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Financial Confidence: This Is Your Year

9 tips to build the life you deserve by embracing a new money mindset

If it seems like your money has a secret life that’s cooler than yours, you’re not crazy. You're not alone, either (YNAB wouldn’t exist otherwise!). And so much of the money talk swirling out there feeds into that feeling.

“In one hand, out the other.” “Money is the root of all evil.” “You should have more to show for what you make.”

Sigh. It can be so draining to feel like you’re doing money “wrong.”

You might have tried other money management approaches that left you feeling judged and disheartened. You might have been raised in a household that looked at money as something beyond your control, or something that always had to be hard to earn and stressful to manage. But now, it's time to untangle what hasn't worked and look ahead with optimism.

This journey is all about you, and these financial confidence tips will help you create a plan for your money that fits your unique life like a glove.

With a whole year (+ a lifetime) ahead, it's the perfect day to reflect on your financial goals and aspirations. Whether you're aiming to save more, pay down looming debt, or break free from money fights, this year can be your year for financial confidence. With the right mindset and YNAB’s four habits, you can see money as an opportunity instead of a chore and create a future filled with purpose, security, and joy.

1. Think of Money as a Possibility, Not a Problem

The world has this funny way of thinking about money like it's a straightjacket, right? But I'm here to tell you that money isn't just numbers on a screen—it's an extension of who you are! Each time you spend, it's like a little piece of your heart and soul going into that transaction. So, let's shake off that old, limiting mindset and jump into a year of financial confidence filled with opportunities. Mindset is everything!

Woman with a positive money mindset

2. Set Clear Financial Goals

Imagine you're planning a cross-country road trip. You wouldn't just hit the road without a map or GPS, right? Well, the same goes for your money journey. Whether you're dreaming of a beach vacation, saying goodbye to those student loans, saving money for astro turf (heyo!), or making sure you have an emergency fund for life's surprises—these goals are your roadmap.

Think SMART: Specific (like picking a beach destination), Measurable (count those miles), Achievable (no, you can't drive to Hawaii), Relevant (unless it's a surf trip), and Time-bound (aim to get there during winter).

Ask yourself: “How do I want to spend my one wild and precious life?”

…Great! Now you have your spending categories, which are really just your priorities.

3. Create a Spending Plan That Fits Your Life

With a zero-based money management system, you’ll start organizing your priorities into meaningful categories (get creative). Then, you'll fund your categories with each dollar that comes in.

Sure, there are the obvious expenses to account for, like food, rent, and utilities. But what about your hobbies and passions? From gaming to date nights to DoorDash to Oregon Trail Funds, your spending plan should match your idea of a fulfilling life. Doesn’t that sound like a more fun way to think of money—as an extension of you

The YNAB app lets you build a spending plan that fits your unique life, goals, and passions—emojis encouraged.

4. Embrace Financial Literacy

Understand that financial literacy is not just about managing money; it's about gaining the confidence to make informed decisions. Dive into personal finance books, take online workshops (YNAB has loads for free), and follow some fun and engaging social media channels to level-up your financial literacy. You know what they say: knowledge is power! 

5. Track Your Progress

Monitoring your financial progress is key to building confidence. Regularly check your spending plan, savings, and debt repayment. YNAB makes this easy with effortless reports, and you'll take pride in watching your goals come to life as you make steady progress.

If you’re used to basic expense tracking, you’re probably used to looking back at spending with guilt (the enemy of confidence). When you create a spending plan and consistently fund your future priorities, it’s easy to see and celebrate progress.

Enjoying a funded vacation with improved money habits

6. Plan for Change

Just like your aunt's unpredictable Thanksgiving casserole, life's surprises are bound to happen. That's where the YNAB Method really shines. While many apps dwell on the past, YNAB takes a forward-thinking approach, helping you anticipate significant, non-monthly expenses and breaking them into manageable monthly savings.

This proactive strategy empowers you to face life's curveballs with confidence and take control of your financial future. It’s much easier to embrace the unknown when you’re prepared for future car maintenance, Urgent Care visits, and holiday splurges ahead of time.

