My Attempt At YNAB

Since April, I kept a budget, and since I have a strange enjoyment of organizing, it turned out to be easier than I thought. I became interested in YNAB because I wanted to know 1) why anyone would pay for a budgeting app when, even if you suck at spreadsheets, free apps exist (like the one I keep my budget in) and 2) if it’s as life-changing as the claims… claim.

I signed up, but changed my mind, so left the account. However, I forgot to delete it, so the free trial was close to running out when I remembered I had it. I started using it at the end of August. So far, it’s… meh.

Apparently, it’s based on a budget strategy called the envelope system, and I think real envelopes might be more useful (not that I keep envelopes anywhere). I essentially do the same thing I do with the free app I use. The one annoyance I have is I cannot budget my paychecks until I am paid. Considering I have my budget planned to the end of November, this is extremely irritating to me, so my budget in YNAB is not planned to the extent it is in the other app.

The reason I say real envelopes might be more useful is I move money around a lot. Apparently, this is encouraged, but since I can easily attain extra money if I want it, I alternate between categories like I’m playing with a pinball machine.

Supposedly, the idea is not to budget future money because anything could happen and you may not get that paycheck. Frankly, I want to know what crap jobs people are working for that to be a concern. Even when I worked in retail – a job that made me borderline suicidal – I never had to worry about not being paid. If the concern is losing your job, that’s different, but that would throw most people for a loop anyway.

All this said, I don’t think YNAB is bad. I enjoy playing around with it more than I probably should and, similar to why I use Mint (solely for my credit cards and student loans), it’s nice to see my accounts in one place. Speaking of which, the reason I was initially turned off by YNAB is they take a shot at Mint in their advertising. I’m not a fan of childish advertising, but I guess competition is nothing new.

The one thing I can praise YNAB for is customer service. I submitted a question to ask why I couldn’t connect one of my credit card. I got much more thorough answer than expected and an additional two weeks for my free trial, which I didn’t request or expect. Can’t argue with good service. I considered subscribing, so they ultimately cemented the decision.

I wonder if I’m doing it wrong. Even if moving between categories is encouraged, I can’t imagine you’re supposed to treat the software like a pinball game.

Only a week and a half passed since I began using YNAB, so I will give it more time. Some users are veterans of this software, so I suppose it’ll take a lot of time.

Too Much Credit

Me in 2018: How do people get in over their heads with credit card debt?

Once again, I need to stop talking! Then again, this blog is quiet as of late, so I suppose I have.

Constant advice I received about credit cards is “use it like a debit card”. Four years later, I’m paying off $10,000 worth of credit card debt. Why I took advice from the internet is beyond me.

When I wrote that article in 2018, my total limit between cards amounted to $2,700. One card had its limit decreased, but my total credit limit is now $9,810. My score currently sits at 620. One of my relatives with dozens of late payments has a higher score than me!

This year, I paid off two of my four student loans, and two of my credit accounts, although I’m paying one off again because I used it when my car broke down. Thankfully, I learned to budget like a maniac, and so long as nothing urgent happens again, I can get that balance paid off in two weeks.

My real debit card gets much more use these days, so much so that the chip is wearing down and it’ll likely need to be replaced before its expiration date in four years. I plan to keep my credit cards for emergencies only. A response I’ve gotten is I’m missing out on “tons of rewards”. Ignoring only two of my cards offer anything, and cashback turned out to be dreadfully disappointing, pursuing “rewards” is how I got myself into so much debt. Now, my reward is getting rid of it.

The Point of No Return – Part 2

Previous related post.

I took the final for my second-to-last class yesterday. I struggled a lot with this class and didn’t do well, but in the end, I did pass. Shockingly, I could’ve failed the final and still passed, though I’m glad I didn’t. Today is the start of the last of my school’s program. What then?

According to the program, internship follows the end of classes. To say I’m anxious would be an understatement.

Yes, I’m happy school is almost over, especially considering all of the trouble I had to go through to reach the end. I’m still disappointed I couldn’t stay with the first class and graduate on December 4th of last year, but I suppose it doesn’t matter now. At the same time, the only work experience I have is in retail and I truly fear I can’t do anything else.

Retail is difficult in that it’s tedious, repetitive, and draining, the latter especially if you’re an introvert. However, the jobs themselves – at least, my positions – are relatively easy. As a cashier, I stand in one spot, push buttons on a computer, scan barcodes, take money, and put the stuff in bags. The end. As a floor associate, the job description is less “fancy” than that: clean the floor and racks, and put merchandise back. You could teach a child how to do these jobs. Yet, even retail can prove to have its challenge because when I had full-time position for a few months, I ultimately failed because the workload crushed me like a 1,000-pound weight. And I wouldn’t try to get into the hell above that. I’ve yet to meet a manager who likes their job (“Don’t do it! It’s a trap!”), including my own. Two of my managers felt the need to lecture me about all the insanity and stress managers puts up with, and I get the point! Of course, that brings into question why they chose it. One of those two implied he doesn’t think lower employees/associates have the right to feel stressed because of what managers deal with. That’s another reason to stay away from management. I prefer not to look down on people. But I digress.

