You Need a Budget

 And now a break to talk about a sponsor…

Over the years, I’ve heard loads of people recommend You Need A Budget as a program that didn’t just give them a budgeting tool, but totally changed how they thought about money. So I was really excited when the folks there reached out and asked me to tell y’all about them!

You Need A Budget – which is a personal budgeting web app (with companion apps for Android and iOS) – will teach you a philosophy that will help you get out of debt, stop living paycheck to paycheck (if you are), and save more money faster. And it’ll help you budget in a way that ensures that your money lines up with what you care about most.

move-money ipadWhen you get started with YNAB (as it’s called by fans), it’ll help you implement a zero-based budget, meaning that at the beginning of every month, you’ll “give every dollar a job” — whether it’s saving, paying a particular bill, eating tons of tacos, or whatever it might be). And it’ll help you set up goals and milestones, and easily set aside small amounts to work toward those goals.

One of the coolest things YNAB does is nudge you in helpful directions. For example, if you overspend in a category, it Overspending_Settingswill ask you if you want to subtract that amount from next month’s Available to Spend or if you want to pay if off over time. If you choose the latter, it’ll remind you about the potential impact of letting a debt sit and will encourage you to pay it off next month instead, if you can. Not like a naggy parental figure – more like a very helpful CFO.

They also offer free daily, online classes in things like budgeting, handling credit cards, and even “Dealing with Different Pay Cycles. And the whole thing is easily customizable, and you can edit your budget at any time if an unexpected cost comes up (one of their rules is “roll with the punches”).

I figured testimonials from other Ask a Manager readers might be interesting to see, so here are things that AAM commenters have said here about YNAB in the past:

“YNAB is amazing. We’re doing just fine financially but I still maintain it’s the best budgeting program out there – bar none. The inherent ability to roll-over budget categories, account for overages, and live on last month’s income is nothing short of perfect when it comes to personal financial management.” – Steve

budget “I use YNAB, and it’s seriously the best thing that’s happened in my financial life. Not only does it allow you to track where your expenses are going, but setting up a budget based on the money you actually have lets me spend (or not) without guilt. I budget about $25 for breakfast or lunch out per month, and then before I buy something, I log into the app to see how much I have left in that category. If it’s enough, great! If not, I know that before I buy something. If I really still have to buy it, I do it with the acknowledgement I’m going to have to pull it out of some other category (that might be more fun, like a vacation). It makes you so much more mindful, and having a plan for your money is really essential.” – Kate M

“It is like excel sheets on steroids, and it has charts, and it makes everything easy. I don’t work for them … but I can say this software changed my life!” – Lynne

“I’ve managed to reduce my debt by 25% in the year and a half I’ve been using YNAB. I would have thought that was impossible before … It really helped me break out of the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle. I’m in a much better place financially than I was before I started using it. – Cordelia

You should try YNAB because you really do need a budget, and this one is awesome. You can sign up for a 34-day free trial here. (And note that the entire software is free for students!)

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by You Need a Budget. All thoughts and opinions are my own (or those of the readers I quoted).

{ 161 comments… read them below }

  1. Christina*

    Your timing is incredible. I’ve used YNAB since 2012, but stopped about 6 months ago (funny how when my spending gets crazy I avoid actually looking at the numbers). I just logged in again last night to start fresh.

    I’m a bit meh on their new payment model, and the new setup will take some getting used to, but their concept is still 100% solid.

    1. Cube Farmer*

      “…when my spending gets crazy I avoid actually looking at the numbers.”

      Sad, regretful story of my life. New Year’s resolution being to take control of my money, I’ll definitely look into this app.

      1. Bowserkitty*

        I’m the same way. It makes my anxiety shoot off the charts. I think this will be a neat app to try!

      2. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Me, too! Like, I know I’ve been ‘bad’ and I can’t even look. This is what is causing me to wake up at 3am several nights a week; even though my conscious mind is ignoring the situation, it is still at the back of my mind and bothering me.

    2. Cass*

      Ha, when my eating gets crazy I have the uncanny urge to avoid tracking my food on MyFitnessPal. ;)

      1. Bowserkitty*

        Hey, if you don’t log it, it didn’t happen. :D

        I have also joked with friends that during that certain time of the month, food has no calories.

  2. Mark in Cali*

    I’ve used them for years, but the recently switched to a cloud software which I’ve been wanting but now it’s subscription based at $5/month. Frown.

    It’s a good, fun to use budget software and does have a good community around it. Also, Jesse Meekam the owner and White Board Wednesday video series host is a treat to look a ;-)

    1. Christina*

      $5/month or $50/year. I was also not too happy to see that, considering I paid $50 for the software when I bought it in 2012 and was happy sticking with the updates. Paying that every year is…a lot to ask.

      1. quietone*

        Yeah, I think they could have maybe done $30 a year – so 2 year subscription = one time buy (when I bought it anyways). Given that the focus is on people trying to get beyond paycheck to paycheck…

      2. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Yeah, I hate how every service now seems to be moving from paying a one-time $60 fee for software to paying $60 every damn year.

    2. Sydney Bristow*

      I was vocally upset about the new payment model but I actually really like the new features and decided I’m willing to pay it. I’ve been using it since 2011 and have been a complete evangelist about it. I definitely credit the program with getting me out of credit card debt.

      One of the things they’ve said to justify the subscription model is that they can roll out changes as they go instead of hoarding them to get enough to justify an update to the desktop app. So far I’ve seen that’s true. This week they added back in the calculator feature that was missing. My guess is they’ll continue making tweaks as time goes on.

      1. TheSnarkyB*

        What are the features that you think make it worth the cost? I’m thinking of jumping on board. Would love to hear pros and cons!

  3. BananaPants*

    Happy user of YNAB here! I like the new YNAB; the convenience of automatic imports from financial institutions means we use it more rigorously. Having it be in a web based app is big; I’m switching my personal computer from a Windows laptop to a Chromebook and I would have to go through some software/OS contortions to use YNAB 4. With the web-based app, that’s a non-issue.

    The company has not yet addressed how or if the free student license will be offered for new YNAB; it is still available for the standalone (non-web based) YNAB 4 which will not be supported after the end of the year.

    1. Susan*

      I’ve used YNAB4 for 3 years? Something like that. I love it – the method and the product. I’m not switching to nYNAB (web based version) yet; I’m one of those folks who isn’t quite thrilled with v1 of the solution. I do hold out hope for improvement, though.

      YNAB forums have traditionally been a good place to get assistance, a lot of helpful people. I see it as being as good as the comment threads here. The last week or so has been out of the norm; the release of the web product has stirred up a lot of turbulence. In a strange way it’s a compliment; the forums fostered a culture of honesty, and now we’re seeing some of the downside of honesty.

