You Need a Budget (YNAB) Review: Bid Adieu to Budgeting Woes

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Read the latest review on iTMunch titled, "You Need a Budget (YNAB) Review: Bid Adieu to Budgeting Woes"

You Need a Budget Review: An Introduction

You Need a Budget, better known as YNAB, is a popular budgeting app. Colloquially known as why-nab, it was christened the most popular personal finance software by Lifehacker. The app initially started off as a manual-input desktop software. Now, it is a subscription-based web app that can sync with various financial accounts. YNAB helps users simplify the process of creating a budget.

Hence, less time is spent on budgeting and more time can be invested in evaluating investment plans and making other financial decisions. The app functions in a way that monitors all of the user’s bank and investment accounts to help them design a budget. Using an all-in-one app helps to track spending and to set realistic financial goals.

YNAB is an ideal solution for users who prefer a more hands-on approach to budgeting.

The YNAB Method: Money Management Software

Selecting the right budgeting tool to suit your financial needs can be tricky. Thanks to the many budgeting apps flooding the market, users are spoilt for choice. Based on personal preferences, users opt for budgeting apps like YNAB, CountAbout, Moneydance, Mint, etc

Like other budgeting apps, You Need a Budget works on the premise that the easier it is to budget and track your spending, the easier it gets to spend and save responsibly. To provide users with a financial edge over its competitors, YNAB makes budgeting as automatic as possible. It is considered one of the best budgeting apps today because it is less time-consuming and greatly aids in improving finances.

The YNAB method is about setting realistic financial goals and sticking to them. The reason behind the app’s huge success is the four founding principles its users swear by. So how does it work?

1. Giving every dollar a job:

The company’s founding principle is that all earned money must be put to good use. This could be anything from paying rent and mortgage to funding retirement.

2. Embracing your true expenses:

Recurring monthly bills are relatively easier to plan for. However, infrequent expenses are the real culprits that can derail budgets. These include annual subscription fees, insurance premiums, holidays and birthdays. YNAB encourages users to even out their cash flow annually to avoid taking budget hits.

3. Rolling with the overspending:

No matter how well a budget is planned, unforeseen expenses are often incurred. YNAB allows users to simply allocate funds from a budgeted category to cover extra spending.

4. Aging your money:

Users can time their paychecks and bills using YNAB. Ideally, this can help them plan to survive the month on the previous month’s income.

Learn more about the four rules of budgeting by watching this video:

How to budget online with YNAB

YNAB aims to make users comfortable with money management. Hence, it has positioned itself both as a buget software as well as a personal finance guru. In accordance with its principles, the YNAB app is referred to as an ‘educational software’ and not just a finance app. Wondering how to budget money and how to use YNAB to plan your finances? Read on to know everything about the best personal finance software on the market.

For newbie budgeters wondering how to use YNAB, the app is fairly straightforward. To create an account, users need a YNAB login. Once logged into the app, the software program provides clear and easy-to-understand instructions.

Watch the video below to learn everything about setting up a budget with YNAB:

How to use YNAB: Creating a YNAB Account

When users download the YNAB app on their smartphone or computer, they are asked whether they want to link their financial accounts. However, the option to automatically link the app to bank accounts is available only to subscribers in the US and Canada.

Here’s how to add accounts on YNAB:

Understandably, some users are apprehensive about giving the YNAB app access to their finances. Such users can manually upload their bank and investment data themselves. Although it may be more time-consuming, users can rest assured that their personal finances are in safe hands. Attempting to hack into the YNAB app’s security is akin to breaking into standard banking software.

Set Budgeting Goals and Track Spending

Indeed, YNAB is a personal finance software for all your needs. Obviously, allowing YNAB to access user accounts is the easier option to organize finances and save precious time. Depending on the number of debit and credit cards, bank and investment accounts, it can take more than an hour or two to enter information. Thankfully, once all the initial information of the user has been entered they won’t have to do it again unless they’re opening a new account.

Here’s how you can set goals with YNAB:

Once the user’s financial accounts have been linked, the next step is creating the actual budget. Initially, the process takes some time to allocate budgets and decide categories. Over time, the number of changes required for the categories are very few.

