…”wtf is YNAB?!” you’re thinking.
I know, I’m good.
Okay, well this blog is not ONLY about my dating adventures but ALSO about how to be a single (and hot and amazing) 31 year old and get your financial life together.
I know, I don’t blog about it much because it’s a f–king fight. I mean really, how’s a girl supposed to maintain a social life AND (if I were to follow Mr. Ramsey) pay down debt “gazelle-intense”?
I’m more like… one of those automatic toy cars that you pull backwards to launch forwards. You know — pull back, release – ZOOM! Pull back, release, ZOOM! Cause no, I am not perfect.
Quick update on my financial life: I got headhunted and left my old company that paid me once a month, which made progress snail-ass slow. New job pays me a good amount more AND pays semi-monthly, woo-hoo! So I can feel like the next paycheck is never too far away and my “finish lines” are never too far in the future.
As you all know (or… don’t know) I’m a Dave Ramsey girl. I think he’s funny, his podcasts keep me focused and motivated, and ever since about a year ago I finally put his plan in “place” (and that baby emergency fund was built up and cashed in on … twice… so I didn’t get too far). At the time I really wished Dave Ramsey and YNAB would get married and have a little budgeting baby. But alas, my dreams were not to come true. I think I even wrote about it here… anyway. I digress.
Over this past year Mr. Ramsey introduced EveryDollar, which is his online personal finance software. I had previously been using YNAB, which is short for You Need a Budget, and … although I *tried* EveryDollar, YNAB was way easier to use (even though it’s a desktop software, not a web-software, so there was that). IMHO, EveryDollar is clunky at best. I tried to help my mom set it up the other day and she almost had a fit figuring it out. (I had previously tried to put her on YNAB, but she didn’t want to face the music so she shunned YNAB. Oh well. Whatever works for her.)
YNAB 4 has been pretty sweet for a while now, and the rumor mill over at the YNAB forums has been chugging for quite some time about YNAB on the Web! It’s happening, the mods would say, but no more than that would be revealed. Outraged, some forum members would say YNAB had forgotten about that idea, but YNAB was just being sneaky and quiet.
YNAB ON THE WEB IS HERE!
Well today YNAB released the web version and it’s next version in general of YNAB! And it’s *Awesome*. Previously, in YNAB 4, credit cards were kind of a mess, for one. Goal setting required some creativity, but all in all it helped me get my financial groove on so I stuck with it. I think I had to “start over” 3x because there were a few things I didn’t “get” at first. But the YNAB support staff is great and they never judged me. Or if they did, they didn’t tell me about it (grin).
YNAB WEB adds some new categories, and shows that YNAB staff re-thought their strategy a bit. So now, out-of-the-box categories are mainly “Immediate Obligations” and “True Expenses” and “Quality of Life Goals” and “Debt Payments”. There’s probably some more but I have customized mine now and I forget already. Bonus points to YNAB for “oh-so-casually” adding “software subscriptions” as a child category — and yes, YNAB WEB *is* following the subscription model for software. It’s the way everything is going, the entry-cost is lower for most people, and from a business perspective it creates somewhat of a predictable income stream so it’s smart.
Hmm…question for YNAB: What if you have REALLY hard times and have to cancel YNAB? Can you pick back up at any time? How long is your information stored? Things to ponder. But back to my main point… new categories.
It took me a bit to really understand what they mean by their new categories, so instead of going through 4 guides like I did to really figure it out, here’s my breakdown for you to make it easier:
An Immediate Obligation, is anything you know you have to pay for in the immediate future — keeping your walls up and lights on and you/your family fed, for instance.
A True Expense is… well, it’s like a categorized Rainy Day fund. YNAB prefers that you name all of these things, believing that if you know exactly where your rainy day fund money might be spent, you’re more likely to save for it. Things like, Car Repairs, Home Repairs, New Computer, etc. I’m opting to go more Ramsey style here and just have my Baby Emergency Fund in this category. I left some other “True Expense” categories like Vet, etc., because one day I would love to ALSO fill those guys up! But right now, if anything happens it’s coming out of Baby Emergency Fund per Dave’s instructions.
Next up, when you add a credit card YNAB magically creates a new parent category called “Credit Card Payments” and adds these new items there. Best part: No longer does YNAB visually harass you and make you want to jump off a bridge by showing you your glaring credit card balances in bright red every month.
Instead, it’s just another category. But, if you click on the category, the “Inspector” comes up (think – category details) and you can see everything that’s going on. It even gets a little smart and shows you if you pay X you’ll decrease your debt by Y and your balance will be Z.
And THEN…drumroll… YNAB adds an awesome “goal setting” feature to EVERY category (although it’s slightly different depending on the category). Basically you can say:
- Want to pay off balance by X month
- Want to pay $X towards this card this month
…and YNAB then figures out how much you need to budget that month to hit your goal, and gives you a percent complete pie-chart thing, and casually turns the category “yellow” so that WHEN YOU GET PAID NEXT you can EASILY SEE WHERE TO PUT YOUR MONIES!!!!
^ That in itself, is HUGE. I’d have to do all kinds of stuff previously – add notes, stars, hieroglyphics, to my YNAB categories to remind myself “PUT MONEY HERE WHEN PAID”. Now it’s SOOO obvious. I ❤ it completely.
For other categories, the goal options are:
- Have $X in this category (no target date)
- Have $X in this category by Y date
- Have $X in this category every month
…these options are also huge! Let’s say I have my groceries category, and a lot of my bills come out at the beginning of the month. Well, I currently have to cut the grocery bill in half so that I fill it after I get paid the second time. What this means is, I can say “Have $200 in this category every month” and then I can BUDGET $100 and the category will turn YELLOW — meaning when I get paid next I can make that category “happy” and turn in green by budgeting the rest of the money towards it!
With this release, YNAB also decides to sit at the cool kids table and automatically link to bank accounts and such — IF you choose to. And even then, you have to hit a button (or something) to download transactions into YNAB. YNAB still stands by its philosophy of wanting you to really pay attention to where your money is going. At the time of this writing, this functionality still has some bugs crawling around in it, so I couldn’t play with that part. But, I have every faith that YNAB will work it out and it’ll be just magical.
TIP: If you can’t get your own banks to connect, HOVER over the bank name when trying to add it and YNAB will show you the URL. If this URL is wrong, it won’t work!
Upgrading from YNAB 4
Okay so now that you’re like “heeey, this sounds pretty neat!” you might want to figure out how to upgrade if you are using YNAB 4.
- Open the YNAB 4 Desktop App. YNAB should prompt you to upgrade to version 4.3.820.
- If not, go to the Help menu and select Check for update.
- Upgrade YNAB.
- Go to the File menu and select Migrate to the New YNAB.
Overall I’m super excited about this release of YNAB. What’s more is it’s about $60 per year, while Dave’s pro version of EveryDollar (which connects to bank accounts) is $99 per year.
…coincidentally enough, Dave announced a free trial of the pro version for 1 month today. Ha!