The Power in Starting Fresh

March 30, 2023

The best budget tools help you keep your plans for your money organized, and can be a game-changer.

But whether you're new to a tool or a seasoned pro, sometimes you want or need a re-do.

Enter "fresh starts."

What is a fresh start?

I like to think of it as sweeping all your monies back into the middle of the room so you get a fresh chance to plan your spending. This is not a start-completely-over budget. But rather a re-do of the categorizing of your money.

YNAB, or You Need A Budget, is a personal finance software (and happens to be my favorite) that helps users plan, then track, their spending. I'll use YNAB lingo and as my example since it's the budgeting tool I know best. But if you're using another tool, hopefully it offers a similar feature and you can extrapolate from here!

When you "make a fresh start" in YNAB, it remembers your categories and linked accounts. This makes it so that much of the work you've done is retained in the new version of the budget.

How to make a fresh start?

YNAB makes it so simple. Click on the name of the current budget at the top left, and scroll down to Make A Fresh Start.

Why should I consider making a fresh start?

Starting fresh can have several benefits, including:

  1. A clean slate: Starting fresh allows you to start with a clean slate and set new financial goals. You can re-evaluate your spending habits, income, and expenses and create a new budget that aligns with your current financial situation.
  2. Better organization: A fresh start can help you organize your budget better. You can create new categories and subcategories that reflect your current spending habits and prioritize your expenses accordingly.
  3. Greater motivation: A new beginning can be motivating, especially if you have struggled to stick to your budget in the past. You can set new financial goals and track your progress more effectively, which can keep you motivated to stay on track.

When might I make a fresh start?

1. You're new to budgeting/YNAB. 

You're just starting out and and learning new money organization habits. And have gotten behind and would have to invest loads of time into cleaning up the past. What's the danger of spending too much time fixing the mistakes in your budget? Well, it may reinforce a belief that budgeting is reactive and hard.

I would so much rather you make a fresh start and recommit to the habits that make it a delightful experience. And get you experiencing the wins that make it all worthwhile.

Be kind to your self and do not see fresh starts, especially in the beginning, as failure.  There is a learning curve to such a powerful tool, and fresh starts will help you keep this tool as your friend not foe.

2. You're in a budgeting rut. 

You may be a seasoned budgeting pro who's used YNAB for a while now. And you may be in a bit of a budgeting rut. It can be energizing to take a fresh look at how you're organizing your money and sweep all your money back into the middle of the room again.

Starting fresh allows you to start with a clean slate and reassess your financial goals and how you're organizing your spending. In this fresh start you can create a new budget that better aligns with your current financial situation.

3. Your life situation has changed dramatically. 

When something structurally changes in your life, you may want to make sweeping adjustments to your budget categories, but don't want to lose the historical data you have in reports for categories you no longer need.

Examples from my own life that may apply to you: 

  • I created a new budget after leaving my corporate job given that my income structure was changing a lot, and I chose to change my approach to budgeting.
  • I also make a fresh start for January and February since I was spending 7 of those weeks traveling abroad and had way different expenses than in my normal life. #somanyhotels

A tip you don't want to miss:

Here's the scoop: if you've been using YNAB for a while and have archived some of your old budgets, you can go back into those archives and make sure accounts are not still linked to this budget. You're not actually removing the underlying connection to the bank (you likely still want this in your now-current budget), just making sure new transactions don't auto-import.

Why is this helpful? Well, it allows those old budgets to be a true historical representation of your spending, without continuing to bring in loads of new transactions. 🤯

I am somewhat sheepish to admit that I only learned this last week. It's amazing what new things you can learn after only 8 years of using and loving and teaching a tool!

If you want to love budgeting and have it make a difference for you, I'd love to chat. I had to learn to love budgeting and have learned a thing or twenty about how to teach budgeting as something you can love.

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