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Why Most Budgets Fail but YNAB Succeeds

Why Most Budgets Fail but YNAB Succeeds

You have no money

    Chances are at least one of your New Year’s resolutions had to do with money. So how are you doing on your budget?

    I can’t count the number the times I’ve created budgets only to throw in the towel and decide that they just don’t work. Usually my frustration is due to any of the following:

    1. The amount assigned to a category just isn’t realistic. After figuring the numbers and seeing I had a little distribution problem, I determined I could eliminate entire categories or set them unrealistically low. I let my excitement and determination to save money and get out of debt cloud reality. Amidst visions of picking up second-hand clothing at Goodwill and planning to cook all meals from scratch using basic pantry staples and spending $100 a month on groceries, I just knew I could make this strict budget work! A month later I was discouraged and feeling like a budgeting failure.
    2. Projected income for the upcoming month never manages to be close to actual income. If you’re salaried, this becomes easier. If, however, you’re an hourly employee or an entrepreneur, it’s much more difficult to predict what you’ll make next month. Without fail, a project will fall through, you’ll have to take days off work, or whatever. I’m sure Murphy has a law about this. Just know it will happen.
    3. Projected expenses are never accurate. If you do manage to come near budgeted amounts in many of your categories, there will be some unexpected expense that hits you and throws the whole budget off. Your car needed a new radiator. Your child had to be taken to the urgent care center.

    Once any of these things happen, it can lead to questioning your entire budgeting philosophy. If you suddenly need to pay toward your insurance deductible this month, do you then take that money from another category? Eventually budgeting can seem like a science that is only for those who have some special know-how, a surplus of income, or are likely living in straw bale houses and making cheese from their goats. All-or-nothing syndrome sets in, and you determine you’re just a free spirit, incapable of being fettered by the tedious nature of budgeting. It occurs to you that since you have some debt already, what’s a little more debt going to matter?

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    How I stumbled on the software You Need a Budget (YNAB), I cannot recall. I imagine it was likely in my search to find answers to these basic questions above. Spreadsheets, budgets on paper, Quicken, Microsoft Money–all of these just weren’t addressing my budgeting issues. After perusing the web site, I decided had nothing to lose by downloading a trial copy. After only a few days, I was so impressed that I purchased the software.

    While you’ll find that YNAB has the same features of charts, graphs, downloading statements directly into the software, etc., that software like Microsoft Money does, you’ll immediately note that YNAB has one major difference: It actually gives you a plan with education and support to help ensure your success.

    The YNAB Plan

    1. Stop living paycheck to paycheck. That’s what all budgeting advice says, but YNAB takes a different approach that I think is the key to making a budget work. With YNAB your expenditures in the current month are based on your last month’s income. So there’s no guesswork about what you think you’ll make or spend next month. You’re working with what you have.
    2. Give every dollar a job. Since you’re working with last month’s income, you will be portioning that money to categories. Every single dollar will be planned for a particular category (or job).
    3. Prepare for rain. It only makes sense to set aside money so those unexpected expenses don’t crash your budget.
    4. Roll with the punches. I like this one. It promises you will fail! Failing is part of the program. Microsoft isn’t going to tell you that. How many times do we quit because of an all-or-nothing tendency? YNAB makes small adjustments if you overspend in a category. And since failing occasionally is part of the program, you can pick yourself back up and resume your budgeting, knowing you’re still on track.

    The company further supports you by offering a free PDF book (upon purchase of the software) and free videos and information on topics of budgeting.

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    One of the keys to the YNAB philosophy is that you must get a month ahead on your income in order to have last month’s income at your disposal for this month’s expenses. This is the hardest part, but if you look at it as a challenge and take joy in watching your savings grow, it becomes easier. Accumulating a month’s savings is expected to take several months.

    A Chat with Jesse Mecham, CEO and founder of You Need a Budget

    I have my own ideas on why budgets fail, but I was curious to see how Jesse Mecham, CEO and founder of YNAB, would answer some questions related to YNAB and the challenges of budgeting in general:

    Q: Jesse, what gave you the idea to create YNAB with a budget based on last month’s income? I am unaware of any other software that does this.
    I was using spreadsheets before marriage, and then after becoming married, I had this idea. I knew I wanted to assign money to categories, but I wondered how I could possibly know how much to assign without overdrafting or getting ahead of myself. When asking someone to create a budget they often don’t even know what they’re spending in the first place. If you go over budget, just keep moving.

