You Need A Budget (ynab)

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A weekly dose of just the right medicine to help you get out of debt, save more money, and break the paycheck to paycheck cycle.


  • YNAB and COVID-19

    YNAB and COVID-19

    04/05/2020 Duration: 04min

    Freshly returned from paternity leave, Jesse discusses how YNAB has handled the coronavirus pandemic as a company. As always, his focus and the company's focus has been on giving the best budgeting advice they can.   Additionally, the YNAB team has written articles exploring how people can weather the financial storm in the wake of COVID-19. You can read the blog entries here:     Sign up for a free 34-day trial of YNAB at

  • Chasing Value

    Chasing Value

    27/04/2020 Duration: 10min

    Jesse examines how the recent panic buying of food, home goods, and other staples highlights the intrinsic value of certain things that we take for granted. When demand for historically safe assets like bonds and gold falls, yet demand for household goods like flour and toilet paper soar, it shines some light on the practical value of things. In short,  you can eat flour, but you can't eat a bar of gold!   In the future, Jesse encourages us to consider saving not only for future expenses and retirement, but also for some staples and basic goods for unexpected times.   Sign up for a free 34-day trial of YNAB at

  • Write That Gem Down!

    Write That Gem Down!

    20/04/2020 Duration: 05min

    Jesse muses on the impact the coronavirus will ultimately have on people and their habits. When society reopens, will people return to their previous habits? Or will they grow, having spent their time in isolation examining themselves and their priorities, their Rule Zero?   Jesse hopes that people do use this time to reflect, to re-examine their life and rediscover their priorities, and, most importantly, write down the wisdom that comes from that process!   Sign up for a free 34-day trial of YNAB at

  • Rule Zero Morphs Before Your Very Eyes

    Rule Zero Morphs Before Your Very Eyes

    13/04/2020 Duration: 03min

    Last week Jesse discussed the importance of Rule #1, giving every dollar a job. Rule one is always important, but in uncertain times like these it takes on renewed significance. Jesse has often talked about the rule before the rule, though, the so-called Rule Zero.   Rule Zero is understanding what's important to you, why you're bothering to give your dollars a job in the first place. At the end of the day, to what end are you budgeting? What's the purpose?   In the wake of the pandemic and economic woes gripping the country, consider whether the answer to Rule Zero has become clearer to you. Perhaps in these times you can find not only the resolve to budget like you've never budgeted before, but also to clarify why you're budgeting in the first place.   Sign up for a free 34-day trial of YNAB at

  • Youve Never Budgeted At A Time Like This

    You've Never Budgeted At A Time Like This

    06/04/2020 Duration: 08min

    With the world at a standstill due to the COVID-19 pandemic, one thing is certain. We’ve never budgeted at a time like this!   Jesse offers some comforting words in this time of crisis, and reminds us to follow Rule #1: Give Every Dollar A Job. Never stop budgeting. Even if it’s only a week ahead, a day ahead, staying engaged and continually planning will give you the best chance to survive financially in these times, and, eventually, thrive. Budgeting is one area of our lives that we can control, in the midst of so many things we cannot.   Sign up for a free 34-day trial of YNAB at

  • The Commanders Intent

    The Commander's Intent

    30/03/2020 Duration: 04min

    At YNAB there is a document called the Vision Doc, which spells out the “commander’s intent” for the company, how to behave and act on the company’s behalf. Employees must make many decisions on a day to day basis, but with a clear commander’s intent they have the freedom to make those smaller decisions while adhering to the company’s greater goal.   It’s useful to develop the same commander’s intent for your budget. With a clear goal and aim for the budget, it becomes easier to make those small, day to day money decisions that, as we know, can add up to big dollars over the course of a year!   Sign up for a free 34-day trial of YNAB at

  • Dont Be Average... You Cant Be Anyway

    Don't Be Average... You Can't Be Anyway

    23/03/2020 Duration: 10min

    Jesse reads an excerpt from the book The End of Average by Todd Rose. In the late 1940's the Air Force had a dangerous problem on its hands -- aircraft of all kinds were malfunctioning and crashing at alarming rates. The Air Force brought in scientist  Lt Gilbert S Daniels to diagnose the problem. Daniels discovered that the Air Force had designed cockpits based on thousands of physical measurements taken from its ranks of pilots, then averaged. Daniels ascertained that despite the rigor and breadth of the measurements, not a single active pilot in the Air Force actually matched up with all the averages. In short, the Air Force had designed their planes around an average pilot that didn't actually exist, causing pilots to have trouble controlling their planes.   We can take a lesson from Lt. Daniels discovery when it comes to our budgets. It's tempting to come up with an average for each line item, and compare your budget to someone else's or perhaps even a regional or national "average." Designing your budg

  • Budget. No, Budget!

    Budget. No, Budget!

