How To Take Control Of Your Debt And Stop Living Paycheck To Paycheck (YNAB Review)

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Want to know one of many things about adulting that completely and utterly blewwws?

Well, besides being forced against our will to get up early to go to a job we don’t really feel super passionate about but still have to because, you know, it pays the bills.

…And besides folding laundry.

…Oh, and besides going grocery shopping (because grocery shopping is the worst adult chore EVER).

No. One of the lamest things about adulting is being in debt and living paycheck to paycheck because of it.

A lot of debt. Like, the amount of debt that you feel like you are swimming and drowning in and there is no shoreline as far as your eye can see.

drowning person with hand reaching out from water

You don’t even know which way to swim because you can’t even see land.

You feel screwed.

Screwed because you can practically see the sharks circling you while you barely keep your head above water.

Screwed because no matter how much money you make, you’re still “broke” and count down the minutes until payday… just for your bank account to be depleted right back down to ground zero (or even below it) 2.5378 seconds after that paycheck was deirectly deposited into it.

So you just float there, in that water you’re currently drowning in, sinking deeper and deeper [in debt].

NOT a fun feeling. Trust me, I know.

We were right there beside you in that pool drowning less than a year ago.

For years.


Tired of living paycheck to paycheck? Ready to pay off the mound of debt weighing on your shoulders and preventing you from LIVING? You need a budget! (YNAB Review)  #budgetingforbeginners #budget #budgetingfinances #ynab

Do the math

I’m not a math genius by any means. Pfftt… not even close!

Ok, who am I kidding. Let me just get real with you real quick: I’m a total DUMMY when it comes to math.

But I’m cool with it. Because you know why? I’ve my ‘ol pal Alexa. I just bug the hell out of her all day long when I’m too lazy to actually use my brain to do a simple math problem, you know, like addition.

Anyway, when I actually sat down and wrote out our family income, then wrote out all of our bills and expenses, did some simple addition and subtraction (thanks Alexa!), the numbers showed we did, in fact, make enough money.

We made enough money to cover our bills and then some.

So what the hell, then?!

I thought to myself, “We make plenty of money. Why the hell are we living paycheck to paycheck? And why the hell are we still in debt!?”

It was then that I realized we needed a budget.

I thought, hell, if anything we needed a budget because I wanted to see exactly where all of our dang money was going, and to figure out why our debt was not only NOT getting paid off, but was consistently getting higher!

  • I wanted to take control of our money and not live paycheck to paycheck anymore.
  • I wanted to get rid of our debt once and for all.
  • I didn’t want to worry about money anymore.

That’s when I discovered YNAB!

More to read: Time Management Tips For People Who Have No Time

What the heck is YNAB?

Pronounced Y-Nab, the acronym stands for “You Need A Budget.”

YNAB is a budgeting app that you can use either on your phone, computer, or both that:

  • allows you to actually see where your money is going.
  • teaches you how to “defer the use of your money for a later time, for a specific purpose” – also known as SAVINGS!
  • teaches you how to stop looking at your bank account balance (which will totally mislead you on how much money you really have) and start looking at your budget in order to inform your spending.

Using YNAB has taught me to trust my budget, save at the same time, and the best part… We are paying off our debt in record time!

Because like I said before, we were in fact making enough money to cover our bills and then some (and I’d be willing to bet you are as well if you sat down and looked at your actual numbers). So that “then some” is now being thrown straight at our debt instead of being mindlessly thrown away on frivilous spending.

Utilizing the debt snowball method,  our debt is getting paid off so much faster than it was before. Yesssss!

More to read: 15 Things You Should Stop Wasting Your Time And Energy Worrying About (spoiler alert: DEBT is one one of them!)

The YNAB Method

So, how does YNAB – this award winning, holy grail budgeting app – work?

With 4 simple Rules:

Rule #1 – Give every dollar a job

When you get paid, assign that money to its job. Ask yourself, “What should this money do before I am paid again?” And then assign it to those categories in your budget.


Rule #2 – Embrace your true expenses

Decide what you want your money to do now (pay your immediate monthly bills). But it is also just as important to assign some of your “now” money into categories for the less frequent, larger, and sometimes even unexpected expenses such as Christmas, emergency ER visits, and/or car or home maintenance.

YNAB Goals
YNAB Goals

Rule #3 – Roll with the punches

When sh*t happens and you need to make adjustments to your budget, just change it. You can move your money around between your different categories in your budget. No worries!

YNAB Move funds

Rule #4 – Age your money

“Spend money today that you earned last month” instead of living paycheck to paycheck, and having to spend every penny of your paycheck that just hit the bank 2.6487 seconds ago.

You can read more about how each of these ridiculously easy rules can help you take control of your money, save, and stop living paycheck to paycheck HERE. (Psstt… You’ll also get your first month using YNAB for FREE!)

How YNAB has completely changed everything about our finances

1 – No more living paycheck to paycheck! AT ALL.

I literally don’t even have to pay attention to when payday comes.  The only way I know is that I look at my budget, which automatically pulls over all transactions from my bank, and see that I have X amount of dollars to add to my “to be budgeted” section.  I then casually think “Oh cool. We got paid today.” and that’s it.

No more counting down the freaking seconds until payday, already having scheduled 4 or 5 bills to come out the second that money hits the bank.  

We always, ALWAYS have money in our bank. Not money we can go blow, but money that is set aside for each and every category in our budget.

Click HERE to get your first month using YNAB for FREE!

2 – I am able to set up all of my bills on autopay because I know the money is there.

The money has been set aside for each category long before the bill is even due.

I don’t even have to think about our bills thanks to autopay! It has allowed me to focus my mind on more important things, such as my family… or what my next binge-worthy show I will watch on Netflix, lol.

