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The Freedom and Weight of Undo

Today I want to talk about a tiny financial principle that can have big ramifications—the do-over.

In the new YNAB you can undo and redo pretty much anything. This may not sound like a big deal, but without that option (I’m looking at you, YNAB 3 and 4!) you become painfully aware of its importance.

Delete an account—undo it. Accidentally delete a whole swathe of transactions—undo it. Overwrite a budget value and you forgot what you had there before—just undo it. Did you accidentally undo something that you should have done? You can redo it. So, you’ve got options.

You’ll see little buttons in the Budget and the Register, in the top left region. Undo is like turning back the clock, and redo is like turning it forward.

And if you are a shortcut type, in Windows, you can just use Control-Z to undo, and Control-Y to redo. On the Mac, it’s Command-Z undo, Command-Y to redo. So your hands don’t even have to leave the keyboard and you can sit there and undo and redo to your heart’s content.

But I also want you to think about what this principle—being able to undo your actions—could mean for you financially? And could you then consider that a pretty good operating principle in finances—to only proceed if you can undo things fairly easily?

Think back through all sorts of purchases, some obligations that you’ve incurred, and just think, “Could I undo this? If I do this business venture, could I undo this? If I buy this car, could I undo it? What’s the cost of undoing this financial decision? If I choose this degree and I borrow this money to do it, can I undo that? What’s the cost of undoing that?”

I think, with a broader perspective, this is good thinking that could guide us toward being a little more careful, a little more cautious, a little more prudent.

Now, on the flip side, sometimes you can also say, “Hey, what’s the big deal about spending this or that thing on this or that whatever?” And can you undo that if you buy—I hate using examples—if you buy those jeans? Can you undo that? If you go on some vacation, can you undo that? What’s the danger? You know, what’s the big risk? Sometimes we treat the big decisions as if those are the ones that are easily undone and these small decisions, the ones that really don’t have a material impact, we treat those as if you can’t ever undo them and we kind of get it all flipped around.

So, you can now undo/redo in YNAB. And I want you to think about big financial decisions and before you proceed, before you sign or commit or click, think, “What is the cost of undoing this big decision?” And then, with your small decisions, just know that the cost of undoing it is very small and you probably shouldn’t sweat it as much as you do—and one of us on this video has been guilty of that a lot.

If you can’t wait until next week for more whiteboard wisdom, subscribe to our YouTube channel. If you have a question or an idea you’d like us to address in a future Whiteboard Wednesday episode—we’d love to hear from you: email@youneedabudget.com.

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The Freedom and Weight of Undo