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You Need a Budget
Taste of Quality #14
I hope you're all taking some well-deserved time off and enjoying the holidays. I'm trying to take a break from being at my computer so much, but it's tough because I have a new addition to Better by Design that I want to start before my day job kicks back into gear.
Before we get into our regularly scheduled design gratitude, I want to say thank you to all of you for joining me here in my little corner of the internet 🙏! Better by Design started with zero subscribers in May and is now closing in on 700 with more joining every day. So although the progress can feel slow at times, we're on a great trajectory and I'm excited to keep growing this space for design lovers in 2023.
The best way to support me is by sharing the newsletter with other design-inclined people. Discovery is my biggest challenge, so I'm very grateful for anything you do to help me get the word out. One specific place to share would be to recommend Better by Design for a feature in thenewsletter. No guarantees they'd pick it up, but it would be cool! You can recommend it here.
Okay, now let's get to it!
Design Gratitude 💚
This week I'm grateful for the budgeting software You Need a Budget 🤓.
We're 14 issues into Design Gratitude and I have yet to feature a software product. You Need a Budget (or YNAB for short), gets the nod to be the first for a host of reasons, not the least of which is that the end of the year is a good time to promote bringing intentionality to our finances. I've personally been using YNAB for three years and have found it makes a big impact on how I feel about managing my money each month. In some cases, it helps me get spending under control and in others, it helps me be intentional about spending more on quality things that will actually make my life better. I often recommend it to friends, so it's an easy suggestion here as well.
If you might want to subscribe, sign up here for a free month.
So, I use YNAB, but why is it a good design? Let's count the ways…
Rams' Principle #4: It's understandable
Finances cause plenty of anxiety.
Even if you're a personal finance nerd like me, financial products often end up making simple things feel hard and hard things feel impossible.
I know first-hand from my time working at American Express that making a financial product easy to understand is harder than you'd imagine. So I was delighted to discover YNAB because it brought a simple but robust balance to managing my money that I'd otherwise struggled to find. The team puts a big focus on education and making personal finance concepts approachable, whether in their tutorials, documentation, or the product itself.
One of my favorite bits of smart, understandable design from YNAB is their onboarding experience, where they teach you how to use the tool by learning to budget a few dollars a month for their own product. A super smart design that delivers a great first-time user experience and also supports the business.
Rams' Principle #6: It's honest
Despite there being many "free" options for personal financial management, I'm forever skeptical of what they're doing with my data to make money.
YNAB is refreshingly straightforward: you pay them a small subscription fee, and they deliver an outstanding budgeting service. It's as simple and direct as that.
They're also very clear about pricing and how to get started with their service. They don't require a credit card upfront, letting you intentionally opt in to paying rather than sneakily charging you after the fact. Then, to give you ample time to see the value YNAB can add, the company offers a 34-day trial period so that you can see how the tool works over the course of a full, normal month of budgeting.
An honest design delivering great service. Now that's worth paying for.
Today I wanna do a special group shoutout to everyone who's helped me get Better by Design off the ground this year. Starting from zero is no joke, so whether we spoke in person, you left a thoughtful comment on a post or even just pinged me with a few kind words, those little acts of support made a meaningful difference for me.
So, a big time thank you to…
My coworkers at JupiterOne, for being my first subscribers despite mostly not being in design roles
Valjean Clark, for being an early supporter and reaching out to riff on ideas
- , for an early boost on Twitter
John Peele for being my first official patron (and everyone else who's since supported me by donating or buying a product from my shop!)
Tamas from HeyDesigner for sharing several of my articles with his large audience
- from Workspaces XYZ for elevating my home workspace into online desk heaven
And last but not least, the fine folks and fellow writers who currently recommend Better by Design from their own Substack
If I missed anyone, I'm sorry! You're all A+ in my book. I'm so grateful that you all give me the chance to share my ideas with you each week and I'm excited to add even more value for you in 2023.
If you have feedback on what you'd like to see Better by Design do more of or less of in the new year, please let me know in the comments. And if you have any specific resources in mind that I could create in order to help you design better, I'm all ears.
Until next time!