Sure, there are plenty of blog posts, articles and books out there that may convince you that you don't need a budget, or that budgets are constricting, or maybe you've tried "anti-budgeting." I can only say that my financial life has improved drastically once I started working with a realistic budget.
So we have to talk about how and when a budget isn't realistic, and therefore, doesn't work.
An unrealistic budget believes that the numbers are set in stone, and if you overspend, you fail.
A realistic budget allows you to change the numbers.
An unrealistic budget assumes that the same amount of money will come in and go out every month.
A realistic budget knows that there's no such thing as a normal month.
An unrealistic budget believes that you can eat Ramen every day, and if you really scrimp and save, life will be wonderful.
A realistic budget has room for fun money most of the time, but if something goes wrong, the sacrifice to that fun money is temporary.
Even before YNAB, I changed my budgeting ways using the method I learned in The Debt-Free Spending Plan. Both are based on the zero-based budgeting concept and both (finally!) gave me a realistic budget.
Sylvia felt the effects the other day when I was getting the car serviced, and the total came close to $400 (we split the costs). Or rather, she felt no effect, because she knew she had double her share in her Auto Maintenance category.
Before you throw in the towel completely on the idea of budgeting, try a realistic (preferably zero-based) budget. It just might change your financial life!