    Q: So what would you say is the reason that most budgets fail?
    The biggest reason is people don’t see a reward that matches their work and their input. So there’s a lot of work and thought up front, and for most people the budgeting process is fairly unnatural. What happens is people don’t see the results they’d expect from the work they put in. It’d be like eating really well for three months and not seeing a change.

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    Q: How, in this economy, can people get a month ahead in income? Is that advice still feasible? This seems like the hardest step.
    It’s definitely is the hardest part, and with the hardest part comes the most rewarding part as well. Consider sales of belongings. The goal is not so much having a month saved. What you’re really trying to do is just last an entire month without touching that month’s paychecks. Look to your current employer first; do some overtime. Most of the time it’s people ridding themselves of clutter that makes the fastest progress.

    Q: I was using your software before being surprised with a diagnosis of cancer in my 30s in 2007 (I’m cancer-free now, thanks). For individuals and families facing major financial crises, what advice would you give them for making budgeting work when there simply isn’t enough money available for expenses? Can YNAB still somehow work for them?
    That is tough. First, make sure every dollar has a job. There are parts of the budget that can be done even if you’re in the red for long periods of time. No matter what you do, still record everything you spend. Maintain some awareness as much as possible. When people get in emergency mode, they lose control and awareness. The best way to fight back is to simply record what you’re spending. It’ll rein you in much quicker than not doing it at all.

    Q: Your web site states that YNAB makes small adjustments to your overspending. How does it do this?
    YNAB is like a virtual envelope system. The software wants you to maintain your savings but still have money for Christmas or your vacation you just borrowed for, so when you bring in money for the next month, you take that wad of money and drop that back into other envelopes that need replenishing. Every overage is automatically deducted from next month’s income.

    Q: I do see you have a 60-day money back guarantee. Do you also have a free trial?
    There are both. The trial is not advertised. People were getting the software and not understanding the why behind it. Weekly webinars are available with a live teacher to see. However, if readers want the free trial, they can go to http://www.youneedabudget.com/test-drive .

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    Q: It doesn’t appear that YNAB automatically downloads transactions from financial institutions on a regular basis. Is this feature coming?
    Technically it’s not very difficult, but it is very expensive. That expense would either have to be passed on to the customer or we would have to find another revenue source to support it. Banks and credit cards want to keep us separate from what we’re actually spending, which is contrary to YNAB philosophy because it reduces awareness. The feature is planned, but we also want the customer to look at the methodology. As far as time lines, the new Mac/PC version is first priority. After that, we would look at implementing automatic downloads of transactions.

    Q: I see that you have the guide in the form of a PDF file. I really like the idea of a paper book. How long before this is available?
    I’m currently trying to see where the book is fitting the overall system. We are considering a paper book.

    Q: Are there any new features in the works that you’d like to share?
    Our next software version will be using Adobe Flex AIR technology. The methodology will be the same, but the design will be different. The interface will be easier to use. Reporting will be much more dynamic and flexible. We hope to have that in beta in May/June.

    Q: Is there anything else that we haven’t covered that you would like to add?
    If people don’t want to worry about the 60-day money-back guarantee or purchasing the software yet, I’d recommend they just sign up for the free budgeting course at http://www.youneedabudget.com/course. It’s not a sales pitch. In 10 days people walk through the methodology and get down to the nitty-gritty of budgeting, money in relationships, why cash flow is sometimes so stressful, how it can be made easier, talk about rule number four, and discuss why people don’t talk about budgeting.

    The Downsides?

    I haven’t found many, but they are:

    • No integration with a handheld device. If you like to enter purchases on the fly on your smartphone, it can’t currently be done with YNAB. According to Jesse Mecham, YNAB wants to store the data online so people can get to their transactions and category balances through possibly an SMS approach, mobile web interface, and/or an iPhone application perhaps the middle of this year or later.
    • Since the company has never taken any funding or loans, some major features like integration with a handheld device tend to take a bit longer to roll out.
    • YNAB Pro is not Mac-compatible (the basic version is). However, a new Mac and PC version is expected to be available in the summer of 2009.

