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You Need a Budget (YNAB) vs EveryDollar

YNAB and EveryDollar LogosIn the budgeting world, you won’t go far without hearing about Dave Ramsey’s EveryDollar. Being a long-time You Need a Budget (YNAB) user, I was curious to see how EveryDollar stacked up. Especially since EveryDollar has a free option.

Would EveryDollar be good enough to switch away from YNAB? Or at least worth recommending to friends who don’t want to pay for YNAB?

I used YNAB and EveryDollar side-by-side for an entire month. Here's what I learned.Click To Tweet

I focused on three areas I believe are important for any app wanting to help people get their money under control.

How easy is it to:

  1. Create your first month’s budget?
  2. Add transactions from your smartphone?
  3. Balance your budget at the end of the month?

This post shares what I learned and crowns a winner!

Note: This review is for the web-based version of YNAB and not YNAB 4 (the previous, desktop-only version).

Test drive YNAB free for three months. That’s two months more than the typical 34-day trial. Plenty of time to figure out if YNAB is the right budgeting tool for you.

Note: If you sign up for a free trial using links in this post, you’ll get a longer trial period than normal, and I’ll get a small commission. It’s a win-win for both of us! And please know I wrote this review before I knew I could earn a commission. It’s genuinely my honest, unbiased experience using both apps.

Creating Your First Budget

EveryDollar

Creating a budget is a simple process in EveryDollar. Once you create an account and log in, you’ll immediately be able to get started. While I believe it is fairly intuitive how to create your first budget, I do wish there was a little more hand-holding here.

The first thing you do is enter your monthly income and spread that amount across the different budget categories until your “left to budget” amount is zero.

You Need a Budget

Once you log into YNAB for the first time, you’re greeted with a getting started tutorial that’s definitely worth going through. It’ll walk you through adding your accounts (checking, saving, credit card, etc.) and their starting balances.

Similar to EveryDollar, you’ll then distribute your money into the different categories until the “to be budgeted” amount reaches zero.

The big difference here is that instead of budgeting a single month based off your expected monthly income (like EveryDollar), your first budget is based off how much money you have combined across your checking and savings accounts. This is because YNAB encourages people to only budget money they actually have available for spending.

Notice in the video below how my example checking account has a balance of $3,000. That’s the amount of money I need to budget. If I also had a savings account with $2,000 then I would have $5000 to budget.

Winner: EveryDollar

There’s no question here. EveryDollar is definitely a lot easier and quicker to get started with.

While YNAB’s approach to budgeting, handling of credit cards, and other features (like goals and reconciling) are helpful, they can be intimidating for new users.

Adding Transactions

The best way to keep track of your budget is to add each transaction as they happen. That means the mobile apps for EveryDollar and YNAB are critical pieces to budgeting success.

The focus of this section will be on adding transactions on the iPhone.

EveryDollar (2.11.0)

Just like creating your first budget, EveryDollar’s iPhone app makes it straightforward to add a new transaction.

Nothing fancy here.

Type in an amount, type in the merchant name, and choose a budget category. After entering a transaction, you can scroll to the category to see how much money is left in the category (indicated by the narrow green progress bar).

You Need a Budget (2.5.1)

Let me just go on the record here and say YNAB’s iPhone app is gorgeous. It’s obvious from the start a lot of care went into designing YNAB (and how you use it).

You’ll type in the same things as you would in EveryDollar.

However, the strength of YNAB becomes more apparent when you re-visit a place you’ve already shopped.

More details later when I declare a winner for this section.

Winner: YNAB

There's two noteworthy features YNAB has that EveryDollar doesn't.Click To Tweet
  1. YNAB uses GPS to remember all the places you shop at.
  2. YNAB uses default values whenever it can.

Both those things drastically speed up how quickly you can add a transaction.

The easier it is to use an app, the more likely you will be to use it. When it comes to staying on budget every month, this becomes an important point.

The second time you visit a store, this is how quickly you’ll be able to add a transaction. Notice all I did was type in an amount and the store, category, and account were automatically filled in for me.

On the flip side, EveryDollar requires you manually type out the store name and choose a budget category every time you make a purchase. #inefficient

Balancing Your Budget

I won’t get into a rant here, but if you don’t do this step regularly (at least once a month) then you’re not really budgeting. You’re just tracking your spending.

What does balancing your budget mean?

It means every budget category is at $0 or has a positive dollar amount before moving on to the next month’s budget.

If you overspend by $50 in groceries this month, you take $50 from a different budget category (one that has an extra $50 to spare) and move it into the groceries category to compensate for the overspending.

It could also mean “sweeping” all your surplus (money you budgeted but didn’t spend) into a specific saving goal.

Balancing your budget requires two things:

  1. An easy way to move money from one category to another.
  2. Confidence you’ve recorded every transaction for the month.

Now let’s take a look at how EveryDollar and YNAB stack up.

EveryDollar

Turns out getting this:

Overbudget - EveryDollar

To balance out to this:

is way harder than it should be.

There’s no easy way to move money around.

I had to bust out a calculator and re-calculate the new amounts for Groceries ($500 + $16.27) and Restaurants ($100 – $16.27) so that the Groceries budget would be $0.

