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YNAB Review – You Need A Budget 4 – Pros And Cons

YNAB Review – You Need A Budget 4 – Pros And Cons

The YNAB (You Need A Budget) app has been updated a few times. At the time of writing the app is called You Need A Budget 4 (YNAB 4). It is the most recent version of the app. It contains numerous updates from the previous version, such as more control, customization and streamlining. The app requires a yearly subscription to be paid in full when you start using it. Prior to buying, you may try their no-obligation free trial for a month.

Later in this article, I explain my biases reasons for wanting to rip this app apart. But, in truth, this is a mostly positive review of YNAB because I couldn’t find anything seriously wrong with the app that would warrant me not recommending it. I know that the app is a paid subscription app, which is a dirty term in this age of free apps, but other than their slight blurring of their annual fees issue, I cannot find anything wrong with YNAB.

What Does YNAB (You Need A Budget) Do?

YNAB is a budgeting app. You are given a mobile GUI that allows you to enter your budgeting goals and then enter income/outgoing information on a daily basis in order to create and maintain your budget.

The app helps you create a budget and then encourages you to enter information on a frequent basis. All the numbers and details you enter should relate to your income and outgoings.

The information you enter is displayed and categorized by the app. The numbers you enter are processed and become part of the budget section where you may monitor and manage your spending/saving/income decisions. Your information is also used to create reports and to enable to use of further tools in the account section.

how YNAB works

YNAB (You Need A Budget) – Pros

Unlike other articles on YNAB, I have not raved about the app. I do not think it is the bee’s knees, but I have tried to add a curated list of the app’s best attributes. I have missed out the fact that they offer a 34 day trial and that the trial doesn’t require a credit card. Personally, I don’t see why other reviewers think YNAB is so great because they have a free trial. My local grocery store gives out free cheese samples, but I don’t see anybody writing puff pieces about them.

  • YNAB (You Need A Budget) forces you to enter your information manually, which means you have to pay attention to your budget and keep it in mind. If you forget about it, then you budget becomes useless, so it almost forces you to pay attention to your budget on a daily basis. Obviously, some people may also consider the manual nature of YNAB to be a bad thing.
  • Since YNAB has you enter your information manually, it means you do not have to give your financial details such as your bank account sign-in information to the app. This means that compared to the apps that update your budget automatically, the YNAB system is far safer.
  • It takes a while to learn how to use YNAB (You Need A Budget), which is a downside in one sense because you may be looking for a budgeting app that you can pick up and use right away. However, through learning how to use the YNAB app, you actually learn how to create and maintain a budget.
  • The newer version of YNAB doesn’t have the annoyances that previous version of the app had. For example, you can switch between multiple budgets without having to restart, there is an account reconciliation wizard, you can drill down your reports more easily, and so forth.
  • They offer a free workshop that shows you how to use the YNAB system and how to create and maintain your budget. Some people say that the workshop class is actually the best advert for the YNAB app because it shows the app and many of its most important functions.
  • We are all aware of the sort of free trials that credit bureaus pull where you have a free trial and you are then charged at the end of it if you do not get your free trial account closed beforehand. YNAB (You Need A Budget) doesn’t pull that sort of trick. If you sign up for their free trial, then your subscription ends when the free trial is over. You are not charged for another session.
  • There is a “Debt pay down” and “Goal Tracking” function that may help some people reach their debt repayment goals and their saving goals. I don’t personally think that the debt-repayment tools would have worked for me back in the days when I was in debt, but they may work for some people. The ability to see your debts and your debt-repayment progress displayed as colorful visualizations may be very helpful. Being able to see your debt and your repayment efforts in a more visual way may help to shake you out of your debt apathy and into action.

YNAB (You Need A Budget) – Cons

I know that some of these downsides are a little weak, and some of them even double over as upsides. Nevertheless, here are a few immutable facts about YNAB; it is up to you to decide if they are pros or cons.

  • You have to enter your information manully, which means your budget is high maintenance. If you forget to enter your information, then it piles up and becomes a hassle. Plus, if you forget for a while, then your budgets become useless. There are upsides to entering the information manually, but the amount of effort this app demands is a definite downside.
  • There are going to be times when your purchases do not fit into the categories that YNAB has on offer. You will have to alter your budget in a way that allows you to enter your purchases in the most intelligent manner.
  • You are going to have to build a habit for entering information into your YNAB. I feel rather bad for entering this as a downside to using YNAB (You Need A Budget) because I am also not a fan of budgeting apps that link to your bank account and enter transactions automatically because I don’t trust apps with my financial information.
  • There is a certain amount of learning required in order to use YNAB. It is not the sort of app you can pick up and use intuitively. Some may consider this to be an upside because a sophisticated budgeting app will have a hard time being intuitive (user-friendly – yes, intuitive – no). Still, you are going to have to learn how to use this app before you start enjoying its benefits.
  • They say that your subscription costs you $6.99 per month, but only in the small print at the bottom does it tell you that you will be billed annually at $83.99. It is not as if you are buying into a monthly subscription that you can get out of next month, you have to buy on an annual basis.
  • The pricing page says that the average YNAB user saves $600 per month and an average of $6000 per year, but they may have well have plucked these numbers out of thin air. These numbers are meaningless to anybody looking into using YNAB because there are too many factors to consider. It is not as if you are buying a car and comparing fuel efficiency. There are tens (maybe hundreds) of reasons why a person may or may not save money when using YNAB.
  • Yet another website has testimonials on it. Why oh why do web masters still think that testimonials build trust? Nobody is dumb enough to look at a website and see testimonials and assume they are real or that they are not skewered in some way. Everybody knows that the YNAB (You Need A Budget) web master could have easily invented every testimonial. Even if they are real, it is not as if the web master is going to add evry negative and damning testimonial to his or her own website.
  • You cannot use multiple currencies or cryptocurrencies in your budgets. It only allows you to stick with one type of currency, which is okay for some, but will be a deal breaker for others.
  • If you wish, you are able to sync your bank accounts with YNAB. This is a fairly new feature that comes with YNAB 4. Personally, it is a disappointing adjustment. I would not use it because it means signing in through an app in order to sync the accounts, and that is too much of a security risk for my liking. It is not as if an app such as YNAB is vital, so why take the risk with your bank information (no matter how small the risk is).

YNAB Feature Bank Synching

Conclusion – Is There An Affiliate Program I Don’t Know About

Part of the reason why I am not keen on YNAB (You Need A Budget) is because in my time I have read so many positive puff pieces on YNAB that I am a little bit sick of it. This budgeting app appears in almost every top ten article, and it is always bouncing around websites that talk about finance and money. Yet, I am not sure why so many online reviewers are pushing YNAB so hard. I cannot find an affiliate program, so there is no direct financial incentive. I admit that some of the online reviews are genuine reviews that were written by people who like YNAB. Yet, part of me wonders if YNAB (You Need A Budget) has a very good marketing team that keeps hiring writers to spread positive buzz, or that keeps paying webmasters to write puff pieces.

The YNAB app is a good app, and I would recommend it as your primary budgeting app if you are looking for one. The biggest downside in my opinion is that they charge you for using it. If you decide to use the app, then you had better go full throttle because they are going to charge you yearly for using this app. There is a fair amount of irony in charging for a budgeting app that claims it will save you money. Unless you are willing to commit to this app, you should not consider paying for it.

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About The Author

Ash The Great

After a varied career in different industries from the hospitality industry to the financial consultancy industry, Ash now spends his days working as a professional writer.

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