    The Bottom Line

    YNAB’s philosophy and software features combat many of the reasons bugets fail. It’s inexpensive, bug-free, and worth checking out. YNAB ($24.95) and YNAB Pro ($49.95) can both be downloaded from http://www.youneedabudget.com. The software comes with a 60-day money-back guarantee. If you want to try it out first, a trial version is available at http://www.youneedabudget.com/test-drive. Both YNAB and YNAB Pro include a free copy of the PDF ebook “The YNAB Way.” The Pro version comes with bonus features, such as a car maintenance schedule, income tax forecaster, and more. The developers are very responsive to customer feedback and will support you with visual and written materials that help you understand the psychology of successful budgeting.

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    Last Updated on August 7, 2018

    How to Make Money with a Blog (According to 23 Successful Bloggers)

    How to Make Money with a Blog (According to 23 Successful Bloggers)

    Not too long ago, you believed that making money with a blog was impossible. But after seeing dozens of income reports from other bloggers, you became hooked. Now you’re left wondering if you could achieve similar results.

    In this article, I’ll consolidate the lessons learned from some successful bloggers and get you the advice on how to make money with a blog.

    How to monetize your blog the right way

    A blog is more than a website with words, it’s a brand that solves a problem. When you’re first starting off it’s difficult to make any money. Why? Because no one trusts your brand.

    The solution is simple, provide engaging content to build a large audience. Once your blog’s traffic and subscribers have grown, here are the most effective ways you can monetize your blog.

    1. Affiliate Marketing[1]
    2. Selling Courses[2]
    3. Coaching[3]

    “Get rich quick” schemes rarely work

    Some believe that bloggers had their success handed to them, but this is far from the truth. Their success required sacrifice, discipline and courage to work. And this is where most people run into trouble because they’re unwilling to put in the work.

    Your first step to building income through your blog is to stop believing it will be easy to achieve. The trick is to only listen to a few bloggers who are at the position you’d like to be and take massive action.

    It can take months or even years before you start earning income.

    And when the going gets tough, keep going. Don’t stop. Learn to love the journey more than the outcome and you’ll build a profitable blog.

    Executing the right advice leads to success

    You need to learn from bloggers with diverse backgrounds.

    What motivates someone to build an online business may not inspire you. But there’re strategies some bloggers will share that you’ll resonate with.

    So what’s the next step? To start taking action.

    How to make money with a blog: Lessons learned from 23 successful bloggers

    Browse the list of some of the most influential and down to earth bloggers in today’s time. Chances are that you’ll resonate with a few of them. Take their practical lessons and apply them to your blog.

    These bloggers may spark light bulb moments for you and change your life forever.

    1. Gary Vaynerchuck – Down to earth entrepreneur who’ll transform your life

      Gary is a proud “D” student who helped his dad grow his wine liquor store into a 60 million business. He left the wine business to start his own digital agency, which now generates over $100 million.

      Today, he inspires entrepreneurs of all ages through his blog, vlog, and Podcast to take full control of their lives doing what they love.

      Lesson: Have the patience to build a successful business.

      2. Pat Flynn – Online Jedi who’s fearless to try new ideas

        Pat built several sites, is an author of many books and has launched many podcasts. His blog is one of the most popular sites on the web for beginner and experienced entrepreneurs. Despite Pat’s success, he’s still humble and willing to help others.

        Lesson: Don’t let fear stop you from stepping out of your comfort zone.

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        3. John Lee Dumas – Entrepreneur on fire, inspiring others through his voice

          John is the host of EOFire, an award-winning business podcast, interviewing top entrepreneurs. He’s interviewed successful entrepreneurs such as Gary Vaynerchuk, Tony Robbins and many more. John is also the author of the #1 ranked book for Podcasting in Amazon. He’s an excellent example of what happens when you chase your dreams and remain committed.

          Lesson: Follow one course until success (FOCUS).

          4. J Money – Rockstar money expert who injects “cool” into finance

            J Money is an award-winning personal finance blogger, company advisor and money rockstar. He injects a “fun” personality in his blog, adding a sense of “coolness” to personal finance. He’s the founder of RockstarFinance, a personal finance directory filled with useful resources.

            The fresh perspectives J shares about money will leave you pondering for days.

            Lesson: Have fun with your blog to stand out and create engaging content.

