YNAB Budgeting Rule #3: Roll With the Punches


This is part three of a four-part series on the rules of YNAB (the budgeting software we use). Rule Three is "roll with the punches." While we absolutely love the YNAB software, these rules can be applied to any budget tool you may be using. (If you need a budgeting tool, check out our YNAB review or sign up for our newsletter and get our budget spreadsheet as a free download.) In a recent discussion with some co-workers about budgeting, the topic of Murphy's Law came up. If you're not familiar, Murphy's Law states:

Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.

Not the most positive thinking, but in this broken world that we live in, sometimes things don't go as planned. And what you decide in those moments will determine your financial future. Will you compound your problems, or stop the bleeding and move forward?

We started budgeting in January 2009 AKA "the year of weddings" (more on that in a minute). The week after putting our first budget together (and realizing we were $600 in the hole), the sway bar busted on our car. Murphy was applying his Law ... and the year of the weddings was upon us.

We were three years out of college and wedding season was coming up. When 2009 was all said and done, we were invited to 13 weddings, attended 11 of them and were in six of them combined. Hello, budget buster.

We were left with two options:

  1. Tape our credit card back together.
  2. Roll with the punches.

If you know our story at all, you probably know we chose Option Two. We rolled up our sleeves, swallowed our pride on the fact it was going to hinder our debt payoff momentum and started savings for wedding expenses. We did our best to budget out each wedding and all the bonus activities that come along with them (showers, bachelor/bachelorette parties, dresses/tuxes, etc.). The main point here is roll with the punches, right? Stay committed to finding a way to make your budget work, understanding that it's not going to be perfect and there will be situations that come up that won't fit nicely onto your budget.

When those situations come, that's when you have to be ready to roll with the punches. From experience, I can tell you that this gets easier, once you have permission to make changes on your budget. I think so many people give up or feel like they have to spend money behind their budget's back because something unexpected came up and it's enough of a priority. So they buy it but they don't adjust their budget - they abandon it.

Roll with the punches

Rule Three gives you permission to change your budget. Don't feel embarrassed or burdened by your budget. Just change it, keeping in mind some core rules that you've set for yourself. This might be a spending limit in a certain category, monthly savings goal, monthly minimum debt payment goal or other rule you've made for your budget.

Those rules are great to have and should be there to help you achieve your financial goals. But, sometimes life happens and you have to adjust or you'll drive yourself crazy.

Just remember, rolling with the punches is an attitude to be applied to unexpected expenses or events that come up throughout the month. Don't confuse this with poor planning, neglected budgeting processes or bad spending habits. Sometimes you've got to be honest with yourself about these things and fix the real problem.

"Roll with the punches" is grace to give yourself from time to time. Not a daily excuse for the problems mentioned above. So, when life happens, just remember to step back and breathe, make a plan and move forward.

How do you roll with the punches?

Other Posts About YNAB: