I Paid Off $1,500 After One Month Using YNAB

My Journey Paying Off $20,000 of Debt and Getting My Money in Order


This is the third installment of Krys’ story: see Day 1 here and Day 24 here. Over the coming weeks, we’re going to follow along on her progress on eight financial goals she’s set for herself. This post was originally written in November of 2019: after Krys’ first month using YNAB. 

Whew! My first month on YNAB! I have conflicting feelings. A lot of good has happened in one short month, and I know a lot more about our finances than I did a month ago. But, I’m concerned about our lifestyle being beyond what my salary can support. I mean, I knew it was, but I didn’t KNOW, you know?

Status on Financial Goals

  1. Get off the Credit Card Float.  ✅
    We are off the float, as I noted in an earlier post. We funded this month entirely “in cash” (with the exception of the car repairs I’ve previously mentioned), and left last month’s float on the credit cards. This means we will have to pay interest on those charges, but it also means that we know exactly where we stand with our money in the bank, which is the point.
  2. Start contributing to sinking funds for known expenses. ✅
    I was able to fully fund the monthly contributions to our sinking funds, with a couple exceptions, due to some overspending in Dining Out and Travel. I WAMed* money from categories that won’t be needed until later in the year next year to cover those expenditures. I’m assuming we’ll get better about staying within budget as we keep our eyes on the budget.
  3. Start building the $1,000 emergency fund.  ✅
    I actually raided our meager emergency fund to pay down some of the debt, and even deposited some cash I’d been hoarding to pay down even more. It wasn’t much, but it helped make me feel better about the transition off the float.

*WAM’ed stands for whack-a-mole(d) – some delightful jargon created by our community to refer to moving money from one category to another.

Update on Debt

Debt Balance

  • November 1, 2019       $19,169.50
  • November 30, 2019    $17,601.83
  • Difference                    -$1,567.67

I actually paid down more than this, but the car repair bill went onto the credit card, so it set back some of my progress.

Looking Ahead to December

It’s not looking like I’m going to be able to make more than the minimum payments on credit cards in December, due to some annual fees coming due and gifts for the holidays. 

I will of course pay for anything we buy in December with real dollars, but Christmas, Amazon Prime, car tags, and the YNAB annual fee will all be paid in December (on top of Costco’s annual fee, paid in November).

I also have a big outlay for ice skating lessons for my daughter in December that will get reimbursed (my in-laws pay for her lessons as a gift to her), and when it does, we will be in better shape. I haven’t taken that money into account in my budget, in case it doesn’t come until January.

The good news is that I get paid bi-weekly, and my last November paycheck was a little higher (my employer only takes out benefit expenses from the first two checks). I was able to fund all monthly bills through the middle of the month, and fully fund most of the monthly categories like groceries, gas, and tithing.

I budgeted lower for Dining Out and Groceries, two of the only categories that I really can control. We’ll see how effective I can be at keeping these in line. I don’t want to take from our gift budget, as that affects others.

I funded a handful of sinking funds, too—knowing I can cover what an emergency fund would be used for anyway, and if it doesn’t, I can WAM as needed.

Age of Money: 10 Days 

The End-of-Month Recap

The holidays are expensive, and it seems I tend to sign up for annual fee-type services this time of year, so it’s been extra spendy. Before I panic and make dramatic changes to our life, I’ll get us through December. I’ll have a whole year to save up for these things next year, making the amounts far more manageable on a monthly basis.

I have more than $3k in the bank, yet I feel destitute. YNAB broke. LOL, it’s real, my friends. It’s real.

I’m sure I’ll get used to it, but it’s SO WEIRD right now. I knew to expect it, but the reality is just the strangest feeling!


To finish out this post, we’ll leave with a delightful comment from @Annieland:

“I just want to chime in that my Decembers have historically ALWAYS been a disaster.  It’s almost comical. I’ve been doing this so long, and even in the past few “good” years, some sort of emergency would hit and take December into the crapper. Don’t let it discourage you at all. If anything, let it motivate you. Starting at ground $0 now, you can really see the net worth rise by summer. So just stick with it, don’t beat yourself up, and you’ll be out of the woods very soon.”

Cheers to that @Annieland, cheers to that!

Read Part 4


Krys is enjoying working from home during the lockdown, because she loves spending time with her husband, daughter, and three pets. She’s been using YNAB since 2019 and has been documenting her journey in paying off almost $20,000 of debt. When she’s not budgeting, she enjoys reading, watching Marvel movies, and learning new languages. She also possesses a fierce love of bacon and sarcasm.