7. Pay Down Debt Strategically

Dealing with debt can sometimes feel like running on a never-ending treadmill at full speed. But here's the thing: paying off debt isn't about shaming yourself; it's about liberating your money to spend it the way you truly want.

Every payment you make is like hitting the pause button on that treadmill. It's all part of your strategy to break free and enjoy financial freedom, where you can spend your hard-earned money in ways that bring you joy and fulfillment. So, avalanche or snowball method—what’ll it be?

8. Flex Your Money Muscles Routinely

To change your relationship with money once and for all, make your money management system an integral part of your daily routine. Take a note from Ashley L. of @TheOrganizedWallet with these three expert tips: 

  1. Keep YNAB visible – make it your financial command center, so you never lose sight of your goals. 
  2. Infuse some fun and functionality into it by creating categories that excite you. Achieving money clarity doesn't have to be boring; it can be as thrilling as planning your next adventure or indulging in your favorite hobbies. 
  3. Make YNAB easy by “habit stacking”—add checking your spending plan to the healthy habits you already practice daily. 

Whether it's morning coffee or evening workouts, attaching YNAB to these routines ensures you stay on top of your financial game effortlessly. With these strategies, you'll find managing your finances with YNAB isn't just a chore—it's a dynamic part of your lifestyle that empowers you to live a fuller life.

9. Resolve to Talk About Money With Your Partner

Imagine a future where you and your partner bid farewell to money-related arguments and welcome a harmonious financial partnership. YNAB is your ally in this transformation. It shifts the focus from "you" and "me" to "we," turning financial discussions—or even fights—into collaborative, future-focused experiences.

Open, honest communication is essential in your relationship, and your financial journey is no different. Commit to regular money talks with your partner. Even better, Money Date Nights (yes, it’s a thing!). Together, discuss your financial goals and challenges, and create a spending strategy that reflects your shared priorities. In doing so, you'll strengthen not only your financial partnership but also your connection as a couple.

10. Celebrate Your Wins

As you progress on your journey to financial confidence, celebrate your achievements, no matter how small they may seem. Recognizing your milestones keeps you motivated and boosts your confidence. Remember that YNAB is not just about gaining total control of your money. It's about aligning your spending with your values. And the reality is, when you get your money right, other aspects of life tend to follow suit.

Your newfound financial confidence can spill over into all areas of your life, from reduced stress and improved relationships to a greater sense of freedom and fulfillment. So, as you toast to your financial victories, savor the fact that you're not just mastering your finances; you're setting the stage for a more harmonious and balanced life overall. Cheers to that!

This is Your Year

Changing your relationship with money—like anything worth doing in life—isn't about having time. It's about making time.

You tackle obstacles more difficult than managing money every day. Untangling headphones without losing your mind. Putting on eyeliner without looking like a panda. Making small-talk with your in-laws without offending anyone. Finding a matching sock. Not to mention, killing it at your job and becoming a better partner, student, or parent of small humans (or pets or plants). 

Sure, learning new things takes time. But the reward is worth it. This is your year to go up, up, and away with financial confidence… which ultimately leads to more self confidence. Stay the course, and you stand to gain a higher net worth—literally and figuratively.

Using YNAB has completely changed the way I think and feel about money. I genuinely look forward to when I receive my paycheck because I can put my money to work according to my priorities and values.
-Kajsa, YNABer 

Now all you have to do is plop your priorities, passions, and goals into YNAB as categories so you can squeeze even more joy out of them. There’s only one thing better than doing something you love: doing something you love without money worries. 

Want to start spending and saving in a way that will change your relationship with money…and your life? Try YNAB for free for 34 days—no commitment or credit card required.

YNAB IRL: From Total Chaos to Newfound Confidence

Meet Sarah, a YNABer who changed her relationship with money (and herself!) for the better.

I was in a terrible place emotionally due to my financial circumstances. I really didn't see a way out and expected to be living paycheck to paycheck paying down debt for the rest of my life. I didn't think I would find a partner who would trust me with money. Thinking about my future was miserable. Now, I am so confident in my financial habits and love seeing those green categories. I'm planning the wedding of my dreams with a man who supported me even after learning about my debt.
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Financial Confidence: This Is Your Year