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The New You Need a Budget (YNAB) vs YNAB 4

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Official support for YNAB 4 will end October 31, 2019. This primarily impacts Mac users upgrading to Mac OS (Catalina), however, there appears to be a workaround.

It’s been almost two years since You Need a Budget switched to a web based, subscription model for their software. When I first tried the new version in January 2016, there were significant gaps in features that prevented me from switching.

Now that YNAB’s had a couple years to evolve, it’s time to take a second look.

So here’s a review comparing YNAB to the old YNAB. For this review, YNAB means the web based, subscription version and YNAB 4 refers to the old, downloadable version.

I used YNAB and YNAB 4 side-by-side for about a month and a half in order to answer these questions:

  1. Is YNAB worth using for new users?
  2. Should YNAB 4 users upgrade to YNAB?
  3. Would I recommend YNAB over Mint or Dave Ramsey’s EveryDollar?
  4. Is it time to look for YNAB alternatives?

Well, here we go. Let’s jump in and see what I like about YNAB compared to YNAB 4.

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.

The YNAB Good

Direct Import

This was probably one of the more common knocks against YNAB 4–it didn’t automatically import transactions from your financial accounts. Mint has this feature. So does EveryDollar. And now YNAB does too!

YNAB - Direct Import Feature

Goals

YNAB makes it a lot easier to save towards specific category goals. There are three ways to use them.

YNAB - Goals Feature

  1. Target Category Balance. This is useful when you have a larger expense or savings goal you’re working towards (e.g., down payment on a house or an emergency fund).
  2. Target Category Balance by Date. Similar to the above but with a due date. I buy a new iPhone every two years. This type of goal is handy for that. I say I want to save X dollars by Y date and YNAB tells me how much to save each month.
  3. Monthly Funding Goal (e.g., $50/month for car maintenance)

I found this to be a helpful feature. It removed a lot of manual calculations I used to do in order to figure out how much to save each month.

Quicker Reconciliation

YNAB - Reconcile FeatureIn YNAB 4 you used to have to reconcile each transaction individually. The direct import feature now makes reconciling accounts much quicker (assuming you’ve kept on top of adding transactions as they happen).

It’s as easy as clicking Reconcile Account and then Yes if the account balance lines up with what your financial institution says. If it’s off, the reconciliation process is similar to YNAB 4 and requires some manual work. But more often than not, I had the same balances so reconciliation was a breeze.

Moving Money is Easier

YNAB - Move Money FeatureMoving money from one category to another is a pretty common task. It wasn’t a terrible process in YNAB 4, however, YNAB makes it even easier. You just click on a category balance and tell it how much money to move where.

They’ve also added this ability to the mobile apps. Something that was missing from YNAB 4.

The YNAB Bad

Missing Features

  • No ability to search transactions (added October 2016)
  • No reporting capabilities (added October 2016)
  • No manual import of  bank statements (added June/July 2016)

The good news is all those features have been added. Just a bummer it took longer than expected for search and reports.

Can’t Rollover a Negative Category Balance

YNAB removed the ability to rollover a negative category balance to the next month. I know that’s (typically) not good budgeting practice but you’d be surprised how many valid uses there are for it! For example, expenses you plan on being reimbursed for.

YNAB - Overspending SettingsIn YNAB 4 you had a couple options. I could carry it over to the next month as a negative balance (my preferred method) or let YNAB automatically bring the category balance to zero (by taking money from what I have available to budget for the next month).

YNAB won’t let you move to the next month with a negative balance. This was the deal-breaking feature for me because it makes it difficult to track reimbursable expenses.

However, I did some research and found a solution I liked. Read about it here. It involves creating an off-budget tracking account and transferring any reimbursable expenses to it.

It was initially a little confusing to understand, but as one commenter said, it made a lot more sense when I went through the steps in my YNAB account.

Here’s a short video of what it looks like.

 

I like it because it creates an easily accessible place for tracking reimbursements (it’s in the sidebar). With a quick glance, I can tell how much is outstanding and who owes what.

One caveat. This works great if your reimbursements are on a credit card account.

It gets a bit trickier when the reimbursement is from a checking/savings account. In this situation, YNAB will take money out of the next month’s budget to compensate for the overspending. In order to avoid that, I cover the overspending with a different budget category in order to not impact the amount available for budget next month. I then mark where that money came from in the memo field so that when the reimbursement comes in, I can put the money back.

