I’ve traditionally been pretty bad with money. Throughout most of my 20s, it used to be a cycle of “hooray I got paid, time to buy all the things I want… oh crap now I’m totally pov until next payday.” Usually that, or variations of “oh crap, I forgot this bill was coming up.”
In June 2014, my friends and I went quarters in a discount 4-pack licence for You Need A Budget (YNAB) on Steam. Yes, on Steam. So it was sitting in my games list just under World Of Goo. It was a strange time. Anyway we all lived variations of the previous paragraph and wanted to get more control over what was going on in our lives. I’d tried Quicken, Mint, Excel spreadsheets and a few other budgeting apps before and they’d never worked for me, but YNAB purported to be different somehow.
It had a bit of a learning curve and there were a few false starts, but I was determined to get the hang of it. It took about 6 weeks until I started noticing an actual difference to my life and stress levels. After around 3 years I was completely out of debt* and the previously familiar background stress of “money” was not a thing in my mind anymore. I cannot emphasise enough how good that feels. I remember it constantly being an anxiety at the back of my mind, and these days it’s just… gone. Yes, I get paid much more than I used to, which allows me to be a lot looser with things these days, however I believe that knowing how to budget makes a gigantic difference to your life no matter your income. I am super fanatical and evangelical about You Need A Budget (it has changed my life) but regardless of how you do your budgeting, the idea all boils down to:
Know what you’ve got to work with.