You Need A Budget (YNAB)

March 24, 2013 at 8:47 pm Leave a comment

I don’t regularly review software, so this entry is a bit of an oddity on my blog.

I recently ran across a  budgeting tool called You Need A Budget, refereed from here on out as YNAB.  Some commenters posted praise of the tool, while others complained that it didn’t auto-import transactions.  Still others asked what it does that Mint doesn’t do, for free.  And speaking of price, while it’s normally around $60, it’s on sale through Steam for just over $20.  From what I could gather, they’ve been running specials on Steam recently, so you might be able to get it there if you check in from time to time.

Anyhow, after reading the YNAB website, and considering it a bit, I realized that perhaps part of my problem IS features like automatic transaction importing.

I’ve used Quick Essentials for the last couple of years.  One of the features I really liked about it was that it support auto-import for my major accounts.  It doesn’t work with my checking account or one of my credit cards, but it works with others, including the credit card I use the most, my Amex.  Truth is, though, I import my transactions about once a month (sometimes less frequently).  I used to be very conscientious of my credit card bills, going through all the transactions to make sure they are all appropriate, but I’m downright lazy about it now.

I’ve also been trying to pay down my debt since… well, it seems like forever.  While I have been able to chip away at it, I never seem to be able to save enough to buy the things I want, so I usually end up taking out loans for those purchases, then paying down those loans.  Sort of the reverse of what I’d like to do, plus I get the added bonus of paying extra in the form of interest.

One of the YNAB videos I watched mentioned being able to see how much money you have left in your budget for a particular category, and then making a spending decision based on that, not your bank balance.  While that’s not exactly my process, it struck a nerve.  I realized that I don’t have a very good handle on where my money goes, and sometimes when I see a good deal, I may think about my immediate situation and go ahead and make a purchase, without giving it the proper amount of consideration.

So, I looked even closer at YNAB.  Their website has details about their process, including a surprising amount of video help.

What about Mint?  Well, Mint is pretty.  It auto-imports the crap out of everything too.  After using YNAB for a couple hours today, I see that at it’s core, YNAB is a budgeting program.  Most of the other tools out there are glorified check registers, geared toward tracking income and expenditures.  Yes, there may be a Budget component, but it’s not the same as YNAB.

I grabbed the YNAB iPhone app too.  If you enable it, your budget sits in the cloud (in Dropbox) and the iPhone app syncs up with your desktop.  The iPhone app will let me enter transactions in while I’m on-the-go.  It even support GPS, so it can tell where you are when you add a transaction (though I haven’t tested that yet).

Anyhow, I’m starting out with YNAB, so I’ll see how it goes over the next few months.

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Entry filed under: General.

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