Not ideal, but I rarely have reimbursements on my checking/savings account, so not a big deal.

Conclusion

Let me go back and answer the three questions I posed above in reverse order.

Is it time to look for YNAB alternatives?

Definitely not. All the missing features from the initial launch have been added. So in it’s current form, YNAB covers all the main bases. It does everything most users will need from a budgeting app. I still haven’t found a budgeting app that’s as polished and tailor made for budgeting as YNAB.

Once you understand it’s methodology and how to use the app, you come to appreciate how well built the app is. Everything fits like a glove (with the exception of carrying over negative balances). ;) Where other budgeting apps feel like Honda Accords (they get the job done), YNAB feels like a Ferrari (it’s pretty and high-performing).

While I was initially hesitant to move full-time to YNAB when it was first released, I’ve done so now and have been using the web-based version for a year.

With a year’s worth of usage, I can say YNAB adds enough value to justify the recurring expense. The key features for me are:

  • Goals make it easier to remember and know how much to budget to hit my savings goals.
  • Quicker reconciling because of auto-importing of transactions. Seriously, a big time saver.
  • Quick budget options like budgeting the average amount spent over the last year in a category.
  • A better iPhone app with budgeting capabilities.

While YNAB 4’s iPhone app was great, it only let you add transactions. The current YNAB app has 90% feature parity with the web version. Meaning you can do all your budgeting from your phone if you want. I still prefer using a computer for most of my budgeting, but the new app is nice for some things (namely, approving imported transactions and covering overspending quickly after adding a transaction).

Would I recommend YNAB over Mint or Dave Ramsey’s EveryDollar?

Absolutely. Even though YNAB is a relatively young product, it’s already a much better budgeting tool than Mint or EveryDollar.

You can read my review of YNAB4 and EveryDollar to get a better idea of where I feel EveryDollar falls short. And don’t get me started on Mint. I wouldn’t touch Mint (for budgeting) with a ten foot pole. It’s so commercialized (designed to sell you stuff) and was definitely not built for budgeting.

Not to mention, no other company has more comprehensive budgeting classes, guides, and resources. This is one thing I love about the company. They are passionate about helping people gain control of their money.

Should YNAB 4 users upgrade to YNAB?

Tough call. I’d say yes for most users. In my opinion, it’s better to upgrade sooner rather than later.

While it does stink YNAB is now a recurring subscription, I’m fine paying for it. The value YNAB adds to my life is worth the price. Some of the new features like automatic import, faster reconciliation, ease of moving money, and quick budget options are noticeable improvements from YNAB 4.

If you upgrade, there is a way to import your YNAB 4 data into YNAB. When I tested the import feature back in early 2016, it worked without a hitch. But this time around, some of my numbers didn’t match up. Rather than take the time to troubleshoot, I just started a new budget from scratch. I did save my YNAB 4 data in a separate budget though so I could reference later if needed. Hopefully you have better luck importing than I did.

The Toolkit for YNAB browser extension is also worth checking out.

However, I know there’s still a vocal contingent that will ride out YNAB 4 until it dies. The good news is YNAB Classic was updated to support Dropbox’s new API. I was initially worried that wasn’t going to happen which would’ve rendered the app useless after June 2016. So for the diehard YNAB 4 users, the app will continue working for the foreseeable future.

The only thing that would break the app is an incompatible macOS or iOS update which I don’t think will happen with either of the next updates. So that gives YNAB 4 a good shot at working through 2018.

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

Is YNAB worth using for new users?

If you’re brand new to YNAB and it’s methodology, I would still recommend YNAB. As a new YNAB user, you have the luxury of learning how to use YNAB and it’s updated methodology from scratch without any “baggage” from the YNAB 4 days.

Final Thoughts

Through all of this, I’ve learned a valuable life lesson.

People are naturally resistant to change. I’m no exception. In all honesty, the initial release of YNAB would’ve been fine for me. I was just too stubborn to adapt my existing budgeting process. I could’ve easily found my “red arrow” workaround back then but I didn’t want to.

Ironically enough, I’ve been pondering what it’s like to get older. I’ve seen several people at later stages in their life struggle. Partly because I believe they’re holding onto the past and not embracing the future. They believe the best days are behind them.

