Today’s guest is Bobbi Olson, budget coach and host of the CentsAble Chat podcast. Bobbi and Dawn discuss their mutual money-nerdiness, as well as Bobbi’s 5-step process for budgeting. They also discuss the pitfalls people face with budgeting.
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Hey there. I’m Dawn Starks, author of Simplify Your Financial Life and your host for the SimpleMoney Podcast, where we make personal finance simple. Welcome. This is Episode 149. Today’s interview is with Bobbi Olson. Bobbi is a budget coach and host of the CentsAble Chat podcast. Bobbi focuses on breaking the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle by teaching positive money mindsets, how to destroy debt and reduce financial stress. Folks who work with her
one-on-one walk away with a clear view of their financial picture and a budget that meets their specific needs, putting them in control of their financial lives. I hope you enjoy my interview with Bobbi Olson. I sure did!
DS: Welcome Bobbi. Welcome to the SimpleMoney Podcast.
BO: Thanks so much for having me.
DS: So, tell us a little bit about your background, because you weren’t always a budget coach.
So tell us about how you got there.
BO: Far from it! Yeah, my background is actually in radio, and the funny thing is I spent 25 years producing financial radio shows, but ignoring everything that I heard because you know, it was always “just for the rich, couldn’t work for me.” And I was in the poor mindset that said, you know,
“This is how it’s always going to be for you, there’s nothing you can do to change it, so just deal with it.” So, yeah, by the time that I started my budgeting journey, I was deeply in debt, and it just felt like I was in a financial prison that I couldn’t get out of. And I was so desperate that finally –
even though I believed that nothing would ever help – finally, I picked up this book called The 60-Minute Money Workout by Ellie Kay. And I started reading it and man, she opened my eyes. There were so many nuggets of gold in that book, but the thing that really stood out for me was the debt snowball method. And when she started talking about that, and I realized how just a simple shift in the way that you pay your debt could make such a huge difference,
I was shocked. But I’m a cynic, so I didn’t believe her. I thought there’s no way it can be this easy. So I seriously spent the entire afternoon crunching the numbers, trying desperately to prove her wrong, and I couldn’t do it. And it worked, I mean, not only did it work for my specific situation, but I actually could see a timeline and an actual date when I would be out of debt for my own numbers.
And it was so powerful that it just put me on the road to learn everything I could about budgeting and, you know, find out what else I didn’t know. Because I knew there had to be more out there. And so in the process, I found the cash envelope method, which I loved because it helped me categorize my money,
which made everything clear for me, that was exactly what I needed. But I kept forgetting to take my cash envelopes to the store with me. So it made things really messy. And so I went online to find a digital cash envelope system and found YNAB. And that totally changed my life because it was the exact method that I was looking for,
and it made things so much easier for me that, oh my gosh, I went from budgeting because I had this goal, to loving budgeting so much that I couldn’t stop using YNAB. And so it got to the point where there was nothing else I could do in my budget until payday, but I wanted to keep using YNAB, so I went on Facebook and said,
“Please friends, let me play with your numbers! Let me help you with your budgets!” And so I started getting response from there and just loved watching other people have the same “aha” moments I did. And that’s how I started coaching.
DS: That is such a great story. So for listeners who might not be aware, YNAB is the acronym for You Need a Budget.
And so it’s an excellent, excellent book, which I’ve reviewed on the podcast and on the blog before, it’s one of my very favorite personal finance books. And there’s an app that you can have on your phone, that’s what Bobbi’s referring to is playing around with the app and tinkering with your budget. So, I’m really glad that you kind of had that journey. I have had in the past the same struggles with using the paper envelope system,
because it’s literally paper envelopes that you divide out, you have one envelope per category for spending. And so it’s an absolutely great method, it’s just that it’s not terribly practical in the world we live in now. It was way, I think it was way more applicable when people were paying cash for everything.
BO: Certainly. Yeah. That makes a huge difference.
DS: It does.
So, let me ask you, when you were working on your budget with YNAB, do you – do you have a husband?
DS: Okay. So was he on board with it and how did that work?
BO: It’s funny because he was just kind of neutral. He loved the fact that I was so excited about it.