What I’m trying to say is if I can’t keep with a retail job unless it’s part-time, how on Earth could I do anything else? I’ve heard of people getting very close to graduation, only to quit weeks or days before, and I think I’m beginning to understand why. Taking classes on the subject is not the same as doing the real job. Even interviews are different. As far as I can tell, I ultimately got hired at the stores I worked at because I faked being cute, cheerful, and my awkwardness didn’t scare anyone off. That doesn’t work in interviews for what I’m studying, and having trouble talking will likely mean I bomb over a dozen interviews, if I get any at all. And yes, I do practice. Again, practice and the real thing aren’t the same.

Of course, all of this anxiety is irrelevant if I fail this final class, so maybe I’m getting ahead of myself. I should pass before I talk anymore.

The Point of No Return

I paid off the remainder of my school balance. I wasn’t planning to pay it off all at once, but another round of loans was added and it brought the balance down so low, I figured I may as well just get it over with. However, I’m now almost $10,000 in debt for student loans.

If I had any thoughts of quitting, that would’ve shattered them. At the same time, it reignites my anxiety about school as a whole.

The point of putting myself through all of this is having a job in this field, so I’ll no longer be dependent on retail and can finally move toward being financially independent. But what if that does not happen? My school is having a career fair in a few days and, despite being told some employers will wait on a student to finish their schooling, that sounds too good to be true. What if no one is interested in my resume? Or I fail an interview? In fact, interviewing is my worst fear in regards to getting a job because I am terrible at speaking. I struggle to verbally say what I mentally want to, even when I know what I’m talking about, and the result is I trip over my words. I am already at a disadvantage because I do not have a business suit and while my school does let students borrow one, it depends on what’s available from donations. They do not have business suits collecting dust in a closet, waiting to hand them out. I’m genuinely worried that alone will kill first impressions of me.

There is no point in quitting school at this point, but if my worst fear is realized – zero change in how employable I am, and being qualified for nothing beyond retail – making all this stress and debt to have been for absolutely nothing, I think I will finally give up on life. I won’t say I’ll kill myself (maybe not right then…), but I won’t have the will to try anymore and I don’t see what good I can contribute to society as a burden who can’t do more than ring a cash register.

The anxiety over so much time, effort, and money being sunk into school being worthless and being crushed by a mountain of debt I would’ve foolishly acquired genuinely made me feel physically sick some time ago. And no, yelling “it will be worth it” is not of any help because nobody knows that, including myself. I don’t know if it will be worth it any more than anyone else does. Only time can tell me if it will be worth it and, were I religious, I’m almost certain I’d be praying every night time was on my side. Even as I type this post, I genuinely feel myself wanting to break because I want that badly for everything to have been worth it. If only wanting something guaranteed you get it (I want to be 14 years old again for the youthful appearance, but that’s not happening).

Yep. This is a perfect representation of my face 95% of the time.

Hope Is Wasted On The Hopeless

In three days, I return to school. After all of the nonsense that happened, I should be happy to return, especially since I don’t have to pay as much as I initially did. The key word in that sentence is should.

I should be happy. But I’m not.

To pay off what financial aid did not cover, I have to make monthly payments, the first of which was due on the day I start school. Unfortunately, the time between receiving that balance and its due date were too close. While I have savings for this kind of expense, I’d rather not use it if I can help it. The result was I split the payment between my most recent paycheck and one of my credit cards.

I can pay the credit card off. There’ll be interest, but what that will amount to is barely a pinch in comparison. At the same time, this is the first instance I’ve put a large purchase on one of my credit cards. And since I’m still paying off a medical expense, it wasn’t really something I wanted to do. There was no option I wanted to do.

I’m not happy. I’m worried. I’m sad. I’m afraid. I’m frustrated.

The looming question in my mind, the one that stands over me like a collapsing tower, is: Is it worth it?

I have to hope it is, but debt, however necessary it may be, is never fun to owe. Putting any part of the payment on my credit card was a one-time thing. That I had to do it to begin with makes me hope completing this school is worthwhile, but fear more and more it won’t be. Excitement and fear are not two emotions that can mix within me. One kicks the other out, and in this case, fear has sent excitement packing. I feel unnatural as it is, being someone who’s just starting school while everyone else is graduating (two of my friends from high school graduated with their bachelor’s – one in chemical engineering, the other in psychology – just days ago), so more than anything, I want my time and money toward this school to prove to be worth the debt. Worth the stress, the tiredness, the temporary smacks to my credit score. But, admittedly, mostly worth the debt.

I won’t know if it’s worth it until the end. I have to hope it is. I have to believe it will be.

But I don’t know if I can!