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The Best Way to Pay for Home Improvements

Having a baby is one of the most expensive life changes that many of us will go through in our lives. Between the actual medical expenses you rack up in childbirth and the cost of raising a child, it’s enough to instill a little (or a lot) of financial anxiety in even the most zen-like parent. Figuring out the best way to pay for home improvements is usually the last thing on your mind when faced with the mountain of expenses associated with making a brand new human being from scratch.

When Jessica Fisher was in the hospital about to give birth to her third child, she was in the midst of panicking about the cost of bringing home another baby when a post for a budgeting app showed up in her Facebook feed (can they read minds now too?!). She decided to sign up right then and there.

Yes—at the hospital…as she was about to give birth. 

Jessica, Ryan, and their three kids (and also hello giant MUMS!)

Meet Jessica

Jessica Fisher and her husband Ryan are both teachers raising their family of three children. Like many families, the couple made enough money to get by but didn’t have a lot leftover for things like home improvement projects, vacations, and nights out. 

The couple eventually found YNAB on that fateful day in the hospital, and their financial life has transformed. In the seven years they’ve been using YNAB, Jessica and Ryan have paid off debt, built their savings cushion, and completely changed their mindset around money.

Life Before YNAB

“I never thought we needed a budget,” Jessica said. “We paid our credit cards off each month, why would we need a budget? I thought budgets were for people who had a spending problem. I was frustrated that we never seemed to have enough for “fun” things. We rarely went out to eat (though that was hard anyway with young kids) and definitely had no money for vacations. So when I saw a post on Facebook about the program while at the hospital giving birth, I figured, what do we have to lose?”

How Their Finances Have Changed Since Using YNAB

When they got home from the hospital, they sat down to create their first budget. While it took a while to get up to speed, they’ve been able to drastically change their finances with the help of the budgeting app.

They Committed to Never Having Another Car Loan

One of the first realizations Jessica and Ryan had when they started using YNAB was that they didn’t really need a car loan. They only owed about $1,500 on their existing loan and knew they could get by without taking out another.

They Rolled With the Punches

Like many YNAB users, it wasn’t all smooth sailing for Jessica and Ryan. 2018 saw a string of financial emergencies, but the budgeting habits they had adopted allowed them to deal with them head-on and without going into debt.

“In 2018 our beloved 2005 Corolla was totaled in an accident and we paid cash for a 2016 Camry,” Jessica said. “The same week of the accident, our well pump broke and we also paid cash for a replacement. That’s the best part about YNAB, we had a car and a home repair maintenance fund. The money was already sitting there so it didn’t matter that it happened the same week. We don’t need to worry about ‘emergencies’ being spaced out.”

They Renovated Their Home

One of the biggest wins Jessica and Ryan have had has been the ability to renovate their home. And they discovered the best way to pay for home improvements—in cash. By making small sacrifices in their budget, they paid for the entire project without having to rely on a personal loan or home equity line of credit. 

The best way to pay for home improvements is with cash!
Their “supposed to be” starter home: before the renovation.

“Every time we decided not to spend money on something, we knew that was more money into our remodeling fund. This past spring we had saved enough to start the first part of the project. YNAB enabled us to figure out our priorities.”

To celebrate the event, Jessica shared the following post with her Facebook friends:

“10 years ago we moved into our first house. It was supposed to be our starter home but became a place we loved. Our oldest was six months old when we moved in and our girls have never lived anywhere else. We love our yard, our location, our neighbors, all things we couldn’t find when we half-heartedly looked at other houses. So this year we finally started making our first house into our forever home. Ryan has been busy working on the inside, but we hired professionals for the outside. The much-needed facelift includes a new garage, front porch, expanded entryway with closets and window dormers for the upstairs bedrooms.”

Check out this video from Hannah for more advice on the best way to pay for home improvements.

They’re Free to Spend Money on Fun

Prior to using YNAB, Jessica and Ryan didn’t have a lot of room in their budget for extras. They rarely went out to eat and never took vacations. But since they started using the budgeting app, they’ve been able to set aside money for fun activities for the whole family.

“In the beginning we set a small amount for date nights,” Jessica said. “I still remember the first time we left all three kids with my parents to go out on a date. It was so freeing to know that the money was there just for date night and I didn’t need to worry that it should be going for diapers or groceries. Our budget actually gave us permission to go out and have fun!”

“We both have our own hobbies and our kids are able to enjoy trying out different activities and sports. YNAB makes it easy to create categories for each one.”

They’ve Increased Their Income

Since joining YNAB, Jessica has gone back to her job as a teacher. As a result, the couple has more money to budget. The budgeting process has become fairly automated for them, after seven years of doing it. 

“Ryan and I rarely sit down to discuss changes to the budget,” Jessica said. “We have been using it so long that we have a very good idea of how much money is needed for each category. Reconciling takes about 30 minutes once a month. When we sit down to discuss goals and wants/needs in the future, YNAB is there to guide us through the process.”

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The Best Way to Pay for Home Improvements