He actually laughed at me because, I mean, honestly when I married him, I didn’t even know how to balance my checkbook. So he kind of taught me the first things I knew about tracking my spending and anything like that, but it never went on from there. And so when I got excited about it, he thought it was funny. He thought it was great that,
you know, I was finding this way to get us out of debt faster. So yeah, to answer your question, he was certainly on board with it, but it’s kind of always been like, “Okay, somehow you became a complete, you know, budgeting nerd, and go have fun with it, but yeah, quit talking to me about all the details because I don’t want to hear it.” (laughs)
DS: It’s like you found religion, but with your budget.
BO: Exactly! That can be annoying for some people!
DS: That’s so funny. And so I have to imagine that, because it sounds like you’re a money nerd and I know I’m a money nerd, so I know there’s probably people listening to this going, “Oh my gosh, that woman is so excited about budgeting.” Budgeting for many people is like right up there with dieting.
I mean, it’s just not, it’s like a dirty word and people don’t want to do that. So why do you think that people think budgeting is so hard? Why do they resist it?
BO: I think the number one reason is because it’s so overwhelming, especially in the beginning. You know, there are so many different pieces that you have to bring together in order to get started,
that a lot of people just stop before they really get started. Which is unfortunate because yeah, upfront, there are a lot of things and it takes time, but once you get it, man, there are just so many benefits from it. And if you never get there, you miss out on all the great stuff, you know? But yeah,
I think that the overwhelm is really the biggest thing. And then another thing is that people tend to make it too restrictive because, like a diet, they think it has to be all or nothing, you know? And so, you know, they don’t want to follow their own plan once they put it together because it’s so restrictive. So I think it really just needs to be much more realistic for the individual person.
Those are probably the biggest ones. And then also I think one of the biggest ones is that they don’t have a specific goal in mind. Like somehow they got the idea, “I should budget. That’s what I should do.” And that’s the end of it. But for me it was, “I have to budget because I have to get out of debt and that’s the way I’m going to do it.”
So if you have that real big motivation, that why, it makes it much easier.
DS: Oh, I could not agree more. I think having a motivation behind what you’re doing matters, it just matters so much. Because otherwise you’re just like, well, who cares? Right? If you’re just going along for no particular reason, then you’ll much more easily lose your interest in, and attention on the project.
And so, as you said, getting out of debt, that is certainly a very common reason that people will turn to budgeting, because they’ll realize, “Wow, we are kind of in over our heads.” And then other times people turn to budgeting because they are working towards some other goal, like saving for something, maybe saving for retirement or saving to buy a house.
And that sort of thing. What are your initial steps when you’re counseling or coaching somebody about their budgeting? Where do you tell them to start?
BO: I tell them to start with creating a financial picture. Which is just basically bringing in all of your income and all of your expenses. And then if you can list those two,
now you can look at where the balance is. Do you have more income than outgoing obligations? And if you do, that’s great because now you have some money in there to play with, to decide what you’re going to put towards your goals, and what you’re going to give yourself for a little play money. So you can keep that kind of realistic balance of, you know,
of a budget. So yeah, that’s the main thing, is just to create that financial picture because before you do that, you have no idea. It’s like asking somebody for directions, but not telling them where you’re coming from.
DS: Exactly. You have to know where you are, in order to get a bead on where you’re going and to create a pathway to get there.
Yeah. So I read in your blog that you engage in a 5-step process for budgeting. So can you kind of unpack that for me a little bit?
BO: Sure. The first thing, like I said, it starts with creating the financial plan. So once we have a clear picture of your income and expenses and know what we’re dealing with, then we go onto the next step,
which is actually budgeting the money that you have today. And that’s a concept that a lot of people don’t use. I learned that from YNAB, and because their idea and what I completely and totally believe in, is that you cannot actually budget money you don’t already have. So the first place to start is to decide how to categorize all the money in your account today. And what each job – because you’re giving every dollar a job – so what those jobs are going to be. And then the third step is to create your spending plan. And that is, because I teach zero-based budgeting – so based on your next paycheck down to zero, where is that money going to go? How much is going to go to bills? How much is going to go to savings,
all those good things. And then after that, you can start monitoring your budget. And that means that because you’ve already budgeted the money that’s in your account today, and because you have a plan of how you’re going to spend the money that comes from your next paycheck, you can now monitor before you spend the money. So every time you go to spend you check to see,
“How much grocery money do I have?” Then I can decide how much I’m going to spend on groceries. And then of course, after you spend, you track your spending so that your budget is always up-to-date. And I think this is the thing that gets missed a lot of times, because a lot of people skip the monitoring your budget and just go to tracking it.
