Archives For Money

By Eric on March 20, 2014 2

When we decided to give YNAB a try back in May 2013, we went with the bare bones. Previously we’d been using a spreadsheet to keep track of our budget, and although it had worked great for a few years, it didn’t seem as sophisticated, and there was still a large manual element to the whole process on a monthly basis.

Enter YNAB on its white horse to the rescue. I instantly fell in love with the automation of it. As we set up our first month’s budget in YNAB, we started applying Rule Four and also set up a dozen or so scheduled transactions to handle our fixed monthly bills. Then, we spent the first month just making sure that everything was set up and functioning properly.

A few months later, things were working smoothly and I became a bigger and bigger fan of YNAB. But as it drew close to the end of the year, I wanted to do a financial review of all of our accounts – to take our temperature and see how we were doing in terms of net worth.

Previously I’ve use for something like this because you can log in to all of your accounts and it pulls all of your assets together minus your liabilities and spits out a net worth. The problem is, every time I log into Mint, there are sync errors with half of my accounts and I have to reconnect them, and even after all of that hassle, it still hasn’t synced properly for months. That’s when I decided to scan the YNAB Forum for some help.

Continue Reading…

By Eric on March 18, 2014 5

I’m telling you… budgeting is fun! Especially when you mess up (in a good way).

A few weeks ago, I was getting ready to make our semi-annual property tax payment. I think it’s different in every state, but in Iowa, we pay them in March and September. Without proper budgeting, this could be a nightmare, especially considering that three out of three humans in our house have birthdays in March and September. Having enough going on already, if we weren’t saving for taxes on a monthly basis, we wouldn’t have enough money to pay our taxes.

Note: The bank that holds our mortgage doesn’t pay our property taxes or our homeowner’s insurance through escrow. They simply don’t offer that service, so we have to save for those two items every month. Most mortgage companies offer escrow.

This is an example of how easy YNAB makes it to save money every month. I’ve loved this feature since we started using the software, and in this case, it gave us an unintended bonus due to a miscalculation made by yours truly.

When I went to pay the property taxes, I realized that we not only had enough money to pay them, but we also had $997 left over in that budget category. WIN!

What Happened?

Here’s the simple math of what we should have been saving per month. Our yearly property taxes are $3,680.50. (Excuse my horrible hand-writing)


I think when we received our tax bill last year, they must have increased and we happened to be short a little bit, so I adjusted the budget category to cover the difference for the few months we had left before the payment was due.

Continue Reading…

By Eric on March 7, 2014 5

At the beginning of our financial journey, it definitely felt like we had a long way to go. Our budget was a mess because it was a new concept to us (neither of us had ever created one before) and we had to work together on it. On top of that, we had nearly $40,000 of debt and weren’t sure how we were going to pay it all off.

I’ve written about that process that we eventually adapted to get our debt cleaned up and move on to other major financial milestones like having an emergency fund of six months worth of expenses, ramping up our retirement investing, and starting a college fund for Rooney. Our budget has become a habit and way of life (thank goodness).

We’re now in the midst of a major renovation in our basement and throwing as much money at that project as possible. Kelsey often says, “We don’t have any money!” Translation: We don’t have enough money to do all of the things we want to RIGHT NOW. We still struggle with this. On one hand, we have made a lot of sacrifices to get where we are, and it’s taken a lot of discipline. But some of the most important things we are doing financially are kind of set on autopilot and they suck up much of our monthly income (retirement and college savings), leaving us wondering where all of our hard-earned dollars have gone.

Continue Reading…

By Eric on February 27, 2014 2

The steadiness of a salary or predictable paycheck is nice, but how do you budget with a fluctuating income? I received the question below from a friend of ours awhile back and wanted to share my answers in case anyone else is going through the same scenario. Cathy showed us true Texas hospitality back in August when we spoke at the Texas Style Council. She picked us up from the airport and saved us some buckaroos. Thanks again Cathy! She runs her own social media business, check her out if you are in need of some social awesomeness.

From Cathy:

Hello from Austin! I hope you and Kelsey and Rooney are doing well :)

I really hope you don’t mind me emailing, but since you were the catalyst that got me into budgeting, I wanted to let you know I completed my first month of tracking……. and boy, was it eye opening. I spent the first evening just crying over the fact that I spend so much money on junk. Well I managed to pull myself together and create my first budget. I’ve pulled out cash for food and misc. and set up my spreadsheet so I can track what’s going where. I’m nervous but excited! Oh, and my boyfriend is my accountability partner. He’s been so supportive through this :)

Quick question though; what do you suggest when it comes to budgeting with a fluctuating income? Since I work for myself, I have a “base” amount I get a month (client contracts that are the same every month) and then 2 clients that pay hourly as well as random consulting jobs. I’m sort of at a loss as to how to budget my extra income.

Thanks again for all your help. I swear, between you and Kelsey’s great marriage advice and your financial planning, The Williams family is quickly becoming my own personal Oprah :)

Take care and lots of love and blessings to your family!

Continue Reading…

By Eric on February 14, 2014 2

It’s been awhile since we’ve talked about the budget side of finishing our basement. A month ago, we launched a home projects blog called The Rockstar Ranch and it’s where we’re talking about home projects we’re working on. Our hope is to keep Words of Williams more family, marriage, parenting and money focused.

But, it would be silly not to talk about the budget side of the projects. Finishing a basement is going to take some serious capital, and it’s our goal to save up for it and pay as we go.


Quick Recap of Our Journey

In case you’re new, we’ve put this project off for years because of the financial situation we were in and also because we really didn’t need the space in our basement.

Continue Reading…