3 – It keeps me in check with my spending.

For example, if I have a friend who invites me out for drinks Friday night, beforehand I check my “Going out with friends” category and see how much money I have in there, instead of just going and blowing whatever the tab tells me to spend.

If I have $50 then I make sure to only spend $50 (or even better, less!). If there is only like $10 bucks in there, maybe because I went out with friends last weekend, then I either tell my friend I’m not available to go, or I invite them over for a movie night at my place or something. You know, something much cheaper than spending $10-12 bucks per drink, plus appetizer, plus Lyft fare if we go out. (EEK!)

4 – I’m able to indulge in occasional guilty spending because I know I have already saved up for it.

I have a category called “Crap I Don’t NEED From Amazon” because I know my Amazon obsession cannot be tamed so I have learned to embrace it lolol. Everything in moderation, right?!

YNAB screenshot
I’m not lyin’, you guys. I really do have an Amazon category!

Each month I put a few bucks towards my “Crap I Don’t NEED From Amazon” category. I treat it as another “bill” that I add money to, just like I do my “Immediate Obligations” and “True Expenses” categories.

I know that even if I spend that money on that guilty item, my other bills will still get paid.

5 – Unexpected (and expected) big bills are easily paid immediatly – no stress!

Tire blow out? No problem.

Car accident that requires my deductible to be paid before they even start talking to me about repairs? No problem.

I have a category for “Christmas” because I know how crazy I can get when it comes to buying presents for my kids.

So instead, we save up for Christmas throughout the year.

And come holiday season, we don’t have to worry about coming up with a large amount of money to get gifts and take trips to see family during Thanksgiving.

The fund is already there because we have been saving up for it all year!

It’s sort of like budget billing that you may have enrolled in for your utilities.

Hear me out…

As you may have guessed, Arizona summers are HOT AS HELL. Summer electric bills are stupid high. At the peak of summer heat, ours was close to $300 for one month.

Energy costs
Our actual energy costs for each month over the past year

The “winter” is much cooler, ranging from 55-75, so our air conditioners are not running in the cooler months.

So instead of freaking out and/or being screwed during the high energy cost time of the year, we enrolled in budget billing. Our energy costs are averaged throughout the year allowing us to pay the same amount each month.

The idea is to build up a credit to offset the higher bills in the summer.

Well, setting up target balances into various funds in our budget allows us to pay for the high cost times of the year and random things that come up (such as a tire blow out or an unexpected ER visit) “each month.”

We are paying for it throughout the year, paying the same amount each month – treating it as just another monthly “bill.”

Now, if and when the time comes that we need that big chunk of money, we already have it stashed away in your “Christmas” or “Car Maintenance” or “Medical” category.

Also check out: How To Save Money With Kids

No more panic when life happens, feeling screwed, and then end up putting it all on the credit card because we have no other options. Ending in even more debt to struggle to pay off.

Speaking of credit cards…

6 – We now have ONE credit card. And it is paid off in full every single month!

You can link your credit card account to your YNAB budget so that everytime you use it, it simply moves your money from your categories to your “Credit Card Payment” category!

YNAB Credit Card Payment
YNAB Credit Card Payment

This is a game changer because this way you know exactly how much of your actual money you have spent – NOT money on credit that you don’t really have.

Basically we use our credit card for all purchases just so we can reap the points benefits that we receive for each $1 put on the card!

Hellooooo free hotels and plane tickets!

Need help getting your YNAB budget set up?

I know, I know. The thought of sitting down and creating a budget sounds…well…scary and intimidating.

But, YNAB is determined to get you on track with your finances.

Even if you don’t even know the first thing about trying to make a budget, let alone sticking to one, YNAB will virtually hold your hand and walk you through it.

They have set up so much support for you that it’s unreal!

Some of their supports options are:

  • the YNAB podcast – which I listen to whenever I’m in the car and want to tune out my screaming kids (always).
  • FREE Live workshop classes – I’ve joined every single one of these and they are what got me on track from the beginning, when I didn’t know what the heck I was doing.
  • Weekly Videos on the YNAB Youtube Channel
  • Tons of articles in their “Help Docs” section and on their blog
  • Weekly Email Newsletter
  • YNAB forum – Trust me, you ain’t the only one who has that question! Check here to find the answer and/or submit that question of yours.
  • FAQ page

Ready to put this budgeting stuff into action?… click HERE to get your first month using YNAB for FREE!

I have never felt so in control of our money and so excited about the future (being debt free, that is). I totally geek out at the end of each month as I see how much “left over” money we have in my YNAB app. I use all extra money to pay off our debt!

It’s the best feeling when you make a double payment and/or pay off one of your debt accounts!

All while building up our savings at the same time!

You guys, it doesn’t get much better than that!

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  1. Reply

    Marco B

    February 21, 2019

    Great budgeting post! Usually these apps are only available in the USA but I just had a look on the app store (New Zealand) and it’s available, YAY! going to have a little play around with the app. thanks for your detailed post on budgeting with YNAB

    • Reply


      February 21, 2019

      I’m so glad! I really think you will like it. It’s so user-friendly and makes budgeting sooo much easier than the ‘ol Excel spreadsheet (which is how I used to do it).

      Thanks for the comment!

  2. Reply


    February 16, 2019

    I tried YNAB years ago and it was great!

    • Reply


      February 16, 2019

      I’m so glad you liked it!

      Thanks for the comment!

  3. Reply


    February 15, 2019


    I will definitely be checking out the YNAB app! Great tips!

    • Reply


      February 15, 2019

      It’s the best budgeting app I’ve tried! (and I’ve tried a few different ones)

      Thanks for the comment!


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