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“You Need a Budget” CEO and Founder Jesse Mecham tells us how they help Americans break the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle and get out of debt

kokou adzo



Jesse Mecham You Need a Budget

First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID19 times? 

Jesse Mecham: There is no doubt that 2020 has been a year that no one has experienced before. For my family, like many others, it has brought disruption to everyday normalcy. Requiring a willingness to adjust in real-time, and roll with the punches. This coincidentally is a budgeting lesson we teach at You Need A Budget, which has also lent well to navigating the hurdles of 2020 (funny how these things work out). 

My family was already hunkered down when stay-at-home orders were put into place as we had welcomed a new baby at the beginning of the year. This meant that we had a full house with seven children (plus myself and my wife, Julie) all at home. Like many experienced, the year has brought daily pivots and a total (and sometimes uncomfortable) change in pace and routine.

Tell us about you, your career, how you founded You Need A Budget

Jesse Mecham: Early in 2003 Julie and I (Jesse) married. Living on love was great and all, but we still required food, shelter, and school textbooks. (Yes, we were still in school.) I knew we would need to watch what little money we had very carefully. So, I began developing a system that grew into something quite useful. It really boiled down to four simple rules:

  1. We decided what we wanted our money to do before we spent it.
  2. We broke up larger, less-frequent expenses into manageable “monthly bills.”
  3. We changed our budget as needed.
  4. We only spent money that was at least thirty days “old.”

Living this way, and seeing how absolutely invaluable the Four Rules were, we wanted to spread the word. So, in an attempt to make an additional $300/month to cover rent, I sold the spreadsheet online, and in September 2004, You Need A Budget was born.

Today, You Need A Budget is driven by a growing and passionate team. We are building the best budgeting software out there. We hear reports every day of lives being changed: debt paid off, marriages saved, opportunities seized, stress eliminated, and sleep rediscovered! When you gain control of your money, you gain control of your life, and it feels great.

How does You Need A Budget Innovate? 

Jesse Mecham: The number one way we innovate at You Need A Budget is by listening. We listen carefully to our customers and community, as they are our number one focus and priority. We spend everyday talking to them, learning from them, and obsess over creating a budgeting platform that quite simply is the best solution to meet their needs – no matter what those needs are. Regarding our design, updates, and education, we always go back to our customers, as they inspire our next innovations. 

How the Coronavirus Pandemic affects your Business, and how are you coping?

Jesse Mecham: With employees living and working worldwide, You Need A Budget has been a remote company since the beginning. (Way before everyone else was doing it.) We were lucky there was not a learning curve when it came to implementing work from home policies – our team is well-adept at that! What was an adjustment for many, however, was adding increased personal and family obligations to their everyday routines. Many of our team members have children and suddenly faced balancing workloads with full houses and new homeschooling expectations. We want our team always to know they are not alone, and that we are navigating these changes together. It’s essential to be flexible and show understanding that our team is facing a new reality. Giving grace and genuine support is always necessary, but we’ve found that to ring true more than ever as we focused on putting that core belief into continued and concentrated practice. 

Did you have to make Difficult Choices, and what are the Lessons Learned?

Jesse Mecham: This year, we’ve learned to be flexible and agile. To accept change and pivot quickly as the world and the needs of our customers evolve almost daily. Multiple times this year, we have had to shift content plans and go back to the drawing board so that we are delivering relevant and helpful information to our community. While daily changes make it challenging ever to feel ahead of a to-do list, it has also brought us even closer to our customers because, in so many ways, we’re all adjusting and learning together. 

First and foremost, we’re here to serve our community. It has always been a responsibility to deliver them with budgeting resources that uplift, inspire, and support them no matter their current priorities. That “why” gives purpose and a willingness to take on the unpredictable, and a little more irregularity in our day-to-day.

How do you deal with Stress and Anxiety? How do you Project yourself and You Need A Budget in the Future?

Jesse Mecham: I think many of us can relate to experiencing feelings of stress and anxiety this year. Personally, I’ve drastically reduced my consumption of the news and deleted social media apps as a little experiment to help alleviate daily stress. Another strategy we’ve encouraged the You Need A Budget team implement is a practice of taking a clarity break. 

A clarity break is extended time to get out of a regular routine, step away from technology, and let your mind flow. If you can get outside, take a walk, and find a place to spend a few hours with pen and paper to dig in and see what questions arise, some fascinating insights can come out of it. We’ve noticed that at the beginning of a clarity break, your mind is sometimes racing, and the thoughts that pop in your head may or may not be about work or a specific project. But having the time just to let those thoughts go gives space for the meaty and productive parts that can spark new insights, solutions, and ideas. 

We recognize that people have stressors in their life and that they will require more personal time to create mental margin and to focus on themselves. Life is out of the ordinary right now, and that time for personal wellbeing should be a number one priority for everyone. Our executive team leads by example and has emphasized the importance of clarity breaks and personal time so that everyone feels supported to do the same. Allowing our team members to prioritize and protect themselves and their health, ultimately, protects the company and its future. 

Who are your Competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the Game?

Jesse Mecham: Without a doubt, our biggest competitors are both personal spreadsheets and apathy. What I mean is, if someone thinks they can budget themselves, doesn’t want to ask for help or support, or isn’t interested or willing to budget, we’ve found ourselves head-to-head with a pretty fierce competitor. 

Truly though, we don’t spend a ton of time focused on the competition. Instead, we focus on what we do best and the person who is best served by us. We create the best budgeting software there is. We’re really good at teaching budgeting, and we know how to help people break the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle, get out of debt, and save more money so that they can spend it on the things that matter most to them. We stay in our lane and put all of our efforts into delivering the best product and the most helpful and genuine content to help our customers gain total control of their money. 

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Kokou Adzo is the editor and author of He is passionate about business and tech, and brings you the latest Startup news and information. He graduated from university of Siena (Italy) and Rennes (France) in Communications and Political Science with a Master's Degree. He manages the editorial operations at

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