How about ensuring all my transactions have been added properly?

This was a nightmare.

I have a bunch of recurring transactions (rent, HOA dues, subscription services, cell phone bill, etc.) that happen without me physically paying for them (which is generally my reminder to add a transaction into my budgeting app). With EveryDollar, all of those have to be manually added every month because EveryDollar doesn’t support automatically adding recurring transactions.

And I don’t always remember to add transactions on my phone whenever they happen. So how do I know which transactions I forgot?

Lots of manual labor.

I had to look at statements from each banking account and check line-for-line if I entered the transaction into EveryDollar. (Note: There is an exception to this which I’ll touch on later.)

I wanted to gouge out my eyes. There’s no easy way to do this.

You Need a Budget

All things bad in this department for EveryDollar turned out to be all things good in YNAB.

You can have scheduled (recurring) transactions.

And it’s really simple to move money around.

YNAB also provides a handy feature for reconciling. If you’ve stayed on top of adding transactions when they happen, it’s a two-click process.

If your balances don’t match (maybe you forgot a transaction or two), YNAB gives you a simple way to add missing transactions until your balances match. To do this, you will need to cross-reference your bank’s statement with what’s in YNAB (similar to EveryDollar).

However, with YNAB this is a much easier process.

What took 20 minutes of frustration in EveryDollar took 2 minutes in YNAB.Click To Tweet

Winner: YNAB

By a huge margin.

I didn’t realize this was a deal breaking feature for me until the end of the month when I started balancing my budget.

For a budget to work, you have to be confident the numbers are right. Otherwise you may be spending money you don’t actually have.

Without a way to reconcile balances in EveryDollar, the process of checking for accuracy becomes a painstakingly slow and error-prone process.

Budgeting already requires a good amount of discipline. Make that process harder and you drastically reduce a person’s desire to keep up with it.

This is where YNAB clearly shines. It’s extremely easy to balance your budget each month.

I look forward to payday because YNAB makes budgeting a fun process.Click To Tweet

What about EveryDollar Plus?

EveryDollar Plus (the paid version of EveryDollar) does support importing transactions automatically. That solves the forgetting a transaction and recurring transactions issue (assuming your bank account is supported). However, I do not recommend EveryDollar Plus.

Why?

It encourages bad habits by how it handles transactions after importing.

A good habit is entering a transaction immediately after it happens. Doing this keeps budget balances accurate and let’s you adjust accordingly. Maybe you’re eating out too much this week. By adding every transaction when it happens, you’re able to adjust your spending because you’re seeing your “eating out” balance regularly.

The challenge with using EveryDollar Plus is that it makes manually added transactions useless. It doesn’t provide a way to “match” an existing transaction with an auto-imported one. In order for your budget to be accurate, you have to delete the manual transaction after the auto-imported version gets added. Your budget will double-spend every transaction category if you don’t.

Since this causes more work, most users will stop manually adding transactions and rely on the auto-import.

Because transactions don’t get usually get imported until 2-4 days after they happen, the budget amounts in the app are outdated. The app could show $50 available for eating out, but instead of $50, you really have $30. $20 was spent the other day that hasn’t auto-imported yet.

So you could be making spending decisions on inaccurate budget amounts.

Conclusion

YNAB is the clear winner here.

Once you get over the initial learning curve, it’s easier to use and stay on top of your budget. There’s ton of resources including an active community and an incredibly helpful (albeit unofficial) Facebook group.

I would wholeheartedly recommend YNAB to anyone serious about getting their money under control.

Ready to give YNAB a try? YNAB’s offering a three-month trial instead of 34-days just for reading this post!

Unfortunately, I would not recommend EveryDollar to anyone. While it excels at simplifying the initial creation of a budget, it does not provide useful features/tools to keep the budget going strong over time. EveryDollar is great for your first month’s budget, but terrible from month-to-month. And that’s where you absolutely need a budgeting app to excel in.

In terms of value, YNAB provides more for $89/year (note: students get their first year free) versus $99/year for EveryDollar Plus. You get a more full-featured, better designed budgeting tool, a wealth of free training (including live workshops), and an app that is regularly adding new features (whereas EveryDollar hasn’t released a major new feature since its release in early 2015).

The bottom line: YNAB gives you so much more for cheaper.

What budgeting tool do you use? What do you like about it?

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Kathy
Kathy

I have been using Every Dollar since it came out and was shocked to see you mentioned how difficult it is. If someone like me who has a brain-injury due to a ruptured brain aneurysm could easily learn and quickly enter data into Every Dollar, anyone could. It took you twenty minutes? Really? And 2-4 days for your transactions to show up with Every Dollar Plus?

After using the free version for several years (it never took 20 minutes to enter in transactions but perhaps that’s because I generally don’t use a debit card except to pay bills), I switched to the Plus version. I have two financial institutions linked to it. The credit union transactions show up in real time, even though the transaction is still pending. The bank transactions do not show up while they are still pending. They show up once they have cleared which is generally the next day. In other words, this is an issue with your financial institutions, not the app.

