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5 Unexpected Benefits of Using YNAB

“I have not had anxiety about money in years” and other sighs of relief!

When you start using YNAB for the first time, you expect to get your finances organized, reach some financial goals, and feel better about your money. But there are so many more unexpected benefits that come from working (werking? WORKING!) the YNAB Method. And you don’t have to take our word for it!

Just spend a little time in any of the wonderful, supportive YNAB communities all across the internet, and you’ll see people absolutely raving about how this app has changed their lives. (In this realm of fandom, we mean that it’s not uncommon to see YNAB license plates and even tattoos. We blush every time.)

For example, the YNAB Fans group on Facebook deserves a huge shout-out, because their 83,000+ members are some of the most welcoming and encouraging people you’ll ever meet. One post caught our eye recently when YNABer Jane asked a simple question: What’s one benefit of using YNAB that surprised you? The comments were full of fascinating stories about how YNAB had unexpectedly impacted their lives. So we’ve wrapped up some of those comments to share with you today! 

*Stands up* *Grabs megaphone*

Here are 5 unexpected benefits of using YNAB!

1. YNAB helps you stop depriving yourself

If you’ve spent any amount of time in the personal finance world, you’ve probably noticed that a lot of the advice is shockingly… mean. So many financial gurus spend much of their time belittling and even yelling at people to get their act together and stop doing anything that brings them joy until they clean up their finances. And on one level I understand. Some people need a wake-up call. But most of the time this kind of tone is unhelpful at best and downright harmful at worst. 

That’s why I was so pleased to see so many positive comments about how YNAB helped people stop depriving themselves and enjoy life more than they did before. Take Taylor’s comment, for example:

Realizing I could afford to stop working 3 jobs 7 days a week if I just changed my spending habits. Now happily working one and enjoying work / life balance for the first time in 10 years of adulthood.

Taylor already knew that changing her life would mean some hard work. But it turned out she was working harder than she had to. Once she got organized and started spending in a way that lined up with her values, she found she could actually work less and still be okay! Taylor went on to say later in that thread that this win was nothing short of life-changing, a phrase we hear a lot!

But that’s not all. Kady came to a similar realization:

That I could actually save significant amounts of money without feeling deprived, while still spending money on things that are important to me.

Saving money is too often associated with drudgery. Kady realized that once she knew what was important to her, she could funnel her money in that direction while still going after her financial goals. Not only is she fulfilling her dreams, but she’s enjoying the journey, too. Doesn’t that take a little weight off your shoulders? 

Throughout this one thread, I found even more paradoxical YNAB wins. So many said that they felt they could actually afford to spend more than they did before starting YNAB. That’s because the YNAB Method is not about spending less, it’s about spending right. We’re all about lining up your spending with your true priorities. That means you’ll spend less on the things that don’t matter to you and more on the things that do. In the end, you’ll feel far far from deprived, you’ll feel happier and more fulfilled. 

2. YNAB leads to less stress in general 

For better or worse, money touches every part of your life, from your health to your relationships to everything in between. That means when you feel less stressed about your money, you’ll feel less stressed about everything

When your car breaks down, you’ll be able to cover the expense because you’ve been following Habit 2 and saving for car repairs for the past six months. That means you’ll have a car problem without the money problem on top of it. When you leave the lasagna in the oven too long and ruin dinner, you can easily roll with the punches and get some takeout without compromising your most important priorities. Stressful things may come, but a whole layer of stress is removed. 

Let me give you an example from the YNAB Fans group post. Heidi talked about how YNAB helped her be flexible on vacation: 

Vacations are so much more fun for me because I know the money is there and that’s what it’s for. So when we see the random roadside attraction or billboard for “World’s Best Huckleberry Milkshake,” I’m in and can enjoy it.

Vacations should be the opposite of stressful, yet they so often are! And one of the number one reasons is that most people don’t know if they can truly afford vacation spending. Kudos to Heidi for not only planning her vacation spending so she didn’t have to worry about it but also having the flexibility to say yes to an unexpected experience. Huckleberry milkshakes sound delicious!

Liz addressed one of the most stressful parts of money management without a written plan: 

How much more freedom we have to spend what we want when we want! No more mental math, having to keep track of bills, checking our debit account, etc.

When we don’t have a spending plan, the only piece of information you have to fall back on is your checking account balance. But that doesn’t tell you anything about what your money is supposed to do for you! That’s why you’re so often stressed every time you make a purchase doing a bunch of mental accounting to decide whether you can afford it. Having a flexible plan written down outside your head changes everything.

Jennifer summed it up in one powerful sentence: 

“I have not had anxiety about money in years.”

There are plenty of things to worry about in life. With YNAB, money doesn’t have to be one of them.

