Tag Archives: 7 in 7

7 Steps to Falling in Love with YNAB: Part Two

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In the first part of my YNAB love story, I talked about how awareness of my spending and preparing for rainy days helped me see my monthly cash flow in a whole new light. I was on cloud nine until reality hit.

Step Three: Facing the Credit Card Float

My third big moment with YNAB left me with egg on my face. This part is especially embarrassing.

I had gotten into the habit of buying groceries and gas on my credit card with money I didn’t have. I told myself I was doing it for the convenience, the (meager) cash rewards, and the technological security. Every month, I paid my statement balance in full. Most of that habit was good. I still use my credit card for groceries and gas because it’s still convenient and secure. The problem was that I was always a month behind. I was riding the credit card float. (I’m not floating anymore.)

If you’ve never heard of the credit card float before, I don’t blame you. I Googled it and found mainly posts about YNAB! (See Additional Resources below.) Essentially, “floating” credit cards is spending now and paying off the balance with next month’s income.1 It’s the opposite of spending using a debit card. Debit cards only allow you to spend money you already have (when they don’t allow overdrafts). The way I was using my credit card allowed me to spend money I didn’t have yet. I was trapped in the cycle. One bad month could have ruined me.

Some months in that cycle were fine. Others were painful (especially when Christmas bills were due in January). The biggest pain of all, though, was when I entered my credit cards in YNAB and had to face the ugly red numbers of Pre-YNAB Debt. I was horrified to realize that, although I had always sworn up and down that I did not have credit card debt, I did. The grace of starting YNAB in May was that I had fairly low balances on my cards (one regular card through my bank and one store card), so I was able to make a mid-cycle payment on each card and eliminate my credit card debt immediately.

This 2-minute video explains the credit card float in detail. Pictures of my shocked face are not included.

Added August 2015: YNAB produces a weekly video series called Whiteboard Wednesday. Jesse Mecham, founder of YNAB, explains the credit card float with a diagram and a friendly face.

Step Four: Less Email and Even More Awareness

The fourth habit change caused by YNAB was small but not insignificant. Ever since I turned eighteen, started college, and began managing my own finances, I have balanced my checkbook monthly. All the financial advice I’d ever encountered admonished me to always stay on top of my checkbook balancing, so I did.

Then came online banking. I could see which transactions had posted to my account and when they cleared on a daily basis. But my old habits didn’t change. I was still waiting four weeks to balance my checkbook. When money was tight, I set up an automatic email from my bank for every outgoing transaction over $10. When money got tighter, I lowered that minimum to $5.

Then came YNAB. As I got into the habit of entering transactions daily and rolling with the punches, I used the reconciliation feature to keep YNAB in sync with my online account balances. Getting that flurry of emails was useful, but it started to feel like overkill when my account always reconciled/balanced perfectly.

It took months for me to realize that it was overkill. I didn’t need those emails anymore because (A) I recorded every direct expense immediately, (B) the scheduled transactions feature entered my bills automatically, and they’ve all been on auto-pay for ages, and (C) I was reconciling/balancing at least once a week.

I stopped the automatic emails. I don’t even read my monthly statements anymore, because I know what they say. YNAB knows, too.


I promised you seven steps, so you know the rest are coming. Stay tuned!

Additional Resources

I found three other blog posts online that mention the credit card float. They’re all about YNAB, which shows how useful YNAB is for rescuing floaters like me.


  1. There is another version of the credit card float. It involves taking advantage of the grace period between the day you spend and the day you pay your credit card statement balance. You leave the cash in your checking or savings account so it can grow interest during the grace period, spending it only when the due date arrives. That’s not what I’m talking about here. 

7 Quick Takes on 7 in 7, Empty Confessionals, and GTD

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— 1 —

Wow! This makes six posts in six days, and it was actually one per day. That might be a new record. This reminds me of when I used to aim for streaks of consecutive days going to Mass back in college. (I think I managed 13 once when Fr. Kyle celebrated a one-off Mass on a Saturday at 10 a.m. in the Catholic Student Center chapel.) Booking Through Thursday gave me a boost toward 7 in 7 yesterday, but so did making a public, shared commitment.

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I have been loving Christina’s posts this week. Her writing style is so different from mine that I can’t quite describe it. It’s lyrical. It’s full of emotion. It’s peaceful. Just read her post about the qualities she loves most in her fiancé, and you’ll see what I mean.

— 2 —

Would any of you, dear readers with blog, like do a 7 in 7 challenge with me? I already have a nibble on the line from my delightful hostess, Anna. I haven’t mentioned her much because she hasn’t been blogging much, but she just did a whole overhaul with a great redesign, and I think a good challenge will encourage her to keep going. Look how well it’s worked for me these past few months!

— 3 —

I think this is one of my favorite priest tweets ever.

— 4 —

Now I have even more motivation to finally finish my YNAB love story. In addition to getting Buffered last week, my friend Gabby used my referral/discount link to purchase her own copy! YNAB evangelization is the best (after the regular Jesus-focused kind).

