September 15, 2021

You Need a Budget Alternatives

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These YNAB competitors help get your finances in shape and eliminate financial stress. Review the best free and paid alternatives to You Need a Budget.

The Best YNAB Alternatives in 2021
  1. Mint: Best Free Option
  2. EveryDollar: Best for Paying Off Debt
  3. Personal Capital: Best for Investing
  4. Qube Money: Best Envelope Method
  5. Tiller Money: Best for Spreadsheet Fans
  6. Pocketsmith: Best for Side Hustlers
  7. Goodbudget: Best for Hands-On Budgeting

Founded in 2010, YNAB has become one of the most popular budgeting apps available.

But with a price tag of $11.99/ month, you might want a less expensive (or even free) alternative.

See how YNAB compares with other popular budgeting apps, including price and features. Plus, learn what to look for in a budgeting app.

Why You Might Want to Skip YNAB

YNAB is popular for a reason. It offers a tried-and-true method for getting your finances in shape.

But YNAB isn't right for everyone (and that's okay!). Here are a few reasons why you might want to look elsewhere for a budgeting app:

  1. You want a budget-friendly option: YNAB's $11.99 per month fee can add up fast. Luckily, some options on this list are cheaper, and some are even free.

  2. You want investment tracking tools: YNAB focuses on budgeting and lacks the investment tools that some people want.

  3. You want the long-term picture: YNAB does encourage you to "age" your money (instead of draining your accounts every month), but it doesn't offer long-term retirement tracking.

Ready to pick your new favorite budgeting app? Review these alternatives below to find one that's right for you.

What are the Best Alternatives to YNAB?

The following are the top alternatives to You Need a Budget based on price, availability, and features. We purposefully excluded alternatives that did not offer a substantial improvement over YNAB in at least one category.

1. Mint - Best Free Budgeting App

Mint is a user-friendly (and free!) mobile app where you can track all your financial data. Connect your bank accounts, investment accounts, credit cards, loans, and even personal property like your home and car.

With Mint, you can also track your net worth, income and spending, credit score, and set goals such as eliminating credit card debt and increasing your credit score.

Key Features of Mint:

  • Pricing: Free
  • Alerts for upcoming bills, ATM fees, and unusual transactions
  • Personalized marketplace for financial products like loans, bank accounts, and credit cards

Mint vs. YNAB
Mint is a much more passive budgeting tool than YNAB. If you're looking for hands-on advice on how to properly manage your money, You Need a Budget is a better choice.

If you're looking to save money with a free tool that simply allows you to view all your financial accounts in real-time, choose Mint.

How does Mint make money?
To generate revenue, Mint uses your financial data to provide you with hyper-personalized financial product suggestions (like savings accounts with better APY than your current one), and Mint receives a kickback if you sign up.

2. EveryDollar - Best for Paying Off Debt

EveryDollar was created by finance guru Dave Ramsey with the primary goal of helping people become debt-free.

EveryDollar uses Ramsey's "Baby Steps" method of paying down your smallest debts first before tackling larger debt burdens. The idea is that paying off smaller debts first gives you a sense of accomplishment that makes it easier to get rid of debt once and for all.

Key Features of EveryDollar:

  • Pricing: $129.99 per year after 14-day free trial
  • Simple app interface with no learning curve
  • Customized categories and savings goals

EveryDollar vs. YNAB
There are more similarities than differences between YNAB and EveryDollar — but there are some key distinctions.

With EveryDollar, you plan your budget for the entire month ahead. With YNAB, you can only budget with money you already have. So, if your paycheck and current savings only cover the next two weeks of expenses, you have to wait to get paid again before planning further ahead.

EveryDollar is also considered to be more intuitive and user-friendly than YNAB.

3. Personal Capital - Best for Investing

Like Mint, Personal Capital is a free, online budgeting service that allows you to track all your assets in real-time to monitor your net worth.

Personal Capital also offers free investment analysis and advice from real financial advisors.

You can even open a brokerage account with Personal Capital. (Note that this feature is only available to individuals with more than $100,000 in investable assets.)

Key Features of Personal Capital:

  • Pricing: Free
  • Net worth tracker
  • Free investment analysis
  • 256-bit encryption (vs. 128-bit for YNAB)

Personal Capital vs. YNAB
Personal Capital offers a more holistic and long-term view of your financial habits, while YNAB focuses squarely on day-to-day expenses and budgeting basics.

If you need to learn how to budget, go with YNAB. If you understand budgeting essentials and want next-level advice on your investments, choose Personal Capital.

How much does YNAB cost?
You Need a Budget offers a 34-day free trial (because the company says it takes about a month to get used to the program). After that, it's $11.99 per month or $84 for the year.

4. Qube Money - Best Envelope Method Budgeting

Qube takes the envelope method a step further by offering a debit card combined with a simplified category system.

Each time you spend money with your Qube debit card, funds are taken out of that spending category.

Key Features of Qube Money:

  • FREE account option for individuals
  • Premium (including Qube for Couples): $8 billed monthly OR $6.50 billed annually
  • Qube for Family: starting at $11.50 month
  • Google Pay and Apple Pay compatibility
  • Streamlined user experience: no confusing spreadsheets
  • Personal, Joint, and Family account options

Qube Money vs. YNAB
One big advantage of Qube over YNAB is the Qube for Families plan, which offers accounts for up to 10 kids, chore tracking, parental safety controls, and different card options for adults, teens, and kids.

And you get all of this for the same price as YNAB's basic monthly pricing. One of the only downsides of Qube is that it doesn't offer a free trial.