Michelle Adame
Michelle Adame

I’ve been using Every Dollar for almost two years now and…I do love it as it provides some structure and saves time, but it ONLY really works if every transaction is a simple one. What I mean to say is, back in the day when you were young and just starting out, a notebook and pen was all you needed to keep a budget. But now, we have a combination of cash, automatic, and recurring payments that muddy the waters a bit. Staying on budget then means having both a paper (statements, notes, a register) and digital budgeting means (ED, YNAB, etc). I loathe spending a moment more than I have to on a complicated budgeting system. I’ve had the ED web version for a long time and I’ll admit that I use it a lot, every other day and I’m always getting caught up in the manual transactions part.

Case and point, the only budget categories that I can use all cash is: Groceries, Gas, some dog food, and that’s it! Everything of great quality is usually had in an online shop, so that means a lot of manual entries for recurring and non-recurring purchases. I can appreciate the free version of ED; however, it’s costing me money in the long run and I may…just may look into YNAB again. I had abandoned over a year ago when it was such a disaster to use. The envelope system just isn’t useful anymore.

Canman
Canman

Alex,
I read a YNAB review you did back in 2016 and was desperate to get some budget help. Back then I was using Moneydance, basically an expense tracker.

I just wanted to jump on and say that I have been using YNAB for the last 2yrs and it got us out of the worst debt. I almost jumped in to ED, but your review was very helpful. ED would have been a nightmare for me according to its current limitations.

Thanks for being a part of our journey into getting out of debt, God bless!

PattiCinCO
PattiCinCO

What I like best about YNAB i sthat I can list all the bills that are due and the date they are due (just as part of the description) sort hem in date order and I have a bill tracking system so I am never late paying a bill. Can’t do that in ED

Dakota
Dakota

How do you sort them in date order?

sa belle
sa belle

what do u have for high schoolers lnew drivers first job dont know if college is for them

Jen Dunbar
Jen Dunbar

Great Article Alex! I have been using YNAB since 10/2017. I love it and it is so easy to use. Moving money, entering transactions, and budgeting for the future are a breeze. I also “track” my investment account for an overall “big picture”.

It is the first time in my life that i know the exact numbers of my current finances. (not just “close enough”). This has allowed to to fine tune my budget by seeing exactly where my money was going. I then cut my monthly expenses almost in 1/2. Well worth the small annual fee!

Also, fyi, all students get 12 months free of YNAB, so I highly encourage all students to try this budgeting software. This is from the YNAB website for those interested, “We offer all students YNAB free for 12-months (in addition to the free 34-day trial). If you’re interested, write into student@ynab.com with proof of enrollment—think student ID card, transcript or tuition statement (but anything that shows you are currently enrolled and includes your name, your school, and the date will do). We can’t wait to get you budgeting!”

I love, love, love YNAB!

Happy Budgeting!

Mike
Mike

Thanks Alex – Back in Jan2017, I had narrowed down my choices to YNAB and EveryDollar. I’m a fan of FPU but based on your earlier review, I decided to give YNAB a try first. My wife and I really like it. The main thing we like about YNAB is that it is very easy to enter transactions, particularly for geo-tagged locations that you frequent. With the app, entering a $10 transaction for a geo-tagged location is as simple as entering 1) “Add Transaction” 2) enter 1000 and 3) Save Transaction (10 seconds). For locations that are not geo-tagged, entering/selecting the additional payee, budget category/split and the account info is really easy (another 10-20 seconds maybe) … then you can geo-tag that location for next time!

Can’t say if EveryDollar makes this easier but my only complaint (if you can call it that) about YNAB is the simplified approach it takes to moving money around when you overspend a budget category. In short, YNAB doesn’t track when you move money between budget categories. Instead, YNAB simply changes the budgeted amounts. Example: Let’s say I initially budget $500 to “Groceries” and $200 to “Utilities”. Let’s say towards the end of the month I see I’ve already overspent my “Grocery” category by $50 but still have extra $75 in my “Utilities” category. YNAB makes it super easy to move $50 from “Utilities” to “Groceries” to cover the overage. BUT, it doesn’t create any kind of entry to show that I’ve moved money between the two. Instead, it simply changes the amount that I originally budgeted to each category; “Groceries” changes to $550 and “Utilities” changes to $150. I’m a “data+metrics” guy so I really wish that the movement of money was somehow tracked and reported because I think that historical data would help me see how out of tune (or not) I’ve been with those initial budget amounts.

Note: YNAB will even allow initial budget amounts to go negative if the budget requires. I get YNABs mind-set on this and mathematically it makes sense but it initially feels weird.

Having said that, I still recommend YNAB to my friends. The reason is simple – the “best tool for the job” is going to be the tool that you find yourself actually using. YNAB is a really good tool, super easy to use, super convenient, reliable and accurate. It syncs with all of my banks, even those that gave apps like Quicken a hard time (namely USAA). It did take a bit for me to learn to “let go” of my perceived need for metrics & data but I’m ok with it now … ultimately budgets are simple (spend less than you make) and YNAB has “given me permission” to keep my budget simple and under control … now I can leave the analytics, spreadsheets and graphs for my day job :).