Honestly, I don’t want to live like that. I want to believe the future will always be better than the past. But in order to do that, I have to embrace change and be willing to adapt.

So that’s one reason why I’ve decided to upgrade. YNAB 4 is the past. YNAB is the future. I believe YNAB will continue to evolve and add new features YNAB 4 could only dream of.

#endrandomness

Where have you landed? Are you going to upgrade or look for YNAB alternatives? What are your reasons?

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John
John

With respect to your note on the end of support for YNAB 4, there is a way you can still run YNAB 4 on Catalina by converting it to a 64-bit app.

https://gitlab.com/bradleymiller/Y64

Victor Tso
Victor Tso

If I may share my humble approach to reimbursements, please read on.

I incur these expenses monthly and it can amount to significant inflows and outflows over time (obviously balanced). If I’m not careful, I could sometimes run into trouble with balances not lining up with other bills.

Therefore, I simply created a reimbursements category and ACTUALLY PUT MONEY IN IT. It goes down when I incur and back up when I get reimbursed. I’m not always timely with expense reports so the lag is important.

For those who are loathe to set aside idle money still, perhaps using the emergency fund to handle this will work the same way. The point is that you are indeed incurring liabilities, however temporarily, so depending on your situation you may actually want to make sure you have funds available to cover the activity.

John
John

Hi Alex,

Great review.

One thing no one seems to be afraid of regarding the online budgeting (any systems) is that these companies use your data, analyze them, profile your spending and saving habits and most probably sell them to interested (ad) companies… This is my main reason I prefer offline budgeting..

The other reason is the aforementioned online security. Unfortunately, none of the banks (that I know of) is open to the idea to create a read-only account. I do not like the idea to provide any 3rd party with my actual bank account logins…

Bill
Bill

Thank you for your review: it was very helpful. I’m here because I want an OFFLINE budgeting software. I agree with all the commenters below who say it’s “very insecure/ bad enough that the banks are online.” Do you not read the news? Millions and MILLIONS of people’s information exposed by hacks. And you want to give some app access to all your finances?? I am going to go check out YNAB4 though. Thanks again!

John
John

I’m still using YNAB 4. First of all – I probably wouldn’t auto-import my transactions anyway – manually entering them has been one of the most eye-opening experiences of my financial problems. It helps me get out of bad habit spending before I get into it.

Secondly, while I don’t mind paying subscription service, $6.99 seems high to me. Yes, high. As in, I pay $8.50 a month (annual subscription) for a 5 user Office 365 subscription (that’s with 1TB of online storage for each user, email accounts, web office, and full versions of office). So paying subscription after subscription for one off applications seems absurd to me. Don’t get me wrong, YNAB is great software and I understand the support and community aspects of it, but $6.99 a month just seems way too high. Try $3.99 a month and I’d me much more willing to jump.

Finally – I still prefer the old forums (now called community) to the new one. Call me old fashioned, but if something isn’t broke – don’t fix it.

Anonymous
Anonymous

I quit YNAB when it went subscription and became web based, those were the deal breakers for me. I was a very loyal customer and told other people about the software, now I warn people against it.

Garf
Garf

Yep the same for me … Im currently sticking with ynab4 but seriously thinking about switching to Banktivity despite that it doesn’t do budgeting as well … a one off cost where I know what I am working with without the need to be on line .. and with much better reporting/drill downs etc
I also dont really want my finance details out in the web .. still feel uneasy about Ynab security.

Harmony
Harmony

Great video on handling reimbursables, by the way. I have been trying to figure out how to handle that. So helpful! Thanks!

Harmony
Harmony

Just want to add my 2 cents as well: One of their “missing” features that has not been added back yet is a desktop app. When they launched their new service they clearly stated they would put out a desktop app in the future. I don’t mind paying for the service – it’s worth it in my opinion – but I want to be able to work offline. There are times I don’t have an internet connection but still need to review my budget. I am starting to feel misled that they promised a desktop app but have not delivered. If they’re not going to do it, I wish they’d just say so.

Mel
Mel

just don’t like that it is web based. Very insecure and don’t want to link my bank accounts to such a thing. Bad enough the bank accounts themselves are online…

can you recommend any budgeting apps that don’t store data in the cloud?

