Productivity Tips: A Different Way of Budgeting

A blog written by Tony Lynch, Productions and Operations Manager

As a Project Manager, you would probably believe me if I told you that budgeting was simple and that I actually enjoyed crunching the numbers. Well that would be a lie. Math is my least favorite thing in the world and I believe people who are good at it are actually wizards powered by binary. This is why I’ve struggled for many years, trying to be an adult, by learning how to properly budget. Budgeting is a chore, and there are no perfect systems for it. You could be a spreadsheet guru, but no matter what you do, it’s still going to be a budget and you’re still going to be awkwardly putting money aside for your living expenses every month. It’s just not fun.

I have thankfully stumbled upon on budgeting system and tool that actually feeds into my needs. You could call it a gamified version of budgeting, but let’s not get too carried away, as that’s probably the last thing you want to associate your paychecks with. But when you start associating every dollar you earn with a job, the droll on budgeting gets a little more enjoyable as you start watching where your hard earned cash goes, what it’s doing, and then you can start to identify areas in your life where you can start saving.

Introducing, You Need a Budget, or as all the cool kids call it, YNAB. This tool is unlike any budgeting application you’ve likely ever seen before. In fact, it sort of flips budgeting on its head and takes it to a whole new level. Typically, if you’re building a budget, you’re likely to be setting aside a chunk of cash for each month and then balancing the books at the end of the month. With YNAB, you start and finish your budgeting tasks in the same day at the beginning of the month and all you have to do beyond that is just watch your spending habits. YNAB offers us a new system of assigning a “job” for every dollar. So at the beginning of the month (or even the month before depending how responsible you are) you enter in your monthly income and then assign every single dollar of that to your monthly living expenses. Yes, that definitely includes your savings, RRSPs and other investments. Planning to buy a new TV? You can easily plan that out with a monthly goal and save up towards that TV over time without breaking your balances.

It’s a high effort short term work investment for a super easy, future payoff for your budgeting chores and savings accounts. Trust me, you’re going to end up saving way more money with YNAB than what you were saving before. It may look and feel like a very strange and complex system when you first get into it, but YNAB even offers classes on their software if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed. YNAB has turned budgeting from a chore to fun for me, and I hope that if you’re feeling overwhelmed by your own budgets, that you take a chance with the app to see if it can help your own day-to-day productivity.

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Faye Lynch