Richard
Richard

In EveryDollar, there is a feature to turn some budgets into “funds” so you can track “savings” for literally anything you may want to set money aside for such as to pay for a trip or pay for yearly subscriptions etc. Is there a similar feature on YNAB?

I like the simplicity of EveryDollar and the fact that it is free, but based on your review, I’d be open to trying YNAB because of the convenience of balancing budgets.

Daniel Lyons
Daniel Lyons

Love the article. Seems very balanced. I’ve been using EveryDollar for about 8 months. I’ve liked how easy to use it is but I’ve been a little frustrated at how overly simplistic it is. It’s not powerful enough. This article convinced me to give YNAB a try.

That being said, I’m pretty sure you’re sponsored by YNAB (I mean, YNAB has a landing page with your name on it). I don’t really have a problem with you being sponsored by YNAB but I wish you would have publicly disclosed that in the article at the beginning. I don’t think you disclosed it at all. It’s very common for bloggers to disclose that they are sponsored by the company that they are reviewing but they will also talk about why and how they still love the product.

Jaime P
Jaime P

I tried to use the new version of YNAB however it would take days for the transactions to be imported from my bank, that was the downfall for me. If I’m going to have to enter each transaction myself might as well use EveryDollar since it’s free. I do own the classic version of YNAB but I like the fact I can access EveryDollar from my phone or computer. For me EveryDollar is the winner unless YNAB can update my transactions within 24 hours.

Eric Stone
Eric Stone

Thank you for the article. I’m a current YNAB Classic user, and I am ready to decide between coughing up the 6.99/mo for YNAB reborn or go with EveryDollar, which my employer is offering as a free company benefit. Difficult decision! But after reading your review, I feel I’d be more happy with sticking to the system I’m accustomed to.

J smith
J smith

Thanks for this comparison. I was really considering Every Dollar until I read this article and decided to give the 3 month trial a go. Started it last week and I’m really loving it the more I use it and get used to it’s features.

I’ve been lazy my whole life when it comes to budgeting and I’ve never really had a true budget tbh, but I’m tired of living that way. This app really helps me understand the full scope of my income vs. expenses each month and then set goals, plan and be responsible with the remaining income that I have after I’ve paid all my monthly obligations. It’s only been a few days, but I can already see how this is changing my mindset towards financial planning. I will stick with this for the next 3 months, but already I’m putting the annual subscription in the budget because I’m pretty sure that I want to stick with this long term.

I will say that the price is not $50 annually anymore. Maybe it was at the time this article was written, but now it’s $83.99 billed annually. But if you’re a student they’ll give you 12 months for free.

Sylvia
Sylvia

I really enjoyed this article and it answered a lot of questions about YNAB. I like trying out different methods of budgeting and found that your review of EveryDollar is fairly accurate, except that recurring transactions can be transferred between each month. Once when you set up your bills and budget and the next month rolls over, it will ask if you are ready for the next month. When you click on it, your income and bills will automatically show up with each amount. Other than that, your review is pretty accurate and still the same with the current web version.

Either way, YNAB still reigns over EveryDollar because it’s easier to enter transactions through your mobile app, which is a big plus for me. I’m considering YNAB and will give it a go soon.

Jason
Jason

Great article – still relevant all these many months later. Thank you for doing this.

I have been a YNAB user for 5+ years (it could be longer, but who’s counting?). I am still using YNAB4.

The 1 critical item the online version doesn’t have is the ‘red arrow’ functionality. Long story short, we use it quite a bit – FSA reimbursements, business travel, the kids’ allowances, shopping (“I can’t decide which one I like better right now” – and yes, I insist they return the rest after they make a decision), going over budget on vacation, etc.

But the biggest reason for the functionality, in my opinion, is it makes budgeting more “palatable” to the rest of my family. It makes the budgeting process “forgiving”. We understand that spending more than has been “allocated” means we have to scrimp a little next month. But that is our choice. It is understood – and it is there in red and white for everyone to see.

I saw the work-around. I fully understand how “easy” it is. But getting back to a point you have made numerous times throughout the post: make my life simpler/easier and I will value the service. Removing that functionality makes things harder. I also think it would make the going over-budget situation less transparent.

We are on a really tight budget and having some “give” to deal with life is better than a “zero tolerance” stance. Can it be abused? Of course. Is my family abusing it? Perhaps. But using the tool, we have been able to live a “normal” life while still being fiscally responsible. I love the YNAB concepts – I am just a firm believer in not being too strict. If it is too strict, people won’t use it. IMHO, that is just human nature

Cheri
Cheri

Does YNAB work well if you have fluctuating income? My husband gets paid every 2 weeks so sometimes there are 3 paychecks per month. Also, he’s paid hourly and gets incentive pay so monthly income can fluctuate by several hundred dollars every month. At the beginning of the month, it’s hard to estimate what it will be.

Kristina
Kristina

Incredible review and thread, thank you!! I am starting FPU in two weeks and am seeking a budgeting tool to assist with my journey to be debt-free and become a better steward of my financial resources. Thanks again!

katelyn
katelyn

It is possible to use YNAB to print out tax reports at the end of the year? One comparison I viewed said that everydollar had this capability while NYAB did not. True or false?