If you’re on the fence, I encourage you to at least download the trial version from YouNeedABudget.com. It’s full-featured and free for 34 days. Have you ever heard of a free trial that long? I hadn’t, either, and that’s one of the reasons I decided to try it. I purchased it on Day 32, after saving in YNAB to buy YNAB.

A little birdie told me that if you need a longer trial, you can just ask YNAB Support to extend yours. And if you decide to buy it, you can use my link above to save $6 (full disclosure: also getting $6 for me in the process).

— 5 —

I started writing a blog post about my experience with Getting Things Done and Wunderlist. I thought it would be a relatively short one, but it turned into a monster. It’s strange not to talk about it here, though, especially as hard as I’ve been pushing YNAB, but it just takes time to explain fully. Stay posted; that is coming in at least two parts (maybe three).

— 6 —

In the meantime, here’s a TEDx talk of David Allen, creator of GTD, explaining the philosophy. I’ve been GTD-ing for about six months, and I still learned a lot by watching it.

— 7 —

It was a quiet week, so that’s all I have for this round. I will just say that if you haven’t been reading Super Swell Times, you should be. Elizabeth has been blogging almost daily for a whole year now, and her sense of humor will absolutely brighten your day.

For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t the Lyceum.

Booking Through Thursday: Cold Weather Reading

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BTT is back this week! Hooray! Just in time to give me a leg-up during this week of 7 posts in 7 days with Christina.

When the weather is cold and blustery, would you rather read something [that] is equally wintery or something to take you as far away from the snow as possible?

I’ve never really thought about matching my book selections to the weather. These days, the actual books I read are either about personal finance (for my pleasure reading) or Catholicism, Christianity, and religion (for my Austin CNM column…and for pleasure). The closest I get to “seasonal reading” are articles I read online about Advent and Lent!

I do like seasonal movies, though, and I like it when books acknowledge a progression in seasons. Harry Potter would lose some of its magic if the books didn’t run through school years. That’s a predictable timeline, but it’s a reliable timeline, and it fits the bildungsroman structure well.

It all goes back to my love of storytelling. Snowy, wintry weather is a great literary symbol for a closed-off, cold heart. Look how well it worked for Frozen! It’s also a neat way to add an element of hardship, dejection, or intensely extended time to a story. To have a happy ending or any kind of joy in winter is an anomaly. “Winter wedding” isn’t a phrase just because of the alliteration. To overcome an obstacle or defeat an enemy is winter is to fight the weather and the foe.

Summer books just aren’t the same. This is Austin; we get plenty of summer. Bring on the cold!


For more short queries about books and the reading life, visit Booking Through Thursday.

Not Alone Series: The Husband List

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What are the qualities and characteristics that you are looking for in your future husband? We have talked about what we don’t want, but it’s good to have an idea of those things that are important to us. Discerning religious life? This applies to communities, as well!

Writing my dealbreakers post was enlightening and one of the first times I have really “put it out there;” that is, specified to the world what I’m looking for. The Internet never forgets, so there is a more-than-good chance that my actual future husband might read that post someday. I intentionally tried to be specific and identify broad characteristics rather than “loves to read” or “doesn’t like pets.”

For the record, I do not support lists (of what you’re looking for in a spouse). That’s a bad idea for me in particular. I’m already slow to build relationships and persnickety across the board. So no lists for me. (I enjoyed “6′ 2″” by Marie Miller as much as the next girl, but that is absolutely a list.) I wouldn’t want my future husband to question the sincerity of my love if he read my list and realized he didn’t measure up to it. He might think I had just settled for him. Disastrous!

Then again, my dealbreakers are positive qualities, and there’s nothing on that list that I don’t measure up to. I don’t smoke, I consider “teacher” a critical role I play despite no longer working in a classroom, I’ve accepted my height as an asset, and I love Jesus. Done. I don’t think it’s too much, then, to look for those qualities in a husband.

Yet I still have dreams. I would ideally like a husband who is significantly taller than I am. My brother is 6′ 3″. I fit right under his shoulder. It’s humbling, and if he were not as thin as a rail and almost a decade younger than I am, it would feel protective. I hope I can see my husband as a protector.

I would also really prefer to marry another involved Catholic. I’ve stated before that I don’t like adding adjectives to “Catholic”—I don’t want any of this “liberal” or “traditional” or “faithful” business. I wrote this in my dealbreakers post:

I’m not sure I could even find significant space in my life to date a non-Catholic, because it’s in all my hobbies except one.

I want to marry a man who will actively help me grow in my faith, not someone I have to convince to go to Confession more than once or twice a year. I need someone whose leadership I can trust, not a student I have to teach. Popular media gives me enough husbands and dads who are buffoons. I want more for my real life.

