How We Saved $169,000 in 2 Years With the Help of This Budgeting System

How We Saved $169,000 in 2 Years With the Help of This Budgeting System

*I’m so excited to bring you this sponsored post by YNAB which breaks down how my husband and I drastically boosted our savings rate by using their budgeting system*

A few years ago, I was unhappy and felt stuck in a job that did not serve my soul. I was making good money but I didn’t understand how I could go about living a more fulfilled life.  

It took being stuck in traffic for 4 hours on my commute home from work, while pregnant with my first son, for me to say “enough is enough”. I remember bursting into tears in the car and then crying again when I got home, sobbing to my husband that I couldn’t do this forever.

Would this be my way of living for another 30 years? Would this be the example that I’d set for my kids? To just simply work for a paycheck, not being able to fully experience my potential and enjoy life on my own terms?

It was in that moment, that I decided to figure something out. I didn’t know exactly what I was going to do, or how I was going to do it, but I knew something had to change.


It took me a couple more years to finally create a plan that would allow me to reach my ultimate goal of freedom and while I’m still working out all of the kinks in my plan, here are a couple facts I now know to be true:

1) The life you love, deserve and yearn for is waiting for you..all you have to do is claim it.

2) Money is a tool and ultimately allows us to do the things we love, have the things we enjoy and spend time with the people we value.

I came to realize, that the one thing that holds most people back from doing what they really want to do in life, is how much money they have available to help them accomplish their goals.

How do we change that?

How do we go from being a slave to a paycheck, paying bills and just getting by in life to thriving and crafting a life of our dreams?

The answer is You HAVE to be intentional with how you manage and spend your money.

I quickly began to understand that I was wasting my money and spending unintentionally on the things that didn’t matter in my life. With that realization and by putting the proper systems in place, my family and I were able to go from saving a fraction of our income to saving and investing $169,000 over the course of 2 years, allowing us to create a plan to reach Financial Freedom.

While 60% of the $169,000 in savings went to our pre-tax retirement accounts (our 401k, 403B & 457 accounts), the remaining savings came from making adjustments in our budget. Since the pre-tax savings came out before we even saw our paychecks, we made our savings and investing goals a priority and then budgeted what was left over from our take-home checks.

Essentially, we save and invest first according to our goals and budget what’s left over. This forces us to eliminate and cut back on expenses that are not a priority. We now have no debt other than our mortgage and are now able to focus on growing our wealth.

So how did we do it? We increased our personal finance knowledge and added a powerful tool to our Financial Freedom toolbox, the YNAB (You Need A Budget) system.

YNAB is our go-to budgeting system and it has completely transformed my family’s finances.

Without it, we had no idea of our true saving and financial power.

With YNAB, we are able to eliminate and cut back on expenses. Having a clear but flexible money plan allows us to efficiently manage our finances on an ongoing basis and gives us more options to do the things we want to do in life

So what is YNAB and should you try it?

YNAB is a zero-based budgeting system which means that you assign every dollar that comes in and out of your budget a job. This method of budgeting allows you to feel completely in control of your finances. What’s even more powerful is that the YNAB is strictly just for budgeting and guides you to confidently spend your money on the things that matter to you.

Sign up here to try YNAB free for 1 month!

More About YNAB key features:

Dedicated Budgeting System While there are other systems out there that have a component of budgeting, they are not equipped to help you create a comprehensive budget and money plan. YNAB helps you focus on the money you already have and gives you a forward-looking view on your expenses. Most non-budget based systems just provide a look back at what has already happened while YNAB helps you plan ahead and be proactive with your finances.

For example, YNAB allows you to seamlessly track one of my favorite components of a true budget, sinking funds. Sinking funds allow you to save in advance for upcoming expenses as opposed to having to rush and come up with the money the month that the bill is due. If you have an insurance premium of $600 due in 6 months, you can start saving $100 every month to pay the bill in full on its due date.

I also love being able to save in advance for car maintenance expenses. I no longer have any anxiety when going to the mechanic because I already know that I have the money set aside to cover whatever crazy bill they throw at me.

Using a dedicated budgeting system allowed us to find thousands of more dollars in our budget by tracking how much we spent in each category. For example, we realized that we were spending too much money on going out to eat and started trimming back our restaurant expenses. That extra money now goes towards our saving and investing goals.

Flexibility– While YNAB’s purpose is to have you only budget money you already have and help you get ahead of your expenses if you do overspend in a budget category, no biggie, the system allows you to adjust and reallocate money from another category.

For example, if you overspend on going out to eat in one month, you can reallocate money from your clothing category to compensate for your overspending without feeling guilty. I really like this component of YNAB because it allows you to prioritize your spending and roll with the expense punches life tends to throw at us along the way.

Ease of Use & Customer Support/Training – The system is fairly easy to use once you get the hang of it. Because it’s a system created strictly for budgeting, the primary design of it walks you through how to first create your budget and then upkeep your budget going forward. There are nifty pop-up reminders and helpful messages in the app that guide you step by step on how to continuously improve your budget.

Sign up here to try YNAB free for 1 month!


Before discovering YNAB, I would track my budget on paper or in excel but would constantly make errors or find it too cumbersome to keep each budget category properly updated. Having a system that is easy to use, accessible on any device and updated in real time was crucial to getting ahead with our finances.

YNAB also offers free weekly LIVE video training, has a great forum and even has a podcast to helps support users of the system.  Trust me, the upfront time you take to learn the system will be well worth it once you get the hang of it because it’s really a game changer.

Price Point– YNAB is $83.99 per year (billed annually) and in my opinion, it’s well worth the investment for having such a dynamic budgeting system. The price works out to be about $7 a month which is about the same as a fancy cup of coffee. Think of all the things that you spend $7 on in one month that have no real return or residual value and then think about how amazing it would be to dedicate $7 a month to something that can help you reach your financial goals.

Other budgeting systems will cost you about $99 a month to include all the same features of YNAB.

Other things I love about YNAB:

  • Bank syncing – sync all of your bank accounts and easily pull in your credit card and bank transactions helping to save you time from manually entering transactions.

  • On the go- access your budget in real time from any device at any time. This is perfect for you and a partner to conquer your finances together. Online at the checkout counter to pay for groceries? Quickly look at how much money you have left to spend in your grocery budget.

  • Goal setting & nifty reporting- set specific saving and debt pay down goals and track them through charts to track your progress

 Still on the fence about trying YNAB? I’ve got a  sweet deal for you. YNAB normally gives prospective users only 1 month for free but they have agreed to give my readers and listeners a 1 month free trial!

ynab journey to launch

If you sign up using this link, you can try YNAB for 1 month for FREE with no credit card required. This allows you more than enough time to test drive the system and make sure that it’s right for you.

Sign up here to start your free 1-month trial today!

P.S. If you want to learn more about me and join me on the journey to launch to Financial Freedom, listen to my podcast! Listen & Subscribe: on iTunesGoogle PlayStitcherSoundcloud, Android Device

How We Saved $169,000 in 2 Years With the Help of This Budgeting System

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Hey! I'm Jamila!

I want to teach you what I’ve learned through a little trial and error and a lot of discipline over the years. My goal is to help you eliminate debt, save more money and increase your net worth.

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