So they’ll set it up, they’ll create the plan, but then they don’t monitor before they spend. And so that kind of screws up the whole thing, because then they track it and they go, “Well I’m over, what am I supposed to do?” Well, that’s why you got to check before you spend, and then monitor, and then track your spending so that you are still on track for the next time.
That was kind of messy.
DS: No, that’s okay. Because I think that you hit on a really important point and that is, is that it’s not enough to sit down and make a plan to make the budget. You actually then have to pay attention to it and regularly monitor and see what, you know, what was your plan? And is that still the plan, or has anything cropped up that changes the plan? And you kind of need to redirect some of your resources in another direction, and that’s so important.
And I think that’s part of the overwhelm that people might feel, is that it’s like, “Wow, this is going to be a full-time job. I’m going to have to be looking at my budget 24 hours a day.” And that’s not true, I mean, that’s, you know, that’s overstating the case. But it isn’t something that you can just write it down and then be done.
You know, you do have to actually work with it as you go.
BO: Yeah, it’s definitely an ongoing process. But it’s one that doesn’t have to be overwhelming because if you stay on top of it, it’s very simple. Tracking your spending, for me, takes 30 seconds because every time I make a purchase, I have an app on my phone,
so I can just put it right there into YNAB and it’s done. I don’t have to spend an hour going through receipts later on.
DS: Oh, that’s super. So when you were talking about the beginning stages, about getting your lists of your income and expenses so that you could sort of see whether or not things are in balance, or do you have more expenses than income?
I guess I take the approach of suggesting people do kind of a study. So instead of making it sound like budgeting. you know, because budgeting, like I said before, is kind of like dieting to some people, and it feels like a real negative thing to do. It feels punitive, “Oh, I have to follow a budget
now.” That sounds, it just doesn’t sound fun. And so I encourage people to, you know, if you don’t know what all your expenses are, and you don’t really know what all your income is, then to take some period of time to just track your spending, to see, just so you’re just studying right now. You’re just examining where’s the money going,
and keeping track, and writing it down so that you can have a really good, thorough overview of where your money’s going. And from that, then you can build, you know, that initial budget. So I think our philosophies are in alignment here.
DS: So when somebody is, they’ve created their budget and they’re monitoring it, so they’re actually consulting their budget before they go and spend the money, and then they’re spending the money, and then they’re tracking how to spend the money –
and I’m going to come back to that tracking question too – what is the next thing? So if they’re rolling along and everything is going well, and they’re doing a good job of sticking with their plan, and the tracking is going along okay, what is the next thing that they can do?
BO: Well, there are two things, because part of the budgeting process and, well, spending plan really, part of the spending plan has to be those longterm expenses, like the irregular expenses, as well as the monthly expenses. So making sure that you’re looking ahead, you know, for Amazon Prime, and insurance and things like that, that, you know, crop up annually or every six months or whatever.
And I suggest turning those into a monthly bill. So every annual or quarterly expense, whatever it is for me, I just break it up into, you know, if it’s annual, I break it up into 12 payments and I’m saving for it all year long. That way, when it comes, it’s easily paid off and I don’t have to worry about it.
So there’s that piece of it. But as far as what comes next, once you’re rolling along with the whole process, I would say the most important thing is to know what your next goal is when the first one is achieved. Because I know for me, I spent so much time focusing on getting out of debt, that when that was about to end,
I went, “Wow, what do I do now?” And I was like, “I have to figure out what I’m going to do now, because if I don’t, all that money that I was spending towards debt is going to go out the window, I’m not even going to know what happened with it.” So I think it’s definitely smart to have your next goal in mind.
So you keep on track.
