I’ve been using YNAB (my referral link) since probably around 2014 when I decided that I needed a budget. I’ve written about my journey here before. But it’s been two years, so I figure it’s time for an update.

I’m in a pretty good place right now. I’ve been updating my budget about twice a month when I pay my bills. Sometimes it’s a pain in the ass because YNAB still does not support importing events from Finnish banks. So I need to add every non-recurring transaction manually. Of course, the hellscape that was 2020 made that easier. Funny how you don’t have that many transactions when you can’t go anywhere.

The situation

In general, I’m doing pretty good. I’ve got three months’ expenses in a savings account. I have a little money going toward various funds every month that should be enough to cover whatever my government pension doesn’t by the time I retire. We’re making some good progress on paying down our mortgage. Not every month but most months. It’ll still be nearly 2040 before our apartment is fully paid off.

However. I haven’t been following rule 3 as much as I should have. We spent a lot more on food last year. Partly that was because delivery is just more expensive. And partly it was because my partner would go to the store pretty often and get things for cheap that were close to their sell-by date. And that’s been pretty hard on my budget. My partner used to pay for most of our food, and I’ve been the one doing that while we’ve been in confinement. I’m still paying my credit card off in full every month, but it’s been coming off the next month’s budget instead of this month’s budget. And that’s not great. I’ve got some extra money coming to me this week which should put me back on track.

Other than the recent lapse, budgeting with YNAB has been really working for me. The idea of only budgeting the money I have and make it last as long as I need it to is really powerful. And it has been a boon to my financial state in general. I’m not sure I would have managed the changes in 2020 if not for the base I built with it.

Budget forward

As I mentioned, I have a bit of money coming. I changed jobs at the beginning of the year. That means I get paid for all the vacation time I hadn’t used. And that should be more than enough to get me back to living fully off this month’s salary instead of using my credit card to live off next month’s salary. After I get that done, it’s time to do another sweep of all the things that we can let go of to get our spending to go down. Officially, the last payment of our mortgage is going to be in 2042, and I would like to see that come down significantly. If I ever manage to start selling fiction in the kinds of numbers that it would make sense to go full time, I don’t want to have a mortgage to pay off as well. So that is the next big goal. Have a fully paid-off mortgage in this apartment that we intend to live out the rest of our lives in. It’s another of those “small changes to create a big change” things.

I’m going to keep using YNAB as long as it keeps working for me. I’m never going to be rich, but I can at least be comfortable. And budgeting is going to get me there.