Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Too Much Month at the End of Your Money? (Giveaway!)

The other day I noticed an article called: A Day in the Frugal Life (it was in a magazine claiming to be dedicated to cutting back in "tough times").

I live what I consider a relatively frugal life, but I'm always hopeful that an article so titled will provide a money-saving suggestion I am not already practicing. Not this time. I sort of couldn't believe the suggestions: swap your $4 daily Latte for a $3 Misto, forego the daily newspaper and get your news from an online aggregator, skip the $8 deli sandwich and bring your lunch to work, brush your teeth after drinking coffee or eating berries to cut down on teeth-whitening costs.

I guess you have to start somewhere, but really?

I was/am having a hard time seeing how downgrading the morning brew and cutting back on teeth whitening constitute "tough times?"

Anyway, last night Nate and I were laying in bed talking about sundry things: the absurdity of that article, tax returns, financial planning. The conversation finally settled on the topic of our budget. And we both agreed that living on a budget (and when I say living on a budget, I don't mean trying to stay within a loosely defined set of financial limits, I mean deciding ahead of time where every dollar that comes into our hands will be spent and then recording where those dollars actually go,) is the best thing that's happened to our financial life. We're budget geeks. I believe my uttered words last night were: I friggedy' love budgeting. (We use YNAB, I think you already know that).

I will go to my grave saying that the first step to financial peace, prosperity, independence (what ever financial end you desire) is to live on a budget. So, I'm excited to tell you that the man behind YNAB contacted me last week and suggested a giveaway -- one copy of YNAB Pro to be given to one lucky commenter. Cool, no?

Just leave a comment telling me why you need a budget and I'll announce a winner on Monday. And in the mean time, go check out Jesse's blog -- it's good stuff.

27 comments:

  1. I need to quit working (after 22 years and all of my adult life) to stay home with my Sissy g.
    Can't be done on our current spending habits, but I think it CAN be done if we (read I) knew how.


    How was that?

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  2. I am also finding no help with the "How to cut your finances" articles. They are recommending stuff I've done for years. One item on the YNAB website that grabbed my attention was The “I can’t budget, I’m on a variable income” problem is eliminated." We are self employed so our income is always variable, but I would love to find something to help us with this problem.

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  3. Hmm. Well, we do have pretty strict budgeting guidelines, but we track it in Microsoft Money, then export it manually back to Excel and quite frankly, it's a pain. I'd really love something that's more user-friendly and allows us to track things more minute-by-minute--I have spending bars set up in MS Money for budgetary items, but it doesn't give me a good perspective of where we are overall.

    My other quibble with our current budgeting methods is that our income is changing so frequently depending on whether or not I'm working at the time that we're always having to recalibrate our budgets, and with the prospective 8 months I'll be taking off (at least) with this new baby, I know we're REALLY going to have to cut down on our already pared-to-the-bone spending habits (3 kids on a graduate stipend? Not fun at all).

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  4. Oops--let me clarify--kids are definitely fun; it's the grad stipend that isn't. :-)

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  5. I've been looking at this since your last post on budgeting. Me and Mine are TERRIBLE at it and really need to start getting on track (we being mostly me) This would help immensely and of course you are my budgeting sensei.

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  6. We have been hit pretty hard by the current economic situation of our country. Although I have budgeted in the past, I see that there is a great need for improvement. Times are different and I am holding YNAB to it's promise - "Pay your bills when they arrive — no more wasting time by timing paychecks with bills!"

    Pick me! Pick me!

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  7. Oooo sounds nifty! I am a recent college graduate wanting to know the best possible ways I can keep track of my spending and allow for savings for the future.

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  8. Oh man, I'm a month late!

    We just bought YNAB pro last month, and I LOVE IT! (Way, way better than Quicken, which is what we were trying to use) I've been reading all your blog posts over there. I can't wait til we're fully "buffered" and don't have to worry about when the bills are due vs when the paycheck comes.

    It is so liberating to know that every dollar has a job, and that I'm in control of my money, rather than the other way around!

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  9. I'm not a big "giveaway" girl...but I better make a stab for this one! I was impressed the last time you posted on your YNAB budget and thought, "That's great! Maybe we can do something more like that" But our make-shift methods aren't really taking us the distance. We need to buckle down and use a proven tool.

    Thanks for raising the subject again!

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  10. Em, first, thanks for the chat the other day! I miss you!!!!
    And second I do not intend to press my "giveaway" luck on this one but I had to comment because I have actually contacted Jesse about YNAB pro after your last post and have been meaning to follow your's and Nate's responsible lead and get our life on the road to budget friendly buying. I just haven't -my "haven't done" list seems to be getting longer the closer this baby gets :)!
    When we do get it I will be thinking of you!
    p.s. are you getting a commission for your recommendations :)! Cause you should!!!

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  11. ummmm, that was Traci not Mark ;)

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  12. Hey Em,
    You guys are awesome budgeters! We are okay to pretty good and getting better. I always get excited when I see new budgeting articles but then I read them and am like "I do these things already" or "that is totally ridiculous advice" like one time I read in Kiplingers to downgrade your vacations from hawaii to disneyland. Trying times!