Eric
Eric

Use YNAB 4! I love it, and will never switch to YNAB as long as it is a web based subscription service.

Brandon
Brandon

YNAB 4 was a finished product. Aside from adding easier goals, it’s still a very viable product. The problem is, the company needed to stay in business. Solution: SAAS (software as a service) and change your algorithm for “success” in personal finance.

nYNAB misses at least one very important pillar, for me at least. Living on last month’s paycheck. This was completely abandoned for age-of-money, a completely pointless concept. If you have enough set aside in an emergency fund and live on last month’s salary, you’re set. The rest of your dollars should be either given jobs or invested once you reach this point. There’s no point in having $100k in your checking account if all you really need in an emergency is $45k. The rest should be earning a decent return in a longer-term investment. Who cares what the age of your money is beyond what it takes for your pre-determined pad in case it all hits the fan.

nYNAB also obsesses over credit cards. It annoyingly shoves extra categories at the top in both the apps and the web interface. Spending from categories and transferring to pay is a simple enough concept. Somehow, they’ve managed to make it more important than it should and now it’s even easier to “borrow” on your credit card. BAD nYNAB, BAD!

One piece of evidence that this new SAAS, method and interface isn’t doing all that great is the yearly subscription. They traded off an additional $10 for a $50 yearly subscription because customers were bailing after 1-2 months on the horrible failure that is nYNAB. Now they lock you in for a year.

You mentioned YNAB 4 is the past. While it’s the previous version, the new version fails miserably. In this case, the future is worst than the past.

Annoyances / brokenness I didn’t mention: split transactions, recurring transactions, sorting & transaction entry in the account register, a step back in reports.

You’d think after 2 years they’d have a polished product.

All that YNAB 4 could use is a mobile app facelift and the automated goals.

Andrew
Andrew

Alex, I’m a bit late to the discussion. Thanks for the article. I read it recently because I thought it worth checking if after nearly 2 years someone actually thought the new YNAB was any good. My initial view when it was introduced was that it was done simply to generate more money for the YNAB company. To quote their own words: “the subscription model was a better model for us” – No doubt. $50 per annum per user is a NPV cost paid by a lifetime user of over $1000.

Fast forward 2 years and I maintain my view that the new YNAB:
– imposes an onerous cost on users
– focuses so much on the cloud that it reduced basic functionality to get there
– is a functionally inferior design for users compare to YNAB 4.
– no forward planning beyond one month?
– no ability to see what my multiple bank balances might look like in a few weeks time based on forecast expenses?
– no carry over expenses?
– I don’t want “workarounds”. A workaround means the software design is fundamentally flawed. If I have to use a workaround I will end up not using the software and not budgeting, and therefore losing money. This is human behaviour 101 when it comes to system design of any kind.

A note on the cloud:
– IMO web based software is STOOOPID. It’s clumsy and requires a connection, and BTW what is this “we’ll only look at your data sometimes” crap? By comparison, desktop app and mobile apps that sync mean I’m in control of my data and I don’t need to be online all the time to do my budgeting.

A note on getting transaction info direct from my bank,:
– Many people think downloading transactions from your bank is a good thing for budgeting. NO NO NO NO NO NO. When you enter all transactions yourself it reinforces you taking personal responsibility for your spending actions and reminds you on every occasion where you are at with your budget. Reliance on bank downloads is LAZY and makes you lose money. It is not just HIGHLY overrated, it WORKS AGAINST spending discipline..

My conclusion 2 years on: YNAB 5 is a massively overpriced, fundamentally flawed system which is missing a number of the main requirements for successful budgeting, whereas YNAB 4 is almost perfect in form and function. I will stick with YNAB 4 for as long as it works and then I’ll move to something else or write my own software and sell that because there will be a gaping hole in the market for the functionality of YNAB 4. I would not move to YNAB 5 even if YNAB was PAYING ME the annual fee.

Brandon
Brandon

I’m with you Andrew. While nYNAB is newer, it’s in no way better.

Initially, the fee was $5 monthly or $60 / yr. So many people were bailing after 1-2 months they decided to lock people in at a yearly rate.

Just tried switching, after 2 years, still feels like a beta product, like you said, designed to fit the web instead of the other way around.

Tim
Tim

I agree 100% with everything you said!

Garf
Garf

Andrew, I could not have put it better.

