Starting to budget with YNAB

Almost 2 years ago I started using YNABs budgeting software (version 4). Before then, I thought I was pretty good with money, a bit impulsive sometimes, but I always had a good buffer. Or so I thought… What I found out is that I was using future money to pay for current spending. I was shocked! I thought I was doing so well!

So what happened?

Let’s pretend for convenience’s sake that I have €0. From now on I get €1000 a month. Every month is february, i.e. exactly 4 weeks or 28 days. The money comes in on day 21, so a week before the new month. I spend exactly €250 each week, so exactly €1000 in a month. This is what my balance looks like at the start of each week:

Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4
Month 1 0 0 0 1000
Month 2 750 500 250 1000
Month 3 750 500 250 1000

Do you see what happens there?! 2 things are going wrong here:

  1. I’m starting to spend next months money in week 4 of the previous month.
  2. My account never reaches 0 after the first month, which would’ve been a major red flag, even when that months money is gone.

And ironically, if you eliminate the first problem, the second one only gets worse. Watch:

Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4
Month 1 1000 750 500 1250
Month 2 1000 750 500 1250

Now if I look at my account balance, it never dips below 500! This makes me think I have €500 where I actually don’t have any left over money! So what happens next? I think I can afford to spend more, say €50 extra a week. That’s €1200 a month! Watch what happens:

Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4
Month 1 1000 700 400 1100
Month 2 800 500 200 900
Month 3 600 300 0 1000

I takes me 3 months of chronic overspending for my account to hit 0, and for me to realise I have a problem!

These are of course imaginary numbers, but the principle stays the same: you can chronically overspend for a pretty long time before you realise something is going wrong, and by then you have a host of bad habits to correct. And this is assuming you realise something is wrong the first time you hit 0, instead of just writing it off as a fluke!

So how can a budgeting program fix this? By splitting up that big number. Even just 1 extra row of info can be your saving grace:

Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4
Month 1 spending 1000 750 500 250
Next months money 0 0 0 1000

So to get back to my first point: I got YNAB and I was shocked. And then I was annoyed, because it took me several months of budgeting to start seeing useful patterns, and even longer to start reaping the benefits. But now, almost 2 years later, I just can not do without!

(stay tuned for more blogs on budgeting)


A basic pasta recipe + BONUS sugar free jam

Pasta and… jam? Yeah I know. I promise I didn’t eat them together. My stove was just so pretty with all the colours I had to share it with you all.

I had some basil wasting away in the back of the fridge and decided to use it in some pasta. When the time came to actually add the basil it of course turned out the basil had white fuzzy visitors and I had to throw it out. But I had extra basil hidden in the freezer, so ha!

So how does one make a simple pasta for dinner?
Step 1: boil pasta in salted water.
Step 2: add stuff.

What is stuff?
Ideally about 400-500 grams of veg per person and some oil and herbs. Maybe also some grated cheese. If you’re a meat eater: 75-100 grams of meat, 250 grams of veg and maybe less oil than with all-veg.
When cooking Italian, ‘veg’ usually includes onions, garlic and tomatoes, but you can sneak in a lot of stuff, as long as you cut it small and cook it until it’s soft. Think eggplant, carrots, broccoli, leek, white cabbage or bell peppers. That’s 6 different options right there! You can eat pasta all week and never get bored!

Why the jam?
I eat sugar free now and that shit is expensive. So I make my own. And I kept forgetting to actually make it. So when I started cooking dinner I thought what’s another pot and greatness was born.

Can I have the jam recipe?
Sure: take a pot, throw in a kilo of frozen fruit, boil medium-low until it’s only half as much in volume (1+ hour), stir in 10-20 drops of Stevia. DONE.

Now for the real food.

Simple 3 person vegetarian pasta

30 minutes for experienced cooks. 50 if you suck at cutting. 60 if you forget to boil the pasta halfway through.

(kitchen staples)
  • 300 grams of any pasta
  • 5 tomatoes (Roma)
  • 1 zucchini
  • 3 onions (medium)
  • 250 grams tomatoes (cherry)
  • 2-4 garlic cloves
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp basil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • water
  • Heat up olive oil in pan.
  • Cut onions any way you like (I did fine strips).
  • Cut garlic very small.
  • Add onions, garlic and salt to taste (1/2 tsp?) to hot pan.
  • Add any optional dried herbs now as well.
  • Fry onions and garlic at least until the onions are glazy (5 mins) and max until onions are browned.
  • Start heating up salted water for the pasta.
  • Cut zucchini any way you like (I quartered it in length and made fine strips).
  • Add zucchini to hot pan and fry until soft (not too soft (10+ mins) or it will fall apart!!).
  • Wash and cut the big tomatoes into little dice (literally the size of dice).
  • Add tomatoes to hot pan with a splash (1/4 cup?) of water.
  • Add pasta to boiling water and cook according to instructions (usually 8 mins).
  • Cut the cherry tomatoes in halves or quarters.
  • When the tomatoes in the sauce have mostly fallen apart: take the pan off the heat.
  • Stir cherry tomatoes into the sauce along with any fresh herbs (like fresh basil) you were planning on using.
  • Drain the pasta.
  • Taste the sauce and add salt and pepper to taste. (Maybe also more basil, or oregano…)
  • Enjoy!

Juuuuust great

People, I am so tired today. I mean, that really shouldn’t be surprising to hear from someone diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, but DAMMIT I’M TIRED. I hate being tired. Can you see how that might be a problem for me?