            5. Mr. Money Mustache – Badass blogger who’ll transform your financial lifestyle

              Mr.MM’s goal is to help you live a “badass” life. He has unique money saving ideas up his sleeve, such as cutting your grocery bill in half, and DIY solar panels. There are no “generic” articles in his blog, only thorough and well-thought ideas.

              Mr.MM is financially independent and willing to share his secrets if you dare to listen.

              Lesson: Focus on your needs and wants to live your dream lifestyle.

              6. Sam – Thoughtful blogger sharing smart insights

                Sam is a blogger and a real estate investor. His blog has received millions of views and featured in Forbes, Lifehacker, CNBC, and many more. Sam dives deep into topics like real estate, retirement planning, and career strategies. Read his blog and discover why it’s “bookmark-worthy”.

                Lesson: Keep investing in yourself to be better prepared for the future.

                7. Joshua Dorkin – The persistent entrepreneur who never lost hope

                  Joshua is a well-known entrepreneur and speaker who’s featured in major publications. He’s built the nation’s largest real estate investing blog and co-host of the BiggerPockets podcast.

                  He’s the ultimate example of what’s attainable when you pursue your dreams. His blog is one of the only few you’ll need to reach financial independence with real estate.

                  Lesson: Keep working towards your goal despite who tries to stop you.

                  8. Ramit Sethi – That “cool” teacher who’ll help you reach your next level

                    Ramit is a New York Times Bestselling author. He prides himself on being different, which is why he loves giving away 98% of his material for free. His content is binge-worthy and will bring out the awesome out of you.

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                    If you’re ready to master your inner psychology or finance, then stop by Ramit’s blog.

                    Lesson: There’s always a way to get what you want as long as you’re willing to put in the work.

                    9. Paula Pant – The entrepreneur who took an enormous risk chasing freedom

                      Paula is a writer, speaker and freedom enthusiast. It didn’t take long after landing her “dream” job to know it wouldn’t offer the freedom she’d craved.

                      Today, Paula has reached financial independence by building many income streams. Her writing style is engaging will leave you questioning your limiting beliefs.

                      Lesson: It’s worth risking the odds to live your desired lifestyle.

                      10. Steve – Early retiree, fearless to take a stance

                        Steve reached financial independence 30 years earlier than the typical American. You can find his work in major sites such as Forbes, Business Insider, and many more.

                        Currently, Steve writes detailed content on his blog helping readers achieve financial independence. If you’re looking to save money, or retire early, you’ll love Steve’s blog.

                        Lesson: Plan ahead to reach your desired goals.

                        11. Robert Farrington – Millennial Sensei for college students

                          Robert is a consultant, and a writer dubbed as America’s Millennial money expert. His passion for managing money at a young age led him to create The College Investor. In his blog, you’ll find great resources to crush student loan debt and invest your money.

                          Lesson: Be open-minded with how you can express your passion.

                          12. Joe Udo – The writer who took the road less taken

                            Taking risks ain’t easy, but there are always a few people who take it anyways. Joe is a blogger, investor and a great example of what risk takers do. He retired before turning 40, after leaving a job he’d been working for over a decade.

                            Joe’s blog shares proven ways to building passive income, and managing your money.

                            Lesson: Taking risks becomes easier when you prepare daily.

                            13. Elle Martinez – The financial superwoman for struggling couples

                              Elle has a passion for money, so much that she’s been writing about personal finance for over a decade. She enjoys helping couples build their finances together, and live on one income.

                              Elle’s blog helps you avoid money fights, boosts your savings, and much more.

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                              Lesson: Find ways to solve the problems you’re obsessed about.

                              14. Len Penzo – Creative blogger who makes personal finance entertaining

                                Len’s blog has received over 9 million visitors. He’s featured in major publications such as the NY Times, Forbes, and many more.

                                Len transforms boring money subjects into engaging content that hook readers for more. If you want to make smarter financial decisions, his blog is a must-read.

                                Lesson: Create engaging content to build a large audience.

                                15. Farnoosh Torabi – Finance expert, inspiring women to unleash their full potential

                                  Farnoosh used to borrow clothes and eat $5 Footlongs until she climbed out of debt. Today she’s a journalist, author, TV personality, and financial expert. Farnoosh is the host of SO Money, one of iTunes’s top financial Podcasts. She’s a leader and inspiration to other women.