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  13. Ugh, mine is probably going to be the worst comment ever, and you'll probably say to yourself, "What? Is she serious? Lame.", but, we haven't budgeted since we've been married. I mean, we'll plan for things, say we should spend a certain amount each month on groceries, etc., etc. My way of "budgeting" is going online to my bank every other day and checking to see what's going on in there. I don't keep track of checks, and sometimes they'll go through 2 months later, and I'll say to myself, "Hmmm, I wonder what that was for?" I know that Jeff and I could save a sweet little nest egg if we were smart and planned ahead, but sometimes it feels like time is the biggest problem. We'd rather sit down after a rough day at work and motherhood and veg on the couch, versus budget together. We simply don't know how to go about it and get started. Period. Now I'm going to follow your link to YNAB and find out what the heck it is anyway!

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  14. I'm good at math but I haven't balanced my checkbook for almost 20 years. (Because I am afraid.)

    Maybe the things I could learn from this book would help me not have to be afraid.

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  15. hmmm... well I have to say, about once every few months Trav and I will say, "We really should have a budget"...and then we never do. We have zero budget. Here's our problem-- we went from being students who had no money, so we didn't spend any money...easy as that, to real people with real jobs, and more money than we really needed month to month since we didn't have any kids or a mortgage. Now my idea of a budget is just to try not to spend money and then just feel really guilty when I do. That's the main reason I want to budget...because when you have planned ahead where your money is going then you feel OK about spending money, because its part of the plan and you know things are taken care of and planned for elsewhere. Its totally liberating. The other thing is now that we are going to buy a house (hopefully) we won't have as much expendable cash and so we really will have to allot our money more concretely. I feel like not having a budget is holding us back on some level because we are afraid to incur more financial obligations and be forced to be more careful. Dumb...I know. Also, being that organized and following through with keeping track of every penny I spend is 100% not the way I am wired...which is not a good excuse, but I just dread having one more thing about my life that I have to feel organized about. Also dumb...I know.

    Anyway, thanks for bringing this up. Really I just need you to live next door and keep me on track with this kind of stuff. You could come over and walk me through it. Every day;)

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  16. ps...I just read all of your posts on YNAB blog (which I guess I had known that you did at one point but had forgotten about), and I am so amazed by you. You are a smart cookie. SMART! And I am just so proud of you.

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  17. we (my boyfriend and I) need a budget because....
    we sometimes/mostly don't make enough to cover our expenses.
    we live worse than paycheque to paycheque.
    we're in a never-ending cycle of payday loans.
    we're facing two disconnection notices by the end of the month due to non-payment.

    OH yeah....

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  18. our budget is completely after-the-fact. we put all of our spending in writing after it's all happened at month's end and see how it compares to what we hoped we would spend. a little backwards.

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  19. Nine years ago when Dave and I were married, I insisted we purchase Quicken as a wedding gift to ourselves. But like you (pre-YNAB), we have a crumpled pile of receipts on our counter that have yet to be "Quickened" and we've never figured out the budget tool. YNAB appears much more user-friendly. We would love the YNAB software - it would be a great anniversary gift!

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  20. Looks great. I would love to try it!

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  21. We are big budgeters already and I always find it refreshing to hear that others are budgeters too and we are not the only ones that can't buy something for ourselves because we have already spent all the money in the category.

    We have tried several programs for budgeting and right now living with a homemade excel worksheet because nothing has been able to fit our needs. YNAB sounds great and we would to try it on for size.

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  22. We started off with a budget when we were poor college kids and REALLY needed it. Now we've become so tight with our money that I rarely think about a budget. It would be nice to start one again to see where our money is really going!

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  23. Honestly, your financial savvyness is totally intimidating to me. Budgeting to me is like being on a diet...you have limit what you eat and exercise--it's challenging and requires time/effort/thought but the results make it worth it (sometimes). Budgeting takes time, discipline, and well, TIME. But again...the results are worth it. Everyone wants their financial houses to be in order just like everyone wants to be fit/healthy, right?
    I am in desperate need of a program. As you know B and I are climbing out of last years debt hole and it is grueling. We are making progress and I'm happy about it but I am HORRIFIED to fall back into the hole. Seriously. Debt suffocates you and it takes a toll on every aspect of your life. I am SO anxious to be on a program that brings peace of mind.
    I WOULD LOOOOVE TO BE THE LUCKY WINNER!!! :)

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  24. Aside from budgeting being fun (yes, we're serious. Meg and I LOVE to budget), how can we honestly say we're good stewards if we don't know how we're stewarding our money? (I just made up "stewarding" right now, if Shakespear can verb nouns, so can I!!).

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  25. I was going to leave a comment even before you told me to, so here it is! (and I haven't read what everyone else wrote - so many!)
    WE NEED TO BUDGET!!! I don't know how we've gone seven years without one! I love, relish, nay ADORE being a stay-at-home mom, even though it practically equates to being a single mom. I hardly ever see my hard-working hubby! He is working two jobs, trying to make ends meet. We only get to see him Saturday and Sunday mornings! All because we weren't living within our means in the first place. We really are trying to be better now, especially when Dave thinks about how many hours at the Post Office he would have to work to pay for that "weekend whim". We aren't very structured, though, just trying to get bills paid. So, if you say this system works, then I believe and I need it!
    I know I've said it before - I ♥ you and I ♥ your blog!!!

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  26. We need a budget because, well, frankly, everyone needs a budget, but we especially do because our incoming income is pretty close to our outgoing bills and so there is very little wiggle room. We've tried a lot of different financial methods, but I am very much interested in doing what you guys are doing. I really appreciate hearing how you guys live within a budget and how you make it work. I want to be more like that!

    thanks! i hope this is a random giveaway because there are so many better comments than this....

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