I wanted to share a poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson titled “River” in honor of World Poetry Day. I chose this poem specifically as I am in the midst of planning a river trip for early May.
And I behold once more
My old familiar haunts; here the blue river,
The same blue wonder that my infant eye
Admired, sage doubting whence the traveller came,—
Whence brought his sunny bubbles ere he washed
The fragrant flag-roots in my father’s fields,
And where thereafter in the world he went.
Look, here he is, unaltered, save that now
He hath broke his banks and flooded all the vales
With his redundant waves.
Here is the rock where, yet a simple child,
I caught with bended pin my earliest fish,
Much triumphing, —and these the fields
Over whose flowers I chased the butterfly,
A blooming hunter of a fairy fine.
And hark! where overhead the ancient crows
Hold their sour conversation in the sky:—
These are the same, but I am not the same,
But wiser than I was, and wise enough
Not to regret the changes, tho’ they cost
Me many a sigh. Oh, call not Nature dumb;
These trees and stones are audible to me,
These idle flowers, that tremble in the wind,
I understand their faery syllables,
And all their sad significance. The wind,
That rustles down the well-known forest road—
It hath a sound more eloquent than speech.
The stream, the trees, the grass, the sighing wind,
All of them utter sounds of ’monishment
And grave parental love.
They are not of our race, they seem to say,
And yet have knowledge of our moral race,
And somewhat of majestic sympathy,
Something of pity for the puny clay,
That holds and boasts the immeasurable mind.
I feel as I were welcome to these trees
After long months of weary wandering,
Acknowledged by their hospitable boughs;
They know me as their son, for side by side,
They were coeval with my ancestors,
Adorned with them my country’s primitive times,
And soon may give my dust their funeral shade.
So if you know me really well then you know how much I talk about my budgeting app. If you’re one of those people I wouldn’t be offended if you didn’t continue reading this post.
I was introduced to YNAB (You Need a Budget) by a friend who swore by it. I decided to check out the free month-long trial and see if it was really worth my while. It’s been about a year and a half since then and it has definitely been worth it.
Essentially you set up broad categories and then more specific categories that you can then classify your purchases under. For example, I have things like ‘Rent’, ‘Groceries’ and ‘Gas’ under my ‘Immediate Obligations’ category. If I go to Shell to get gas then it would go under the ‘Gas’ category. It’s actually pretty easy. And you can essentially add any categories that you want. I have others like ‘Vacation’, ‘Giving’ and ‘Pet Supplies’.
The best part is you can put in your debts (credit cards and loans) and it will help you plan a monthly payment to pay off the debt in a set time. You can also set goals for things like a new car or computer and it will help you budget based on the monthly payment you’d like to make or if you want to have it all saved by a certain time.
I honestly love the app and have been able to save a ton of money with it. It’s also a great way to see how much you’re spending on certain things. I particularly love how I’m able to put away money for a specific thing like auto maintenance and build up that category for annual work and for those unexpected expenses.
Here are ten tips from me for YNAB and for budgeting in general:
- Always have a ‘Stuff I Forgot to Budget For’ category for those unexpected things that you maybe forgot about or for a little extra to add to a different category you didn’t budget enough for.
- Have a category for your general bank minimum to ensure you never hit zero on your account. I use $100 as a base.
- Set goals for things like Christmas presents immediately following Christmas so you have 12 months to build up the funds so when it comes time instead of scraping hundreds of dollars in a month, you can save $50 per month leading up to it and have $500 saved by the end of October.
- Use the debt functions and stick to a given time frame to pay off debts. It may be tough to put a large chunk of your paycheck towards your credit card but the feeling you get when you pay it off is AMAZING.
- I recommend inputting your own transactions rather than having your checking account linked to YNAB. That way you remember to double check the transactions and assign them a category.
- Don’t be afraid to put a good chunk into savings each paycheck. If your bank has a swipe to save option I’d look into it. Wells Fargo has this savings function where every time you make a debit card transaction a dollar is transferred from that account into savings. It’s a great way to save a little every month.
- $5 a paycheck in a given “luxury” category goes a long way.
- Don’t feel like you have to spend all the money you budgeted in one category. It will roll over or you can have extra money in your general ‘To Be Budgeted’ section.
- With that being said, budget to zero. Budget all your money so there isn’t the temptation to spend the extra on something unnecessary. If you have extra spread it out across some of your savings categories.
- Don’t be afraid to spend a little on yourself. Make that ‘Shoes’ or ‘Pampering’ category and build it up over time to treat yourself.
I hope those are helpful for your next budgeting challenge.
There is an annual subscription for YNAB but if you’re in need of an easy to use app that helps you out of debt or to simply save some extra cash YNAB is the app for you. If you decide to try it out, use my referral link here!
YNAB has helped me tremendously and I feel confident with my money handling and I hope this post has helped you if you were on the fence about starting a budget.