Oswald
Oswald

Hi Alex, Sorry iff this is covered elsewhere, but I am considering YNAB. Three quick questions:
1. Regarding adding transaction and the related conveniences offered by YNAB, how does YNAB ask you to handle at a single Starbucks visit the time you buy a coffee (tracked as a fun expense), a bag of coffee (tracked as grocery expense) and a coffee appliance (savings goal) at Starbucks. Are these to be entered manually as 3 separate transactions?
2. If you do a manual entry, would YNAB automatically figure out a duplication when it later imports the banking info?
3. What does importing banking account info mean anyway? Transactions get recorded in YNAB by category that you assign during the import process or is it all automatic, which would be too good to be true!! Some payees as recorded by my bank are sometimes at first glance unrecognizable to me when I see my account.

Thanks for the great review information.

TxMimi
TxMimi

Alex, I doubt you’ll agree with my approach, but does nYNAB require a budget to work? We have plenty of money, no debt except house (will be paid off in a few months), no kids, hubby and I both in late 70’s & retired, investments covered. All I want to do is track expenses. I have a lifetime of frugality, single mom supporting 3 sons on a shoestring and never going into debt, every bill paid on time. It’s instinctive with me. I have started ED+, but it demands a budget and I’ve read this whole blog about its shortcomings. We used mVelopes for 3 yrs. and gave up b/c of the non-existent support, a beta version which was awful, and a pdf that was supposed to pass for Excel. We wasted a lifetime membership which was not refundable. Worst company ever! What software would be most useful for someone like me and can I use it the way I would like? Thanks for your reply. Forgot to mention: Downloading and splitting transactions is a must!

Jessica
Jessica

mint might be better for you. I’m a ynab user, former minter and I found mint to be good for tracking spending but not much of a budget App.

Lee
Lee

We clicked on the link for a 90 day free trial, however, when I downloaded the app from iTunes, it only offers a 30 day free trial. Anyone successful in getting the app for 90 day free trial, too?

Tonya
Tonya

YNAB would be a superior product if the import sync wasn’t just so horrific. I guess if you want to manually enter all of your transactions, it’s fine, but who the hell has time for that?? For those who don’t like the ideological orientation of only budgeting the money you actually have, it is a definitely specific way of thinking and I didn’t like it at first. But once I decided to try to think about budgeting that way, I came around, and I am a big fan. There is a very specific way of thinking about spending that the software is based upon. Despite the great things about YNAB, I am desperately looking for an alternative because their sync is so bad and I don’t have time to manually enter 100+ transactions every month.

I spent 5 minutes trying to set up an account on EveryDollar, but their ideological founder is so anti credit card that you cannot even use a credit card for the 15 day free trial. As a prior victim of identity theft I will never again use a debit card for an online transaction. It makes me think this company isn’t very security-minded. Guess I’m still stuck with Mint, at the end of the day. Darn it.

Chris
Chris

I’m trying to get into YNAB because everyone seems to like it but I’m having two big issues:

1) It doesn’t allow me to import my checking account data because it won’t sync with my bank

2) I want to budget for the full month not only what I have, that’s ridiculous, there’s no point to a budget if I’m not planning out the full month of future income and expenses

Jeff
Jeff

Commenting on your second issue. I agree. I love YNAB, but if I’m following Dave Ramsey’s plan, I need to budget for the month ahead not just wait until the paycheck comes in. I tried to make the old YNAB budget ahead (categorize the money I was set to receive), but it was a disaster and not really what YNAB wants you to do. I know one of the main goals of YNAB is for you to get a month ahead, but I’m not in a place to earmark money towards that just yet.

Joi
Joi

@Chirst
In regard to #2… They only want you to budget the “cash” you have, but you can create you budget template which is what you are looking to do at any time. That is what I did …. I budgeted only the cash I had i.e. “gave every dollar a job,” then I created the rest of my budget setting up goals per month, yearly, etc.. Please visit creating a budget template… Then once you get more cash you can assign to your template.

https://docs.youneedabudget.com/article/915-budget-template

Keith
Keith

Sorry, but I see YNAB as the novelty of the tool eclipsing the necessary utility sought. People are into toys; it’s a natural inclination, and technological toys are especially alluring.

The monthly cost may not sound like much, but $84 a year pays for two months of utility bills in my area. That’s excessive in my book.

Christina
Christina

Hey I just wanted to say thank you for such a great review. This is EXACTLY the information I was looking for, as I have been debating between the two services. Also, many thanks for the 3-month trial link. I just signed up and I’m already in love with the site and will definitely continue beyond the trial. Happy New Year!

Hannah

Thanks for this review! I’m keeping an eye out for alternatives to YNAB – sounds like EveryDollar isn’t it.

Us!
Us!