  4. Ame*

    Wow, that’s expensive for what it is. My first budget decision is to find a budget app that is free, instead.

    1. Dorth Vader*

      My husband and I use Mint (iOS and android apps, works on kindle fire, and there’s a web version). It’s not quite as automated as this appears, but it’s free and you can sync the account across multiple devices for everyone in the household.
      I also went through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, which is not free and is a Christian program. There’s a ton of information and resources there and if you go through the program you get lifetime access to the worksheets and several other site resources (videos cost some money after you use your free ones). We don’t follow his program quite as intensely as some people do, but we have a plan to pay off debt in less than 10 years while still (hopefully) growing our family and having money for fun things. If you can deal with Christian messaging in order to get some really solid financial advice, I’d recommend checking it out.

      1. That Marketing Chick*

        I second Financial Peace University as a great way to learn a lot of the basics you already probably know…and in a great learning environment that’s lost of fun and encouraging. We are now debt-free except for the house, thanks to this program.
        I also second Mint. It’s free budgeting software and is very robust!

      2. Melissa*

        I use Mint at the moment, but personally I find it to be a better spending tracker than a budgeting tool. Its budgeting features seem a little clunky to me.

      3. MsChandandlerBong*

        Dave Ramsey now has a free zero-based budgeting tool called Every Dollar. The biggest drawback is that it’s only free if you don’t link it to your bank accounts to import info (the banks charge Dave’s company for that access, so the fee is passed on to users). If you’re okay with that, it’s a good tool.

    2. Cordelia Naismith*

      Goodbudget is another envelope-based budgeting system, and they have a free version, I believe. I know lots of people who like it.

      I use YNAB, personally, and it was well worth the initial cost for me. (I use the old YNAB where you bought the software outright, not the new, web-based subscription model.)

    3. Ashley the Paralegal*

      Not sure if this will apply to the newest version, but YNAB offers free classes to learn the software and they give away a free copy of the product at the end of every class. They also give extended free trials to students.

  5. Holly*

    Can anyone detail the differences between YNAB and Mint? I’ve been using Mint for years but I’m open to other products if they’ve got a better interface and features.

    1. Bekx*

      It’s just different.

      Mint lets you see what money you have, but YNAB helps you control what you do with it. Like Mint reports things after you spend it, while YNAB forces you to think about things BEFORE you spend it. It’s a very different mindset and takes a minute to really understand and switch your mind from the typical way of budgeting

        1. ElCee*

          I really hated Mint but could never articulate why (besides its interface, which I didn’t like)–this is exactly it.

      1. CrazyCatLady*

        I don’t know if many people use the feature, but Mint does allow you to set budgets for specific categories and shows you in green, yellow, and red the extent to which you’re approaching those budgets for a given month.

        I’ve never used YNAB, though.

        1. Elizabeth*

          Yeah, I’m confused by this, Mint definitely has a budgeting feature, though I can’t compare how robust it is to YNAB.

    2. socrescentfresh*

      I found Mint’s interface–heavy on the graphs and charts and colors–to be distracting, and I much prefer YNAB’s plain spreadsheet interface. YNAB also offers all those charty, graphy things like Mint does, but they’re tucked away in a different section so your eyes aren’t assaulted with fat lines of traffic-light colors as soon as you log in.

    3. Molly*

      I like them best in combo. Along with what everyone else said, the biggest point of interaction for me is that I’m Type A enough to find it Extremely Irritating that my transfers (paying off my credit card bill, sending money to investments) don’t show up at the other banks right away, meaning that Mint thinks I have much less money (spent chequing cash, but still have an unpaid credit card/no change to my investments) than I actually do. YNAB knows that I actually have the exact same amount of money, reallocated, and treats it that way, while also knowing that it hasn’t posted yet.

  6. Bekx*

    I’ve been using YNAB since October and I am already seeing a lot of positives! I considered myself pretty good financially (especially for having financially unsavvy parents), but honestly YNAB made me realize what I really need to work on.

    I’ve been using Mint since 2010, and while it was great and all…it didn’t really give me a feeling that I was doing anything with my budget or money. My few months with YNAB has really made a difference.

    They just released their new version last week, and in fact if you sign up before January 31st you’ll get a lifetime discount of $5 a year off as a new member. I’m still getting used to the new cloud based system but so far it seems to work really well for me. I love the new goal feature and it seems like they are really trying to keep improving it.

    1. NJ Anon*

      I, frankly, would never pay someone else to do my budget. I use a good ol’ fashioned spreadsheet and have been doing that for years. But then again, I’m in finance.

      1. Bekx*

        That’s fair.

        I attended the webinars for YNAB4 and won a free copy, so I was able to experience the desktop software for a few months without spending a dime. I’m on the trial now, so I’m not paying anything but I’m pretty sure I will keep up with it.

        They give you a nice trial length, so anyone on the fence should try it out and see what they think. I personally find it useful as someone who isn’t in finance. You can also watch their webinars and see what you think (like I did) before taking the plunge. Unfortunately you can’t win the software for free anymore, but I think they are really helpful and educational.

      2. fposte*

        I think paying somebody else to do your budget is a considerable mischaracterization, though; it’s like saying that paying for Microsoft Office is paying somebody else to do my writing. YNAB is just an organizational tool, same as any other program, including Excel. I prefer Excel and the funky little Best Budget app myself, but the budgeting is still all mine whichever program I use.

      3. danr*

        I’m not in finance and have great difficulty with numbers, but we have been using and refining spreadsheets to track all our spending and savings for many years now. The spreadsheet guarantees that the figuring is correct and needing to enter everything by hand means that we are on top of our finances. It also makes tax time much easier.

      4. BananaPants*

        I’m an engineer and used an Excel spreadsheet for years – YNAB really changed how we handle our money. The method is key.

    2. LizB*

      Yeah, I’ve been using Mint for a while, but I don’t feel like it’s really changed my behavior at all. I think I’ll give YNAB a shot.

      1. Bekx*

        Do the trial and watch the webinars. It can be a bit daunting at first (especially if you have any credit card debt, which I don’t but I can see why it’s confusing).

        Basically you start off by entering what you have in your bank account now. YNAB doesn’t care that you’re being paid 1000 dollars Monday, it cares about what you have NOW. Then you need to give every dollar a job. So you have $200 left in your bank account and it needs to last until Monday. So you put $20 in fuel, and $30 in restaurants for lunch. Your phone bill is due tomorrow so you put $120. Now you have $30 left over until Monday. So maybe you throw that in savings or fun money, or more restaurants!

        Then when Monday comes, you get $1000 more to play with until your next paycheck. You put that towards car payment, rent, groceries…etc until your money to be budgeted is $0. Every dollar needs to have a job. That job can change, because stuff happens, but by categorizing and putting everything in it’s proper place as soon as you get it you can begin to get control of what you’re doing.

