OK, maybe you don't - but I know we sure did. I did tons of research. I did some of my own budgeting and failed. Let's face it, we're not the best with handling money. I don't know why I'm not, my dad was very good at it, so I must have got it from my mom. But I even I soon realized that the way we were handling things just wasn't working anymore.
Enter You Need a Budget, or YNAB.
What a difference this program has made to our finances. Before YNAB I was juggling bills and we were basically living off next months paycheck. In effect, living off money we didn't have. It was extremely frustrating and time consuming trying to time every bill to a paycheck. I was good at it though, we never missed a payment!
YNAB has a four step method - give every dollar a job, save for a rainy day, roll with the punches, and live off last month's income. Seem impossible? I thought so, but it really works. Trust me on this, if I can follow this plan anyone can.
Give every dollar a job - well, since most of our dollars were accounted for (sometimes twice!) I had to figure out exactly what we needed every month. It was a little time consuming, but totally worth the effort. Now we live off what is budgeted in our categories, if there is no money there, nothing gets bought. And it's very flexible - you can make a many (or few) categories as you need. We have a bunch of them, but every time we get a bill paid off we have one less.
Save for a rainy day - these are those bills that you pay every once in a while, or an emergency fund, or both. We have bills we pay once a year and paying those used to really throw a wrench into my finely calculated juggling act. Now we're ready for them and honestly, it feels great! We also for the first time ever have a small emergency fund. Thank goodness for that - we needed it twice in the last month for completely unexpected expenses (battery for my van and a repair on our heating system). Before YNAB we would have used credit cards to pay for those things.
Roll with the punches - those punches like we just encountered. No freak out, no pulling out the plastic, just knowing that we could cover those as they arose was so not stressful. It made those previous (would have been a) panic moments boring. Gotta love that!
Live off last months paycheck - ok we are still working on this one. It's quite simple, in March you are living off the money you made in February. We are so close to being there, we should be there soon. I can't wait for that day.
They even have an app for your iPhone or Droid. Great to have when you are in the store eyeballing those awesome shoes (or 49er gear in my husbands case!). Not enough money? Can't buy them. This has been my favorite tool by far.
This program is not free, but the cost is just one time and you can put it on all your computers. I have it on my laptop and desktop so I can use it whenever I need to. The basic program is $60 - but there's nothing basic about it. They also offer a package with a study guide. Honestly, I read everything online and figured it out on my own.
If you want to check it out here is the link - You Need a Budget. They have a 34 day free trial if you want to test it out before you buy. I get nothing if you buy the program, I'm just sharing because it's been so amazing in helping us get our, um, stuff together that I wanted to throw it out there in case it could help anyone else.