Thanks for the great review! I have been a YNAB 4 user since it came out (actually used the previous version before YNAB4). I am hesitating with switching to nYNAB for a couple reasons so I’ve been “shopping around.” Sounds like I should stick with YNAB and upgrade. Would love to hear your thoughts on these concerns:
1. I am not okay with taking from one category to pay for another. Instead of paying $300/mo in heating for 4 months per year, I’d rather put $100/mo into the category. Similarly, each family member has a “slush” category that we use to save up for big purchases. This means we carry forward a positive balance in that budget category for a few months before the expense hits. And, if we go over in that category one month, we want the negative balance to carry forward so we can focus on paying it down. I realize this means we aren’t truly “budgeting” each month. But, we like having the flexibility in this one category for each family member. Does the new version allow for that?
2. I prefer to manually enter my transactions and then go through each month’s statement line-by-line to make sure nothing was missed. I originally thought that the online syncing would make this impossible. But, it sounds like the nYNAB pulls transactions off your credit card’s online account and automatically matches them with manually entered transactions that you later approve. What happens when it pulls a transaction from your credit card online that was not manually entered? Does it mark it somehow or require some other kind of approval?
3. Is there a way to “flag” transactions in the new version? I use this currently for online purchases – I flag them until they are delivered. It’s just a way we make sure we don’t order something that gets lost in the mail and then we forget about it (we’ve got 4 users in the house, so our Amazon/Zappos/Etsy accounts are pretty active!).

Thanks again for the great review and in advance for your reply!

Jessica Moss
Jessica Moss

You can still carry a positive amount over month to month. I use this constantly for water bills, estimated tax bills, savings goals etc. If you have excess budgeted one month, that amount will carry over to the next month.

However, if you have a negative amount in a budget category, that will not carry over. It will reduce the amount of money you have to budget for the next month. I understand why nYNAB removed this functionality, but I do kinda miss is.

nYNAB still kinda makes you review all your transactions. When you manually enter one, it does not show as “cleared” until it is matched from an imported transaction (or you manually mark it as cleared), and you click to approve it. If it’s a transaction you do a lot, it will automatically add a category (which you can change), but if it can’t figure out a category for it, it will make the transaction really stand out.

Tammi
Tammi

Thank you for your great review of YNAB and Every Dollar. I am trying to work on our budget for November and, as every month prior to this, I am having trouble using YNAB getting my inflow budget to show up on my November budget. It seems like it should be so easy but… I go to the Accounts page, input our monthly income in the inflow category and save the information then go to the Budget page and click on Quick Budget (I believe) to fill in the amounts that we budgeted last month and then adjust them as needed but when I go to Budgets nothing shows up! I’m so frustrated so I thought I would check out Every Dollar but think I will stick with YNAB and try to figure this out… once again. :( Other then getting started each month I have really been enjoying YNAB!

Darrell Kane
Darrell Kane

I have tried YNAB several times and just have lots of trouble with it. I’ve used Mvelopes for years. Does YNAB have funding profiles?

Todd
Todd

Alex, Can you do a review on Mvelopes vs YNAB? I did a google search to see those two specifically compared to each other and found nothing within the past year (except a very generic categorized feature comparison of many budgeting websites/programs that was too broad).

I’ve been using Mvelopes for 8 years now (and will likely never change because they were dumb enough to offer a lifetime subcription model at $300 for a limited time and I jumped on it), but I find myself somewhat unhappy with Mvelopes. The UI is dreadful and often unintuituve, but I haven’t found a good replacement. I want to recommend the best product to friends/clients ultimately, but don’t want to spend the time/money learning a new system when mine works. Below are my FAVORITE/HATED features of Mvelopes (generally in order of best/worst and worst/best) that I would be interested in knowing if YNAB tackles in particular since you are a user of YNAB (but a review would still be awesome!).

LOVE
1) Split transactions across multiple categories (CRITICAL)

2) Credit card transactions-takes amount out of destination envelope and moves it to envelope for credit card payment so that you don’t overspend (CRITICAL!)

3) Tagging transactions- great for taxes or tracking specific things like how much my wife’s tuition cost vs my tuition when both types of transactions are in the same envelope (CRITICAL)

4) Net worth tracking

5) Reports- love that you can do it, hate how it is presented (confusing, unappealing visuals, and exporting to printed copy leaves you with an ugly excel sheet or an ugly PDF)

6)Auto download of transactions from institutions (CRITICAL)

7)Ability to set rules for auto-assign to certain envelopes – (these transactions go to an “auto-assigned” tab that shows you all of them to approve individually or en mass by clicking “Approve All”

8) Debt Reduction Center/Assessment- this is only with the “Plus” plan which is fairly expensive at $19 a month, but good for people in serious debt (NOT CRITICAL at all)

9) Add notes, tag, picture of receipt to any new or pending transaction

HATE

1) “Online Balance” in mvelopes doesn’t match online balance on bank website- this is because the bank includes pending transactions affecting online balance but Mvelopes doesn’t-leading to some VERY confusing chat sessions when trying to balance things. About every 6 months I wind up having to fix an issue where a transaction was missing or duplicated at some point without me realizing it, and I have to go back and adjust the starting balance of said account and assign the difference as a random transaction. These two related annoyances are my #1 complaint with mvelopes because it results in wasting a lot of time troubleshooting.

2) Pending transactions don’t download- I want the ABILITY to make a pending transaction, but still want my finance app to identify pending transactions automatically without having to stop every time I make a purchase and type the following fields on my phone: Amount, Payee, Account, Envelope. I read that YNAB is better at this with at least geo-based suggestions on merchant.