DS: Oh yeah. So true. And that’s what happens sometimes when people get a raise at work is that they don’t plan ahead for “What happens when I get a raise.” Or if they get a regular pay bump because of cost of living adjustment, they know it’s coming, and so instead of just getting it and saying, “Woohoo!” and then
your lifestyle just expands to that new income level, having a plan ahead of time is so important so that you know where those dollars are going. And you mentioned it before, it was a, well, I’ve seen it numerous places, but I believe it was in YNAB also, but the concept of giving every dollar a job. So I talk about that and write about it too.
And I think that’s such a great visual that, you can’t let those dollars be slackers. They have to have a job. And you need to designate that job ahead of time so that when those dollars are coming in, they already have a plan of where they’re going.
BO: Yeah, absolutely.
And I think that a lot of people miss the fact that giving every dollar a job doesn’t mean you’re not going to have any play money. It means that you are going to give some of those dollars the job to BE play money.
DS: Those are the happy dollars! (laughs)
BO: Yeah, (laughs) exactly! And that’s where it doesn’t have to be restrictive. Like to me,
I was so much more restrictive with my money before I started budgeting than I am now. I’m so much freer because now I can spend with confidence instead of being scared all the time. That’s what I love about it.
DS: That’s such a great point because I think that that circles back to that mindset, that budgeting equals restriction, and really what it does is it equals freedom, because then
you know for certain how much money you can safely blow, or just have fun with, without worrying, “Oh, is this going to impede the other things that I have to pay for?”
BO: Yeah, absolutely. That was the most stressful part of my life.
DS: So you mentioned something before, that you approach annual expenses, or something that comes around only every six months or maybe quarterly, that you treat it like a monthly bill.
So can you describe a little bit about what you do with that? So if you are paying your bill every month towards that annual expense, where are you putting that money?
BO: Well, it depends. For the most part, I’m keeping it in my checking account. And that’s the beauty of YNAB, because then again, I can categorize, you know, because my checking account is just going to be this big lump.
How would I be able to keep track of that? But obviously in YNAB I can just have a different category for it. So it’s fine. Something, so I do that with like Amazon Prime, things like that, that are going to be like 130 bucks a year. So it’s, you know, whatever it is per month, $10 or whatever,
but for something that’s a little more, like my car insurance, because I pay it annually, I’ll keep that in my savings account because I just figure, you know, it’s going to be a year before I have to pay it again and I might get a couple pennies of interest on it. So why not?
DS: So that’s a great approach if you are using something like YNAB,
but if you’re a person that, which is not you, I know, but if you’re a person that gets tempted by seeing, “Hey, I’ve got a pile of money in my checking account,” – and like intellectually, you know, that you have the money earmarked for something, those dollars have jobs – but when it’s just sitting there in a big old pile,
it doesn’t necessarily make you think that it’s tied up. And the temptation is that you have money to spend. What are your thoughts on that?
BO: Yeah, in that case, I would definitely, because before I found YNAB I had several savings accounts and so that’s what I did. And I actually gave the savings account a name for that specific purpose. And so even if it was just little bits,
you know, that aren’t going to, I mean, matter for interest or whatever, because you have to be at a certain level to get that anyway, I would just have a bunch of different savings accounts with those names on them to keep them out. Because mentally for me, just if I have given that a specific purpose, it’s harder for me to pillage from it for something else, than it is
if it’s just sitting there in a big pile, even though I know intellectually that it’s there for, you know, a specific purpose. Because I’m thinking, “wow, all this money, nothing to do with it, let’s go party!” You know? So yeah, that’s the biggest, that’s the biggest thing that I would do with it, definitely.
And if having it in your savings account, even if it’s marked for something specific, isn’t enough, then maybe it’s a good idea to take that bit of cash out and just keep it, you know, in a drawer at home somewhere. Just wherever. I think different things work for different people because mentally, you know, they’re triggered by different things.
So whatever is going to work best for you to keep your paws off of that money, that’s what you do. Definitely.
DS: Exactly. Exactly. So I use that approach that you mentioned about having different savings accounts. And so for the expenses that come around irregularly, I just lump those all together in one savings account and I call it my escrow account.
