Luckily, there are much smarter people out there, and with a lot of help and good influences I think I've finally found it... you know, the way to look at a budget and feel empowered, not stressed. So in hopes that any of you out there might be MONEY STUPID like I was, maybe my experience can help.
My money journey:
So I told you about my first budget already, it was kept like a checkbook, just paper lists. For the next SEVERAL years, I used Quicken, which was great, because I could show my husband EXACTLY "where all the money went." But it stunk as a budget program, and I always seemed to come up short.
Then my sister-in-law told me about some finance books she'd read in High School. They actually MADE all the students take a personal finance class... genius! So I read those books... the first was The Richest Man in Babylon. It was great on a conceptual basis and I'd definitely recommend it. The next one was what really changed my mindset and that was Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover. So many principles rang so true and the stories were very motivational. He outlined the steps to getting started and highlighted amazing stories of people with INCREDIBLE debt who got out of it at unnatural speeds.
The Ramsey method is that you start by telling your money where to go... also called a zero-based budgeting system. He says to use CASH in ENVELOPES. You take the money, put it in the right budget envelope until you have 0 left. When the money is gone, you're done spending. You then build a $1000 EMERGENCY FUND so you can stop going into debt with every bump in the road. I LOVED this method, but found cash in envelopes a hassle, not very efficient, confusing, and HARD to TRACK.
So, I still used his concepts but I found different ways of implementing them. I found this video VERY HELPFUL, and if you are NEW to BUDGETING, this is a GREAT place to START:
These things worked, but not perfectly, and I was still frustrated. Which led me to YNAB! OH MY GOODNESS... it SERIOUSLY is the VERY BEST BUDGETING TOOL I have every found! The concept was similar to Ramsey, but the software is amazing!
Here are the YNAB Rules:
1) Give Every Dollar a Job (aka zero-based budgeting)
2) Save for a Rainy Day
3) Roll w/ the Punches - By far THE BEST RULE EVER
4) Live on Last Month's Income - This one right here is PEACE OF MIND
I've been using it for 9 months now and LOVE it! It has a month FREE TRIAL, after that, yes, you pay for it, but you pay ONCE... no subscription, no yearly fee. And I swear, you'll probably save the amount of the software in the FIRST month you pay for it! Oh ya, and it sync's to your Iphone, so you can see what money you have, when you are out on the go.
I know I'm a dork that I get so excited about this, but the feeling I get when I do my finances now is worth getting excited about! I'd be happy to help you out if you decide you want to try it.... happy budgeting :) If you wanna give it a try, you can use this link and get a $6 discount:
YNAB Discount Link