3) Auto assigned transactions won’t match with pending transactions- Ex) shop at walmart is usually groceries so you have it auto-assigned to that category, but today I spend $50 on DVDs and add a pending transaction. When $50 transaction clears and comes into Mvelopes it goes to auto assigned tab but won’t present “match” button with pending transaction like it would with a normal new transaction

4) Bugginess of website/app- Sometimes pending transaction on phone wind up consistently different than pending on web-based- I currently have two transactions from May as pending which actually were matched and assigned on web version but still show on my phone. Also, had consistent issues for almost a year with Net Worth feature not populating the visual line graph and instead only showing numerical values before they finally fixed it.

5) UGLY UI/experience- Mvelopes feels like a 2005 program that never really got better.

6) Support- Mvelopes support sucks. Their engineers often take a 1-3 days to fix an issue, and their chat function takes forever to communicate problems/solutions and is not available on weekends…..which is often when I catch up on budgeting.

Bob
Bob

Fantastic review Alex. Thank you! Though you do have one glaring error in your monthly pricing $99/year would be $99/12 = $8.25/month for EveryDollar Plus not $14.99/month and $50/year would be $50/12 = 4.1666667/month for YNAB not $5/month.

Tara
Tara

Thank you for this comparison. My first year of YNAB is about to run out this month and I’ve been considering switching to Every Dollar based on the one thing that I think ED does, but YNAB does not- the ability to budget your “to be budgeted” money around on the app. So far, I don’t believe that is possible with YNAB and it is super frustrating to me, who rarely takes the time to do anything at a desktop anymore. But those other downsides of ED sound more frustrating to me than this one thing! (Fingers crossed they’ll add that feature to the app soon!)

John
John

You can do this now in the YNAB app!

NoPlaceLeft
NoPlaceLeft

Alex,
Thanks so much for this. We were about to try out EDP but you saved us hours! Also excited to hear that your a disciple of Christ! Go Jesus!

Kelly Krause
Kelly Krause

Dear Alex,

I used EDP for about a year. I found it easy to use at first, but became frustrated with little things. I agree that the inability of the program to simplify the input of my expenditures was annoying. Everydollar never recognized repeat payments (such as my monthly mortgage, etc). One of my biggest frustrations was their customer support. I could email or call, but I preferred to contact someone in person. Neither way allowed me to have a timely response. I usually had to wait for an email reply ( at least 24 hours). If I called, Instead of having me call a specific number and wait for support, I had to request to have a support person call me back. Of course, I would often miss the call – which might be a day or two later, and then we’d have to play phone tag to connect, and when I connected (finally) it wasn’t always at a convenient time to share my question. I also think that ED’s $90 fee is a bit pricey. I can buy quicken for about the same price and have a program that offers so much more. ED also only tracked data for about 8 months, and I was frustrated when trying to access expenditures with it for tax purposes.

beth
beth

Actually, more importantly, are you able to speak to the security of both? I find I’ve come the place where I hand over my bank account login information and it’s making me very nervous.

chris
chris

YNAB also has manual import, you can log in to your bank’s site and download the transactions and then import them into YNAB, I just love the direct import feature it makes things a lot easier to keep track of your actual balance.

beth
beth

I’m wondering, since DR’s big thing is paying off debt, if EveryDollar is any good for that function? I don’t know a lot about either one, and haven’t tried them yet. Trying to see which is better for me first.

Bruce Varney
Bruce Varney

Agreed YNAB wins. Another big benefit is support for negative transaction amounts – my paycheck has a lot of these, and I like to keep track of them (how can I see what I’m saving if one of my major savings – 401k – isn’t accounted for).

In addition, EveryDollar’s absolute refusal to import American Express accounts (due to Dave Ramsey’s personal issues with the company) is a killer – I get 3% back on groceries with my AMEX Blue Everyday Card, and with a family of 6, we buy A LOT of groceries.

One benefit of EveryDollar in the budget balancing arena is that it allows me to balance budgets over time rather than across categories. For example, if I overspend on entertainment in June, I prefer to cover that by reducing entertainment spending in July, not by taking money from groceries. The only way to do this with YNAB is to “steal” from one category in June, then “pay back” from that category in July – which is two separate adjustments; it’s automatic with EveryDollar.

Linda
Linda

Alex this is the most helpful review of these two products I have found yet and I’m very grateful. You answered all of my questions and now I can continue using YNAB with no looking across the fence at ED! Thank you :)

Sheila
Sheila

What would you recommed for someone who is self-employed and doesn’t have a set amount coming in each month? I’m a mystery shopper and work with dozens of companies, though not always the same ones each month. And I pay out on various shops, from restarants to theatres to car repair shops, and get reimbursed anywhere from 4-10 weeks later, along with a shop payment that ranges from $4 up to $50 or more. What would track my spending, allow me to save and let me budget with such vastly changing numbers each month?

Michele
Michele

Hi Alex,
I’m a former YNAB classic user but it’s been YEARS since I used the program. Considering getting back into the budgeting game again and using the new YNAB. Now that it offers to connect to all accounts online, is there a problem with duplicate entries between syncing accounts after entering transactions manually via the phone app? Or, is it smart enough to recognize I already entered a transaction manually? Hope this question makes sense!

