Our product review team took a closer look at You Need a Budget (also known as YNAB) to see how this budgeting tool really works.
The husband-and-wife team that started YNAB originally just needed a better way to budget for themselves after they got married in 2003. They were both still in college and didn’t have a lot of money to work with. Jesse, the husband half of the team, started developing a software solution that fit their needs. It turned out they weren’t the only people out there with budgeting issues. Now, YNAB is its own company and Jesse is the CEO.
In short, the purpose of You Need a Budget is to put you in control of your money, no matter how much you make. YNAB knows money can be stressful. Control takes some of the stress out of managing your money. And taking the stress out of managing your finances gives you peace of mind.
YNAB’s 4 Rules of Budgeting
- Give every dollar a job
- The first rule of YNAB is to assign a responsibility to every dollar in your account. This way, you know exactly how much you can spend on what.
- Embrace your true expenses
- It’s normal to idealize what your expenses really are. YNAB encourages you to be realistic and save up for emergencies so you can avoid debt.
- Roll with the punches
- This rule is all about getting rid of money guilt. Overspending in one category just means you “roll with the punches” and take money from another category.
- Age your money
- The goal of this rule is to get rid of the paycheck-to-paycheck mentality. Instead of using your money as soon as it gets into your account, YNAB helps you let it age.
These rules are the basis of YNAB’s whole system. The budget software tracks your finances, helps you create financial goals and enables you to track credit cards. After you set it up, YNAB will put all of your purchases in a budget category. Keeping everything organized gives you the financial edge that You Need A Budget was designed for.
You Need A Budget Review
If you want to find out what users generally think of YNAB, there is no shortage of reviews. There are independent online reviews like this one as well as 8,000+ in the Apple App Store and over 4,000 reviews in the Google Play Store. Here are what some reviewers had to say about this budgeting app that claims to save users an average of $6,000 in the first year:
Reviews of YNAB are overwhelmingly positive with 4 out of 5 stars on the Google Play Store and 4.8 out of 5 on the Apple App Store. Users say that it’s simple to use, and if there is any confusion there are free live workshops every day on the YNAB website that explain how to use the system. There are even learning plans designed for how much time you have to learn. For example, YNAB offers a budgeting course that lasts approximately as long as an evening without Netflix.
Another great thing about YNAB is that there is both a mobile app and a web app version of the system. This means you can access your budget from anywhere that has WiFi with any device you choose.
Additionally, this is one of the few budgeting tools that allows couples who maintain separate bank accounts to easily budget together on the same YNAB account. Other tools like Mint make it difficult to budget as a pair because you have to switch back and forth between accounts instead of using one combined account.
Users also rave about the four budgeting rules that make You Need A Budget work. Giving every dollar a job, embracing true expenses, rolling with the punches, and aging your money all seem to work very well for the financial goals of YNAB fans.
There are a few drawbacks to this otherwise well-loved service. The biggest negative is that it’s subscription based and costs more than any other popular personal budgeting app at $6.99 per month. This doesn’t seem to deter many users, though, as many of the positive reviewers said that it was totally worth it considering how much YNAB helped them save.
Another problem YNAB has is its inability to connect to certain bank accounts. One member on our review team couldn’t connect her bank accounts at all, making it much harder to use YNAB because all of her bank transactions had to be filled in manually instead of importing transactions automatically. Even when bank accounts do connect, it sometimes takes a while for transactions and transfers to show up on the app.
Users also complain about the lack of two-factor identification. Especially because the information stored in You Need A Budget is so sensitive, this has concerned many who use the service.
Our Final Take
Our product review team concluded that YNAB was an extremely thorough budgeting system for single people and families alike, but its inability to sync with well-known financial institutions like TD Bank held back some of our team from using it at all.
Is it worth the money? The answer to that question totally depends on where your priorities lie. Getting your finances in order may be worth almost $7 per month to you, but some of the people on our review team couldn’t justify it.
Interested in giving You Need A Budget a try? You can try it free for two whole months. Sign up here.