        1. Bowserkitty*

          This definitely helped. I put all my immediate payments in for the month even though I’ve already paid it all and I was ready to give up until my next paycheck. So I need to be budgeting NOW for things that are going to come out till my next paycheck, not things I’ve already paid for.

          Full disclosure, have not had time to watch the webinars yet. *whistles*

        2. Murphy*

          Thanks for that overview. That helps me decide if I want to give it a try or not. I think I will, but from your description that’s not the way my mind works. I budget per month and then per week for weekly expenses, but I do know that then I’m doing some napkin math each paycheque to see what I want to put where (leaving some in the account for future bills, mortgage, etc.). Maybe this would help me see it differently (or do my calculations for me).

          1. Ashley the Paralegal*

            I used to write out what I needed to pay on scratch paper too, but the program lets us set up reoccurring payments for things like rent, phone bills, insurance, etc that are due the same time each month/week/year so you can actually put those in and have a running list of what bills are due and when. That has been very helpful to me. I can look at the list and know that I need to pay X, Y and Z before I get paid next and can then make sure I put the appropriate amount in those categories. If you’re not sure you want to try it, watch their intro video to the product (it’s free) and that will give you a good overview of YNAB.

            1. Bekx*

              The way my budget is set up I named my categories like this:

              Phone – $125.83 – 7th
              Student Loans – 168.23 – 10th

              You can drag and drop them, so I have them organized by date due. When I get my paycheck I can see which things I need to tackle soon and which can wait until the next paycheck.

              1. Molly*

                I love that! I may change some of my category names–as it is I usually go “is it the internet that’s the 1st and the phone that’s the 15th?” (etc) and have to re-check every month.

        3. LizB*

          This is really helpful advice! The one thing I haven’t figured out is how to deal with savings… do I just create a budget for savings with how much I want to save this month, and as long as I don’t spend that money on other things I’m good?

          1. Ashley the Paralegal*

            You would create categories for things you want to save for and then put money into those categories until you reach your goal for them. For example, if I want to save $500 for a vacation, I create a category for Vacation and then each money put in what I can or want to until I hit my goal. Alternatively for things like car repairs, I just add what I can and watch it grow with no deadline per say. I don’t even have a separate savings account, it just sits in the bank account because YNAB shows that the money is already given a job.

          2. Kelly White*

            That’s what I do- although I believe Ynab recommends you save for actual items/categories- so I have an Emergency Fund I’m working on building up, a vacation category, car replacement, etc.
            I also have a “Raid” category- I keep $100 in that, and if something unexpected comes up, or I don’t feel like cooking and want to grab a pizza (and my eating out budget is low) I can raid that $100. So far, I haven’t used it though.

          3. Bekx*

            So I have a high interest savings account (CapitalOne360) and then my regular bank account (PNC).

            I budget money into YNAB as I go. I have multiple categories for “Long Term Savings” (Down payment, savings, furniture, vacation). At the end of the month I total up those numbers (Or rather, YNAB does it since it’s in one category) and then I transfer to my savings account from my checking so I can earn interest. Probably not the most bang for my buck in terms of interest gaining, but it is easy for me and then I don’t have to worry about it.

            1. Judy*

              Many employers allow you to direct deposit into multiple accounts. We have money that goes to checking at our credit union, and money for longer term things that goes to a money market account at a mutual fund place. That way it’s automatically there, $X to money market and remainder to checking. We have to work “backwards” if we need to use that money for something, then.

            2. Molly*

              Seconding Judy that if you can build up a small emergency cushion in your chequing account, having a direct deposit to savings is a GREAT way to ensure you’re saving first and spending second.

    3. heatherskib*

      I didn’t like the old YNAB, but I think I may like this one. it does seem like some of their tutorials aren’t quite caught up, however. I couldn’t figure out how to schedule a transaction for the life of me! Oh and btw- if you’re downloading the app- make sure you get the correct one! I was trying to sync the classic app with the YNAB website and that doesn;t work.

  7. videogame Princess*

    My friend just recommended this to me, and this served as a good reminder. Turns out this kind of ad works!

  8. Kerry*

    Yes, I’ve been using YNAB since July and it’s GREAT. I always feel like an infomercial when talking about it, but it’s really changed my life. My monthly budgeting used to be ‘put a bit in savings then spend until the bank account says £0’, and feel vaguely ‘bad’ about spending on things that weren’t ‘necessary’ for the last half of the month. Now I budget for savings, budget for fun, budget for books, etc. and if something unexpected comes up (like last month when my laptop keyboard broke), I can just adjust the budget for every other category and not panic about it. None of the ideas behind YNAB are game-changing, it just makes it so much easier to be good about money than not.

    1. wordum*

      Nope, fraid not. If you’re a Quicken user you may find it more useful to do a free trial and get the hang of their ideas and then incorpororate them or not as you see fit. (YNAB4 user here with no plans to upgrade).

  9. Fawn*

    I have several accounts with intended purposes (house expenses/insurance, retirement, wedding, vacation, “life” costs like food and gifts), with auto transfer set up with my bank to deposited into these accounts on the first of each month. I consider whatever is left over to be fun money. Does anyone use YNAB combined with the “bucket” system, or is that a bit redundant?

    1. VintageLydia*

      It’s probably a bit redundant. YNAB is the digital version of the envelope method with a bit more flexibility in the philosophy.

    2. Cordelia Naismith*

      Part of YNAB’s philosophy is multiple accounts like you’re describing are unnecessary — that’s what the budget is for, to separate your money into categories. It can all be in one single account for simplicity’s sake, and then you give it jobs in the budget. The budget doesn’t care where the money is, just what its job is.

      YMMV — The YNAB method works for me, and I find it way easier to manage my two accounts (one checking, one savings) instead of multiple accounts, but I’m a big believer in there not being one right way to do something. Do what makes sense for you.

    3. wordum*

      It’s exactly that system, but on a more granular level, and tracking the purpose of each category in the software instead of by using different bank accounts. Seems easier to me to adjust the category of your money rather than physically moving it around (more flexible, granular, easier to report across the whole set) but the principles are similar.

  10. MindoverMoneyChick (formerly_Chris)*

    Ok seconding that this type of ad maybe does work. I’ve been recommending Mint to all of my clients, and always hear about YNAB but never checked it out. But now I’m going to have to because of some of the comments here. I like the idea that it really changes your mindset.

  11. Amy Farrah Fowler*

    I’m going to give the free trial a shot and see if I actually use it. I have a mint account, but never really did much with it… my husband and I have been talking about being more diligent with where our money goes, so maybe this will help.