Also, thanks for this great comparison! I’m more interested in YNAB more than ever.

Rachel
Rachel

Hi, Alex, have you compared NeoBudget and YNAB? They seem kind of similar on the surface, though I don’t know a whole lot about either except cursory reading. NeoBudget’s presentation on their site is cleaner, but I’ve actually never used an envelope system or $0 budget. For a decade I’ve been keeping track of all my transactions in a spreadsheet (a sheet for each month, sheets for the year, monthly cashflow, taxes, etc.; everything from each month filters to where it belongs in the rest). Now I’m trying to decide whether to to switch to one of these programs, rather than depending on my familiar spreadsheet system which takes a lot of time…and I’m behind right now from being quite sick the last few months (think: large stacks of paper on desk needing to be filed/receipts needing to be entered into spreadsheet).

Steve
Steve

Alex
I have just started to use Everydollar and am somewhat frustrated with the lack of any real reporting or downloading of the data into something like a csv or even doc file to use for Budget Committee meetings. Does YNAB have any reporting other than printing the web page?

Bruce Varney
Bruce Varney

Mint.com is the best when it comes to reporting (and it’s free). Unfortunately it’s not quite as good at tracking your budget, so it depends on your needs…

Laura
Laura

Hi Alex,
I use EDP, I’m fine paying for it and working with it’s quirks bc I like the easy interface.
Do you have a post to elaborate more on the end of the month balancing of the budget and moving into a new month (regardless of the platform…)
That’s a step that I haven’t been too clear on how to do…

SlowTorque
SlowTorque

Can YNAB split a transaction across multiple expenses. I shop at Target and Walmart a lot and as such 1 transaction may be for a shirt, dog food, a Blu-Ray, and a mop. I would want this transaction then split across clothing, pet supplies, entertainment, and cleaning supplies budgets.

Alan
Alan

My frustration of trying to go from YNAB4 to nYNAB revolves around handling of credit cards (worked through it during trial), loss of ability to go see multiple months for budgeting, and inability to place projected income into future months in order to do strategic forecasting. Focusing on budget month to month is good short term tactical planning but is a killer for strategic planning. YNAB4 allowed both.

Every Dollar was even more frustrating and I gave up after a month as I have nYNAB. Hope YNAB stops trying to force a single way of budgeting on its users instead of allowing them to use the tool in innovative ways.

Cory

The problem with both EveryDollar and YNAB is that the categorizing happens after you’ve already purchased! Envudu allows you to categorize your transactions before they happen! http://www.envudu.com

ATKomrad

Most apps allow you to create rules that automatically categorize transactions. I know both Mint and YNAB do. Neither of them were perfect as you can only map a merchant/store to a category, but for me using the merchant and the transaction amount would be best.

When would this be helpful? Example, I subscribe to Apple Music and Apple Cloud storage. Both are billed by Apple, but one is 9.99/month is categorized as Entertainment expense, while the other is 2.99/month and is categorized as Cloud Storage category.

It would be easy to create a rule to categorize these if I could use merchant, vendor, and even date fields in the rule.

Alexis
Alexis

I wholeheartedly agree with your complaint about reconciling at the end of the year. Since EveryDollar is new I am hopeful that updates are forthcoming that will work out some of the kinks. YNAB sounds awesome but I’m just not willing to pay for a budgeting tool.

Amanda
Amanda

I’ve used a spreadsheet to budget for years. I’ve started listening to Dave Ramsey, so I tried out EveryDollar. I had a big shock. Since EveryDollar requires you to do a $0 budget, I found out I was $160 over every month! No wonder I couldn’t keep any money in my savings account!

I owe EveryDollar for this revelation, but I find myself pulling my hair out at other times with the tool. Why can’t I organize my bills by date? This is so incredibly basic. Am I just missing the feature in EveryDollar? I didn’t find transactions within the app until I’d been using it for over a week, so maybe I’m missing this feature too. It’s a dealbreaker for me. If I can’t see how my bills layout timeline-wise, then I won’t continue to use EveryDollar.

Look like YNAB does that, so I’ll give it a try.

Brent S
Brent S

I’ve been using Everydollar since October 2015. Since then, I’ve paid off about $7,000 in family debts (car and student loans) and have saved about $8,000 for a rainy day fund. (Along with twin boys having surgeries each year.) Everydollar makes it easy to track and focus your expenses. I’ve done most of it with the free version, tracking transactions manually. But, I’m planning to get the plus version because they do such a great job making tracking expenses so easy in both the mobile and desktop apps. I’ve been trying YNAB—I really wanted it to work—and have tried Mint. They’re just not as easy to do the simple tracking I’m looking for, even though they may offer more advanced features.

Charley
Charley

Can you set up your own custom account categories in YNAB? The inability of Mint to allow this critical feature (at least for me) was a deal breaker.

Ellen
Ellen

Hi Alex! I am new to all of this, but am looking for a program that allows for being paid twice a month, and different bills to go out for each paycheck. Is that possible with YNAB?

crunchylittlemama
crunchylittlemama

I get paid twice a month and so does my husband. I do what you are asking for all the time with YNAB.