So it’s like I’m creating my own escrow for those expenses. So just like your bank, if you have a mortgage that requires you to escrow for your insurance and taxes, you can create your own escrow account, and just feed it every month like you described.
BO: Yeah. That’s a fabulous idea. As a matter of fact, I remember reading that in your book and I wanted,
I’m glad you brought that back up because yeah, I really loved that idea. That’s fantastic.
DS: Yeah. Well, so for me, it’s just, it’s one account as opposed to like having an account for this insurance or that, you know, the various expenses. So will you talk a little bit about how you coach people who don’t have even income?
So they don’t have a regular paycheck that’s consistent from month to month or week to week. How do people budget in that situation?
BO: Then it becomes a priority list instead of a spending plan. And so it has everything, all of your monthly obligations and then all the other things that you want to do too, but it’s listed in order of priority.
So every time you get money, you can look at your priority list and decide what those dollars most need to do, based on the fact that you may not know when or how much more income you’re getting. So that’s the best way to go on an irregular income. And I think it’s even more important to budget when you have that irregular income,
because some months are fantastic. You might get enough to cover two months worth of bills, but then you may not get paid for another month. You know? So if you go and blow all that money today, it’s going to be bad in the long run. So the further that you can get ahead with that, the better and the priority list really helps you do that.
DS: That is a good idea. And I think that maybe, it just occurred to me, that maybe kind of that escrow account idea works for your income too, that like, as you said, if you’re like a freelance person or somebody whose income is very irregular and you get a good payday, putting that money in an account that you know is for the next month,
not for this month, but for the next month’s expenses, kind of gets it out of your sight so that you don’t think you’re richer than you are.
BO: Yeah. Very important.
DS: Do you remember, and perhaps you practice, from the book, one of the things that caught my attention the most was the idea of aging your money. And it took me,
I had to read through that like two or three times to completely grasp what he was saying. But do you work with that too?
BO: I, yeah, in a certain way, I love to watch the age of my money grow, but I’m not sure I completely understand the formula that they use in,
you know, in the software. But for me, just aging my money basically for me just means getting as far ahead as you can, because that’s the way out of the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle, right? So that’s how I kind of look at it. And so the farther ahead that you can get, so if I budget,
you know, a hundred dollars for my electric bill, but it comes in at $70, I may leave that $30 in there to age the money and get ahead for the next month. So the next month I can choose whether I put the whole amount in there and keep letting that money go. Or if I budget less because I’ve already got some for it.
But the idea is, for me, is to get a month ahead on every bill. So a lot of times I’ll just age that money in each category and time a month ahead for it.
DS: Yeah. That was the thing that struck me is that, and it actually kind of struck me as a little bit of sacrilege because of course I preach about the need to have an emergency fund.
And in essence, what YNAB is saying is that if you do it well and you get your money aged to a certain degree, two or three or four months, whatever it is, then you don’t really have a need for an emergency fund because you’ve just built it in. You’ve built it in there, so you don’t have to have kind of this separate idea
of this emergency fund. And so I thought, “Oh wow, that feels wrong. And then yet it feels so right.” (laughs)
BO: Yeah. You know, I’ve really gone back and forth with that, but yeah, that was one of the big things I got out of the book too, is getting away from that emergency fund because really, what is an emergency?
I mean, most things that we consider emergencies are things we can actually plan for. We may not know when they’re going to happen, but I’ve never had a car that didn’t need a repair, and it always comes out of the blue. So, you know, if, yeah, I mean, if you can, and you know, the emergency fund in and of itself is supposed to be like for,
you know, if you were laid off and you have those three to six months worth of expenses. So yeah, if you can age your money and get ahead of that, then you’re right. I mean, it’s exactly the same thing. And I love it because it sounds so much more peaceful to me, I guess, than the emergency fund. Just,
you know, being ahead. And the whole idea is if you have that emergency fund, you are out of the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle. And that’s a great feeling.