    1. Bowserkitty*

      I had Mint but there were a few problems connecting to certain credit card accounts and that got annoying, so I gave up. :(

      1. socrescentfresh*

        Same here, and the program clung to the ghost of a credit card I had closed, showing it with my regular accounts, so I could never get that line item to go away. I’m still not sure what the problem was.

        1. CrazyCatLady*

          I believe the reason they keep closed accounts with regular accounts is because it still provides historical data if you use their charts and trends.

  12. Bowserkitty*

    I’m going to give this a go. I’ve been really stoked about getting my debts in order now that I’ve gotten a better job and I hope this helps!

  13. VintageLydia*

    I’ve been using YNAB for just under a month and I’m not terribly keen on the idea of the subscription of nYNAB, especially since some of the features I use aren’t available (they may be available later, they may not be.) They will be supporting YNAB4 for the next year, though, and the app and stuff will probably work for a year or so after that depending on Android and iOS updates so I’ll cross the nYNAB bridge if the features improve or YNAB4 stops working.

    That said, I love it. It makes budgeting MUCH more clear and intuitive to me than any other method I’ve tried. Most budgets require a lot of guesswork and assumed income which does NOT work if your income isn’t the same every month (and the people who could benefit from budgeting the most are the ones with variable income.) YNAB deals with the money you already have and deciding how it needs to be spent or categorized before the next paycheck comes in. And it’s flexible. If you overspend in a category you can very easily shift funds around to cover it and it’s not hidden at all. The trial periods are long so it doesn’t hurt to give it a whirl.

    1. Anxa*

      This is helpful! One of my concerns with budgeting systems is they seem to assume steady incomes.

      I still don’t think it’s right for me right now (I don’t have a smartphone, I go months at a time without purchasing anything non-bill aside from gas and groceries, I’d rather put the money toward a savings account right now), but that is a pretty cool feature.

  14. Blue Wednesday*

    I use Level, it’s a free budgeting app that tells you how much you have left to spend after bills. I found Mint doesn’t help much, never heard of this app.

  15. Kyrielle*

    How does it work for families? I mean, could my husband and I work from a common budget but both have access to it? Because it’s not like it’s reasonable for one of us to do this and the other to be blind….

    1. quietone*

      Yes, the “classic” version had to be installed on 1 desktop but then the free app let you check balances and enter transactions on the go. The new version I think is just a webpage signon – so from anywhere

    2. VintageLydia*

      Yup! Our issue before was I could see what I owed on my CC and Mr. Vintage could see what he owed on his, and although we don’t have an issue with the other checking out each other’s bank accounts, we don’t have the logins memorized and it’s an extra step just to have a quick glance. It’s all in one place, here. In our family I’m “in charge” of the budget so I do most of the dividing when paychecks come in, but he can see exactly how much is in, say, the “restaurants” budget when he wants to buy his lunch at work right from the phone app. If he wants it, he could have access to the desktop app which will let him rearrange funds but he doesn’t want to do that and we do it together if major adjustments are needed anyway.

      My experience is with the previous version but the new version is supposed to be even more accessible (it’s web based and works on the browser rather than using dropbox to sync across the apps.)

  16. Laura the Librarian*

    I had the trial of YNAB and ended up going with Mint for two reasons.
    1. It was free.
    2. I really liked YNAB and think I’d probably have had better results in terms of behavior changes with it than Mint but I get paid bi-weekly and the way YNABs monthly budgeting is set up, it just did not work for me.

    1. quietone*

      It works for biweekly payments once you have the monthly buffer set up – but that takes some doing!

    2. VintageLydia*

      Read Bekx’s comments above. I think the method works better for those who aren’t paid all at once at the beginning of the month than most other programs. It emphasizes the money you have, not what you might have before the end of the month. You don’t have to fill in all the categories at the beginning of the month unless you are buffered (aka not living paycheck to paycheck.) If you haven’t, check out their videos on YouTube. They describe the method pretty clearly.

      1. Bekx*

        Yes! I’m paid bi-weekly (if you couldn’t tell from my comments). I’m excited because this month is an “extra paycheck” month and that means I get to build up my buffer (or age of money, as new YNAB calls it).

    3. Marina*

      I was paid bi-weekly when I started using YNAB. There’s a couple different workarounds that they talk about in their tutorials, and I think the one that worked for me was the second one I tried. I actually found it to be a difficult adjustment when I went to a monthly paycheck, it feels more difficult to build a buffer now for some reason.

  17. quietone*

    Been using YNAB since 2008 when we moved to the states and basically started from scratch again. I choose it partially because I didn’t have to interface with banks (there were some horror stories from other similar apps) and partially because of the ease of use. You can set up whatever categories you like or want to focus on and once you get the hang of the month ahead its pretty intuitive. I don’t know that I will move to the new version. I like entering transactions manually (even if I curse my husband for not using the app) and thats not currently available.

    I’m interested in finding a tool that allows a little more forecasting (ie if I pay off an extra $5 a month on whatever debt, I’ll clear it in X months instead of Y months).

    1. Bekx*

      I’m interested in finding a tool that allows a little more forecasting (ie if I pay off an extra $5 a month on whatever debt, I’ll clear it in X months instead of Y months).

      The new YNAB does do this. You also can tell it to not automatically interface with your bank and do a manual sync instead (I haven’t used it but I THINK it’s like how regular YNAB4 deals with it).

  18. GS*

    This is a slightly meta-comment, but I really like this style of ad: clearly listed as an ad, but with relevant input from the community it’s addressed to. :)

  19. eplawyer*

    I just started with YNAB last month. Still in the free trial. Two weeks, just two darn weeks and it has made a HUGE difference. I ended December with money in the bank.

    I am undecided on switching over to the new subscription model. Being in the cloud worries me, and well, quite frankly I am cheap. But you know what? If this saves me more than $60 a year, then it is worth the cost.

    It’s the mindset that is so different. You don’t spend what you don’t have. If you only have $25 set aside for videogame purchases, you don’t buy the $30 game that month, even if your bank balance says you have it. It really encourages saving for the big things by planning on setting aside a little bit each month, like car repairs, car registration/inspection. All of that stuff. So when it rolls around you aren’t going “Oh heck where is the money for this huge thing going to come from?”

    Oh and that app is awesome. You walk out of the store and you IMMEDIATELY enter your transaction. Boom. Taken out of the “envelope” right there. No remembering to enter your receipts when you get home and get too busy to do it.

    I’ve even set up a budget for my law practice. Still using quickbooks there. This is just a check on making sure I have things like filing fees and insurance and everything budgeted each month.

    It is a really great way to get a handle on what you are spending your money on. And what you could be spending money on by letting you set your priorities each month.

    Sorry, I’ll stop babbling now.

