How do you budget?


Keeping in topic with the most recent blog post. What do you use to budget?
I know the blog recommends YNAB, but it’s pretty expensive.


So I’ve tried a lot of different budgeting methods over the years.

First, I tried the keep a minimum amount in your account and try to track in your head method. It worked better than doing nothing, but it is obviously very difficult to make financial progress without tracking real numbers.

Second, I used Mint for a while. Not a bad tool. It’s nice that it syncs with your accounts and makes it easy to track spending. But that is the problem with Mint. You are tracking spending, not budgeting real money you have. Their budget feature has you guess how much money you are going to have come in, and then guess how much of it you are going to spend.

Third, I used a standard spreadsheet. I tracked how much money we were making, and where i was going. This is actually the method we were using when we started paying down our debt as well as saving for our wedding. It was free. But it was easy to make mistakes and not be exact with all our numbers, being that there was no real financial software behind my tables.

Now, we use YNAB. To your point, it is the only budgeting software that I’ve had to purchase so far. However, because of how much more effective we are at budgeting, we’ve made up the cost many times over. The fact that YNAB makes you budget money you already have in your account (versus forecasting like Mint), makes you fully utilize every dollar you make. It obviously has my endorsement.

But I do believe you need to find a system that works best for you. The key is to not be afraid to try/learn new methods.


We don’t really budget. But we do a pretty good job of making sure we don’t spend too much in certain areas. We always maintain a minimum amount of money in our checking account as a safeguard.


Have you tried ever budgeting Sarah?


Not really. I’ve played around in Mint to set up spending limits, but nothing serious. I just don’t think I’d want to go through each line item and do a budget. I do OKAY without it.


Have you ever looked into Everydollar? It has a similar philosophy to YNAB, but there is still a free version available.


EveryDollar seems to be a good tool. An improvement from Mint, but not fully a zero-based budget (still forecasting income) like YNAB.

On that note - for anybody looking to try YNAB, here is a link to a 4 month free trial that a friend shared yesterday.