                                  Lesson: View your shortcomings as gifts and use them to stand out.

                                  16. Michelle Schroeder-Gardner – Young entrepreneur achieving success on the road

                                    Michelle started blogging in 2011 with hopes of improving her finances. Today, her blog is one of the most popular personal finance blogs you’ll find. There’s a slim chance you might catch her on the road, as she’s touring around the US with her husband. Her blog contains advice for growing your income and living a better lifestyle.

                                    Lesson: Be transparent about your struggles to build a supportive audience.

                                    17. Phillip Talyor – Money expert who knows how to throw a finance party

                                      Phillip Taylor or “PT” is a blogger, CPA, and a finance enthusiast. At one point, he’d accumulated a ton of debt and was in need of financial wisdom. He created his blog to document his financial wins, and collaborate with others.

                                      Because of Phillip’s passion for finance, he created FinCon. Today, Fincon is the go-to conference where influencers and financial brands meet.

                                      Lesson: Hard work is more important than experience to achieve your goals.

                                      18. Stefanie O’Connell – The financial role model every woman needs

                                        Stefanie started blogging around 2008, at a time when most of America was in a financial crisis. Despite this, she went from living on less than $500 a week to dubbed as a Millennial money expert.

                                        Stefanie spends her time helping ambitious women adopt “rich” habits. Join Stefanie’s tribe and start feeling empowered with your finances.

                                        Lesson: You can be a role model for others if you’re brave enough to face your fears

                                        19. J.D. Roth – Finance enthusiast who’ll leave you thinking smarter

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                                          J.D. was a contributor of the “Your Money” column for Entrepreneur magazine. His blog is one of the best personal finance blogs on the web and has received millions of visitors. You’ll find in-depth articles that will leave you making smarter money decisions.

                                          Lesson: No matter how big your problems are, there’s always a solution.

                                          20. Catherine Alford – Entrepreneur mom, inspiring women to chase their dreams

                                            Catherine is a speaker, writer, and a proud mom of 2 twins. She’s an inspiration for women looking to spend more time with their families. Catherine became best Contributor/Freelancer for personal finance in 2014.

                                            Discover why you don’t need to choose between your career and family at Catherine’s blog.

                                            Lesson: Your story can become the inspiration many are searching for.

                                            21. Natalie Bacon – Life coach and entrepreneur inspiring women to design their dream lives

                                              Natalie is an inspiration for those looking to pursue their passion. She’s featured in major sites like The Huffington Post, Forbes, and many others. Natalie follows her dreams and isn’t afraid of hard work. Her blog contains quality content that will inspire you to take action.

                                              Lesson: Don’t be afraid to change course because you’ll be one step closer to finding your dream life.

                                              22. Crystal Paine – Inspirational entrepreneur who loves to give back

                                                Crystal is a personal finance blogger who’s been writing since 2006. Her site has creative ways to save money on groceries, clothes, toys, and much more. Crystal donates a percentage of her blog’s income towards life-impacting ministries.

                                                Her blog will not only teach you how to save money but also how to live an abundant lifestyle.

                                                Lesson: Focus on helping others first and you’ll build massive wealth.

                                                23. Liz – Frugal expert who’ll transform your bad spending habits

                                                  Liz is an author, writer and a frugal expert who enjoys helping others save money. She’s featured in NPR, Forbes, Liz’s blog contains creative ways to save money and reach financial independence.

                                                  Lesson: Be bold enough to prioritize your opinion above others’.

                                                  Start your blog and achieve jaw-dropping results

                                                  Imagine waking in your pajamas and opening your laptop. You notice a few hundred dollars were deposited to your Paypal account. This money didn’t fall from the sky, it came from your blog.

                                                  Not too long ago you believed making money from a blog was impossible, but now you’ve finally achieved it. Amazing isn’t it?

                                                  This can be your reality if you learn from these successful bloggers. Go through this list and pick your top three bloggers. Take a look at their content (Blog, Podcast, Video), and break your bad habits.

                                                  The time has come to transform yourself into the blogger you’d like to become. You’re not someone who only wants to accumulate a ton of cash. You want to live your dream life and impact others doing what you love.

                                                  What’s stopping you now?

                                                  Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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