DS: Yeah, No, definitely it is. And now that you mentioned it, I hadn’t really thought about the fact that just by its name, “emergency fund” does sound sort of stressful! (laughs) Should have, it
should have a different name and I’m going to have to give that some thought there. And honestly, I mean, I think just saving for an emergency fund is kind of the lazier way of doing it, because then you’re just sort of shelling some money out of your monthly budget into an undefined account. I mean,
you’ve defined that it’s for emergencies, but it’s really just for anything that might come up. As opposed to doing it through your budgeting, you’re paying ahead in a sense, you’re not really literally paying ahead, but you’re accumulating in categories that, you know, as you said, you can plan, “Some day we will have car repairs, because everybody does,”
and so on. That you know these things are going to come up, you just don’t know when.
BO: Yeah. And the other thing about the emergency fund for me, I had to look at it a different way – and this why YNAB really helped me with that too – is that, you know, when you look at how much money you need for three to six months emergency plan,
that number can be really overwhelming. And I found that I just did not want to tackle it because it was so big and it felt like it was going to take so long. So what I did was break it down one by one and thought, “Okay, I’m just going to concentrate on getting ahead on the lowest bill that I have for one month. And then do the next one,
and then the next one, and then the next one. Because it’s like that snowball thing, right? You make these little steps and then it gets bigger and bigger and bigger. So that was the way I started my quote “emergency fund”, was just starting with one bill and getting ahead in that so that it didn’t feel so overwhelming, but I was still getting there.
DS: Yeah, no, that’s a great approach because, like you, I’ve counseled people to say, you know, don’t get overwhelmed by three to six months of your expenses might be a huge number. And so instead, just start with a small number, start with a doable number, you know, save $500. And that might take you a couple of weeks.
It might take you a couple of months. It might take you a couple of years, but get to that and stabilize there. And then, you know, up the game a little bit and go for a higher number and just slowly work up to it. Otherwise it’s just so, it’s so intimidating, I think, to try to tackle such a large goal.
BO: Yeah. Yeah. I think everything needs to be just broken down as much as possible. Because like you talk about simplicity, you know, it’s all about the simplicity and making things little chunks instead of these big insurmountable mountains.
DS: Yes. That’s so true. And so now I want to kind of turn our attention a little bit to how does savings fit into your method of budgeting?
So in other words, how do you approach saving for particular goals inside your budgeting method?
BO: Well, it all comes down to what the main goal is for that individual person. For me personally, when I was trying to get out of debt, I chose to kind of live on the edge and not put anything towards savings.
I’m not suggesting that that’s the best idea, because everybody does something different to sleep at night. I know Dave Ramsey suggests having, you know, that thousand-dollar starter emergency fund, and then going full-hog towards your debt. I think it’s a personal choice, because whatever is going to make you sleep at night and stay on track, is really what you’ve got to do.
But personally, I chose to just go whole-hog towards paying off my debt, because I felt like if I put money into savings and didn’t use it for my debt, then I was kind of planning for the “what if”, right? I mean, that’s always what the emergency fund is for. And there’s going to be a “what if”, there’s no doubt about that,
but if it didn’t come for the two years or whatever it took to pay off all my debt, then man, I had all this money that I paid my debt off faster and saved money from the, you know, from the interest. So that was just the roll of the dice that I took, thankfully it worked for me. But as far as saving after that,
like saving for me now is like a bill. And I have a specific amount set aside that I want to save for each of my different savings goals. And there are times when, depending on what goal I’m focused on, I’m saving everything towards one goal, or I might have a couple of different goals that it’s being split between. It just depends on what,
you know, what my hubby and I decide together are our most important goals. But I definitely say to put that in like a bill, like anything else, give those dollars a job and make sure that you, you know, do that upfront. Because if you don’t, the money is going to obviously be gone before you have a chance to save it.
DS: Yeah, no, exactly. And having those separate savings accounts can work for those different goals, or as you do, even if it’s all in one place, you have a reconciliation, you know that it actually is saving for various things. So I think either of those options can work. So when you were talking about getting out of debt and using this debt snowball method,
and that that kind of led to your happy obsession with budgeting (laughs), I was reminded about the idea, because you just mentioned it again, about the choice between saving for an emergency fund and paying on your debts. And when you’re in that mode of paying off debts, you really do want to plow all of your additional dollars that you have towards that goal.
