You Need a Budget (Book Review)

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We’ve been using (and LOVING) the You Need a Budget app (YNAB) for a few weeks now. When I discovered that the founder, Jesse Mecham, wrote a book to go along with it, I checked it out from the library. Naturally.

It’s a fast read and offers much of the same information as the website but in an easily-digestible book form. He outlines the Four Rules with money, which are:

  1. Give every dollar a job.
  2. Embrace your true expenses.
  3. Roll with the punches.
  4. Age your money.

You can learn more about these in the book or on their website here.

I found the chapter on teaching kids to budget really encouraging–especially as our mindset was really close to the author’s already: give allowance as a tool to teach money management and make chores a requirement for being part of the family.

Here are a few nuggets I enjoyed from the book:

(This first one isn’t talking about scarcity in the sense of there’s not enough to cover rent and food but scarcity in the sense of giving your dollars a job and using a budget. Context is key!)

It doesn’t actually matter how much money we have or don’t have. Scarcity is simply that feeling of wishing there were more. This is an important moment. The feeling of scarcity might tempt us to quit, but when we step back and embrace scarcity, we make good decisions. When we recognize our dollars are finite, we’re more intentional about how we spend them. Scarcity pushes us to be very concrete about our priorities, and those that matter to us the most make themselves known in these moments. (pg. 20)

On budgeting with a partner:

If a budget sounds worse to you than talking about money on its own, hang with me. It really does help. On a very basic level, it’s much easier to talk about your money when it’s through the lens of a budget. Now it’s not about your debt or my debt, my spending or your spending. It’s about how it all works within the budget. The budget is like a neutral third party that keeps the conversation grounded in reality. Without a budget, our insecurities and misperceptions about money kill our chances of having honest conversations. Money is also constantly shifting, especially when two people are involved. A budget makes it all visible and less vulnerable to misunderstanding. (pg. 112)

There’s also a really encouraging write-up about a couple whose 17-year-old daughter has a job and a budget–and line items for giving, random acts of kindness, pink hair dye, and cosplay costumes.

If you’re looking to rein in your finances and know exactly where you are, this is a light read and a great program. I highly recommend it.

(Also, if you’re looking for reading material, I recommend The Wardrobe Fast: How Cheap Clothes Hurt People (and How We Can Buy Better)…but that’s just me. 😉

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