight situation, in a way that worked for me, I felt until recently that I was failing at budgeting! (Not saying you’re saying that! Just ~general social sentiment~ at play.)

            All of which is to say, I totally agree with you that your life situation will dictate how rigorous your money management system needs to be. And, to be sure you gotta be able to adjust your systems as life serves you up all kinds of stuff. AND, the flipside that I wish were more widely acknowledged is that if your life situation is stupid simple, it’s ok to have a stupid simple system.*

            *YOU STILL GOTTA HAVE A SYSTEM, that is my internet caveat!

        • Hey Meg,

          I don’t really agree with you that only really wealthy people and those who understand themselves well should work with advisors. I think that’s the sad reality (that it’s usually the well-off folks who would do just fine even without an advisor, that work with one), but it doesn’t have to be that way. There are things to look for and questions to ask to find someone you enjoy working with – and lots of advisors who specialize in working with folks with lots of student loans and no investable assets, and advisors who work on an hourly/monthly retainer model. I don’t think having clarity around what to do with every incremental dollar and satisfaction from knowing your finances make sense is something wealthy people should have a monopoly on.

          I’m a long-time APW reader and fee-only financial planner. I’d be happy to write about this aspect of adulting for APW if you think that would be useful. (I’m not like, on the everyone-needs-to-have-an-advisor train – I had one when I was 22 (and not in this field at all), don’t have one now, probably won’t again, but never say never.)

          • It’s true. I think fee only financial planners are the exception… they’re just rarer (and people don’t know to look for them).

            But if you’re up for writing about basic investing and such, please drop us a line at team at apracticalwedding dot com!

    • rebecca

      So this is definitely how my husband feels about our situation. Personally, I like having a budget to help me prioritize, invest and like know when’s a good time to remodel the bathroom. I enjoy having a budget bc it helps me spend purposefully

      I totally understand how frustrating it can be the first time you try to hire a financial advisor. We tried a lot of different methods of picking someone that didn’t really work for us and then eventually found someone bc I learned a lot from his blog which felt kind of strange, but his job *is* to educate us about our financial options which is what he does on his blog, so maybe not the worst criteria?

      • Anna

        Yeah, part of it is we just don’t have those remodel-the-bathroom kind of projects currently – we’re renting, we’ll be renting for the foreseeable future. Most of our spending is rent (large, but regular), groceries (not that large, regular), and food and drink (not that large, variable).

        Early retirement sounds like hell to me. Maybe I’ll feel differently in a decade or two, I suppose, but my mental health rests heavily on having somewhere I need to be every day (not necessarily physically, I’m currently working from home, but I’m working) and interesting problems to solve. I figure I will work until I am physically or mentally unable to do so. Doesn’t mean I can’t look into other options, or that it wouldn’t be useful to know what will be necessary to sustain us if and when I’m unable to continue working, but it makes it a heck of a lot less fun to devote time to figuring that out :-/

        Ugh yeah we also need to find, more mundanely, someone to do our taxes. Prior to our marriage, both of us were still having our taxes done by our respective parents’ tax people (…made sense through college, but then just kind of stuck around for several years after because nobody thought to stop doing it that way?). I suppose we could just pick one firm or the other, but regardless, we need to get all our combined tax shit together in the same place and pick someone to handle it. And that’s a hassle and again, runs into this issue of I don’t know who’s “better”. In the tax case I don’t think it matters too much, though, as long as the IRS gets what it’s owed :-P

        • Amy March

          Unless you have a complicated financial situation you can probably do this yourself on TurboTax.

        • rebecca

          Oh yeah, the early retirement thing is a deep internet wormhole that mostly involves fantasizing about all the cool things you could do if you could replace your employment income w/your investment income and not actually knitting and playing shuffleboard. I’m with you on enjoying challenging work and wanting to do it until I’m no longer able, but I’m also a software engineer and I know that the average woman stays in this field for 10 yrs and that the more education you have, the more it’s actually likely that you’ll leave. So understanding that at our current spend rate, it will take us x years to invest y dollars, at which point, given average market returns our investment income will match our spend rate indefinitely and I can work on bringing high speed internet infrastructure to rural communities or teach snowboarding or whatever the hell I want, is a meaningful to me 🙂

          • ART

            Just started going down this wormhole…whooooo. But it IS kind of a neat way to reframe my thinking, as long as I keep some healthy skepticism/reasonable expectations :)

        • LindseyM

          I think it helped my husband and I to frame it as “financial independence,” not “early retirement,” a la the Mr. Money Mustache blog. That recognizes that if you want to keep working until you are 90, great, do that. But you are no longer working to support yourself. And since you are no longer working to support yourself, you can do other things with the income, like donate it, or buy that ridiculously expensive art that you have always wanted.

    • RNLindsay

      Just want to chime in and say I’m in the same boat! My husband makes great money and I do pretty well too. We’ve brought up the topic of budgeting several times, but it just doesn’t seem necessary to do it down to the nitty gritty. We rent, so no major home projects. We like to travel and do want to buy a home someday, so we have set amounts that transfer into savings for each of those goals (plus emergency fund) and we have investments. Beyond that, I find no need to budget out groceries, home items, dinners out etc. We have the money to cover them, and although my grocery budget is usually about the same each week, if I go over one week it doesn’t affect our spending in other areas. Just seems more work than what it’s worth at this point! We’re dual-income-no-kids-no-house etc…. this will probably change once one of those factors changes.

      • Lizzie

        Same boat, too! Dual-income, good salaries, renting, no kids, etc… I actually strongly disagree with some assertions here that doing detailed budgeting is THE RIGHT THING TO DO full-stop. I’m well aware and on top of my investments, my husband and I are living below our means, our emergency savings is robust and easily accessible, etc etc. It’ll change when we start talking about buying a house / having a kid etc, but frankly we already have a lot of money saved up and ready for when those line items hit. Cheers to a similar approach!

    • I think it was in A Simple Path to Wealth that the writer says that once you know enough to hire a good financial adviser, you know enough to do it yourself. :) I found that book to be super helpful in demystifying investing and retirement planning.

  • Snorre Selmer

    Feels weird to read this review on a wedding-website when I’m not (or even remotely near getting) married, but I’ve been a YNAB user for several years. After using YNAB for a while something started clicking in terms of properly understanding (and implementing) the steps in terms of how they relate to my life and (tight) economy. I’m still working on getting my head above water, but YNAB has really helped me moving more of my income into paying debtes instead of just paying the interest. :)

  • Maranda

    This post was very timely and I have put in my pre-order and downloaded the app! I’ve always been fairly good with money, although I will admit that that was mainly because I was living with my parents and I didn’t have a ton of budgeting needs. Since then I’ve moved into my first ever apartment and gotten engaged. I still don’t feel like I’m terrible with money, but I do need to get better about pausing and thinking through expenses before automatically assuming I can afford to do or purchase something like I could when living at home. My fiance (while I love him dearly), is terrible with money. He’s very impulsive and doesn’t save-rather he lives paycheck to paycheck. Hopefully this will help both of us.

  • I’m using YNAB, but downloading and manually importing, because UK banks don’t currently allow third party apps. This will be changing next year, due to a change in law, which is really interesting. Is that genuinely a change about accessibility, or did the big financial planning companies see how well third party apps were doing in the US and lobby for a change to keep up? A lot of consumers are really upset about the change, which is perceived as making online banking less secure in order to allow financial companies to profit. I’m kinda up in the air – on the one hand, it’d make using YNAB a lot easier, but on the other it’d give me more excuses to not look at it regularly.