Lesson 3: Budgeting and tracking
Welcome to Lesson 3! If your eyes glaze over at the thought of budgeting, you’ll be happy to learn that budgeting can be fun, enjoyable, and very rewarding.
I recommend budgeting the YNAB way (see my review of YNAB at the end of this lesson). YNAB’s focus is more on planning ahead and tracking your spending than it is on strictly sticking to set dollar amounts.
Tracking your spending is the best way to put each and every hard-earned dollar to work—which will get you to FI sooner. Who doesn’t like the sound of that?
Disclosure: The book recommendations above include Amazon links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases—at no extra cost to you. I only recommend products which I truly believe in. (But I’d suggest doing the frugal thing and borrowing the books from your library!)
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CountAbout is a personal software program that’s very similar to Quicken. It functions much like Mint but with a lot more customization, as well as net worth tracking.
I haven’t fully tested it out as they’re still working on setting it up for Canadians, but so far I like what I see! The interface is clean, intuitive, and easy to navigate and the set up was fast and simple.
Another plus is the very affordable pricing: $9.99/year for the Basic plan, and only $39.99/year for the Premium. That’s definitely FI-friendly!
For more CountAbout reviews, check out their reviews page.
Mint’s popular, pretty, and free! I used Mint when I started budgeting, and loved the beautiful reports and interface.
But Mint took a lot of ‘training’ (and retraining) to categorize my transactions properly. Also, Mint only looks backwards at what you’ve already spent. It’s not so great at helping you plan for the future.
However, I still recommend Mint because it’s really great at tracking your spending. It’s also easy to use and, importantly—it’s FREE!
I love YNAB (and so does everyone I’ve recommended it to)! No, it’s not free—but it’s worth every penny. Here’s why:
- YNAB teaches you to set money aside for future expenses. I always know we have money ready for large annual expenses. This gives me security, confidence, and peace of mind.
- YNAB teaches you to budget with money you already have—no forecasting, guessing, or living paycheque-to-paycheque.
- YNAB’s really good at categorizing transactions correctly. I never need to retrain it.
- YNAB allows me to instantly know exactly where we stand with our money. This is one of the ways it allows me to constantly put every dollar to work.
- I’m still on the old desktop version of YNAB, but have heard about their awesome new ‘Age of Money’ feature. This gamifies saving by motivating you to hang onto your money and think long-term.
Mint might be a better fit for you if you’re simply looking to track your money and want an easy, free way to handle that.
But if you’re a money nerd like me and want to optimize every last dollar, definitely go with YNAB. It’ll more than pay for itself!
Ask away in the comments—I’m happy to help!
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