Monday, January 15, 2018


Confession: since getting married, one of my greatest hobbies has become personal finance. Every time I go down a rabbit hole and start rereading old posts on this blog I want to find the nearest time machine, travel back to when I was 23--25 and tell myself GET ON A BUDGET!

When I first moved to Nashville 12 years ago, I was paying under $400/month for rent. STUPID cheap! In fact the most I ever paid for rent, including when I lived alone, was around $800. Now that was a chunk of my paycheck but there was still plenty left over. I never went into debt or spent more than I had, but what I did have, I spent. Usually at Target, Carrabba's or David's Bridal. I made sure to contribute to a 401k and that was about the only money I saved, because it never touched my bank account.

When Matthew and I got married, neither of us had lived on a budget. Again - no debt - but we both bought what we wanted and made do. But that changed when we got married and combined finances. In fact we were forced into action when three short weeks after our wedding, we were given the opportunity to buy the condo we'd been renting. Can you imagine getting that call 21 days after "I do?" We had to assess our fiscal picture and establish some financial goals pretty fast.

We were saving for a new home, beefing up an emergency fund and planning a European vacation, among other things. And now we were buying a condo. Quite a lot of balls in the air. I used to track our money and a Google doc to try to organize our savings into "buckets" and was transfering money back and forth between our savings and checking accounts probably once a week. Within a few months (weeks, really), I knew I was done trying to use Mint and that sad Google doc. Mint had no problem showing us what we spent; it was what we WEREN'T spending that I couldn't organize. It was like driving a car with only three wheels: I was spending my time and energy trying to make it work, but we were getting NOWHERE.

I also tried the free version of Dave Ramsey's Everydollar and really liked it. But the free version didn't offer direct import, and even the paying version didn't sync to credit cards at the time (this was 2015, right when it came out). Matthew was very attached to his credit card because of the points, so I knew moving away from that PLUS asking him to enter transactions manually was not going to work for us.

Then I found You Need a Budget (heretofore known as YNAB).

I signed up in January 2016 and quickly, everything changed. For one, I didn't have to use the sad Google doc anymore - all of our money is right there, organized and ready to go as soon as we were ready to spend it. Whether it's something as boring as a year's supply of contact lenses, or a ten-night trip to Italy, we are able to point the dollars where we want them to go and park them there until they're needed. In fact, within a few months of using YNAB, we closed our savings account. Yup. Went back to the bank and everything. Because we no longer were constantly moving money out of our checking account and into savings (where it couldn't be debited away) our bank actually FINED us for inactivity. And now we are those textbook YNABers who neither have a savings account nor monitor their checking account balance. YNAB tells us everything we need to know. And I mentioned Matthew was attached to his credit card points: YNAB makes paying for things on a credit card SO easy. They have it nailed.

In 2016, we took that European vacation. In 2017, we bought a home and had our first child. Thanks to YNAB, we are able to do all of these fun and exciting things while also prioritizing the not-so-exciting stuff like new tires, those boring contact lenses or God-forbid, a real emergency.

In case you can't tell, I'm pretty passionate about this stuff. I plan to share a lot about budgeting and personal finance on here moving forward. It's amazing how finding the right product that works can change your outlook on money. If you had told me ten years ago that I would be so enthusiastic about budgeting, I would have laughed at you. I have tried to share my joy for YNAB with friends; so far I have made one convert (what up, Eric!) but I'm not giving up on the rest of you easily. Peace of mind is the best gift you can give yourself! I am so thankful to YNAB for providing that not only for me and Matthew, but now for our child too.

PLEASE email me ( if you have questions about this program! I could talk about it nonstop.


  1. Yay! Pearls of Wit makes a return! I am a YNAB convert. I was always withdrawing money out of savings to pay my property taxes, but this year I actually budgeted for it.

  2. I keep meaning to try YNAB. I am still attached to Excel spreadsheets for my budgeting/checkbook keeping/savings organizing. I tried Mint for awhile (in conjunction with my Excel, thinking maybe I'd eventually move away from Excel, but never could) and I liked it in theory, but it just wasn't quite what I needed. So many folks have recommended YNAB...I need to check it out.

    1. It's no cakewalk to get set up... but once you do, oh my! Super rewarding. Like I said in the post, Mint is fine for showing what you're spending, but if you want to see what you're NOT spending (aka SAVING), you're out of luck. That was my experience at least. Happy to help you if you need it!


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