A guide based on the tenets of the award-winning financial platform, "You Need a Budget," argues that a well-planned budget does not involve deprivation and counsels readers on how to prioritize financial goals, reduce stress through strategic cash flow allocations and meet the challenges of unplanned expenses.
Quick review for a quick read: this ended up being a personal finance read that I picked up without really knowing the backstory to it. The "You Need A Budget" mentioned here is indeed the same system that's featured from the program/app of the same name. I didn't connect the two until learning about this book from a Daily Deal on Audible. I figured "I've been reading a number of personal finance books lately since the work I'm doing also relates to financial matters and I'm making decisions (i.e. trying to buy a house, save for retirement, etc.) along those lines, what references can I grab?" Enter this book, then I realized the name matched the program. Duh @ me.
Tangent aside, this was an easy to follow audiobook, with a clearly delineated 4-step approach to budgeting. Whether you use a program, app or pen and paper/Excel spreadsheet, this book claims that the system it proposes works for all those methods and then some. It takes the idea that you 1. assign every dollar to a task, 2. carefully look at your expenses, 3. "roll with the punches" - meaning you're flexible and allow assessment with your spending, and 4. "age your money" - keeping ahead of your expenses by allowing the money you've saved in advance can be used for current/future expenses. It's a good system and the author gives plenty of examples of how it has worked for his family as well as others who've used this system. The information in this book you could essentially find on the program's website, but it does add a few (namely examples) new discussions to the mix. The book meanders a little from its central discussions from time to time, but I liked the overarching information I gathered from it. The audiobook was well narrated and it's a quick read (about 5 hours total in audio form). I liked it and I'll keep it handy in my personal finance library.
Read this book over holiday break. Winter break: one of a teacher's only moments to really read.
First, a disclaimer on yours truly and the bias I may have - YNAB has literally changed my life (or at least my finances). I began the program in May of 2016 and have grown my net worth 120% by following every single video tutorial, religiously following Whiteboard Wednesday, and subscribing to the Reddit and Facebook YNAB forums. I picked up this book because I wanted a quick "refresher" on the system and simply wanted a more in-depth explanation of each rule.
This book definitely offered the in-depth explanations I was looking for. Jesse's writing style is casual and candid, with enough humor to keep the relatively dry topic material moving. Jesse also goes into his personal life story - it was interesting to see the genesis of the software. However, none of this information was anything I couldn't pick up from reddit YNAB or the extensive budget tutorials offered by the online software. However, it was a fun read! I didn't learn anything "new", but the explanations and conversational tone of the book definitely made reading it enjoyable.
I would recommend this book more to someone trying the YNAB system for the very first time. The envelope-style budgeting fundamentals of YNAB are deceptively simple - easy to pick up but difficult to actually master. If you are a fan of the software I would definitely say it's worth a purchase, but don't expect anything super-groundbreaking. This is a book that is squarely covering the fundamentals and in that regard, it succeeds.
One suggestion I would have for Jesse for future books is to show more exemplars than simply heterosexual, kind of religious-y married couples. I couldn't relate to the chapter on kids or on budgeting with your spouse, even though I am partnered, because we have our own "system" and YNAB works for me without my partner needing to do it as well. Not every couple budgets together in the same way (or needs to). Maybe feature a singleton or even a single parent? Some other non-traditional family?
Tangent: I found Jesse's anti-college-loan stance somewhat bizarre (perhaps saying this as a high school teacher) and idealistic/naive. Jesse seems to believe that all six of his children will pick up scholarships and be able to work their way through college. While certainly possible, I have a hard time believing that *none* of them will have to pick up a loan in, say, senior year. I'm not knocking his "no saving for college" stance, but find his philosophy convenient since his kids aren't college-age yet.
