My mornings begin with a one-minute ritual easier than journaling and faster than meditation. I grab my phone and scroll through my inbox. Instead of emails, the inbox contains every purchase I made the day before. To get to Inbox Zero, I need to categorize them with a quick swipe. Starbucks Pumpkin Latte? Swipe to “Eating Out.” Netflix subscription? Swipe to “Utilities.” And that unexpected dental filling? Oops… not enough left in “Medical,” so I need to recategorize a little money that was in the “Clothing” category.
The app behind this peculiar ritual is called You Need a Budget (YNAB, pronounced WHY-nab). As its name suggests, YNAB is, at its most basic, a budgeting app. But with two books, two podcasts, a dedicated subreddit (75,000 followers), YouTube channel (53,000 subscribers) and Facebook fan page (44,000 members), YNAB has become a lifestyle. Part media platform, part cult, YNAB is the Goop of the personal finance world.