And in my wildest dreams, he would be super tall, highly involved in Catholicism, and have a graduate education like I do. He doesn’t have to be using it in his work, but if you have earned a degree after your undergrad degree, you probably “get” education. No one finishes law school for fun.

I have ideas of other “nice-to-have” qualities, but they’re just that: nice. “Nice” doesn’t make anyone fall in love. I’m going to focus on the must-haves (a.k.a. my dealbreakers) and keep my eyes open to everything else. I would feel much more peace if, at the end of my life, I have never married because our personalities clashed than if I stayed single because the only men who are interested in me are 5’7″.

Do you think I’m on the right track here? Am I painting too broad a stroke? What would you look for in a man for me?


Thanks to Jen and Morgan for hosting! Check out other responses on their blogs.

When Religion Gets Real (Review: “Yom Kippur as Manifest in an Approaching Dorsal Fin”)

If I were Jewish, I would still write about my faith. I’m not Jewish, and I don’t plan on becoming a Jew. But I am Catholic, and you can probably tell from my writing at Austin CNM or on my personal blog that I write a lot about my faith. It’s such a huge part of my life that I can’t imagine not writing about it.

Aside from just blogging, though, I have a heart for fiction. I still consider myself a writer, though I might never actually publish a book. I was never much for poetry. Blogging, however, is a form of essay-writing, and I can manage some creative nonfiction now and then. It was my living preference for stories from real life permeated by faith that led me to Yom Kippur as Manifest in an Approaching Dorsal Fin. In it, Adam Byrn Tritt shares stories of faith, culture, and family, and what happens when they all converge along the Florida coast.

"A shark comes so close as I contemplate a million years and this seems like a message." —Adam Byrn Tritt

Read the rest at Austin CNM.

tl;dr February 2015

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Somehow it is already February. Lent is coming on the 18th, which doesn’t seem right. I guess that’s the cost of celebrating the whole Christmas season: Lent sneaks up on you.

I participated in NaBloPoMo again in January, so you might have gotten bogged down in posts again. I know Feedly and Pocket miss me; I’ve been doing a ton of writing and not nearly as much reading! Here’s a recap in case my posting frequency was too much for you:

Between this and my new productivity system, I am realizing that a lot more happens to me than I think. What’s new with you?


Check out other lightning-fast recaps at Call Her Happy.

What I Wore Sunday: This Will Work

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Well, I’m still working on my Sunday schedule. I can’t really say that’s a surprise! I was scheduled to lector this evening, though, so I knew I couldn’t be too late. And I wasn’t! My outfit left something to be desired, though.

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The skirt has those lace panels running through it. I need a photographer who is not me.

Blouse: Mossimo for Target
Skirt: random designer from T.J. Maxx
Sweater: Old Navy
Tights: Target
Shoes: Payless wedges
Earrings: pearls (high school graduation present)

I started this outfit with the skirt once again. I got this one from T.J. Maxx when I was home for Christmas. When my mom took me shopping for my boots, we walked past a T.J. Maxx and she asked if I was in the market for any clothes. I have a pear-shaped body, so I think I look better in A-line skirts than pencil skirts. I have “A-line skirts” on my long-term shopping list, and I had time, so we went in. Stores like T.J. Maxx can be good when you have an idea of a category (like A-line skirts) but no real requirements. You also need a lot of time. Sifting through those racks is not for the faint of heart! This was the only skirt I liked, and it fit, so I bought it.

It wasn’t until I got my Christmas present package from home that I realized I had no clue how to wear this thing. The top layer has beautiful lace insets, but the lining is not substantial. I forgot about the lining until today, when I saw a note on my to-do list reminding me to wear this one before it’s out of season. Austin has great weather, but I miss four seasons! Sure, 60 degrees in February is nice, but I was promised winter! (That’s one of the two. We have summer from March through October.) Thus, in my limited time, I went with black tights.

The look is okay, but I should have dressed more strategically to go almost-bare legged. I tried it without the tights really quickly when I got home, and I like this version better.

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Definitely should have gone with this look.

But I also like not worrying about whether my skirt is too see-through as I, you know, approach the ambo to proclaim the word of God. That’s good, too. I’ll give it a few weeks and then try repeating the outfit with a different top. Any suggestions wearing for tricky pieces like this?

Speaking of the word of God, Fr. Associate Pastor told another homily joke this week, but it was relevant! It was about the difference between having power and having authority. You can have the authority (in law, by making a purchase, etc.) to do something but not the power (the law isn’t enforced, you can’t physically overpower a guard, you don’t have your ticket with you, etc.) In today’s Gospel, Jesus has both. This is not like when he was tempted by Satan and had the power to make bread, rule nations, and end his life, but not the authority (or at least, none he was willing to use to contradict his Father). It’s using power and authority together that catches the attention of the people in the synagogue and gets them to start believing Jesus might be important.

I got nothing about the unmarried versus married people speech from St. Paul or the importance of prophets, though. You win some, you lose some.


For more Mass fashion and commentary, visit Fine Linen and Purple.

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