Finance Friday – Budgeting Software Part 1! (And a promotion!)

Happy Finance Friday Everyone! We are going to take a quick trip back in time and talk a little bit more about budgeting. If you missed our post a few weeks ago about budgeting in general, click here.  This is a quick summary of why budgeting is so darn important:

Stress and budgeting
You may be thinking that all this sounds stressful. It might be at the beginning but I can promise you this: there is no better stress relief than knowing where your money is going. Once I got a realistic budget in place I found that I was way, way, way less stressed about money. Not living paycheck to paycheck is incredibly liberating and totally possible. You just have to start. The best time was yesterday. The second best time is right now so get to it dear snarks.

Over the next three Finance Friday’s we will discuss the different types of budgeting software we’ve used and tell you about our very favorite: YNAB.

YNAB ~ Review from the Nursing Perspective: 

You Need a Budget. YNAB. (Pronounced WHY-NAB!)

No, seriously. You do. We all do.

You know how I know this? Because nearly 90% of people who filled out our 100k Giveaway Survey said they wanted information about budgeting.

If I could go back and talk to my new graduate self (or even my nursing student self) I would have put myself on a budget… I would have found some program to help me keep my stuff in line. Instead, I managed to squander my meager new grad nurse pay and rack up somewhere around $25-30,000 in credit card debt between nursing school and my first three years of nursing.  Honestly, I don’t even know what the grand total was. I probably paid off the same $10,000 multiple times. I lived well beyond my means. I put minimal amounts into my retirement. I bought things I couldn’t afford. I couldn’t even imagine having some sort of accident because I didn’t have short term disability and there was no way I could actually pay my bills because I had zero savings. That’s right. ZERO.

I’ve been using YNAB (clever name, isn’t it?!) for about 8 months now.  SnarkyDoc, one of our lovely blog contributors, recommended the product to me and I haven’t looked back since.  I wouldn’t write this testimonial about a product I don’t believe in. Why do I believe in it? Because I am 100% debt free now. And I have a savings. And I have short term disability.  And I’ve now maxed out my retirement contributions.  And I just bought a pair of expensive sunglasses I really wanted (without stressing about it!). And when my BFF’s birthday comes around, I’ve ALREADY saved money for her gifts. ALREADY. Yep. I won’t need to scrounge for cash to buy her awesome presents. Christmas? No problem. Saved for. To be fair, when I started YNAB I was down to about $10,000 in debt. But still, that is a pretty amazing achievement for 8 months time and I’m super proud of myself.

If there is ONE thing I can encourage you to do is to get yourself on a budget. This is your chance. Right here. Right now. I am bringing your attention to an opportunity to live within your means and still have most things you want by using the YNAB budgeting program. How much does it cost? $5 a month. That’s it people. $5 bucks. One Starbucks latte. One fast food burger (a good one!). One pound of ground turkey. 7 days of your gym membership that you may or may not use. Getting shellac on two of your fingernails. $5.

So how does it work? Click here and nose around a bit. Sign up for their FREE trial for 34 day trial of YNAB – Seriously, there is no gimmick, it’s free. You don’t input a credit card number or anything, why? “No credit card info required, because it’s lame when companies do that” – This comes straight off their website.

I did the trial and had zero qualms about signing up to continue. The program is honestly quite simple. I only had a few questions when I started and YNAB had fantastic videos that gave me the answers easily and succinctly. Go on, check it out here.

ALSO! Are you in school?  They offer their YNAB4 version free to students.  You just have to email them to have it set up.  Please mention you found out about this offer through snarkynurses. Click here for more details.

Living in areas other than the US?  You should still be able to use YNAB.  You can set up a primary currency and utilize this software.  🙂 If you work in two currencies, YNAB does not support that at this time, but I bet they’re working on it.

Below is my experience using Spreadsheets for budgeting purposes.

Spreadsheets (Excel, Google docs, Libre Office, whatever Mac people use)

This was one of the first things I tried. I mean, it makes sense, right? Take my nice budgeting categories, choose how much goes into them and then start putting in transactions. What could go wrong?

Things that went wrong

– Initially, I literally only used it to make sure I was paying my bills on time.  Yep, that was it.  Make sure that credit card payment gets in by the 15th.  So, this was definitely not beneficial from a budgetary perspective.

– Finally, I tried to buckle down and categorize things. But……..Creating categories was annoying, it wasn’t hard, but it was annoying.  I am not a spreadsheet wizard, and I’m guessing most of you aren’t either.  It wasn’t automated.  There wasn’t an automatic tally of how much of my “entertainment” budget had been used so far.  It honestly was a pain in the butt.

– Inputting transactions into my spreadsheet was super tedious.  This was before all of the apps were created to make this process easier, so I was stuck with a pile of receipts, and lemme tell you, I was a wee bit lackluster about all the data entry.  Aka… My budgeting went to sh*t.

– It was retrospective.  I never had a running total of how I was doing.  At the end of the month was when I knew how well I did and whether I stayed within the allotted budget for each category. I didn’t have a real time accounting of what was going on in snarky budget land. So basically, I would always end up over spending.

Now, this isn’t to say using spreadsheets is a bad thing. If you’re an Excel wizard or don’t have a ton of transactions or just really enjoy this kinda thing, go for it.  But, I’ll give you a hint, YNAB is easier, it isn’t retrospective, you have a real time view of what is going on with your money.

Next week, SnarkyDoc will give you a review on YNAB (and goes into greater detail on how it works), and Mint, another type of budgeting software.  See you then!

One hundred dollar bills in the shape of a heart isolated on white background The love of money

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