I agree with just about everything you say here. The one thing I do like about YNAB is the simplicity of the user interface, the hints provided and the ability to quickly and easily transfer amounts between categories, but this is cancelled out many time over by the negatives.

Personally my biggest beef is ‘cloud based app’ and all you say above followed by the cost! (Compare this with a microsoft office licence… it just doesn’t add up!!).
I am also not convinced by security provisions and lack of certification from someone like Norton. I would NEVER connect directly to my bank, but still am not happy with my transactions details (downloaded from banks separately) being uploaded to the cloud just so I can process my own data. All the clauses about YNAB working with third parties just doesn’t convince me at this point in time.

Like you I await another player to put an offline app into play once YNAB4 falls off a cliff. Thankfully there is at least one out there that is looking promising but not yet quite there!

Velnius
Velnius

Andrew, please inform me, when you will write your own software. Because YNAB has digged a hudge hole and is going to fall into it. I won’t follow.

Hannah

Thanks so much for the video on how you handle reimbursements – I was having trouble getting my head around it, and the video made perfect sense.

Ashwin

I am exactly in the same boat as you were a year ago. I am using YNAB 4 since 2011. I tried YNAB last year and gave up as certain features were missing or the way they work had changed.

A mail from YNAB team to retry with another trial period got me going from July.

I resonate with most of your points. One more thing I noticed:
YNAB doesn’t let you budget beyond the next month, while YNAB 4 allows it. I use it for some anticipated future expenses and also to see how much money ends up in a category over a period of time.

I am sure there will be a way to do it in YNAB, but it strikes an old time user like me.

Any thoughts?

Brandon
Brandon

They’ve replaced the concept of “fully buffered” or living on last month’s paycheck with a pointless concept of age-of-money.

My advice: Get fully buffered, work on your emergency fund. Once the emergency fund is full, then invest more or take nicer vacations (or whatever you want jobs for your dollars).

Ami
Ami

Brandon hits the nail on the head. In pursuit of profit, they’ve quite literally detrimentally changed the rules that made YNAB budgeting so successful. Walling off current income to next month was the most crucial of the rules, and they simply erased it from existence. It’s really quite astonishing how profoundly they hobbled their own philosophy and product with this shift, and I’m not sure why. Was it because they simply weren’t competent enough to hire programmers to replicate YNAB4 as a SaaS product, or did they feel the need to make up “improvements” to justify the upsell?

Carole
Carole

I just started researching budgeting tools and this may be a dumb question, but can YNAB be used in place of Quickbooks?

Noly
Noly

I tried the reimbursement workaround and it didn’t quite work for me to transfer the transaction out to off-budget accounts. I use payee field to track who owes me what which in reporting I can filter only transactions of this “to be reimbursed” category and the pie chart group them by payee.

In this workaround, I have to move the person name to memo field, To see reports, I have to do searches manually for each person who owes me unless I create one off-budget account per person??

Any suggestions ??

This whole thing started as a workaround to accommodate reimbursements, and now we need a workaround for the workaround?? LOL

Ami
Ami

I have a great suggestion: use YNAB4.

Darren Chapman
Darren Chapman

Hey Alex, thanks heaps for your post here. Such good information.
I did find a post on Reddit from a user then a comment from YNAB’s community manager.
https://www.reddit.com/r/ynab/comments/6cmi30/ynab_4_ynab_classic_for_ios_updated_a_little_spit/
Looks like they’ve updated the YNAB Classic app for the Dropbox API changes!
WOOT!
Anyway, thought you’d like to know.
Cheers again for the great post.
Darren

Rachel
Rachel

What re creating a fake income category to temporarily cover the reimbursement, from YNAB’s perspetive, so it doesn’t mess up the rest of your budget? I have a friend who created a fake income category so she could forecast future months when she needs to.

Steve S
Steve S

I currently use Quicken to track all of my financial information. Do you know if there is an import feature into YNAB from Quicken? I’d really like to keep all of my info on one program. I’m sold on YNAB, but I’d hate to ‘lose’ all my past history.

