I know this is a cooking blog and my main aim is to try and inspire healthy home cooked meals etc, but I also think budgeting is really important and need to be discussed.
I was out food shopping yesterday in Lidl. I picked a box of 15 eggs up and realised with shock the price was £1.72. (And these were the cheapest eggs). They were £1.35 before Christmas!
I often shop in Lidl, it’s a five minute drive from me and to be fair until the last few weeks I’d not noticed too much of an increase in prices. Now, those increases are battering me in the face. Nearly all of my favourite items have gone up a lot in price. I can only imagine what this cost of living crisis is doing to many families who are struggling to feed their kids and heat their homes.
If you’re living on a limited income, budgeting can be scary. I know that feeling when you’ve maxed out your credit card, there’s too much month left before your next salary will be paid, the kids need new school uniform, shoes etc and/or Christmas or birthdays are coming up plus the weekly shop needs doing. And if you’re like how I used to be, then you just want to bury your head in the sand and pretend it’s not happening, unfortunately this is the worst thing you can do.
Getting to grips with your budget is important. And honestly? when you see everything laid out, and how much you have coming in versus how much is going out, it makes life just a tad easier because you finally get to be in control of your finances. I’m not gonna lie, it probably looks like crap, but at least you know exactly where you are with that crap.
Many years ago (Back in 2010), I was trying to help out a family member budget on a very limited income. They were hopeless with money so I had a look online to see if there were any apps or something that would help them out, after doing my research, I found YNAB (You Need A Budget) and I was instantly hooked. Family member never used it, but I certainly did for a few years. I discovered (believe it or not), that budgeting could be fun and exciting. It was certainly very useful in our household.
I’ll be honest, I stopped using it after a few years (Big mistake). If I’d carried on, we’d have much healthier savings. But in my ‘wisdom’ I decided we were floating along nicely so I didn’t need to use YNAB any more. I picked it up again back in 2017 when I retired, but again I stopped using it as I felt we were fine and jogging along nicely, another mistake.
My temporary nursing contract finished back in December 22 after 21 months and I’ll be honest, I was a tad apprehensive because we were going to be down a fair chunk of cash every month. It was a fairly well paid job and hubs and I got very complacent about just buying ‘stuff’ when we wanted rather than when or if we needed it. I’d not lost all of my budgeting habits, we’d saved most of my salary, but with the cost of living going up so much, I was worried we’d maybe struggle a bit now we were back to living on our pensions etc.
I decided to start budgeting again at the start of January (last month) so I could get a handle on our finances and check what we were spending our money on. I had a bit of a shock. Just one example, there’s just two of us, yet I knew I was spending enough on groceries to feed a family of 6 every week. I set myself a sensible budget in YNAB for groceries for Jan, and I came in under budget with no problem whatsoever. Weirdly we didn’t feel as though we were missing out on anything. I stopped going to Marks n Sparks for treats for instance as I could get the same ones for half the price at Aldi. (Marks n Sparks is one of my weaknesses).
I’d forgotten how much I enjoy using YNAB. Once I’d inputted all my categories etc, I realised I knew down to the last penny where all our money was and I was relieved to see that yes I could still manage to save a certain amount every month.
I’m starting a new job next week, but I fully intend to continue using YNAB. It gives me a feeling of security to know where our money is and what we’re spending it on. Lol even hubs is now asking me if it’s in the budget when we’re thinking of buying something.
YNAB has a bit of a learning curve, but they offer a ton of help and tutorials. It’s quite impressive.
Another great resource I found is a guy called Nick True on Youtube. His video’s are excellent. Here’s an excellent one to give you a quick overview of YNAB.
One of my gripes about YNAB is the price has risen quite a lot over the years. When Jess who created YNAB started out it was aimed at those folk who were really hard up and needed the help desperately to budget and it was priced accordingly. However back in those days it was a desktop app and whilst great, it obviously had it’s limitations. Now its web based with lots more useful features built in and there’s also an excellent app for your phone.
To be fair they have a really decent trial period so you can try before you buy and I know they used to let you extend your trial period if you couldn’t afford it just yet. (I don’t know if they still do that though).
YNAB is obviously an American based app, but it works well with all major currencies I’m in the UK and it does everything it should do.
I’ve been using YNAB on and off for many years and I highly recommend it.
Obviously I’ve added my pass it on link (I’m not daft), but if that makes you uncomfortable, just google YNAB and go straight to their site.
If you do decide to invest in YNAB, I’d love to know how you get on with it.