Vendor Details

Developer: Jesse Mecham
Initial Release Date: 2004
Operating System: Windows, OS X
Type: Personal Finance
License: Trialware
Platforms for use: Website, iOS App, Apple Watch, Android App
Website: www.youneedabudget.com

Latest Version: The New YNAB
Release Date: December, 2015

Features

1. Bank Syncing:

To keep all the user’s bank accounts connected in one place. This helps increase spending awareness and keep things up-to-date for better budgeting.

2. On the Go:

Users can control access to real-time financial information from any device at any time. This makes it simpler to share and monitor finances as well as rein in overspending.

3. Debt Paydown:

The app offers useful tools and valuable lessons for users to get out and stay out of debt.

4. Goal Tracking:

Users can easily set and reach their goals without restricting themselves.

5. Reporting Bliss:

Thanks to YNAB app’s eye-catching bar graphs and pie charts, users can monitor their progress better.

6. Personal Support:

Users can email YNAB support or join free and live workshops.

Applications and Uses

YNAB can be used by anyone from budgeters, investors, expense trackers, smartphone users, and desktop users, to currency and investment bankers.

Read the latest review on iTMunch titled, "You Need a Budget (YNAB) Review: Bid Adieu to Budgeting Woes"

Get a financial edge with this budget software

Aside from the YNAB app itself, subscribers have unrestricted access to its library. Similar to a free personal budget software, users can watch videos, listen to podcasts and join live courses. The financial platform offers valuable knowledge and advice on a variety of topics. These include commonly asked questions related to saving on grocery shopping and reigning in credit card debt.

Here are some of the free live workshops offered on the YNAB app daily:

  • Set Up Your Budget
  • Learn the Four Rules
  • Roll with Your Overspending
  • Master Credit Cards with your Budget
  • Your Budget Routine
  • Credit Card Overspending
  • Create a Debt Paydown Plan
  • Reach your Savings Goals
  • Pay for Big Expenses without Borrowing
  • Break the Paycheck to Paycheck Cycle
  • Saving Money on Groceries
  • Cutting Spending
  • Handling Cash
  • Restart your YNAB Budget
  • Quick Budget
  • You Can Budget with Any Pay Cycle
  • Customize your Budget Categories

The workshops are quick, personal, focused and interactive.

YNAB Pricing Plans

In comparison with its competitors such as Mint.com, CountAbout and Moneydance, the YNAB price is on the higher side. While its fee is advertised as US $ 6.99 per month, annual billing goes up to US $83.99 which is considered quite steep. Moreover, there is no option for monthly payments.

For first-time users who might hesitate to fork out this amount, it should be noted that YNAB offers a full refund. They can sign up for the free 34-day trial with no credit card required. Unhappy customers can claim their no-risk 100% money-back guarantee. Also, if they are not satisfied with the performance of the application, they can cancel at any time.

Pros and Cons of YNAB

YNAB Pros

The biggest pro of using YNAB is that it is an all-in-one personal budgeting software. Users rave about its great UI/UX, features, and helpful educational tools to make budgeting easier. In addition to its winning features and apps, YNAB gives useful support, advice and provides strategies to ensure that users stay on track with their budgets.

The 34-day free trial is another pro where users need not enter their credit card details and can cancel their service at any time. Moreover, it is not a static web platform. The earlier versions of YNAB 1 through 4 show a promise of continued improvement as the app keeps evolving to give users the best budgeting experience.

In a Nutshell:

  • Sign up for a free trial period of 34 days without entering credit card details
  • No advertising
  • Excellent educational resources and customer support
  • Automatic syncing capabilities
  • Easy-to-use mobile application
  • Well-designed and user-friendly website
  • Useful extra features such as report creation and goal setting

YNAB Cons

Despite being one of the best budgeting software on the market, YNAB comes with its downsides and areas of improvement, albeit a few. The app does not provide a phone or email contact. Users have complained that while live chat is fine, sometimes one wishes for a live person to interact with, especially while handling a sensitive issue such as personal finance.