Remember how in my last post I mentioned I finally got out of a week long funk? And I was so happy I could do stuff again? Yeah, about that… I got a Very Important Letter yesterday, with Bad News. And now I’m tired again. Don’t worry, it’s not like ‘you’re dying’ kind of news, just ‘your future just became a hell of a lot less certain’ kind of news. And that is just…great. Juuuuust great. Just what I needed.

On the bright side, I think I might’ve found a pattern that could work for my Plan of making a fancy dress to go to my first ever wedding in. Unfortunately, I can’t work on it right now, because besides being tired (I mean doubleplus tired along with the CFS (yay 1984 reference!)) my neck and shoulders have been on strike since sunday. I can’t look down for more than 10 minutes without having to lay down for an hour. Which is juuuuust great.

Also, and after this I promise to stop bitching, but Civilization V worked juuuuust long enough for me to get addicted to it, and now it keeps crashing. I googled it, tried all the recommendations, it worked juuuuust long enough to lull my suspicions, and then CRASH. I really need my fix, but nothing I do works now… *epic pout*

I guess I’ll just (juuuuust!) go watch Netflix or something. Fingers crossed I won’t manage to break it.

Update: I managed to get my laptop stuck in an infinite reboot loop. I should’ve knocked on wood there…

One of those days

It has been one of those days today. You know, the kind of day where you discover at 6 pm you’ve been wearing your shirt inside out all day long. The kind of day where you have to let a doctor poke you where it hurts, not for healing purposes, but insurance reasons. The kind of day where 30% of your (admittedly tiny) house ends up covered in flour just because you used 3 tablespoons of flour in something and it’s just that kind of day. Sigh.

Oddly enough, I feel better than last week. Last week, I felt like everything was useless and stupid and blegh, even though nothing was happening. This week, I feel kind of ok, even though useless and stupid and blegh things are happening. I’m pretty sure that difference is kind of the textbook definition of depression. I’m not trying to exaggerate, like ‘OMG I felt soooo depressed when she was voted off the island!’, I’m just saying after 7 years of therapy, 2 different antidepressants and a handful of diagnoses, that’s one of the best definitions of depression I have: when things aren’t blegh, but feel ridiculously blegh, especially when it’s long periods of time; that’s probably depression. I know, we’re getting real scientific there…

I’m glad I managed to, well, I don’t like it when people say ‘snap out of it’, but get out of that pothole, I guess. I’ve only just recovered from my 5 weeks of wisdom tooth surgery related fatigue, I’d hate to come down with something else. I finally want to get something done, for Thors sake! I really have quite a lot to do.

I’m going to my first wedding ever in about 6 weeks now, and I do not have a dress yet. Furthermore, I shall not buy such a dress, I shall make it. This is my Plan. Unfortunately, I kind of lack experience when it comes to sewing non-knits, and I don’t think I can get away with a jersey knit at a wedding… Also facings. And zippers. Not good at those. Aside from any overly ambitious sewing projects, I’m also still figuring out a lot of sugar free recipes, and baking sourdough bread every other day for me and the boyfriend. Yeah, I’m going to need a miracle. Wish me luck!

1 month sugar free

So, if you’ve read the title, or my Instagram (yes, I know, Instagram isn’t for reading, it’s for mindless scrolling, excuse me for trying to tell you about my life), you might know I’ve been sugar free for about a month now. I think. Hang on. *scrolls vigorously* Yep, 1 month, 3 days! Time to review.

To clarify: when I say I’ve gone sugar free, I mean I don’t eat added sugar (if it’s more than 2% of the product). So I can still eat fruit, yay! It basically means I can’t eat store bought soups and smoothies and sauces, and other things that start with ‘s’, but I can make my own and eat that. We clear? Ok cool.

First of all: the detox is definitely a thing! 2 weeks of intense craving and snapping at your poor boyfriend…unfortunately this is definitely a thing. BUT THEN. Oh man. I eat like, dried apricots now. For candy. FOR REALS. AND I ENJOY THEM. I have to say though: I miss chocolate. I got me some sugar free chocolate from Céréal, but that shit is at least 3 times more expensive than normal, so I have to pace myself. I do not appreciate having to pace myself when it comes to chocolate. I’m still trying to cook up some kind of alternative, literally, by making ganache with cacao and Stevia, but so far it’s kinda meh.

I don’t really miss anything besides chocolate. Mostly what I miss is the convenience of things, not the things themselves. I made this decision pretty unprepared, so right away the next morning I had this question of ‘what the hell am I going to put on my bread?!’. Cheese, apparently. That was literally my only option out of the whole kitchen. Time for some change! I learned how to make peanut butter the very next day!

Now, I’ll post about the recipes I’ve learned, but I think I prefer them to be their own post. Am I the only one who gets super annoyed when they’re looking for a recipe and they have to scroll through someones entire life story interspersed with 45 extremely similar pictures of the dish you JUST WANT THE DAMN RECIPE FOR STOP YAPPING ALREADY?

A month on, I’m pretty positive on this change. I’m eating a lot more fruit, which is always a good thing. I haven’t lost weight, surprisingly, but that’s more of an added bonus for me anyway. I do find it a lot easier to manage my eating, which is kind of what I was going for. By this I mean that, without the sugar cravings all day, I’m eating less impulsively, and I get less cranky when I don’t get my fix immediately. So overall I’d say this was a very good decision!

First Post

Hello there readers! I’m starting a blog! (really? I wouldn’t have guessed!)

Since my Instagram is kind of like a blog right now, and that’s not really what Instagram was meant to do, I thought it was about time for me to start an ACTUAL blog. Don’t worry, my grumpy face won’t disappear from Instagram anytime soon!

Love, J