Book Review: You Need A Budget by Jesse Mecham

The Proven System for Breaking the Paycheck-to-Paycheck Cycle, Getting Out of Debt, and Living the Life You Want

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You Need a Budget: The Proven System for Breaking the Paycheck-to-Paycheck Cycle, Getting Out of Debt, and Living the Life You Want*

By Jesse Mecham.  Publisher: Harper Business

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

BOOK JACKET SUMMARY

Think of a budget as a lifestyle-design blueprint. It’s a working plan for taking your life from where you are now to where you really want to be: Zero debt. Homeownership. Retirement plans. Travel. More money for eating out. Much less frustration and anxiety. Pick a goal that speaks to you and budget your way to success!

In this indispensable guide—the first book based on the successful tenets of the award-winning financial platform—you’ll be given the tools to learn how to track your expenses, stick to a spending plan, and make your money work for you. 

By learning to budget, you can finally break the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle, become debt-free, and save more. As Jesse Mecham shows, a budget won’t make you feel more restricted—it will make you feel free. You Need a Budget outlines his four simple rules to completely revolutionize the way you think about managing your money: 

1. Give every dollar a job. Take your cash, checking, and savings accounts and assign jobs to that money. Begin now with what you have on hand. Pick your priorities and make sure your dollars are helping you move closer to the things you really care about.

2. Embrace your true expenses. Identify your larger, less-frequent expenses—such as insurance premiums, birthdays, holidays, car repairs—and break them into manageable monthly amounts. This will help you even out your spending, decrease your stress, and make better decisions.

3. Roll with the punches. Life always changes and unexpected expenses happen. If you need to change your budget, just do it. The YNAB philosophy not only tolerates changing your budget; it encourages it.

4. Age your money. Increase the time between earning and spending, and finally, break the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle.

These four rules are the pillars of a tried-and-true system that keeps you engaged with your money. Following the rules, you’ll learn to adjust your habits, become proactive, and ultimately control your finances. Say goodbye to stressing over last month’s statement and say hello to taking charge and finally building the life you want.

Budgeting means that, soon enough, you’ll have money sitting around (just in case your car or home needs a repair), and finally be able to do the things you’ve been dreaming about—like take a Hawaiian vacation with your honey—knowing that the rest of your life is covered.

In November I started a free trial of the YNAB budgeting software. I love the flexibility of the system but I struggled to get a hang how to make it work for us, so when I saw the release of a YNAB book I preordered it to my kindle hoping for help and an insight to the YNAB method so I could get control of our budget better.

I love knowing where our money is going and seeing debt being paid off, yet I still stress out like crazy when I know I have to sit down and pay bills. Watching all that money just go poof is depressing.  I know its important, but I am still building our systems and I still want to avoid looking at the numbers. The stress of trying to sit down and deal with money is SO much worse than the actual budgeting.

In the introduction, Jesse says, “ when we’re stressed about our finances, its because we’re not sure our money decisions are aligned with the life we want to be living”. I can still feel the ring of truth to this deep in my heart. The reason I spend money the way I do is because I don’t have a concrete goal for the life I want to be living. I have a general idea and a hope that it will magically happen some day. But taking the responsibility to change my behaviors to ensure I reach those goals is a new thought for me.

THE TRUE STRENGTH OF YNAB

Most budgeting systems are controlling, and strict. With little flexibility. They seem to focus on reducing spending by cutting out all non-essential items.  Instead of asking “can I afford this?” YNAB encourages you to ask yourself, “does this move me closer to my goals?”

The difference between the two is a mindset switch from deprivation to empowerment. I am not avoiding the things I love because I can’t afford them, but I am choosing to make or skip a purchase because I have a specific goal in mind.

THE BOTTOM LINE

If you are new to budgeting you should read this book. Simple as that. It doesn’t drown you with tons of personal finance knowledge and focuses on the personal aspect of personal finance.  While Jesse encourages readers to slay debt, he also believes we all need to make the decisions that are best for us.

After covering the four core concepts the book goes over some specific situations like budgeting as a couple, getting out of debt, and teaching kids budgeting. Along the way, there are examples from real-world people that help illustrate the philosophy and how it can be implemented by real people – not personal finance experts.

Surprisingly, the book is NOT a marketing tool for the YNAB Software platform. Jesse openly admits that you could use a spreadsheet program to meet all your budgeting needs. That being said after reading the book I feel more ready and able to use the YNAB platform to reach my financial goals.

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