How YNAB can put the magic back into the holidays

When I was in debt, I used to dread the holidays. They were costly, time consuming, and not fun at all. For a while, I thought that was just part of being an adult, but once I got my finances under control using YNAB, the holidays became magical again.

For years, my husband and I struggled with debt. Like many Americans, we had gotten in over our head. We hadn’t been particularly irresponsible. We had used credit cards sparingly. Once we took a vacation, but usually, we used them to help us with groceries and other incidentals. Our income was increasing every year, but our debt load seemed to be increasing even faster.

For most of the year, I could manage to get all of our bills paid, but during the holidays, it become difficult to juggle everything. I wanted to buy gifts for my children, lights for the house, and special food for our meals, but in order to afford those things, I had to make big sacrifices. One December, to be honest, I just didn’t pay the heating bill. We paid it in January, but then, we spent the rest of the year catching up.

Finally, I decided that enough was enough, and I decided to take action. I asked a friend who had recently gotten out of debt what type of program she had used, and she said that she had used YNAB.

YNAB stands for You Need a Budget, and it is a easy to use budget software. From the moment, I started using it, I was impressed. It allowed me to track my income and my expenses. In the past, we had struggled with sticking to a budget because my husband owns his own business. Some months, he makes significantly more money than other months, and it can be hard to juggle everything during the lean months.

One of my worst qualities is that I am not very organized. In light of that, I was really worried that finance software wouldn’t work for me. Luckily, YNAB had features for people who tend to be unorganized. Most importantly, it allowed me to enter my spending from wherever I was. I just had to hit a couple of buttons on my phone, and the program instantly tracked my spending. Because it was tracking my spending, it made it easy to see where I was wasting money and how I needed to change.

YNAB was more than just an impersonal piece of computer software. It was a method. Using this program, I learned the importance of giving every dollar its own special job, how to save, how to handle the unexpected, and finally how to live on last month’s income. Now, instead of living paycheck to paycheck, I always have a balance, and not just in my checking account but in my savings account as well. This year, I met the holidays with joy. I didn’t have to skip paying the utility bills to afford presents. In fact, I was so on top of financial things that by the time December rolled around, I had already bought most of my presents.

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