    1. Kelly White*

      I’ve been using it for about 5 months- it will definitely save you $60 a year- I am amazed at what a difference just having all the categories and amounts in them makes!
      I haven’t switched over to the new YNAB yet, but I will. The difference in our finances in such a short time is astounding to me! Even with using it for such a short time, we didn’t use credit cards for Christmas, we haven’t had to dip into our savings. Which , for us, is incredible.
      We are slowly chipping away at our debt, and still able to eat and pay the mortgage.
      I don’t have a problem paying $5.00 a month for this.

    2. Delyssia*

      Oh and that app is awesome. You walk out of the store and you IMMEDIATELY enter your transaction. Boom. Taken out of the “envelope” right there. No remembering to enter your receipts when you get home and get too busy to do it.

      I have maintained a (pretty loosey-goosey) budget spreadsheet for years now, and yet I have a massively negative, visceral reaction to reading that. I actually looked at YNAB a few days ago, as I think I should get a better handle on my budgeting/spending, but I read something similar elsewhere and just can’t see this working for me. Basically, this reads to me like “It’s so awesome that you can spend 30 seconds bashing your face into a brick wall instead of five minutes beating your head against drywall!”

      I don’t know why this bugs me so much, but… UGH!

      1. VintageLydia*

        To be fair, that part is optional. There are always a few receipts lying around at the end of the week/month I have to add in that my husband forgot to at the POS and hand entering transactions isn’t hard at all, especially since it remembers which stores are usually being spent under what categories so most of it autofills as you type.

      2. wordum*

        Not sure which bit of it you mean! Do you mean any entering of transactions, or just the doing it constantly throughout the day? Or of manually/comprehensively tracking your spending at all?

        All the tracking overhead sounds (and is) kind of tedious but I’ve really found it to be key to making good decisions. I was someone who had a perfectly decent handle on her money – living within my means, not overspending, had my own tracking spreadsheet, didn’t have a problem with bad impulse purchases etc etc and I was still amazed at how inaccurate my perceptions were when compared to a comprehensive account of what my money actually goes on. Now I feel like I have a much better understanding of what my cost of living actually is and why, and how to adjust in either direction if I decide to. Not to mention peripheral benefits like noticing billing errors much more quickly.

        If it’s the timing thing, you really don’t have to use the software like that – I don’t. I’ve been using YNAB4 for a year and until last week I did not have a smart enough smartphone to use the app. I updated it about 1-3 times a fortnight in that time, just from my bank statements (online). For cash payments I had a mixed strategy of 1) avoid where possible, entering from the bank is way more reliable 2) keep a receipt or other memory jogger 3) put any remaining unexplained spent money in a category called ‘eh, who knows where the cash goes’ because there really IS a limit to how worth it it is to track every penny.

        Now I have the app (still YNAB4, not the new one) and for the last two weeks I *have* been entering in transactions on the go. But I only bother with cash transactions (bank ones are recorded anyway, I’d rather do them all in one go later) and don’t feel a need to do it immediately within a shop etc, more just when I have a quiet moment at some point. And I acknowledge this might mean I occasionally forget about stuff and have to put it in the Misc category, I’m totally OK with that. We’ll see how it goes.

  20. Mallory Janis Ian*

    I am excited about this! I have been ignoring my budget for about eight months now (ever since I got depressed about my now-former job not working out) and I have charged up some credit card debt in an attempt to feel better.

    So, a few months ago I bought a copy of Quicken so that I would start keeping on top of my finances again. It is sitting unopened on top of my computer desk. I wonder if I should try to sell my Quicken software to someone else and go with YNAB instead? It seems like YNAB might have more of an encouraging, coach-like tone that I can see myself really responding to.

    1. VintageLydia*

      They do the math for you! It;s super simple to use! I come from a family of accounts but the gene skipped me entirely and this has been the most easy to used budgeting software ever. The trial is free, too, so if it doesn’t work for you, no harm done :)

      Also it’ll make it REALLY easy to help you save up for that bathroom reno so you can sell the house or your next overseas vacation… Or both, even!

    2. eplawyer*

      That’s just it. You don’t have to do a lot of math. In fact, the new version kinda said “Because math is for school, not life” which ticked some people off.

      It does the calculating for you so you don’t have to. And if you get stuck the forum is awesome.

      The only thing keeping me from recommending this to my clients is the subscription model. Some of them don’t HAVE $5 a month.

  21. Ashley the Paralegal*

    I have been using YNAB for about 8 months now and love it. I had tried other programs (like Mint) but they just showed me what I had spent and made me guess what I might spend that month which was not at all useful. Since I have begun using YNAB, my stress over money is much lower. I don’t have to look at the bank account and mentally deduct what money I might need for other things, I just look at the category and see if I have enough money. This was the first Christmas that I wasn’t crying and worried that we wouldn’t be able to pay January’s rent due to overspending. The arguments my husband and I used to have about our finances have stopped because he knows where the money is going and I know that he won’t spend money we don’t have. We even have money put aside for an emergency for the first time ever in our 10 years together. I cannot say enough good things about YNAB and have recommended it to multiple people.

    1. Kelly White*

      I feel the same- it was so great to be able to buy Christmas gifts without worrying about it! Or using a credit card- or dipping into my secret savings account (which I finally migrated to Ynab).
      I no longer try to convince my husband that we should sell our house every time we overdraft (because we don’t overdraft anymore!)
      For us it was a huge game changer- we had been using Quicken, but that didn’t give us any forward looking- and actually, we use both now- I mainly work through Ynab, and set up the budget, DH tracks everything through Quicken.

      1. Ashley the Paralegal*

        The amount I have saved in overdraft and late fees that I’m no longer paying has more than paid for the product! Glad to hear you have a little less stress in your life too.

  22. MF*

    I’ve been using YNAB for almost a year (and just switched to the new version last night – I’m already sold, because I really love the goal function), and I love love love it. I’ve always been really good at keeping my spending under control and saving, but YNAB has brought a new level of peace into my financial life – I don’t agonize about specific purchases anymore, because they’re either in my budget or not. And if there’s an unexpected expense (like replacing my fan belt in November – augh), I know I’ve been saving for it, and I just re-allocate other money to cover the expense.

    I used to sort of use mint, but YNAB is soooo much more user-friendly and immediately responsive to spending.

  23. Anna Banana*

    I’ve signed up for a free trial and will watch the video’s later. It looks REALLY complicated. We get paid twice per month and from what I’m seeing it’s not great for that.

    1. Bekx*

      That’s how I use it, Anna Banana! You have to budget what you can with the money you currently have. Here’s a snippet of my budget, right now, if you want to see what I mean.

