Financial Book Review: You Need a Budget by Jesse Mecham
March 13, 2020
How do you budget? Do you follow the 50-30-20 rule? Are you careful to pay yourself first? Do you tweak your budget each month to suit current needs and then play catch-up when you inevitably fall behind?
Or maybe you’re one of the thousands of people across the globe who have embraced the You Need a Budget (YNAB) approach and changed your relationship with money forever.
The YNAB methodology was introduced years ago through specialized software and a series of lectures by its creator, Jesse Mecham. Now you can read all about this brilliant budgeting method in the Wall Street Journal’s bestseller, You Need a Budget. There’s no need to purchase software or attend classes to incorporate the YNAB platform; it works perfectly well with an old-fashioned spreadsheet or even paper and pencil.
YNAB stands apart from most budgeting advice because of its innate flexibility. While traditional budgeting wisdom advocates using specific percentages of your income for different spending categories, Mecham is careful not to tell you what to do with your money. Instead, he encourages readers to design their own plans using YNAB’s Four Rules:
- Give Every Dollar A Job. Designate a specific task for all the money you earn.
- Embrace Your True Expenses. Budget for expected, but irregular, expenses like car repairs, insurance premiums and holidays. By building these into your budget, the large, occasional bills won’t throw you for a loop.
- Roll With The Punches. Life is inherently dynamic, and your budget must follow suit. A flexible budget is sustainable and realistic.
- Age Your Money. When you incorporate the first three rules, you’ll start having more funds to spare. Learn to stretch the time between earning a dollar and spending it so you can shatter the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle for good.
In You Need a Budget, Mecham examines those rules in detail while exploring the priorities that might be shaping your budget. He talks about budgeting as a couple, sharing expenses and teaching your kids about money management and financial responsibility. The book is packed with actionable advice and tips, and is sprinkled with personal accounts of people who have embraced the YNAB approach to budgeting.
Some readers don’t like the fact that the last of the four rules has been changed from “Live on Last Month’s Income” to “Age Your Money.” They claim the old rule was more measurable and effective and that the new one is too vague and harder to implement.
Most readers, though, find the book to be fascinating and transformative. If you’re wondering why thousands of people are avid followers of the YNAB budgeting platform, and you’re longing to stop living hand-to-mouth, read this book.