    16/03/2020 Duration: 03min

    We often talk about the budget as if it’s a noun. Is it “in the budget”? Did you check the budget? When you treat the budget as a noun it takes on a rigid, inflexible quality, like the budget is set on stone tablets.   But what if we thought about “budget” as a verb? As an action, an activity, budgeting becomes a process, a thing which can change and evolve with each iteration.   Jesse discusses the importance of budgeting and not just setting a “budget.” Thanks to Hannah who shared this revelation in her video My 5 YNAB Beginner Mistakes on the YNAB YouTube Channel.   Sign up for a free 34-day trial of YNAB at  

  • Wait!


    09/03/2020 Duration: 05min

    Money is made to spend. We all want something, and that something usually costs money. Some of the “wants” are fleeting desires, spurred by mood or peer pressure or perhaps just a whim. Other “wants” are genuine desires and items or experiences that actually add value to your life.   Whichever it is, Jesse argues that you should wait. Wait before you buy anything, even the genuine wants. For one thing, waiting helps you parse out the genuine from the ephemeral.   Jesse keeps a running list of wants on his phone. If he wants something, he adds it to the list rather than buying it right away. If he still wants it when he checks the list again later, he buys it. Many times, however, he will find things on the list that he hasn’t thought about in a while, and that he really doesn’t want. So the list can act as a simple filter and a sanity check for purchases.   Sign up for a free 34-day trial of YNAB at   Also, go to to sign up for the YNAB Debt Boot

  • Doing Nothing Is Something

    Doing Nothing Is Something

    02/03/2020 Duration: 03min

    There's a cliche in TV and film whenever something bad happens in a crowd of people, inevitably someone in the crowd shouts "why doesn't someone do something!" This is usually the cue for the superhero to enter stage right. We hear this sentiment all the time, not just in bad cinema, but in real life. Anytime a problem reaches a level of widespread concern -- whether it's a local neighborhood issue or a national one -- something must be done about it.   Some problems have no easy answers, and we often forget that inaction is a valid response. The same goes for our budgets! Not every budget problem can be solved right now. Sometimes you don't have the right information, or enough of it, to fix every issue in your budget. That's OK. Sometimes your budget is working just fine, and there's no reason to tinker with it. That's OK too. Don't fix it if it ain't broke!   Whatever your situation, remember doing nothing is still doing something.   Sign up for a free 34-day trial of YNAB at   Also,

  • Budgeting for Lady Luck

    Budgeting for Lady Luck

    24/02/2020 Duration: 04min

    They are prepared for emergencies, for setbacks, for unexpected life changes. In fact emergencies don’t seem to happen as often to them. YNAB’ers are a lucky set, it seems, but maybe there’s more to the truth than a roll of the dice.   Survivorship bias is a logical fallacy in which you focus on a group of people or things that made it past a selection process, without considering those that failed. This bias can lead to a number of erroneous conclusions. In finance, survivorship bias occurs when evaluating the returns of, say, companies in a certain sector of the economy. If you only look at current technology firms, you might look at the technology sector and determine that it radically outperforms the market… but those same returns may look very different if you consider all the technology firms within the same time period that went bankrupt.   Survivorship bias appears everywhere in life, and YNAB’ers are no exception. At first glance it may seem like those in good financial health just didn’t have the sa

  • Opting Out of Credit Cards (A Bit)

    Opting Out of Credit Cards (A Bit)

    17/02/2020 Duration: 05min

    In episode 411, Jesse decried the ubiquity of credit cards and the fact that they enjoy a number of benefits that plain old debit cards do not... at the risk of getting yourself in debt. Since then, he's learned of a few strategies for managing fraud risk with debit cards.   Sign up for a free 34-day trial of YNAB at   Also, go to to sign up for the YNAB Debt Bootcamp!

  • Scratching the Gambling... Er, Investing Itch

    Scratching the Gambling... Er, "Investing" Itch

    10/02/2020 Duration: 05min

    Jesse admits he's got an itch to scratch. He likes to invest gamble in the stock market from time to time, using an app that allows him to trade at the swipe of a finger.   At least he's honest -- it's gambling with fun money, not investing. And that's the key. It's money he can afford to lose, and it's not much.   Sign up for a free 34-day trial of YNAB at   Also, go to to sign up for the YNAB Debt Bootcamp!

  • Optionality and Managing Your Fixed (or Growing) Expenses

    Optionality and Managing Your Fixed (or Growing) Expenses

    03/02/2020 Duration: 06min

    Wealth is not a dirty word. After all, wealth can allow us to do many interesting and fulfilling things with our lives. At the very least, it provides options, opening up the range of possibilities before us. Simply put, wealth can allow us to live the life we want to live.   The only problem is that the accumulation of wealth is often followed by increasing expenses. Some of these are obvious -- a bigger, newer house usually costs more than a smaller, older one -- while others are insidious. A larger house requires more energy to heat and cool, more time and effort to clean and landscape, and more things to fill it up. That's just one example. We could say the same about cars!   Left unchecked, these growing expenses can once again eat into our wealth, robbing us of the optionality of wealth. As Thoreau once wrote, "he who owns little is little owned."   Sign up for a free 34-day trial of YNAB at   Also, go to to sign up for the YNAB Debt Bootca