Someone suggested YNAB in a FB feed I happened to see a few days ago, and so I poked around on the website/app for a bit. It was confusing at first (as you don't budget money until you have it: so not counting my paycheck or my mortgage payment that *will* happen yet this month didn't make sense at first) but then it just sort of clicked. I ordered this book right away, and it keeps clicking. I've not been terrible with money -always paying bills on time and paying more than required on most debts, but I've not really gotten off the hamster wheel either. Something would always come up and I'd be back where I started. This book reinforces what feels like an a-ha moment with the YNAB method, and is coupled with clean and clear writing and lots of personal examples from the author's own and others' lives. I'm feeling intentional rather than hopeful about my money for the first time... um, ever? And while it's exciting, there's no real gimmick here. Just good sense. (No auditory money pun intended.) What an awesome start to the new year!
I first found YouNeedABudget.com 3 years ago and started taking their free classes and using their software then. I was interested to see if this book would provide any new insight and information. Happy to say that it does! He does not push his software, and in fact, mentions you can do this using a spreadsheet program or even pen and paper (personally, I believe the software makes this process WAY easier!).
In this book, Jesse Mecham shares his budgeting system, which has worked for thousands of people from all financial backgrounds, and also adds a section about helping kids learn to have a healthy relationship with money and budgeting as well as budgeting as a couple. The section on kids has made me delve deeper into why I sometimes judge my children's purchases. Something for me to work on.
Jesse provides a realistic system for budgeting that relies on the money you have currently and what it needs to do for you before your next paycheck, whether that's in 2 weeks or 2 months. This means that this system is highly flexible and useful for people who have regular income each month or irregular income (i.e. an artist). And really, people who have irregular income need a budget, a flexible one, more than people who get paid a set amount every month like clockwork.
Reading this book will show you a whole new level of being accountable for your money and help you think about choosing your priorities more carefully and consciously.
Before deciding budgeting won't work for you, please read the chapter on quitting. Quitting budgeting isn't on my radar and this section brought new life into the budget and helped me ground myself again.
I gave this review 4 stars instead of 5 stars because I found myself wanting Jesse to delve deeper into several examples and sections. There's enough information to understand the point, but I still wanted more, you know?
**I was sent a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
This is the first book I have ever read on budgeting or personal finance. It was so good I couldn’t put it down. Helpful, relatable, practical, funny. Budgeting doesn’t feel so daunting or scary. Super fast read also.
I'm ending the year with a non-fiction, personal finance book.
One of my goals for the new year is to give my finances a fresh look. I already budget every month but have been looking for fresh motivation and perspective. And this book provided that.
This is a great book (and system) for those who are interested in starting to budget. And if you already budget every month, this a good, quick read that may just give you some fresh ideas or motivation to make a few changes.
I don’t normally read books like these but had seen this on audible and its title resonated. I’m so glad I picked this up, a good, simple and helpful overview of the tactics you can use to help manage your own budgets and reach whatever your goals might be eg become debt free, save for travel, etc. There’s a brilliant chapter on budgeting as a couple (that I’ve totally taken on board) and another great one for budgeting with kids and teaching them how to manage money (at the right age) - although not relevant for me I could see a lot of value of this fort friend’s who are parents.
Highly recommend this very helpful read. And pleased to here they have podcasts too so I’ll be subscribing - I’m a total convert to “needing a budget”, I would definitely re-read and I'm not an avid re-reader!
Review December 2020: Re-read for the new year.* I need to re-work my budget, a lot of changes have happened over the past two years, and I thought doing a refresher on the book would be helpful to me as I work this week on setting up a new budget for 2021. It was! When I first started YNAB it took me a few months to really understand it, it me took a bit longer to use it correctly (I was grossly under funding categories or believing that I would only spent x dollars on groceries when I know from my tracking data it is one of my highest spend categories). But what I love most about this system, what forms the basis of this system, is that there is no shame in switching categories or re-doing stuff or stopping and simply starting a fresh start/new budget when you need it. Life happens and YNAB gets that (Roll with the Punches is a great example and one that is built into the core 4 Rules).
