One of my New Years resolutions this year was to gain financial control. Last year I felt very out of control as far as the money was concerned, and for a control freak like me that is not a comfortable place to be. We had never really adjusted our spending to match the 25% pay cut I got when I decreased my working days to 3 per week (from 4), our savings had gradually dwindled away, and we’d had a few months when all we could do was rely on the credit card to get us through to the next pay check. Not good.
We scraped through Christmas, but then at New Year a couple of things conspired to convince me that I was being sent a sign and should take some notice. I had a conversation about money with my best friend, who told me she’d just subscribed to Which, and had found out that their pick of financial management software was this thing called You Need A Budget. Previously she and I had both used Quicken (now defunct) and then Microsoft Money (now defunct) to control our finances, but both of us had stopped using any kind of software some time ago. It sounded interesting, so I decided to download the 30-day free trial to see if it was any good. Then the next day the geekdaddy came to me and said “I’ve just bought some financial management software because it was cheap on Steam”. It turned out that he had just bought the full version of You Need A Budget!
So since then we’ve been using You Need A Budget to manage our finances. And it’s been working! It’s the first financial management tool we’ve ever used that both the geekdaddy and I feel confident to use (previously I used to do the budgeting and tell him what he could spend, which meant he never saw the whole picture). Once you’ve bought the desktop software you can use the free mobile app (available on both Android and iOS) to see your budget when you’re out and about, and to enter new transactions as they happen. This means we can both see the latest financial picture, and decide if we have the money available before we make a purchase. The software uses DropBox to share data between the different systems, and it works really smoothly.
The key to You Need A Budget is that whenever you get paid you use the software to budget the money that you will need until your next pay day. You don’t have to worry about budgeting for the whole year, you just consider what you’ll need to spend in the next few weeks. You make sure all your available money is budgeted to something, and if you have unplanned expenses you move money from one budget to another to acomodate it. But you always make sure all your money is budgeted for somewhere. This means conversations in our house have changed from “I want to buy BLAH” “Well, we’ve got a good balance in the bank, yes, why not” to “I want to buy BLAH” “Well, we don’t have the budget from that, do you want it enough to take some money from the holiday budget?”. Small change, but it makes a real difference.
Don’t worry if you don’t understand how this works,. The company behind You Need A Budget offer a range of completely free webinars that teach you how to use the software and how to budget. We attended several of them, which really helped us understand what we were doing, and crucially showed us how to set our budgets up in a way that would work for us. Also at each webinar they give away one free copy of the software, so it’s worth downloading the 34-day free trial to get started with – you may manage to win yourself a full copy!
For us, the real difference You Need A Budget has made to our financial control is that we are both actively involved in the budgeting and decision making. We sit down for no more than 30 minutes a week to update the software with recent transactions, update the budget to the next paycheck, and then we both know how much money we’ve got. I’ve been impressed with how much we’ve got our finances under control in such a short time. Here’s what we’ve achieved, thanks to You Need A Budget, since New Year:
- Credit card completely paid off, and now being paid off in full every month
- Our “household bills” bank account closed – we are now running just one single bank account
- We budgeted for and coped with two unexpected major expenses – £200 for new tyres for my car, and £130 to get our roof repaired after the storms
- We have worked out how much we can afford to spend on a new car, and have ordered one 🙂
- We have not gone overdrawn
- We are still managing to buy takeaways and “fun stuff”
- We have started saving for a summer holiday
I am amazed at what a difference You Need A Budget has made to our financial control. I am no longer stressed about our financial situation, and it feels like we have more money than we used to. Both the geekdaddy and I are quite evangelical about this software and the positive impact it has had on us.
You Need A Budget is priced at $60 (which is about £36 based on current exchange rates). We think it is well worth the money. If you like the sound of this software then please check back in a few days, as I actually have one copy to give away to a lucky reader 🙂
Disclosure: Neither the geekdaddy nor I are affiliated with You Need A Budget in any way. I have not been asked to write about them. I just wanted to because I am so impressed with the software.
Image Credit: All images are from the You Need a Budget Press Kit