      I won’t get paid again until the 15th, so when I got paid on the 4th I prioritized my bills that I needed to pay early on in the month (aside from netflix and my car insurance for reasons unrelated to this post). Even though I know I will eventually have the money to pay my rent and car payment, I don’t right now, so I don’t touch it.

      Does this help? Definitely attend a webinar if you can!

    2. Christina*

      It’s really not complicated, though with the new version they’re in the midst of launching it makes it seem that way. The basic concept is you give each dollar a job to do before you spend it. It’s more effective than with how Mint for instance works, which tallies up your spending after the fact.

      As for being paid twice per month, what I found really helpful about it (at least in the non-web-based version, which you can still get) is that it didn’t matter when you got paid during the month. As money comes in, it gets assigned to categories before it ever goes anywhere. The goal is to eventually build up enough of a buffer that you aren’t living a paycheck behind.

      1. Anxa*

        If you have to assign a job for all of your dollars, wouldn’t it be hard to implement unless you know what you’re going to make before you make it?

        I guess it’s a bit of a moot point; all budgeting systems are more difficult when you’re hourly or have fluctuating incomes.

        1. quietone*

          Hence budgeting last months pay. It takes a while to get the buffer set up to be spending last months pay.. but its immensely freeing.

        2. BananaPants*

          The YNAB method involves getting to the point where this month’s income is paying next month’s bills, and only spending the money you already have is ideal for people on commission or whose income fluctuates. It gets you out of the cycle of living paycheck to paycheck, which is great.

    3. Samantha*

      It’s not that bad, actually. I get paid every 2 weeks (so normally 2x/month, sometimes 3x/month). You just budget the money you already have, not the money you’re GOING to get. That means you end up looking at the budget twice a month (after each payday), not once a month. It’s a mindshift; the idea is that your next paycheck isn’t in-hand, so you shouldn’t plan on spending it yet — only focus on what you’re going to spend between now & your next paycheck. If your goal is to be more in control of your money, that’s a good thing. :)

      Once you have a “buffer” of about 1-month’s expenses, you can start budgeting one month at a time, and look at the budget only once a month.

    4. Cordelia Naismith*

      I recommend only entering non-credit card accounts at first until you get the hang of it. It’s not as complicated as it sounds at first and it actually makes total sense, but you might want to give yourself a chance to get used to the different way of thinking about money YNAB requires. I recommend taking the Getting Started webinar; it’s helpful. (Also, you get a chance to win a free copy of YNAB for taking the webinar if you take it live instead of watching one of the recorded ones.)

      Then when you feel comfortable with the basic functionality of YNAB, take the Credit Card webinar before you actually try to add your credit cards to YNAB. The way YNAB handles credit cards makes sense once you’ve gotten used to it, but it’s not intuitive. There’s definitely a learning curve there.

      1. Cordelia Naismith*

        Replying to myself…

        Also, you get a chance to win a free copy of YNAB for taking the webinar if you take it live instead of watching one of the recorded ones.

        At least, this was true for the old YNAB. I don’t know if they still do that for the new YNAB or not.

      2. Bekx*

        (Also, you get a chance to win a free copy of YNAB for taking the webinar if you take it live instead of watching one of the recorded ones.)

        Unfortunately this is not the case anymore with new YNAB.

  24. Cucumberzucchini*

    I just use a spreadsheet that I’ve been maintaining for 10 years. It’s free and does the same thing.

    1. Kelly White*

      It isn’t exactly the same-
      With Ynab, what has really helped me, is that I can see what I have in each category as I’m out and about- If DH swings by the grocery store, its immediately deducted. I can make choices on the fly- I’m going to overspend in Xmas gifts- but I see what I have in clothing, and I can pull from that.

      I can thoughtfully plan for the future- the $100 I want to put towards property taxes might need to really go toward oil as the temp drops.

      We had a spreadsheet, but I found it incredibly hard to live up to. And anything that wasn’t accounted for looked like extra income we could just use on anything. So we did, then something unexpected would pop up, and we would be in a panic.

      Now, in fairness, we are undisciplined, and one of us has an immediate gratification issue. So, Ynab works better for us than a spreadsheet, or Quicken (looking back at what we spent).

  25. Dang*

    I can’t get past the whole security thing… which is why I never signed up for Mint. Any thoughts on connecting your bank account?

    1. Bekx*

      I use automatic, but when you add an account it gives you a check box on whether you want it to login to your bank account or not. I believe it also has manual importing from a quicken file like YNAB4 did, but I don’t use it so I’m not sure.

    2. Cordelia Naismith*

      You don’t have to connect your bank account. I haven’t connected mine, and I’ve used YNAB for about three years now. You can enter all the transactions by hand. In fact, I don’t think you CAN connect your accounts in the way you can with Mint. You can import transactions from your bank and/or credit cards, but you do it manually through a download/upload. It doesn’t do it automatically like Mint did. I personally like that, since it forces me to be more aware of what’s happening with my spending.

      The above describes the old YNAB; I don’t know about the new YNAB.

  26. Lynne*

    YNAB and AAM are the two things I rabidly recommend to basically anyone I ever meet. It makes my heart flutter to see them overlap here.

    1. Samantha*

      Me too! I <3 YNAB – it helped me reach the mythical 6-month emergency fund, which was a BIG confidence boost and gave me the courage to quit a job I hated + pursue a job in a new city I love. The best part was PLANNING for fun money / beer money / etc — I never felt like I was budgeting, just that I was in control.

      Sadly, I fell off the YNAB wagon for 2 years after my move. I dwindled down my e-fund slowly here & there and was feeling simultaneously broke + like I didn't have control of my money. Last month, I started up with the new web-based YNAB and am loving it. After a harsh reality check (I wasted HOW much of my e-fund on non-emergencies!??!) I'm starting to feel more in control of my money again. I'm buffered (ie, on Jan 1 I already had enough socked away to cover all of my January expenses) and am ALMOST at a 2-month e-fund now. My goal is to build up to a three-month e-fund by July 2016.

  27. ElCee*

    Here’s a question about YNAB for you folks who use it. One of the issues I have had with budgeting programs (Mint) in the past is my spouse, who would live in a shack and keep money in a coffee can if it were up to them. (Spouse does not use their online bank portal and conducts all transactions at the actual bank, even eschewing the ATM unless it’s absolutely necessary. Yes, I know.)
    We keep separate accounts except for a joint savings and a joint checking, which 95% of household bills come out of. Spouse writes the joint account one check per month. I would think with YNAB this is fairly straightforward, since it looks ahead, right? With Mint, because the money in Spouse’s account wasn’t counted, we just looked like giant overspenders every month. Hope this makes sense.