Am I as far along on my money journey as I would like? No. But I am in a better financial place than I was two years ago and it is in large part due to using this system. Because as Jesse writes, asking "What do I want my money to do for me?" really helps me to prioritize my spending and align my daily money habits to my goals/future me. I now know more about my money and my money habits (good and bad) then I did two two years ago and little by little I am using it to get myself to the place I ultimately want to be, free from debt and with money in the bank for emergencies and to give to others. It'll happen one day, it's a marathon, not a sprint.
*I got the kindle version for $1.99 when it was on sale for Black Friday
Review December 2018: I was determined to finish this book before 2019 started and I am very glad I did. It broke down the philosophy of this system and explained the 4 Rules that YNABers follow - Give Every Dollar a Job, Embrace Your True Expenses, Roll With the Punches and Age Your Money. I plan to start this system for 2019 (just signed up for the free trial!) and fingers crossed it will help me with my finances. I want to be better with my money.
Run out and read this. I've been using this software for over 2 years, so I thought I wouldn't learn anything new. Wrong! Jesse's printed words flow like he's talking to you, and the book reads so fast! He makes you believe you can succeed at budgeting and truly make it a part of your lifestyle ... we have done that in ways we never did before.
If Dave Ramsey's no debt principles appeal to you - but his nasty judgmental holier-than-thou attitude does not - you will l-o-v-e Jesse. Just being told that YOUR priorities matter rather than what he thinks your priorities should be makes all the difference.
This is definitely geared to people who are not currently using a budget at all. If you are already using a budget and updating it monthly there is not much here for you. I do like the idea of doing a 1 month daily tracking of all money in and out of your account to see if our current budget can use any revamping. I plan to try that out this month and see where we can pinch and splurge a little. Over all it's more for people who don't currently keep track of their money and need help getting started on monitoring their finances.
An elementary budgeting book aimed especially at those who want to get out of debt. Mecham's gives 4 simple budgeting rules (see below). He's strongly anti-debt because debt restricts your cash flow. He deliberately doesn't tell you what to do with your money, because priorities and cost of living differs from person to person.
I like that Mecham doesn't push his software (You Need A Budget, aka YNAB), though he does mention it occasionally. You don't need to use the software to follow the book; you can use other software, or budget manually. The book is about budgeting concepts, not software. There are some case studies about budgeting, but not an annoying number (unlike many books like this).
Notes Introduction Four Rules of YNAB 1. Give Every Dollar a Job. Be proactive. Decide on priorities first, then assign dollars. 2. Embrace Your True Expenses. Budget for future expenses, whether they happen regularly or irregularly. 3. Roll with the Punches. Change your budget as necessary to fit changing situations and priorities. 4. Age Your Money. Increase the time between receiving money and spending it, to be more secure and flexible. Aim for at least 30 days.
Rule One—Give Every Dollar a Job Embracing true expenses (Rule 2) means breaking bigger expenses into monthly installments and saving for them. "True expenses" includes every expense involved in keeping your life running.
Only use credit cards for purchases when you have the money in the bank, and it's budgeted towards that expense. Use it like a debit card.
Once a year, question all your expenses. Every year or 2, start fresh; start with just your bank account balance, and slowly add expenses one at a time.
Rule One hierarchy 1. Budget for immediate obligations (shelter, food, utilities) 2. Budget for true expenses (large, irregular expenses) 3. Budget for highest priorities (family time, hobbies, etc.)
Rule Two—Embrace Your True Expenses 2 types of true expenses Predictable (insurance premiums, car registration, holiday shopping, back-to-school items, etc.) Unpredictable (car repairs, wedding gifts, home repairs, etc.)
Each of 4 Rules is actually Rule 1 for different scenarios. Rule 2 is Rule 1 for less frequent expenses.
Rule 2 is your emergency fund; you no longer need a separate emergency fund. Instead of having a pile of cash labeled "emergency," assign the cash you have to future expenses, so it will be there in case of emergency.
