Right now you are probably asking yourself, “Is YNAB Worth the Money?”.
You’ve likely heard about how it’s changed the lives of so many others. But you may be struggling with the idea of paying for a budgeting tool when you are trying to stop spending money.
I get it.
When I first got the itch to take control of my money, I started with free tools like Mint. I thought that all I needed was a little discipline as well as a place to set a budget and track my spending.
Unfortunately, I found myself going over my budget time and time again with the free apps. And I thought it was simply because I didn’t have the discipline to be “good with money”.
But I was wrong.
It was not that I was bad with money. It was that I hadn’t found the right budgeting system for me.
YNAB turned out to be the right budgeting app for me and I believe that its method can be the right method for many others.
Let’s dive into all the reasons why YNAB is worth it for me and why I believe it’s worth it for you to give it a shot and see if it’s worth it to you.
But first, a little intro into what YNAB really is.
What is YNAB?
YNAB is an online budgeting platform based on four simple rules.
These four rules are unique to YNAB, and they are what sets it apart from a spreadsheet or any other budgeting app – free or paid.
The YNAB budgeting app helps you plan for your upcoming spending, track your expenses, save for a rainy day, and most importantly it gets you thinking differently about your money.
For more info on the 4 Rules of YNAB and how YNAB works, check out YNAB’s YouTube Video series that explains each of the 4 rules. There is also a book written by the YNAB creator that is amazing.
Here is rule one:
Is YNAB Worth the Money?
With today’s technology, there are many options, including many free ones, for budgeting software. So you may be wondering if it’s worth it to pay for YNAB, especially when you are trying to control your spending?
I can say with a resounding “YES” that YNAB is at least worth it a try. And from my experience, many of the people who give it a shot find that the subscription fee is worth every penny.
YNAB is worth it not because it tracks your spending or links to all of your bank accounts. But because the 4 steps of YNAB change the way you think about your hard-earned money.
It’s that mindset change in combination with the tools YNAB provides, that allows you to build confidence in your budgeting, meet your savings goals, and feel good about how you are using your money.
Here is why I love YNAB and think you may too.
9 Reasons YNAB is Worth the Money
YNAB is Customizable
Everything in YNAB is customizable. The category names, your goals, how categories are organized, etc.
And once you set up your budget, you can always tweak it.
I’m constantly adding and deleting categories based on what is going on with my life. As my expenses change, so can my budget.
YNAB Is Flexible
Spending habits are constantly in flux. Because of this, budgets need to be adaptable.
Expenses like a mortgage or rent are fixed and don’t change from month to month. But a majority of expenses are variable, and inherently need to be re-prioritized throughout the year.
For example, a lavish trip to the Caribbean is going to require more money than the campsite for a summer vacation. The gifts for the three weddings and bridal showers in the summer are going to cost more than a gift for your aunt’s 60th birthday party in the fall.
Every month is going to be different.
Fortunately, YNAB makes it easy to tackle these variable expenses by providing a platform to be proactive and look ahead at projected expenses. That way, dollars can be allocated appropriately.
It definitely takes a bit more planning than just saying “I’m going to budget $50 each month for gifts”, but believe me, the time spent is worth it. And the flexibility in YNAB makes it worth the money.
YNAB is Forgiving
Unfortunately, none of us are perfect.
We can do our best to predict how much money we will need each week, month, or year for each of our budgeting categories. But the likelihood that you hit the bulls-eye every month for every category is slim.
YNAB becomes your forgiving best friend by reminding you of Rule 3: Roll with the Punches.
For example, let’s say you allocated $50 for groceries for the week, but you forgot that you planned to cook a special meal for your honey. Now you are in a pickle. You already spent the $50 you allocated towards groceries, but don’t want to go back on your promise. So what do you do?
YNAB makes it easy to move money from one or multiple categories in your budget to your grocery category to cover the difference. This is what “rolling with the punches” is all about.
With the adaptability built into YNAB, you can avoid getting down on yourself for overspending in one category when you can simply take from another one to cover it.
YNAB Helps Me Embrace My True Expenses
One of the big obstacles I faced when trying to budget was planning for large non-monthly expenses.
I pay my car and homeowners insurance once a year in November, and it’s a big chunk of change. Back when I didn’t plan for it, I found myself scrambling to find the money to pay for it. I often ended up using a credit card or stealing from my vacation or emergency fund.
Rule 2 of YNAB, Embrace Your True Expenses, teaches you to think about and plan for those non-monthly expenses throughout the year.
By creating categories for your non-monthly expenses and adding the appropriate amount of money to them each month, YNAB helps take the stress out of paying those large and usually unexpected expenses.