While YNAB offers a plethora of features for creating and tracking budgets, the app still lags behind its competitors in certain aspects. Users looking for good investment features and credit card deals will find better service with apps like Mint.com and Personal Capital.

In a Nutshell:

  • Unable to link most investment accounts
  • YNAB pricing plan of US$ 6.99 per month that is billed annually at a steep price of $83.99
  • Lack of two-factor authentication for extra user protection

YNAB vs Mint.com: Which Budgeting App is Better?

According to financial experts, YNAB vs Mint is a challenging comparison to make. Mint.com is great for automatically tracking expenses. Some of its most popular features include the bill pay functionality, credit score updates, and net worth tracking.

However, YNAB is a better option as a budgeting software overall. It helps manage finances and make smart and proactive spending decisions. Customer reviews commonly cite that Mint seems like a report card of the money that has already been spent.

Mint is one of the oldest budgeting software on the market, and it has the same owners as Quicken. The app has everything one looks for in a budgeting app.

The major pro of using Mint is that it is a free personal budget software. Although, the downside of this is that users have to put up with pesky credit card ads. Since YNAB is a paid app, it doesn’t have any advertisements. While users might be apprehensive about shelling out $83.99 for a year, the app is beneficial in getting rid of credit card debt and attaining financial goals.

YNAB vs CountAbout

Initially, CountAbout was designed specifically as an alternative to the app Quicken. The latter is one of the most popular and oldest budgeting tools in the market. Founded in 2012, CountAbout offers a wide range of features at a modest price. The app costs only $9.99 for the Basic and just $39.99 for the Premium version, which includes the automatic transaction download option.

For an in-depth comparison of YNAB vs CountAbout, here are some useful features provided by the latter which make it a solid and secure budgeting tool. These include the ability to integrate with other tools and import data from Mint and Quicken. CountAbout also boasts a multi-factor login which is a pro over YNAB’s less secure layer of protection. Some of the other competitive features provided by CountAbout are reporting for account balances, category activity, and tag activity.

YNAB Support

You Need a Budget constantly receives praise for its outstanding customer support. Users can click on the question mark symbol (?) on the right side of the application’s interface. Doing so helps them access the database of helpful information.

Besides, users can also directly send questions to YNAB customer support representatives. The queries sent via email generally receive a prompt response in under 24 hours.

The website offers the following tools for support:

1. Forum:

Users can get help from the YNAB community

2. Weekly videos:

Users can subscribe to the app’s ‘Whiteboard Wednesdays’ on YouTube

3. Podcasts:

Over 340 episodes offering useful budgeting advice in 3-5 minute chunks

4. Help Docs:

Users can have their technical queries answered

5. Weekly Newsletter:

Users can stay updated with the week’s best budgeting advice

6. FAQs:

Users can find and address their issues in the FAQ section of the app.

YNAB FAQs

1. What’s new in the YNAB mobile app?

With its new features, users can easily do all their budgeting from their phone. These features include:

  • Budget Creation: to sign up, add categories and accounts)
  • Budgeting: to move money, cover overspending, create a quick budget, and get a fresh start
  • Account Management: to set goals, process bulk transactions, schedule transactions, and create reports
  • Direct Import
  • In-app support via chat and live chat

To learn more about what’s new in the YNAB app watch the video below:

2. Do users need to update their phone to get the new app?

If users already have the YNAB app installed on their phones, they can automatically update it. If they wish to manually update the app, they can go to the App Store.

3. Can the new YNAB mobile app do everything that the web application can?

Mostly yes, although there are some notable differences. These include the reconciliation and payee management features. However, the updated version of the YNAB app has a new ‘Age of Money’ report that isn’t available on the web app yet.

SEE ALSO: Moneydance Review: A Worthy Quicken Alternative

Conclusion

In conclusion, there’s no doubt that You Need a Budget is the best choice in the market for simple and easy budgeting. According to YNAB customer reviews and ratings, the app is undoubtedly one of the best budgeting apps out there. Thanks to an intuitive and organized interface, users can create quick budgets and also add transactions manually. However, the application is found lacking to handle more complicated budgeting needs such as investments and taxes.

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