And yes, I’m familiar with Dave Ramsey’s idea, and I think having a little bit of cash is good too. I mean, a little bit of cash-cushion or emergency fund is good, but you know, if you, I always say, if you take a step back and you look at it from the purely financial perspective and you see what those debts are costing you in interest versus what the savings account is
paying you in interest – especially in an environment like we have right now, where we’re back to pretty much zero interest – then your money is sitting there doing nothing except accumulating by itself, but it’s not growing. And then meanwhile, your dollars could be getting so much more bang for the buck by paying down debt.
So I, you know, I tend to encourage people to do like you did, which is plow it on the debts, worry about the savings later. But you know, you’re right, it’s such a personal decision.
BO: Yeah. Yeah. I definitely wanted to go that route because I just wanted it done. And I kept thinking about all of that interest that I was pouring in the toilet and I hated that feeling.
Yeah. But I’ve coached some people that are just like, “No, I have to have something in savings.” I just, you know, you can see it on their face, they just, for their own peace of mind, they have to have it. And that’s fine, I mean that’s what this is all about is making life less stressful.
So if that’s what it takes for you, then I absolutely, you know, I’m behind that 100%!
DS: Oh agreed! And even when people are out of debt and they are now, you know, just in sheer saving mode, the differences I’ve seen between people’s comfort level – I mean, some people aren’t comfortable in that if they don’t have $50,000 in their checking account,
which, you know, I find insane, but again, it’s everybody’s different. And you know, if you’re comfortable and happy and sleep well at night if you have just a hundred extra dollars in your checking account, great! Good for you. But if you need more than that, then whatever. And I think part of this journey is figuring that out, and figuring out where you are on that comfort spectrum.
BO: And I think that that goes back to what we were talking about earlier about why, you know, people don’t like to budget, and you know, and – we didn’t actually say this – but I think that’s the reason why budgets fail is because people feel like they’re supposed to do it a certain way. And I don’t, I mean, that’s why,
you know, when I started this, I used to talk about customized spending plans, customized budgets, because it always has to be customized for you. What works for you is not going to work for me, and vice versa. I mean, some of the tools might be the same, but you know, there’s going to be differences as well. And that’s totally fine.
I just, I’ve been thinking about this idea for a long time, “the budget buffet”, because when you go to a buffet, your plate is not going to look the same as mine, and what’s wrong with that? That’s fine, it doesn’t mean you’re going to like your food any more or less than I am. So we’re all going to eat well in the end.
DS: Yeah, that’s a great analogy. (laughs) Yeah, and I think you’re right, I think that the people just starting out with budgeting because of that sense of overwhelm and feeling like they have to do it in a certain way, and especially if, out of the gate, it’s not comfortable. It’s just not really working for them. Then too often,
they just give up and throw up their hands as opposed to saying, “Okay, this doesn’t work exactly for me, but I could do this other method. And then that would work better.” So I encourage people to just shop around. I mean, you know, read different things, try different tools. Some people are perfectly happy and do a great job just using paper and pencil for a budget and keeping track of their spending.
There is no wrong answer here.
BO: Absolutely. Yeah. That’s what I did for the longest time. It was all paper and pencil. And I actually started, I mean, a big part of why I like YNAB is just because it cuts down on my time. But yeah, I used paper and pen forever and a day,
so yeah. It can completely be done any way you want. Yeah,
DS: Yeah. Absolutely. Well, Bobbi, this has been so enjoyable. I love talking to fellow money nerds (laughs), and so talking to somebody who loves budgeting as much as I do is very pleasant for me. I’m not so sure about the listeners, but I had fun! (laughs)
So that’s something!
BO: (laughs) Me too! I had a blast!
DS: So, if folks want to know a little bit more about your work, where can they find you online?
BO: They can go to centsablechat.com. That’s centsable with a “c”, so it’s “cents”, like, you know, dollars and cents, and then “able”, so centsablechat.com.
DS: Very good. And so you have a podcast there, and you have a blog. And do you run courses, or you have other things that you have from time to time?
BO: I do one-on-one budgeting. And so you can get a free budget consultation. If you go to my website, you can book that with me and all my services are there as well. So we can work together from start to finish, or piece by piece, whatever you want to do.
DS: That sounds great. So helpful.
Thanks so much.
BO: Thank you. It was a pleasure.
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