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You Need a Budget: The Proven System for Breaking the Paycheck to Paycheck Cycle, Getting Out of Debt, and Living the Life You Want
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You Need a Budget: The Proven System for Breaking the Paycheck to Paycheck Cycle, Getting Out of Debt, and Living the Life You Want

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  5,625 ratings  ·  767 reviews
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. ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published December 26th 2017 by Harper Business (first published September 1st 2010)
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Average rating 4.09  · 
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 ·  5,625 ratings  ·  767 reviews

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Start your review of You Need a Budget: The Proven System for Breaking the Paycheck to Paycheck Cycle, Getting Out of Debt, and Living the Life You Want
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. ...more
I love the YNAB software, but there's nothing in the book you can't learn from the website for free. ...more
Jan 31, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, 2018
Love the software, found the book wholly redundant. So happy I borrowed it from the library rather than budgeting dollars toward it (see what I did there?).
Dec 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
I first found 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
Jessica Boots
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 syst
Meghan Burke
Jan 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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 deb ...more
Dec 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio
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.

Audio book borrowed from
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 fro ...more
MissBecka Gee
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 starte
Jan 12, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2021
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. ...more
Michelle Only Wants to Read
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 pe
Marilyn Shea
Jul 07, 2018 rated it it was ok
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 Starb ...more
Mar 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
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) - althoug ...more
Aug 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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. ...more
Jan 01, 2018 rated it it was ok
The main information is decent but the book is awful. My highlights cover about 1000 words, the rest is sadly just padding with pointless anecdotes and reiterations.
Jan 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
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). ...more
Jammin Jenny
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. ...more
Aug 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
Full disclosure: I did skip the chapter about budgeting with a partner because I’m budgeting solo right now.
Chad Warner
Sep 25, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, finance
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;
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 al
Matthew Noe
Dec 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
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 compl ...more
Jesse Doogan
Mar 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobook, 2018
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
Apr 18, 2018 rated it did not like it
I must have missed something big here, but it seems like there's just one rule, "give every dollar a job," and then it's reiterated three different ways - but REALLY the rule is get rid of your debt - and then save, except for college... So there's a website/blog/app for this? The author, I guess, is shilling for his YNAB stuff. The author's writing style and overuse of both anecdotes and parentheses is confusing and annoying. I've read many more personal finance books that are more accessible, ...more
Feb 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
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 inte ...more
Greg Bodwell
Jul 18, 2018 rated it really liked 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 recomme ...more
I really enjoyed this book. His 4 rules make budgeting easy to understand and for the first time I get that budgeting can be fluid. We have several goals that we are working on and I look forward to applying the 4 rules and making them happen. Great book. Look forward to handselling when it is released.
Dec 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
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! ...more
LOVE this system and enjoyed the book, too!
I do not use YNAB as much as I would like and definitely lack consistency in applying it's principles, but this book did give me a much needed boost!
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#debtfreecommunity: March: You Need A Budget 1 11 Apr 13, 2019 08:13AM  
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