Mecham isn't saving for college for his kids; instead, he's teaching them to fund their tuition through scholarships, budgeting, and working while in school. He's "hugely averse to student loans."
Rule Three—Roll with the Punches Changing your budget isn't failure, but reprioritization. You're not accountable to every line item in your hudget, only to your bottom line.
Rule Four—Age Your Money Money's "age" is amount of time between when you earn and when you spend. The older, the better. 30-60 days is good goal.
Budgeting as a Couple Consider a no-questions-asked personal fun money stash for each spouse.
Slaying Debt, Whatever Your Situation Debt restricts your cash flow, because you need to budget for debt payments.
Pay down debt after budgeting for obligations and top priorities (including true expenses).
Mecham recommends giving kids modest allowance (couple of dollars per week) so they can learn to manage money. At age 8, he starts kids on YNAB.
Mecham requires kids to set aside 10% for giving, and put 50% of what's left into savings. He lets them do whatever they want with the rest.
Giving kids freedom to spend as they please helps them learn accountability. Guide learning by asking, "Are you sure you want that? Is there anything you might want more?"
Allowance shouldn't be a wage for chores. Chores should be done out of love for family, and because they want home to function well. By linking allowance to chores, you deprive kids of opportunity to practice managing money if they don't do chores.
Ik gebruik Ynab alweer jaren, en naar grote tevredenheid. Ik wist niet zeker of dit boek nog iets bij zou dragen. Niet dat ik een financieel wonderkind ben nu, oh how I wish, maar omdat ik hun systeem (Ynab's four rules) wel ken inmiddels. Maar met een nieuw jaar voor de deur, een huwelijk (met iemand die het woord budget alleen met een vies gezicht uit kan spreken) en twee steeds groter (duurder!) wordende kinderen begon ik er toch aan.
Akkoord, de vier regels kende ik al en deze worden uiteraard zeer uitvoerig besproken in het eerste deel van het boek; give every dollar a job, embrace your true expences, roll with the punches en age your money. Maar ik vond dat een heel aangename reminder. Er worden voorbeelden aangehaald van andere Ynab-ers (ja, zo heten wij) en hoewel ik dan soms denk 'wow ja, maar die hebben daadwerkelijk aardig wat geld om rond te schuiven..' word ik daarna meestal snel aangesproken door Mister Ynab himself, Jesse Mecham. Hij houdt niet van de excuus Truus, als het op geld aankomt. Hij herhaalt regelmatig dat een voorbeeld over duizenden dollars geen excuus geeft aan hen die maar 200 hebben om mee aan de slag te gaan. Ynab gaat over hoe je je geld aan het werk zet, niet de pot met geld zelf (al ziet iedereen die graag steeds gevulder raken, uiteraard). Hij vergeet niet dat mensen met weinig te besteden ook zijn boek lezen en de software gebruiken, of hoe en waarom hij zelf met budgeteren begon (de spreadsheet die uitgroeide tot Ynab). Iets wat wel eens anders is op sites en in boeken over financiële zaken.
Een van mijn favoriete hoofdstukken is die over budgeteren met kinderen. Nee, niet voor je kinderen, maar mét je kinderen. In het goed gevulde Huize Mecham krijgt elk kind vanaf 8 jaar een eigen Ynab-budget voor zijn of haar zakgeld. Mijn kinderen met geld leren omgaan blijf ik een lastig iets vinden. Vaak vergeet ik gewoon zakgeld te geven, en zij vragen er niet om, om maar iets te noemen. Een van mijn missies na dit boek is een heel concreet plan in werking stellen voor de kinderen als het aankomt op zakgeld en leren met geld om te gaan.
Het boek leest vlot, is niet prekerig en bezorgt je geen schuldgevoel als je er tot nu een rommeltje van maakte. De insteek is positief, en gaat uit van je (financiële) hier en nu en de toekomst die voor je ligt.
