Getting Started With YNAB For Budgeting

Budgeting has always been something I knew I should be doing, but actively budgeting AND USING the budget were two different things for me. That was, until I learned how to use YNAB for budgeting… then things changed so fast.

Our spending was all over the place and I knew I needed to change things up a bit. But, I couldn’t figure out why our budget was either always a bust or how to stick to it when I felt like throwing my hands in the air.

It never failed that I’d feel like a budget failure or that I’d let my husband down.

What Did We Do Before YNAB for budgeting?

I was an excel budget planner kinda gal.

Meaning, I’d put my budget into our excel sheet and I’d budget out for the month with our bi-weekly checks…. and… it… drove… me… nuts.

Like, seriously drove me nuts because something would always happen no matter what.

We tried to use envelopes, but we both worked so the gas envelope was tricky. Or, I’d ask my husband to pick things up so either he’d use his card or I’d use mine… it just wasn’t working for us.

One time I tried to annotate things in a notebook and that worked… sort of… but, then I just quit and at that point I would look at our excel budget and just be like, “ok, we have this much leftover after bills and such so let’s aim to not spend it all.”

Not a great way to spend money in my opinion, but I was done.

What Was Our Biggest Budget Buster?

Hands down… it was eating out.

I’d plan to have a certain amount set aside and it would just fail tremendously.

There’d be days I would just come home and sit down feeling completely drained of all energy or desire to cook.

Some days I’d be so drained I could have gone without food at all. Obviously not the best idea right there.

When we got so bad as to eating out 3+ times a week but not reining in our grocery budget or spending so much in other areas I knew there had to be a change happen.

What is YNAB & How Did I Find It?

That’s when I began my search for a budget sheet/app that I would love using.

I looked at:

  • EveryDollar
  • Mint
  • Personal Capital
  • Paper
  • some other random things

Then I posted in a group about hating budgeting and wanted to find an app that was amazing, aesthetically pleasing and great for helping you budget in a way that makes sense.

Someone mentioned YNAB (You Need A Budget) and that it could be what I was looking for to help.

They warned that it was pretty different from other budgeting software and that it had some learning curves to it, so I just set out to learn how to use it enough to test the free trial.

World Changer Budget App!!!!

Wow, this website/app was freaking awesome to look at and learn!

I found an awesome YouTube Channel that went over setting up your budget and connecting accounts and I haven’t looked back honestly.

I have two videos for you that will help you get everything set up.

Getting Started with YNAB for Beginners:

And, Setting YNAB Up In the of the Month:

Both of these videos will help you understand how to set up your entire YNAB budget and account.

Is YNAB worth it for budgeting?

Um… yes!

Completely and definitely YES!

After two weeks of using this tool, I was hooked and will likely be a life-long advocate of this software.

Once you get your budget set up online and your accounts hooked up it’s just a matter of going in and allocating fund here and there.

Oh, and entering transactions.

That actually gets fun! You get to see how your money is getting spent and where things are going.

Start being a detective with your money!

How is YNAB different than other budgeting apps?

This budgeting software is different because you’re budgeting for the money you have IN your account rather than on a monthly or by check basis.

So, you’re budgeting based on what money gets put into your account.

I love this concept because it allows you to budget out everything and account for every dollar that comes into your account while also giving every dollar a name.

YNAB is based around a Zero Based Budgeting System and they encourage you to budget every dollar in their system.

If you end up with extra funds left over and you’re not sure what to do with it or where to add it in your budget so you wind up at zero you can create a new category and budget out the funds there.

This software makes it super easy to see where you’re funds are going and how much you spend overall in each category.

Getting Started With YNAB for Budgeting Your Life

To get started with YNAB you’ll just sign up for a free trial at It’s really that easy.

You Need A Budget offers a 34-Day Free Trial and, believe me, that’s all you’ll need to be hooked!

From there we’ll move into getting everything you need set up so you can effectively use YNAB and enjoy the benefits of starting to “age your money.”

The concept of aging your money is so that you are breaking the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle. You’ll watch as your money ages and the goal is to get to where your money is over 30 days old.

It becomes a game!

We’re currently at 6 days on our account, but I know we’ll soon be above the 30-day goal!

Adding Accounts

This is a rough breakdown of how to add accounts to your YNAB backend. Also, this is on Desktop, but it works the same way on your mobile phone too.

The videos further up the page go way more in-depth with setting up everything. I just wanted to give you a quick, down and dirty of how to get your accounts added.

Creating Your First YNAB Budget

This is also a rough “how to set up your budget in YNAB” video. I show you how you can create a category group, add a category to the group, fund the category and how it affects the budget green button at the top.

The goal is to portion out your funds to the correct areas.

Note: if you have a savings account and are putting money into it each month you’ll want to NOT set a goal for this. Just add money from your budget (which is your Checking + Savings = Budget amount). For instance, if you have $5000 in the green area, but $3000 is listed in your savings account then you would add the $3000 to the category budget area as I did with the $2000. This keeps you from using that in your other categories.

I like Nick’s videos because he shows how to set up your categories based on when money is going out of your account for expenses each month.

Here’s a quick video on how to do that if you’re just wanting a down and dirty.

Using YNAB for Budgeting

Once you start using YNAB you’ll be hooked. The way everything is laid out and how it functions makes budgeting so much more manageable and even enjoyable.

What do you do if you’re in the middle of the month?

Refer to the video above by Nick from Mapped Out Money.

But, basically, you’d input your account balance TODAY, and then budget out what you have left to pay before the next check arrives.

It’s really simple once you get the overall idea down. It might take a little finagling but it’s totally worth it.

How does YNAB handle credit cards differently?

When you add a credit card to your accounts YNAB automatically creates a category group for credit cards.

Then, when you make a purchase with your credit card it will deduct money from your budget. Or, you can not select a category for it to draw from and it will show that you owe it.

The ultimate goal is that you won’t use your credit card UNLESS you have funds to cover the expense.

Check out this quick little video of me inputting transactions and payments.

My Overall YNAB Review

YNAB is am amazing software that will give you the ability to track your spending, budget effectively, and grow your money without feeling the need to spend it all.

It becomes a game to see how full you can get each bucket that you’re putting money in while also using it to pay off debt so you can live a life you love.

Feel like you’re terrible with money and just don’t know where to start? Check out my post on How to Pay Off Debt When You’re Terrible With Money.

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