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True Confessions: We Lost Our Home

For many users, You Need a Budget (YNAB) is the tool that finally helps them to take control of their finances and feel confident in their future. Some YNAB wins are full of huge debt payoffs, but the reality is they come in all shapes and sizes.

For Natalie and Larry, YNAB helped bring them from living paycheck to paycheck to saving enough money to reach their dream of adopting a child (a big win!) and along the way their savings account earned a penny of interest…for the first time ever.

Meet Natalie and Larry

Natalie and Larry are a married couple who have been together for 21 years. Natalie is a teacher, while Larry is a government employee. Like so many other couples, they haven’t had the easiest financial journey. But after years of living paycheck to paycheck, the couple finally changed their money story.

Natalie, Larry, and their son Collin

Life Before YNAB

Before using YNAB, Natalie and Larry were like many other couples—they were doing well enough to get by, but the stress of debt loomed. They had 13 credit cards and two personal loans without the extra money to pay them off quickly.

“We always somehow managed to get the money we needed, but it’s never stayed in our account long enough to earn any interest,” Natalie said.

The biggest catalyst that pushed them to finally get control of their finances was losing their home. Natalie and Larry had taken out a balloon mortgage without fully understanding the ramifications. A balloon mortgage is a home loan with regular monthly payments, but with one large lump-sum payment at the end. Because they couldn’t pay it off, they ended up losing the house.

Things started to turn around for Natalie and Larry when they joined Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. They started budgeting for the first time. They moved into an apartment, putting their larger pieces of furniture in storage. But it still wasn’t enough.

“Life hits you and you realize you want to have a child but can’t, and have to start downsizing so you can save money for an adoption, which was going to cost around $17,000,” Natalie said.

They Had Tried Other Solutions

Natalie and Larry started their financial journey well before they came across YNAB. The first investment they made into turning their finances around was Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University (FPU). They followed Dave Ramsey’s program for several years, including participating in “Money Mondays” with other couples from the program.

The couple had also tried their hand at a few other budgeting apps. They had tried Mint, Prism, Microsoft Money, and EveryDollar, but none felt quite right. They just couldn’t seem to find an app that worked for them. They were especially surprised that EveryDollar wasn’t a good fit since they had seen success on Dave Ramsey’s program.

Why YNAB Was The Right Fit

When Natalie and Larry found YNAB, they knew it was unlike any other budgeting system they had tried.

“We realized that we are not good stewards with our money and really need every dollar to have a job, otherwise we will spend it on silly things,” Natalie said. “YNAB is the perfect program to successfully execute how to give each dollar a job. It was the thing that Dave Ramsey’s program was missing for us.”

Life Since YNAB

Since they started using YNAB, Natalie and Larry have been able to completely turn their finances around. And surprisingly, the experience has shown them they’re actually grateful for some of the hardships they went through.

“We saved to have Collin, and if we didn’t lose that house, we wouldn’t have been able to have him,” Natalie shared. “So we celebrate losing a house!”

While saving enough money to adopt a child has certainly been the biggest gift to come from getting their finances in order, it hasn’t been the only one. Natalie and Larry also went from having 13 credit cards to having none. They’ve saved for goals such as becoming Vacation Club members (and paying in full) and upsizing their house.

Because they have control of their finances, they’re entering into a mortgage with a higher payment with confidence. What’s even more, the couple has been able to put money into savings and keep it there for the first time. In fact, Natalie checked her savings account recently to find that she had earned interest for the first time ever.

“I don’t mean to brag, but I made money in my savings account! One whole penny! I have never earned interest in my accounts before!! Pretty darn proud of myself! My goal next month is two pennies!”

Update: since this story was initially written, Natalie is now up to seven cents of interest earned. That’s a 700% increase since she started budgeting in YNAB! 🎉

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True Confessions: We Lost Our Home