Believe me, you’ll understand that YNAB is worth the money when you pay that $1500 annual insurance bill without having to worry about where the money will come from.
YNAB Reveals the Trade-offs of My Spending Decisions
YNAB helps me see the big picture of my finances so that I can fully understand what the trade-off is for each spending decision.
For example, maybe I want to take Mr. Taco out for dinner to say thanks for taking care of me after foot surgery, but I forgot to set aside extra money for it. YNAB allows me to see that I can choose to move money from my clothing category and wait to buy those new shoes I’ve been saving for. By doing so I’ll now have the money to take Mr. Taco out.
Every spending decision has a trade-off. And through its flexibility, YNAB allows you to see what those trade-offs could be and helps you make intentional spending decisions.
YNAB Makes it Easy to Budget with a Partner
YNAB is available for use on multiple devices so that you and your partner can have easy access to your budget through phones, tablets, and computers. All of the data is kept in the cloud so you are able to see your budget in real-time.
This easy access allows each partner to see the budget and how much is currently left in each budget category to spend.
Therefore, when Mr. Taco is debating buying a new pair of shoes, he doesn’t have to ask me if there is enough money in our budget for it. All he has to do is pull up our budget and he can see for himself.
YNAB Tells Me How Much on Average I Spend in Each Category
The more you use YNAB the more data it has to help you plan for the future.
I love that YNAB tells me how much on average I spend in a category each month.
This helps me know if I need to either cut back on an expense or start allocating more more to that category.
YNAB Reports Are Amazing
One of the improvements YNAB has made over the years, is the addition of adding a reports function.
YNAB allows you to run several types of reports to help you see and analyze how you are spending your money.
I love using reports at the end of the year to see what categories I spent the most money in.
YNAB’s Customer Service is Top Notch
YNAB wants you to succeed, and you can see that in their training videos and their customer service.
They are proud of what they do and go out of their way to provide great customer service.
I have reached out to them several times throughout my YNAB journey and could not be more pleased with how they handled my questions.
They also have a forum where other YNABers and customer support agents assist with questions or concerns.
Things to Know Before Getting Hot and Heavy With YNAB
YNAB Isn’t a Magic Wand
YNAB is not a set it and forget it type of budgeting app.
You will have to be committed to budgeting and tinkering with that budget.
But don’t let that intimidate you. Tinkering with your budget and figuring out how to make it work for you isn’t so bad, and can actually be fun.
You can rest assured that whenever your financial situation changes, unexpectedly or not, you can immediately adapt and work towards your new budgetary goals.
YNAB will provide you with the framework and support you need to shift your money mindset and start meeting your goals.
There is a Learning Curve
YNAB utilizes a different approach to your finances. And it may take time to wrap your head around the new concepts.
Know that when you are first learning YNAB that many other have also tackled this learning curve. You are not alone and just because it doesn’t click right away doesn’t mean it isn’t right for you.
The good news is that YNAB has developed great tutorials, has an amazing customer support staff, and offers an online forum to help you along the way. (Check out their learning page here)
Once you successfully grasp the concept, I’m confident that you’ll understand why YNAB is worth it.
Additional resources for your YNAB journey:
- YouTube channel run by Nick True of Mapped Out Money – This guy is a YNAB wiz and knows how to explain it well to others. Highly recommend
- Facebook groups like Friendly You Need a Budget Support
YNAB Isn’t Free (But it’s Worth It)
YNAB is currently $11.99/month or $84 if paid annually
The cost definitely seems to be a sticking point for the friends I tried to convince to use YNAB. While I definitely believe that YNAB is worth it, I believe everyone needs to decide that for themselves.
If you are curious, there is a 34-day free trial. And for students, it’s free for a year.
Through the years, I have seen the YNAB platform continuously improve, making the annual fee feel like less of a burden and more of a donation. The support team has always been solid, and I am happy to pay to know that there is always someone there to help with my budgeting questions.
Will YNAB be Worth It for You?
Honestly, you will only know if YNAB is right for you if you give it a shot.
If you are committed to using a budgeting method that will help you feel confident about your money, then I say give YNAB a shot. What do you have to lose?
You Got This
If you want to start your very own love story with YNAB, click here to start your 34-day free trial.
Know that YNAB is a mindset shift, so it may take a bit of trial and error before it clicks. But believe me, it can be worth every last bit of effort you put in.
So get after it. Give YNAB a try and see if it’s the budgeting method that can help you turn your finances around and start feeling good about your money.
If you want to learn more about YNAB and the method behind it, the book You Need a Budget by Jesse Mecham (creator of YNAB) is a great personal finance book even if you don’t ever decide to use YNAB.