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See My Money Plan: I Take Home $3,700/Month

YNAB Money Snapshots

Welcome to YNAB Money Snapshots—where you see a real picture of someone else’s budget and finances. They’re all anonymous, because sharing money is still a squirrelly topic for many, but we think airing them out in the open makes you better with your own money story.

As you read these budgets, keep in mind that some people make lots of money and some people make a little bit of money, but we know it’s what you do with that money and how you feel about that money means more than any yearly salary.

See how an attorney in Kentucky who took home $3,700/month in 2020 budgeted his money last year (which was full of life changes!).


  • Name: St. Clair
  • Age: 28
  • Location: Frankfort, Kentucky
  • Job: Attorney
  • Living situation: I live with a part-time roommate.

Income: ~$40,000/year

In 2020, I was making $50K/year, but recently took a job that was a lower salary (but I moved to a lower cost of living area).

Savings: $2,500

Debt: $148,000

  • Student loans: $148,000
  • Credit card debt: $0 (as of a few months ago!)

Inflows: ~$3,700

This includes not only St. Clair's paycheck, but also the monthly average of the following:

  • Stimulus money
  • Tax return
  • Cash back rewards
  • Roughly $2500 in additional contract work during 2020

My Budget

Notes on the Year

In the last year, I changed jobs and moved across state lines. I spent about a month “unemployed” between jobs, had complications closing on my house, and had to spend two months living in an Airbnb.

With all of these unexpected expenses, I pretty much wiped out my emergency fund and my budget got a bit screwy starting in August. I’m still working on getting back on track and ironing out my expenses. My financial confidence has plummeted since the move (used to be a 4/5, now it's a 2/5).

My Story

When I was in undergrad I lived off of scholarships which were deposited at the start of the semester and were usually gone within two months of receiving them, at which point I would live exclusively off of my pre-paid meal plan and free pizza from college events.

After graduation, I would "rubber band" my spending based on how much was in my checking account—lots of money, lots of spending! I didn't save for large expenses or anything. It was honestly dumb luck and the occasional "pity-payment" from my mom that kept me afloat.

At the beginning of 2020, I was studying for the bar exam, and that's when I racked up my credit card debt, since I had no income. I became really uncomfortable with the fact that I didn't know where any of my money was, how much I had, and whether I was spending in line with my means. That stress, combined with my very-long-term aspiration of "I'll budget when I get a 'real adult' job" sealed the deal. 

Now I have my regular salaried job and have started budgeting. I tried Mint but hated the UI and the fact that I was advertised to. People on various money-related subreddits recommended YNAB so I gave the free trial a spin. I definitely went through the honeymoon phase of looking at my budget all the time, reading all the old blog posts, watching the videos, etc., so even though I'm still pretty new to this, I've devoted a lot of time.

Now with my steady salary, I have $1,000 direct-deposited into a high-yield savings account for my emergency fund and live off of the rest. My student loans are on an income-dependent plan right now, and currently paused due to the pandemic. I’ll look into how best to pay them off once my emergency fund is funded and my credit cards are paid off, but right now, they're just on life support.

Especially when setting up a budget for the first time, the philosophy of only dealing with the "now" and not trying to forecast, along with a general acceptance to modifying the budget as you go made it easier for me to get started without the pressure of getting it exactly right from the get-go. My budget is still evolving!

My Financial Goals

  • Save for a car

I left a private law practice in July and started a new government job in September. In August, I moved and got a great deal on a townhome close to work (that costs about $500 between rent and HOA). There was a hiccup with closing, so I spent September and October in AirBnBs, which was pretty expensive.

But despite all the changes, last year I was able to cross off two big financial goals—I paid off my credit card and started funding an IRA!

I would rate my current financial situation: 2/5

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See My Money Plan: I Take Home $3,700/Month