  • Optionality  Why You Should Follow Rule Two Instead of Paying Down Debt

    Optionality & Why You Should Follow Rule Two Instead of Paying Down Debt

    27/01/2020 Duration: 04min

    Save money for known future expenses, or pay down debt? It's a challenge many people face while trying to eliminate their debt. It's a conundrum too -- you could take your savings and pay down debt now, or hold onto to those savings for the new tires you know your car needs next month, or the Christmas gifts you want to buy for the family. If you do that, though, the debt balance stays the same while you continue to pay interest...   Jesse argues that optionality is the key here. Obeying rule #2 -- embracing your true expenses -- means setting aside money for those known expenses and eventualities in your life. It's tempting to pay down as much debt as you can now, but setting aside cash for your true expenses gives you options.   What if your true expenses are bigger than you anticipated? What if you get hit with unexpected expenses on top of that? If you've set aside the cash, you are in a position to handle those expenses when they come. If you've already used the cash to pay down debt, then you won't have

  • Incentives and Your 401(k)

    Incentives and Your 401(k)

    20/01/2020 Duration: 07min

    Jesse reflects on a Senate bill -- now signed into law as the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act -- which will require a greater amount of employers to offer 401(k) plans to employees. The new law also makes it easier for annuities to be included in 401(k) offerings by easing the fiduciary rules around fees and expense ratios.   401k) plans are excellent vehicles for saving for retirement because they allow employees to put away a lot of money every year -- up to $19,500 in 2020. Some employers offer matching on 401(k) contributions, further boosting savings rates.   However, the inclusion of more annuities in 401(k) plans has a darker motivation. Annuities typically charge higher fees than mutual funds and index funds -- sometimes a percentage point or more -- making them an inefficient and expensive way to save for retirement for most people. On the other hand, they are very profitable for insurance companies! Not surprisingly, insurance companies lobbied hard for the relaxat

  • Opting Out of the Credit Card Game

    Opting Out of the Credit Card Game

    13/01/2020 Duration: 11min

    For better or worse (probably worse), credit cards are a major part of our financial world now. Cash is becoming less and less convenient to use every year, and debit cards continue to lack the same level of fraud protection that credit cards enjoy.   This isn't coincidence either. Jesse attended a "payments trends" conference in 2019, where the main topic was how to make payments easier, to remove as much friction as possible from the process of buying things. Why? Simply put, when you spend more money, more often, payment vendors make more money.   The problem is, you can't win the credit card game. Not only do payment vendors make money when you spend, the banks that underwrite credit card debt know (because they have studied human behavior) that when you swipe a credit card, you tend to spend more money. Credit card points and rewards are carefully designed to entice you to spend more money, because banks know that you will likely carry higher debt levels with a credit card.   So if you can't win the game

  • January Burndown 2020

    January Burndown 2020

    06/01/2020 Duration: 06min

    It's time to blow it all up! Every January, Jesse takes time with his family to "blow up" his budget and all the assumptions that drive it. He takes a fresh look at the dollars in the budget, and starts to question everything.   Need to set aside $400 for a new set of tires in March? That's a responsible Rule #2 line of thinking. But the burndown is your chance to think deeper... do we even need a car? Could we sell it and ride our bikes to work instead?   This is your time to think big, re-evaluate your priorities and life goals, and then question everything about your money. Nothing should be off the table at this point, because you're just talking. In the process, you may discover that your priorities have shifted, and it's time to take some new steps with your budget.     Sign up for a free 34-day trial of YNAB at   Also, go to to sign up for the YNAB Debt Bootcamp!

  • The YNAB Debt Bootcamp

    The YNAB Debt Bootcamp

    31/12/2019 Duration: 05min

    If you made it through the last few weeks, you know why Jesse hates debt and why you should too!   Start the New Year by putting those feelings into action. Jesse has created a "debt bootcamp" for YNAB users to help you get serious about getting rid of your debt for good. Best of all, it's FREE for all YNAB software subscribers.   The Debt Bootcamp will be an intense, 8-week challenge to get rid of as much debt as possible. The camp will be run through a private Facebook group where you can stay accountable with other YNAB'ers and share your successes and challenges.   Go to to sign up now!    

  • Why I Hate Debt Pt. 4: The Corporations

    Why I Hate Debt Pt. 4: The Corporations

    30/12/2019 Duration: 09min

    The corporations are playing a game, and you can't win. So opt out and stop playing the game! In the part 4 of the "Why I Hate Debt" miniseries, Jesse explains how behind every credit card is a clever system of points, travel miles, and other "free" rewards designed to keep you spending and in debt.   Credit cards are a very profitable industry. Would banks and finance companies be giving away rewards if they weren't making a profit from it? Of course not! They've got the data, they've studied the statistics, and they know people will drive themselves into debt, where they can rack up fees and interest.   So join Jesse, stop playing the game, and start hating debt!   Sign up for a free 34-day trial of YNAB at

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