Dus had ik er nog iets aan? Absoluut. Ik heb zín om de boel een beetje op te schudden en het geld nog veel beter voor ons aan het werk te zetten.
Never forget, debt is not an option & must buy doughnuts.
If you used the software for awhile, the concepts aren't new; however, I still enjoyed the book as it was like seeing the four rules expanded. Most of the examples catered toward couples was my only annoyance. Mecham's writing style is casual and comfortable and definitely not dull. I recommend this book if you are (or know someone who is) afraid of the word "budget." Also, he rarely mentions the software. The book is about the principles behind YNAB and not what you use.
So I don't use the YNAB software (the reliance on monthly budgets really doesn't work for my brain when I get paid every two weeks), but I've always liked the principles behind it, and this was a really helpful book to read to help me refocus for a new year.
This audiobook, read by its author, is a gem. It came into my life at a time when I needed guidance on how to manage my money in a smarter way, and in its four simple rules, I find--for the first time in my life--that budgeting may be possible, and reducing my debt is an attainable goal.
The selling point of his budgeting system for me was the lack of imposing impossible guidelines, and it helped me to see I can start where I am (broke) and work my way out without shame, and without the usual percentages for this and that, which I have never been able to commit to, and have made me give up other programs. Budgeting became a burden and I gave up. With YNAB's rules, I have been able to already identify areas of improvement and set realistic near, middle, and long-term financial goals.
I am currently on the 34-day trial of their software (still trying to figure out how to work some things around), and their free tutorials, workshops, and friendly customer service has been of help.
I recommend this book for anyone who may feel defeated and confused by traditional wealth management systems which rely on a heavy understanding of crunching numbers. YNAB is helpful whether you are an expert on the subject or a confused person with good intentions, such as myself.
I've read some of the Suzie Orman books and liked them and at times, I've actually paid off credit card debts after reading her for inspiration. This book was not as militant in tone, but like the SO books, I always get to the part where they say something like, "So, having paid your mortgage and utilities, take a look at the money you have left over and decide how you will handle it." My situation never involves a sum of leftover money. My situation never involves giving up a daily cup of Starbucks, canceling a gym membership or postponing the purchase of some designer shoes. My situation is more, "After I've paid the mortgage, I take a look at the utility bills and decide how I will handle them as there is no more money left over to pay them." I understand the concept of setting aside small amounts of money each month for future vet bills, auto maintenance and repair, and for Christmas presents, but still haven't figured where and when these small amounts will appear. Still, just reading about budgeting makes me feel I've done something to help myself. More careful introspection needed.
I got the YNAB app last spring after hearing good things about it. I had been using a spreadsheet before and kinda just jumped into using YNAB without spending time understanding a) the financial principles behind it and b) how to properly use the software. It helped but it wasn't the revolutionary budgeting experience I had expected. Cue seeing the book on sale for $1.99. I'm glad I bought it because it was helpful to understand the rules for this type of budgeting (making every dollar count). I found the book somewhat repetitive and large chunks didn't apply to me but none the less, it made me feel more empowered in starting a fresh budget for 2021.
I will say that the book is more about the YNAB philosophy and not a guide to setting up a budget in the software. If you want help with that, then I recommend the large library of Youtube videos they have made available. They not only cover the four rules listed in the book but also the how-tos for setting up and managing your budget with YNAB online.
I love reading personal finance books. There are so many different perspectives on how to manage your finances. This book is one of the better budgeting books I have encountered. The book explains his four budget rules and gives lots of encouragement. He does not tell you what percent of your income should be spent on categories, instead he encourages you to think how you want your money to serve you and be realistic about your spending. The chapter on how he handles budgeting with kids was interesting. I would recommend this if you want to get started budgeting or if you currently budget and need some motivation to stick with it.