How to contact Qube customer support
To get in touch with Qube Money, you can email support@qubemoney.com or visit qubemoney.com to talk with an automated assistant. There is no customer support phone number currently listed.

5. Tiller Money - Best for Spreadsheet Fans

Tiller Money uses a spreadsheet format to help you organize all of your financial data into a single location.

You can link all your financial accounts to Tiller, which will then automatically update a spreadsheet in Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel every day.

You can use Tiller's available spreadsheet templates or construct your own custom spreadsheet to fit your needs.

Key Features of Tiller Money:

  • Pricing: $79 per year (about the same as Qube's annual payment plan pricing)
  • 30-day free trial
  • Bank-grade 256-bit AES encryption
  • Weekly webinars and Q&As to learn about money management
  • Debt-snowball spreadsheet option (similar to EveryDollar's "Baby Steps" method)

Tiller Money vs. YNAB
Tiller is best for organizing your financial information into a spreadsheet formula but offers less of a hands-on way of helping people learn how to budget compared to YNAB or EveryDollar.

However, the Tiller Money Community, weekly webinars, and Q&A offer ample opportunities for people with less experience budgeting and saving to level up their financial knowledge.

6. Pocketsmith - Best for Side Hustlers

Pocketsmith is great for people with fluctuating income or other unusual financial situations, such as Airbnb owners, side hustlers, and people with accounts in multiple currencies.

This app allows you to get financial projections up to 30 years into the future with its most expensive option, but the standard Premium plan allows for a 10-year financial outlook.

Key Features of Pocketsmith:

  • Pricing: $90 annual payment OR $9.95 per month
  • Live bank account updates
  • Link up to 10 bank accounts
  • Budget calendar to view upcoming expenses and bill payments

Pocketsmith vs. YNAB
One drawback of Pocketsmith is the absence of a free trial — a big issue since this is the most expensive option on our list.

However, this app does appear to be the best option for people with a lot of savings and cash flow (like rental property owners) who are looking to manage their money more efficiently.

7. Goodbudget - Best for Hands-On Budgeting

Last but not least, there's Goodbudget. This app is best for people who want to understand their spending habits, not just view them.

Goodbudget's philosophy is based on understanding the "why" behind expenses to create values-based budgeting.

GoodBudget uses a version of the envelope method. And since you're responsible for manually entering account balances and setting up categories, you'll have a more in-depth understanding of your finances.

The free version allows you to open a single account and use up to 10 regular envelopes and 10 additional envelopes. The Plus version allows for unlimited accounts and envelopes.

Key Features of Goodbudget:

  • Pricing: FREE basic plan for individuals; $60 per year for the Plus version
  • Envelope budgeting method
  • Manual account inputs

Goodbudget vs. YNAB
If you're a hands-on saver who doesn't mind needing to manually enter your account balances, this is a good (and free) upgrade to your grandparent's envelope and cash budget method.

However, the manual inputs may not be right for those who want an automated budgeting app YNAB, EveryDollar, and Tiller Money.

What to Look for in a Budgeting App

When choosing your next budgeting app, look for features that fit into your life and make the budgeting process easy for you. Here's what to look for:

Fits Your Budgeting Know-How
Are you looking to learn the basics of budgeting and saving? Or are you a savvy budgeter just needing a place to consolidate all your financial data?

Some apps, like YNAB and EveryDollar, are geared toward people with more hands-on budgeting experience. Others, like Mint, are more appropriate for people who are looking to learn.

Top-Notch Security
Budgeting apps will typically have access to all your financial data. So you need to make sure that your information is secure to reduce your exposure to fraud risk.

Look for features such as bank-grade encryption and two-factor authentication to keep your money and data safe.

The Ability to Customize Categories and Goals
We all have different financial goals. One of my complaints about the Mint app is the inability to set your own financial goals (you have to select from a list of predetermined ones).

Budgeting apps frequently categorize income and expenses incorrectly, so you want to make sure that you are able to customize transactions and make sure they're accounted for properly.

Automatic Transaction Updates
Some apps, like Goodbudget, require you to manually enter all of your financial transactions, which is unmanageable for most people.

Make sure that the app you choose syncs to all your financial accounts and updates your transactions automatically.

Free (or Offers a Free Trial)
Don't get stuck paying for a budgeting app before you've had the chance to try it. While many free options are available, these often have limited features, come with distracting ads, or sell your data to advertisers.

Not ready to pass on YNAB? Review how YNAB works to see if it could be the right choice for you.

How Does YNAB Work?

You Need a Budget uses a philosophy called "the envelope method." YNAB is different from traditional budgets because it embraces a fluid and ever-changing way of looking at your finances.

YNAB revolves around four specific rules of money management:

  1. Give every dollar a job
    The first rule is to earmark every dollar of your income for a specific purpose. This includes everything from savings, necessities like rent and food, and fun money like shopping and eating out.

  2. Embrace big, infrequent expenses
    Instead of letting large, unexpected expenses derail your financial goals, embrace them! For example, if you normally spend about $600 on gifts during the holidays, save up $50 a month for this specific purpose so you're prepared.

  3. Roll with the punches
    Sometimes you'll overspend in one area of your budget, such as eating out with friends. Instead of feeling guilty, just shift money from another category into that category for the current month.

  4. "Age" your money
    To get out of the habit of living paycheck to paycheck, you want to set a goal to pay this month's expenses with last month's income. This is a different way to think about saving up three to six months of income for your emergency fund.

The Bottom Line

YNAB offers a fun and useful way to learn about budgeting and gain control over your finances. However, users often complain about the price tag and learning curve attached to this platform.

For more user-friendly and affordable options, consider these alternatives to find the budgeting app best suited to your financial needs and goals.

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