3. YNAB helps you improve your relationships

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say that YNAB saved their marriage. What!? This is a financial app, how did it save your marriage? Well, the truth is that wasn’t just YNAB’s doing. Each of these couples worked hard to improve their relationships, but YNAB gave them a shared framework to talk about their money. And that makes an enormous difference. Take Chris’ comment as an example:

It got my wife and I on the same page about what our financial situation actually is, which makes it much easier to discuss what we can afford to spend because we are starting from the same place. That was always a challenge before and is easily worth the subscription.

They started from the same place. That’s it! That’s all it took to alleviate their money fights. So often arguments among loved ones are nearly impossible to resolve because you’re not starting from the same set of facts. You’re talking past each other. Having your money organized into a shared plan gives you a place to start so your money discussions don’t turn into money fights. 

But YNAB can help improve more than just married relationships. Your friendships could blossom because of YNAB, too:

I used to be stressed about going out with friends and would even avoid it sometimes, because of money. Now, I have money set aside just for time with friends, and it's made a difference.

Spending time with friends can be expensive, especially when their money values don’t line up with your own. When you don’t have a plan for your money, every time you go out with friends, it can feel like your money is slipping away. This YNABer intentionally set money aside for their friends so they could see that they could still invest in those relationships without compromising other goals. As a result, they removed a huge obstacle to enjoying the people in their lives. 

4. YNAB gives you power and confidence

The YNAB Method teaches you principles and skills that you can apply to other areas of your life. And because money is so tangible, you can prove to yourself just how capable you are! Just take Jessi’s example:

That it has made me realize that I am always in the pilot seat—not just with money but with every aspect of my life. Life does not happen to me; I happen to it.

This quote is just amazing to me. Using YNAB showed Jessi that she is in control of her life! If you can take control and gain clarity with your money, what else can you do? Sometimes it takes success in one area to show you just how capable you are to improve your life in any number of ways. 

Along the same lines, another YNABer talked about how YNAB helped them get curious about how they could optimize not just their money but other scarce resources:

Secondly the benefit of applying experimentation to my life. Every month I sit down and review the last month's purchases for value-for-money. I often found some that seemed like such a good idea didn't hold up, while others had an oversized benefit. Later I started doing the same review with how I spent my time or which projects to pick.

YNAB gives you control over your money, which so many believe is impossible. If you can deploy your dollars in a way that aligns with your most important values, you’ll realize you can do the same in other areas. The skills you learn from YNAB can be applied anywhere. Nothing could be more exciting! 

5. YNAB includes all sorts of unexpected practical benefits

Alright, that last section was a little woo-woo. Let’s get super practical. The last common theme I saw in this thread had to do with very specific benefits. Erin made me laugh out loud with this comment: 

I win all the arguments about when something was purchased and/or how much it cost. To me that’s worth the subscription cost.

It’s fun to win arguments about little things that don’t matter, but this gets to a huge practical benefit that comes from tracking your spending—you can look anything up. When was the last time I got my hair done? How long has it been since I visited the dentist? What was the name of that awesome contractor I hired four years ago? My tax form wants to know how much I spent on medical bills! No problem. YNAB is a super practical diary for anything you spend money on. It’s impossible to keep all this super valuable information in your head. With YNAB it’s there when you need it!

Another awesome practical benefit of using YNAB. You can use your credit card more without any stress of carrying debt for multiple months. Kerri said:

I never trusted myself with credit cards until YNAB. Now I can reap the benefits of travel points to help save even more money.

This was a common theme in this thread. Many people said they had limited their use of credit cards before YNAB or avoided them altogether because they were afraid of them! But YNAB’s elegant handling of credit cards means you can make sure you always have the money to back up any credit purchase. So you can use it as an innocuous spending method and take advantage of all the rewards without guilt or fear. 

I have one more practical benefit for you, and it’s a big one! YNAB can help you safely automate your bills. Lisa is just one example:

Being able to finally automate my bill paying. What a relief to not have to deal with it and KNOW for certain that the money is available the day the bill posts.

YNAB gets you organized so you know you have REAL money set aside for every upcoming expense. That practice means you can start to automate your bills without having to worry about going into overdraft. This is especially true when you start following Habit 4 and get a month ahead on your finances. YNAB takes away a huge amount of busy work by freeing you to safely automate mundane chores like paying bills. 

YNAB brings more joy

When you worry less about money, you make room to experience more of the goodness life has to offer. You’ll experience more abundance, less stress, improved relationships, more confidence, and less mental clutter. All of this means that YNAB is about so much more than just organizing your money. It’s about bringing more joy into your life.

Don’t you want to bring even one of these benefits into your life right now!? Of course, you do! Try YNAB today. It’s free for a month.

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5 Unexpected Benefits of Using YNAB