I currently started working a part-time job delivering pizzas on nights and weekends. I should have started doing this years ago. I have always wanted to get out of debt and set myself up for a secure financial future but never had the motivation to get started.
I always had an excuse like “everyone has debt” or “we deserve to do what we want since we work hard.” But the weight of debt on my shoulders, crushing me for years, has had more side effects than just a healthy financial future. I have come to realize how my mental health has been affected by this, as well.
I am more than ready to get ahead in our finances and tackle this debt once and for all. You can say I have the “Gazelle Intensity” that Dave Ramsey tries to inspire in those in financial situations like myself.
A lot of that readiness has to do with the choice of my yearly Theme. This year’s Theme is Progress; I don’t want to burden myself with the pressure of being completely out of debt by the end of 2020 but plan to make substantial progress in the right direction to get me there.
This year I’m changing my finacial situation, and I am using technology to get me there.
Since I brought up Dave Ramsey before, it only makes sense that the technology I am using to get out of debt is using his very own zero-dollar budgeting app, EveryDollar. There are plenty of other budgeting apps that people can use like YNAB or Mint, but EveryDollar has checked all the boxes for me while also being beautiful and very easy to use.
Budgeting has always been a burden, regardless of my financial situation. I have always felt that budgeting all of the money you bring in each month was way too complicated and was never easy to master. To be honest, I still think that is the case sometimes, but I will get to that later.
For budgeting anywhere, on any piece of technology, and with a user interface that feels fun and exciting, EveryDollar is undoubtedly the answer. I love the design aesthetics of the app and think that is one of the main reasons I have continued to use it.
It is also effortless to enter in a transaction while on the go, and provides a clear picture of what you planned, spent and have remained in each budget category.
There is a Pro version of the app that you can purchase of $99 a year (or $129 a year if you want some other online extras like Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University) but do not feel it provides that much extra for about 8 dollars extra a month. Upgrading to EveryDollar Pro provides the ability to add your bank account to the app, automatically loading in transactions you make using your debit card, and then letting you drag and drop those transactions to a budget category it belongs.
The reason I don’t find the Pro features appealing is that there is a delay when the transactions show up on the app, which can cause you to miss things or spend more then you think you have.
Plus, I like building the habit of entering every purchase I make. It allows me to pay better attention to the money I am spending when I am running around, trying to get things done. It also keeps me accountable for keeping track of my budget daily.
The main reason I think I didn’t like budgeting in the past was the lack of consistency I had in doing it. Now that I am checking my budget multiple times a day, it doesn’t feel like a burden; it has made me more aware of the spending I am making and ensuring that we are on track for the month without any surprises.
The concept that Dave Ramsey uses for EveryDollar is zero-based budgeting. The definition of zero-based budgeting is:
Zero-based budgeting is a method of budgeting in which all expenses must be justified and approved for each new period.
So at the beginning of the period or month, you start with zero. Then you add all of your income and assign each dollar of that income to a budget or expense. Once you are done, you will be at zero again. Since all of your money is being reconciled between your income and expenses.
EveryDollar does an excellent job following the zero-based budgeting method. You have categories that include income, debts, home, personal, food, etc. and you can add custom ones yourself. I try to keep it simple and use the default ones but did come up with an Extra category to put a Fun budget and other expenses that are only needed in a particular month. That way, it is easy to remove them from the next month if I no longer need it in my budget.
When at home, I like to use the web version of the app, using either Chrome or Edge. I especially like to use the web version when my wife and I sit down at the beginning of the month and set out a budget from scratch. You have plenty of more space to see more budgets at once. You also get a lot more detail in the web version and requires a lot less tapping through screens to get to things.
When I am out and about, though, I love using the iPhone app. Not only is it easy to quickly enter a transaction or see how much I have left in a given budget before I buy something, but it is such a fun and pretty app. I know I keep harping on how nice the app looks, but it is honestly one of the best iPhone apps I have used. When an app not only provides the function that you need, but in a packaging that is desirable to use is always a win-win.
Of course, technology is just providing the tools; ultimately, it is up to the person to stay on track. You can have the most excellent tools or opportunities, but if you don’t use them correctly or in the right way, nothing will help.
Budgeting isn’t easy, even with great tools like EveryDollar. I still have to use spreadsheets to keep me on track throughout the month; I also go back and forth from my online checking account to EveryDollar to make sure I am on top of adding transactions each day.
My issue sometimes can be with budgets themselves. Because income can fluctuate throughout the month and because it doesn’t come all at once for most people. Trying to budget money that hasn’t been earned yet and trying to get a grasp on what to expect and what is currently remaining can be difficult.
They say it takes three months to get a good grasp on your budget, March is month 3 for me and to be honest, I’m not quite there yet. However, I am close and feel I have better control over my money, even if my budget isn’t perfect yet.
One massive benefit of budgeting the last couple of months is realizing how much money we do have for the month. When you spend money without paying close attention, it can always feel like your running out or living paycheck to paycheck.
Assigning each dollar to an expense helped me realize how much extra I do have to pay off debt and, in the future, what can be saved. So if you want to get into budgeting and want to get better control of your finances, I would highly recommend using a budget. And if you’re going to use an app, EveryDollar is an excellent option.