I’ve been using the YNAB software for a few years now and love it. It has been super useful. I also appreciate the amount of free training and seminars that the company offers. So, I was excited to read the book when I saw it came out. I found the book to be a great refresher course on budgeting. It’s helpful to remember that budgeting is really all about priorities. I particularly found the chapters about budgeting as a couple and budgeting with kids to be full of helpful information. I recommend the book and the software!
I borrowed it - now I'm buying it. I have struggled with budgets in the past, trying to know what will happen in the future. The idea of budgeting now vs. future sounds much more doable. Certainly worth reading the book or checking out the website if you're curious!
I really enjoyed this book about budgeting. It has four simple rules, and talks a lot about focusing on your priorities and making realistic changes. There is actually a website for YNAB so I'm going to give that a try for 34 days free and see how I like it.
I was all over this book from the moment I heard about it. Not only have I been really interested in finances over the past few years, I had also heard about the You Need A Budget (YNAB) method and system before, and had long been intrigued by it.
YNAB is a popular software program that follows four “rules” of budgeting that will help you get out of that paycheck to paycheck cycle in order to start saving and “aging” your money. I love this concept! I hate waiting for that next paycheck to hit all the time, and lining up bills with paychecks. If I could break that cycle, it would relieve a lot of stress from our lives. Count me in!
I like how this book was pretty short and to the point, but still managed to go into depth on each of the four rules. I also enjoyed Mecham’s casual, friendly writing style and tone. He wasn’t pushy or preachy at all, and believes that you should prioritize your money in a way that makes YOU happy. He doesn’t tell you how to spend, what to buy, how much to save, etc. He only wants you to prioritize money based on YOUR individual wants and needs. I could definitely get on board with that!
A downfall about this book for me was that it seems difficult to really put his methods into practice without the YNAB software. Though I’ve been really interested in checking the software out, I just can’t commit to paying for it right now. Without having that software and seeing it all laid out, it was a bit hard at times imagining how this system would work for me, and envisioning running through these rules in my personal life. Please note that Mecham in no way tries to force the software on you, which I appreciated. He said many times you can use your own spreadsheet or pen and paper, but I personally couldn’t quite see how I could make this work without the software. I understand the gist of the rules and can understand their importance, but beyond that, I think I would personally need the program in order to work this system.
All that said, I enjoyed this book and the advice it offered. I found it to be motivating and inspiring. I actually plan on keeping this book on my shelves for future reference because I do hope to be able to invest in the software one of these days.
This was the most accessible and easily read financial book I've ever touched. And I'm actually seriously going to give the ideas and program a shot. That said, I can't give 5 stars to a budget book that sticks to example cases that don't fit the average American life in the 2010's. Even 1 or 2 lower income examples would have made a huge difference. I'm left wondering if those stories are missing because the author doesn't know of any, they don't exist, or because the expected audience is completely middle class.
Honestly, this is one of the best budget books I've read. I'm not saying that the YNAB system is the best one, or even that it's going to work for me, but the way this book was written was so refreshing. It's a book written by a Millennial (or a near-Millennial--I think Mecham is in his late 30s) that doesn't make a HUGE DEAL out of that fact. It's not Millennial pink, it doesn't make avocado jokes, it just offers practical advice. The book is written in a calm, friendly, non-judgmental way. He's not condescending, he's not domineering, he just thinks you should have a budget. He says over and over that you're allowed to spend your money on what you want, and if that's the clearance rack at Anthropologie, then that's great! (This is unfair, how does he know I spend all my money at the clearance rack at Anthropologie? Someone should tell him it's not fair to look directly at my bank statements like that.) I also appreciated that his take on "The Latte Problem" was just "hey, if you need a 15-minute break from your stressful job and the best way to do that is a Starbucks run, go for it. Just make sure you budget for it." It's the most low-guilt budget book I've read, and I immediately downloaded the YNAB app and started categorizing. I guess I'll know better if the method actually works for me in a few months, but in the meantime, this is my favorite budget book so far.