Last month, I threw down a challenge to start living on a monthly budget. This wealth-building habit gives a purpose to every dollar you earn so your money doesn't go wandering off. That is the essence of a zero-based budget. Every dollar gets a job whether it is for spending, saving, giving or investing.
If you’re married, it is super helpful to have a monthly get together to discuss your family budget. Discussions around where you’re spending money, things you’re saving up for and, most importantly, what are your long-term dreams for your marriage and your family.
My wife and I have been budgeting for over 7 years now and the continuous get togethers have helped us to realize our dreams like eliminating our consumer debt, building up a proper emergency fund and making a plan to pay off our mortgage by the end of this year.
Oh, and fun stuff too! The budget helps us plan and save up for vacations with the family, birthday parties for our kids and the oh-so crucial date nights.
Knowing that you're most successful when you're equipped with the right tools, we gave the personal budgeting tool YNAB (You Need a Budget) a try. Having only experienced my simple spreadsheet before and Mint, it was time to try something new.
So, how’d we do?
Here are 3 quick PROS of working on YNAB:
1. You can only budget money you have
As opposed to Mint where you can project your income for the month and budget accordingly, YNAB only allows you to budget money that you have in your bank account. This was a whole new way of looking at things for me and it was a nice change.
2. If you go over budget, you have to reallocate
In Mint, if you go over budget, you’ll get an indication that you’ve exceeded your allotted budget for a specific category. In YNAB, you need actually find another category in your budget to take money away from. If you spend too much on groceries for example, then you need to borrow from your “eating out” category. Overall, I appreciated the sense of accountability in YNAB.
3. Live tutorials are free, intuitive and helpful
I joined one of these tutorials and it was a HUGE confidence booster for me. I understood the philosophy of the system and why the budgeting worked the way it did. Since the tutorial was live, I was able to ask follow-up questions to the presenter. Another nice feature!
I really only had ONE MAJOR con that made the month tough for me with YNAB:
1. Could not upload my wife's credit card into YNAB
I tried the import feature and it wouldn’t work. I contacted the support folks and they were extremely helpful and responsive, but even after getting the account to connect, YNAB still does not automatically import Nicole’s credit card purchases. Without that auto import, using YNAB adds a bunch of additional work for me. With the 1,000 things I try to do each month as a father, husband, full-time employee, blogger and podcaster … my budgeting needs to be simple.
That is why, I’m sticking with Mint.
It has worked well for us for 5 years. The import features work like a charm, the app is super convenient and it is free.
The kind people at YNAB extended my free trial because I was having trouble loading my wife’s credit card information. I’ll try to get it to work for me again over the next couple of weeks, but if I’m not successful I’m going back to my first budgeting love, Mint.
I would love to hear how you all fared in your budgeting adventures this month. Please leave me a comment below. If you had trouble getting into budgeting, please don’t get discouraged. Budgeting is just like any other skill; practice makes perfect. The benefit of this skill though is that it’ll help you create wealth!
MKM Challenge: Protect Your Family's Future
Picture this …
You’ve had a really long week. Let’s say you had a big project at work and it kept you late at the office a couple of nights in a row. It's now Friday at 5pm and you’re singing “Free Fallin'” on your ride home from work like Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire.
You pull your car into the garage and walk inside. Your spouse greets you and says, “Hey baby, great news. My Mom has the kids tonight! Let’s go out to dinner.” You’re excited, you’re pumped. This is going to be a great night.
You get ready quickly so you can get a jump-start on your evening of freedom – no kids, adult conversation with your spouse. Life is good.
You start driving down your street and make your way to the restaurant. It must be your night because it’s green lights the whole drive.
When all of a sudden …
Another driver blows through a red light and smashes into the side of your car. You and your wife are rushed to the nearest hospital, but after all of the doctor’s efforts, they, unfortunately, are not able to keep either of you alive.
Grandma (who was watching your two kids) is informed of the horrible news. Plans for your funeral, arrangements for the kids and your assets are all discussed with your extended family. Disagreements begin. The kids get worried. A search for your last will and testament begins to make sense of it all, but unfortunately, there is no will to be found.
Do you have your will in place?
According to USA Today in 2015, 64% of Americans did not have a will in place. That is a lot of people leaving it up to the states or courts to decide how their assets are distributed, where their kids will live and how their funeral will be handled.
This fatal date night situation could happen to any of us at any time. Life is unpredictable like that. What we do have in our control is how we prepare.
How do we get started?
My challenge to the listeners of this show this month is to get a last will and testament in place by the end of this month.
Here is an article I wrote last fall called Create the Family Will in 6 Steps to get you started.
Let’s say you already have a will already in place. Nice work!
- When was the last time you reviewed it?
- Is your newest child mentioned in there?
- Do you still want your kids to go to the same guardians mentioned in the document?
Make sure you update it as your life updates.
Now Nicole and I already have our will in place, but we do not have a living trust. This document essentially transfers all assets into a trust instead of in our name so we can avoid probate court and probate fees. I’ve heard conflicting details on whether we need one or not in our situation. My goal this month is to do some further investigation into this living trust situation. I’ll plan to report back to you all on the first Monday of July on how my investigations go.
Challenge Mic Dropped
So, the challenge has been laid down everyone! Who is in? Please leave me a comment below and let me know how your will preparation is going. With this simple activity, you are protecting your entire family for years to come.
I'm looking forward to reporting back on our progress next month!
YNAB Tutorial Part I from Making Your Money Matter
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