    1. Samantha*

      My spouse and I do this. I maintain two budgets using the new YNAB:
      1) My personal budget, which tracks my personal spending
      2) A Joint budget, which ONLY tracks the joint checking/savings

      However, I will say that that my spouse in general HATES the concept of budgeting, so this is something I do on my own. I’m planning to build up a 6 month history in the budget, then re-introduce it to him so he can see how & WHY the joint budget works.

  28. Amber Rose*

    I could use the free class. I’ve never needed to budget before, but I’ve been struggling some since being switched from a “paid every 2 weeks” system to “paid twice a month.”

    I still don’t see the point in a written budget though tbh. My bank has a free app that allows me instant access to my balances at all times. If I always know my cash on hand and debt load, and my pay is constant as are my bills… why have a spreadsheet? Between the bank app and basic calculator, all the needed info is at my fingertips all the time.

    1. quietone*

      I wasn’t big on budgeting until we moved to the states and had to use checks. One late cash of the rent check + one other payment (bank balance looked good!) and we were in overdraft land.

      Now I like planning my spending and saving. Helps with attaining the goals.

    2. Marina*

      Because life is more than bills. ;) Sorry, that’s a bit trite, but honestly that’s the mindset shift that YNAB helped me with most. Instead of my financial goal being to pay off my bills every month and not go into debt, my financial goals are now about when I can take a vacation, and buy a new car, and not have to use the money I’ve set aside for those things if the dishwasher breaks.

      For me, YNAB is fundamentally different than checking my bank balance. I don’t use YNAB instead of my bank’s tools, I use it in addition.

    3. wordum*

      I think it depends a bit on what your expenses look like. I used to think the same thing, like oh I have £X in my account, rent+bills hasn’t gone out yet and is £Y, so that leaves me £Z, hooray, and I know that £Z is indeed approximately how much I spend in a month. And I’d basically buy cheap/medium/’normal’ priced things (in my mind at my stage of life, £1-£30) without worrying about it too much, and more expensive things (£40+) only if they were strictly necessary and with some slight mental discomfort. It worked well enough, I never ran into problems.

      But seeing everything I actually spend money on explicitly and accurately laid out is actually a lot *easier*. I can see that of the £X, this much has been portioned out for food, this much for transport, this much for going out, this much for music lessons, etc etc etc. And then you can see how much is ACTUALLY left to play with allowing for ALL your possible expected expenses, and decide whether you’re cool spending it on e.g. beautiful lingerie, or whether you’d rather actually keep it aside for a new phone in a few of months because yours is starting to creak, or whether ACTUALLY you’d rather put it aside for longer than that to start building a house down payment fund.

      Personally I find the comments about ‘and then we can check it before we spend money on X!!’ don’t ring true for me – I’ve never felt a need to do that. Maybe because I’m not in a position when I desperately need to cut back or similar, but it’s just become part of my background awareness of my money. Weirdly in some ways it’s helped me not feel guilty about spending money on e.g. my shiny new phone because I know, really KNOW, that it’s totally OK, and I don’t have to rely on an emotional squick of big purchases to keep me in check, or need to somehow mentally compensate by turning down the next few dinners out I get invited to. So budgeting has made me less tightfisted! While at the same time I’m saving way more. It’s quite weird really.

      In summary I think it’s useful above just standard internet banking because your mental approximations of how much of the money currently in your account is going to need to go to what are unlikely to BE as accurate as they FEEL, when compared to writing all those things down and adjusting over time.

  29. louise*

    I’d love to get into using YNAB again, but we abandoned it because Spouse was great at always tracking everything manually, but I was not…I wanted to sync it with our bank and let the deductions appear that way. He was adamantly opposed to connecting it to bank account and still is, so we are at an impasse that makes YNAB not practical for us.

    1. Marina*

      Would your spouse be willing to go through and manually enter things once they’ve been deducted from your bank account? My husband refuses to use the app and I don’t remember half the time, so we usually enter a bunch of items all at once every couple weeks.

      1. quietone*

        Thats what we do. I balance the checkbooks once a week and end up entering most transactions in manually. We both have the App but neither of us is great at using it at POS. And I’m wary of bank syncing

    2. Cordelia Naismith*

      I think you can connect the new YNAB to your bank accounts and have transactions appear this way. You don’t have to, but you can in the new version. I haven’t used it, though, so I’m not totally sure.

  30. Anxa*

    This is so timely!

    I had considered gifting the software as a Christmas present to another underemployed youngster drowning in debt, but decided it wasn’t really appropriate for Christmas. I was thinking about getting it anyway, and I’m so glad I know it’s switching to a subscription.

    One of my non-YNAB budgeting priorities is to reduce subscriptions and contracts and do more pay as you go, one-time purchases for flexibility.

    It seems like it may be a good purchase one day, but right now my issue isn’t overspending, it’s under-earning.

    Thanks to all of you who have put this on my radar, though.

  31. Sheepla*

    I just spent the last few hours setting up my budget in YNAB. Wow, this really does change my thinking. I kept trying to enter my budget figures for the month, instead of budgeting for the money I already had and couldn’t figure out how I was running at such a deficit. I love the “create a goal” function which then tells me how much to try to budget each month to reach that goal.

    Dave Ramsey’s financial teaching has literally changed my life and this is a an easy online method to help me stick to it.

  32. Anonsie*

    One thing that always puts me off trying these types of budgets (the ones where you create categories and values to spend in them for each time period) is that I have expenses throughout the year that are not monthly. Does YNAB have the functionality to set budgeted pots of money for longer periods of time than that? For example, I buy a lot of household and personal products in bulk. So probably every 3-4 months I have to re-buy, and I go drop a big chunk of money, then don’t buy anything like that again for several months. Or I take my dog to the groomer every two months, my hair done every other month, dog goes to the vet twice a year, etc. All the budgeting programs I’ve tried in the past make you do it monthly, so a lot of my regular expenses throw them off.

    1. Christina*

      The way I’ve done this is to assign X amount towards that each month. So, for instance, I know every 3 months I have an HOA payment of $600. I assign $200 to that category every month and basically “save up” for that expense. Or for your example, you could assign $50 more per month to your grocery amount than you think you need and when it comes time to make those big purchases, you have money already assigned to it.

      1. Christina*

        Or, if you don’t want to do it months in advance, it doesn’t matter, you can assign that big chunk of money the month you know you’re going to make the purchse by adjusting the assigned money from other categories. The trick is you plan ahead of the expense instead of adjust after. It shouldn’t throw off any regular expenses.

      2. Anonsie*

        If you put in $100 a month for something, though, and don’t use it, does the next month show $200 available?

        Because splitting it up by month usually defeats the purpose of tracking it. It shows the $100 only for every month, marks it as under budget, then marks the month I do spend money as being way over. Just defeats the purpose of having something pointing out how much is available.

