You Need A Budget

Today I want to talk about something somewhat food related, though not entirely. Today I want to discuss affording the food that we need to buy for our special diets. We all know that it's not cheap. I've given lots of tips before on how to make it more affordable, but really, with the various flours, alternative products, and gas spent running to all the different stores (because it seems no one store can carry everything we need!), it's just an unavoidably expensive way of life. Aside from doing all the tips and tricks that I mentioned before, another way I make this life doable is through budgeting. Everyone has a different way, I'm sure. And, like with most things, one style may work for one person, it may not work for another. Today I want to share the way that works for my family.

First of all, a bit of background. My husband and I have debt. Most Americans have debt. You, reader, probably also have debt. Being a bit vulnerably honest here, we have quite a bit of debt. We have school loan debt, wedding debt, lived-off-the-credit-cards-when-we-had-no-income debt, and of course, some naive, what-was-I-thinking, stupid debt. In spite of that, Hubby and I have excellent credit. We always paid our bills even if it meant sacrificing other things, we've never missed a due date and we're always on time. However, when it came to the leftover money for our food, entertainment and household, we didn't always know how to manage the money. We did our best but really, we just didn't have a plan.

About 3 years ago, we decided to try budgeting. For the first few months, we tried several different techniques including writing down everything with pen and paper and then reviewing it, making a humble little spreadsheet and then the "envelope" technique. Everything sort of worked, but nothing gave us the organization we wanted, the ability to fix our mistakes and to plan ahead for those big "oh crap" once or twice a year bills. So, I set out to find such a program and luckily, it was out there.

That is when the program You Need A Budget (YNAB) entered our lives. This program addressed all our above issues and even went a step further. The program creator, Jesse Mecham, developed four practical rules to budget by (like "giving every dollar a job" and "live off last months income") and they're smartly built into the YNAB program. In the last 3 years and with the help from this program, we have been able to put literally thousands of dollars into the bank and have even been able to budget for some new, non-necessary things what we just wanted - like a Wii. This was all while still putting a good chunk of change towards our debt, paying for my expensive diet, and buying other things we needed. I can not imagine having done all of this before budget. It would have been pay the debt OR buy the Wii OR buy expensive gluten free flours, but now, those "ors" are "ands" - and we couldn't be happier about it.

Oh and let me add that A), I am in no way affiliated with YNAB (other than me and my now fuller bank account being very happy customers) and B) that this review was by no means solicited by the makers of YNAB or anyone affiliated with YNAB.



Debbie said...

My husband and I have started using YNAB and it is so much better than other software options for managing complicated finances.

Clara said...

Yes Debbie, I so agree! It's really a great program!

Anonymous said...

I'll have to look into this. I don't have any outstanding debt like credit card debt (always pay off in full each month), only have our mortgage payment (but about to get a new vehicle payment to replace our 13 year old van that has really given it's all). But, there are a bunch of long-term savings things we want to do but never seem to get the money put away for those. Thanks for the info.


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