Now that we’re well into January, Jan and I finally got around to updating the YNAB this weekend! (I first wrote a “Money Monday” post about how and why we track our spending here!) It has been really cool to look back at a year of data and see how we earned and spent our money.
Tracking our earnings has been one of the most unexpected benefits from using the You Need a Budget system. Because we get paid differently, I think I’d assumed that the proportions of our incomes were different than they actually are. It has also been great to track non-employment earnings, like interest, credit card rewards, and money we’ve made from re-selling items we no longer need or use.
On Small vs Big Changes
Before we tracked our spending I absolutely would have told you that the “little things” in our budget were adding up to make a difference. Looking back, though, I can see that buying a short Pike (my Starbucks drink of choice) every few mornings on the way to work is a lot less impactful than my goal to eliminate all unnecessary driving and rely on the bus or my bike. I learned that relatively small luxuries are fine when I keep my greater lifestyle in check.
On Forced Savings
The biggest spending category we had last year was definitely our mortgage. I’m really happy with what we were able to achieve, but I can definitely say that it would have been more painful to make the transfers myself. When they happened automatically, or were scheduled, it felt like so much more of a given in my mind.
I love that YNAB lets us create main categories that our more specific ones fall into. For example, we have our account set up as the following main “buckets”: Immediate Obligations, True Expenses, Additional Savings, Quality of Life Goals, and Just for Fun. We put our wedding (another significant 2019 expense :- ) into the “Quality of Life” category, and this really made me feel good about it, rather than guilty.
On Looking Ahead
Of course you know that I love goal setting, and usually set some financial goals for myself every new year. In 2020, I want to focus on our “True Expenses” category. This includes things like clothing, gifts, household, subscriptions and giving. While I don’t necessarily mind the total we reached in this category, I would like to shift it a bit towards giving + practical subscriptions, and away from things (clothes/household items). My loose plan is to do a “no/low buy” few months, with the potential to extend that to a full year if it goes well. Stay tuned for another Money Monday post about those plans coming up soon!
Now some questions for you- do you find yourself reflecting on your finances? It has definitely moved closer to the front of my brain as I approach the big 3-0. Do you track your spending? Or set financial goals? I’d love to hear. xo