        1. Zahra*

          Yes, the Available balance will show the total of the money available, including remaining amount (from past months) that haven’t been spent yet. When you spend the money, it will track against the accumulated available money, so you’re not going over at all. Well, unless you forecast wrong, which is okay. Not every expense has a predictable number of dollars to spend. Repairs, vet bills, health care (especially in the USA) are categories where it is expected you’ll be off (wildly or not so wildly). Just borrow money from another category to cover the overspending and adjust your target balance or monthly funding for the next time.

    2. Zahra*

      With the old version, you could put notes in the category, and you had to check that when allocating money. With the new version, you can use goals. There are three types of goals:
      – “Target Balance”: It will not alert you on the progress you’re making by changing the colour of your balance.
      – “Target Balance by date”: The balance will be orange until you reach the amount you should put each month to get there. It will readjust the next month if you allocated more or less money than the exact amount it suggested. Spending made against this category will lower the balance and require you to allocate more money. For example, you want to save for a vacation and put in a goal to have a balance of X in 9 months. In the meantime, if you buy tickets, it will think that you need to contribute more to balance that spending.
      – “Monthly Funding Target”: The balance will be orange until you allocate enough money to reach your goal. If you spend during the month, the balance will not turn orange, since your goal is on funding the category, and not reaching a particular balance by a particular date.

      I use the “Target Balance by Date” for car registration, driver’s license, etc. that I pay once a year.

  33. Zahra*

    Small quibble:

    In nYNAB, you can’t use the “subtract that amount from next month’s Available to Spend or if you want to pay if off over time” if you overspend in a category. I think it’s a good thing, you shouldn’t leave a category in the red, but rather reassign money from elsewhere.

  34. BeeBee*

    I was so excited to see this post as I recently started using YNAB (and love it!) and finished the free trial. I was hoping you would offer a discount code to purchase it but alas :(

  35. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees*

    Well, I’ve been playing around with it all afternoon and I hate it, even with the tutorials I can’t figure out how to do anything. I’l l keep at it and maybe by the end of the trial I’ll have it figured out and want to stay on (but of course I’d miss the discount) but right now this just seems far too convoluted. I was hoping I’d love it since I’m so bad at tracking things in Excel/spreadsheets in general.

    1. Bekx*

      Try attending one of the webinars, that’s what really helped me. Credit cards, in particular, were hard for me.

      1. Zahra*

        I find the new YNAB way of dealing with credit cards much more intuitive than YNAB 4. No need to do complicated calculations, the amount to pay to cover your expenses is in the “Available” column and I add a “Pay a specific amount each month” to cover the interest. I’m just starting to pay them off, so once the first one is paid off, the amount allocated to that card is going to help pay the next one.

  36. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

    I am a HUGE YNAB evangelist and switched over to new YNAB on launch day… I’m really liking it so far, my biggest quibble is reports are still to come so I’m waiting patiently(ish) for those. But Goals is huge for us as we have a few trips this year we’re saving up for!

  37. learningToCode*

    When I was unemployed, I loved YNAB for helping me keep track of my budgets so easily. I’ve never used the envelope method, per se, since I went from large savings and no income to decent savings and decent income, so I can’t critique how it helps paycheck to paycheck.

    But now that I’ve been in my job a year, I only use YNAB4 for keeping track of money people owe me (that they insist they’ll pay me back on, like covering my roommate’s bills for a few months). The pricing structure of the new YNAB has me completely turned off of the product, though it may be because I was never the intended audience. Charging per month or per year isn’t going to help people who are paycheck to paycheck. I don’t want another bill on top of everything else, and I just generally dislike the trend of software as a service.

    If you’re looking for more structure in your finances or just want to try getting yourself out of a hole, YNAB is great for that.

    If you’re fairly stable with your income without a bunch of recurring costs to “save” up for, something like Mint would probably be better.

  38. Treena*

    So how does this work if you spend all of your money on credit cards? Aside from rent, student loans, and some spending cash, I put everything on two credit cards and then pay them off each month. Would I be able to import easily? And how do I adjust a charge that was partially one category, and partially another?

    Does it support foreign currencies?

    1. wordum*

      You set up accounts for your bank and credit, and specify where the money’s coming out of when you log transactions. So using a credit card the way you describe isn’t really any different in the software to paying for stuff using a bank account. When you buy something on credit you record that, and also record the transaction that goes from your bank account to the credit card to pay it off. Just reflecting what’s happening basically.

      You can split one transaction into multiple categories no problem.

      Using it in a single foreign currency is no different to using it in USD. Using it for a mix of currencies is more of a pain as it doesn’t handle conversion rates etc. If you have some bank accounts in one currency and some in another and need to track them both side by side in the same budget file (note you are allowed multiple budgets), it’s going to be mega fiddly.

  39. Tara R.*

    I’ve been using the new one for about the last month, but it’s not free for students yet; I thought about switching over to 4 since they gave me a free code for that, but after using the new one I hated the old interface! I think I’m going to shell out the $5 because I love this program– so intuitive and easy.

  40. Jem*

    Just wanted to pipe up and say, I love YNAB. I’ve been using it about a year and I’ve saved/paid off more than I ever have before. You have to follow their rules but it really works. The concept of living on last month’s income changed my life. It’s definitely worth it.

  41. Zahra*

    Side effect of using the new YNAB (apart from making sure we have the money to pay for everything, curbing impulse buys to fit budgeted amount, etc.):

    – I’m much more on top of paying my bills since they appear as scheduled transactions. (Yes, I did forget to pay some bills when my husband forgot to do the address change and we didn’t receive bills for a few months.)
    – If the amount is bigger than expected, or an unexpected charge shows up, I can take action right then and there to make sure it’s legitimate.

  42. MegT*

    Echo all the previous comments about sounding like an infomercial when they talk about YNAB! I love it. I’ve convinced my mother and a few of my friends to use it, and it’s changed their habits as well. I think one of the best things about YNAB is that it helps you change your attitude toward money. I’ve always been very anxious about money (not having enough), but YNAB has helped with that significantly. For example, my fiance and I went to the Florida Keys last year for vacation. Prior to YNAB, that vacation would have given me an ulcer, because I’d have been there in the Keys ordering the cheapest meal offered or skimping on amazing activities because I was trying to be “responsible.” Turns out that when you plan for things like vacation and have your money earmarked the way YNAB encourages you to do, you can spend that money guilt free. You’ve planned for it. It’s there. I knew exactly how much I could spend in the Keys and I had a really fabulous vacation! Although I haven’t gone from the software version to the online version yet, I probably will eventually. The YNAB forum is fairly irritated with the transition to that kind of service in general, so I do hold out hope that YNAB creators listen and offer cheaper options.

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