Liz J

I’m a previous YNAB 4 user who went over to Moneydance when YNAB 5 was first released. However, the bugetting in Moneydance is not good, not a patch on YNAB. I don’t want to use YNAB 5 for reasons that others have stated, most notably that it is online and I want a desktop app and to keep my data private. However, in the end I have concluded that I need the tools YNAB offers and it does what it does very well. I’ll be sticking with YNAB 4 though as long as I can and will only switch to NYNAB when I have to

Rachel
Rachel

Liz, When I saw your comment last night, I sent YNAB a question re it (I’ve been pummeling them with questions). Here is their reply:
“YNAB staff will only access your budget with your permission. For instance, if you have an issue in your budget and would like our help figuring out what’s going on, we can send you a request for permission – only after you agree will we access your budget. You can take a look at our security policy for more details on how we keep your information safe.

Also, we don’t have a Desktop App for the new YNAB right now, but it’s in our plans. Although we aren’t able to commit to how much offline capability that app will or won’t have, we are working hard on making it a great companion to the web app.”

Disappointed
Disappointed

I’m in the minority, I guess, because I’m really unhappy with nynab. I made the switch recently, but ended up closing my account and am sticking with ynab4. My ynab4 process is to budget once or twice a month. I reconcile my accounts, enter future payments for the upcoming weeks or month (as most are set, recurring), move money among categories, etc. Ynab4 shows my account balances, considering those future/pending payments. Unfortunately nynab cannot do this. For example, hypothetical, with ynab4 if you have $1,000 is savings and $5 in checking, and you enter a payment to post next week for $100 out of checking, you can easily see that your checking account is going to overdraft. Nynab doesn’t offer any type of running balance that accommodates future/pending expenses, so you never really know if your account is sufficiently funded to cover upcoming payments. You literally have to use a calculator to figure it out. This made me really uncomfortable. I had many (many!) email conversations with multiple ynab support people, who were very nice, but they finally admitted that nynab only works if you use one bank account. (That was shocking to me as I imagine many people have more than one bank account. ???) So that was a deal breaker for me as I use a checking account and savings account. While I don’t regularly move money from savings into checking, there are several times a year (like when paying taxes or for a vacation I’ve saved for, etc.) when I need to do this, and I want to be confident that my account is appropriately funded. One of the beautiful features of ynab4 is that I don’t have to babysit my money or frantically check my accounts twice a day. That doesn’t appear to be the philosophy with nynab. Major, major disappointment as I’ve been a loyal fan of ynab for several years.

andyb
andyb

I also have moved from 4 to the ‘new’ ynab and love it…. there is an initial learning curve to be sure but now that I have gotten into the habit of entering every transaction on he mobile app as I make it- my budget is a great tool that helps me keep track of every dollar spent and has shown me that I needed to make some changes — all for my own good. the direct import is still very flawed with my credit union, I keep having to manually reset the connection- still not a huge deal but an annoyance; you can import the file manually if you want to but if you keep up with adding transactions on the mobile app (works perfectly) there is really no need to as long as the balances agree. I have taken all but my checking account off of direct import

oh and on the ‘red arrow’ from 4, if you have reimbursed expenses– use a credit card (you are technically borrowing anyway until you get reimbursed) credit spending does roll forward — it just warns you over and over that you are increasing debt by not budgeting for it this month.

Salassin
Salassin

Only recently a huge attack on dns servers worldwide caused outage of a lot of online services, including ynab.
This is my primary reason I prefer not to switch. Having my complete financial history and budget only online, seems to me to be nonsensical. Is there any word on an offline sync possibility yet?

Synlcops
Synlcops

Totally Agree. I would pay a monthly subscription like Evernote, but I don’t want stuff online. I like the the Desktop App.

Rachel
Rachel

I asked YNAB the Desktop App question last night. Here is there reply:
“…we don’t have a desktop app for the new YNAB right now, but it’s in our plans. Although we aren’t able to commit to how much offline capability that app will or won’t have, we are working hard on making it a great companion to the web app.

Laszlo Farkas
Laszlo Farkas

Thanks for the review. You are probably right in saying that one should look ahead, and that YNAB will become something that YNAB 4 could not even dream of. Before I make the move, however, I have one question: is bank transaction import now an integral part of the process? Or is it still an option to stick with a with a fully manual transaction registry and reconcile manually in YNAB? I live overseas and banks here do not give you the option to connect with budgeting software. The best they can do is a CSV export, but I assume that is not what is meant by connecting to my bank account to import transactions. Thanks.

I am also unsure how the inability of carrying over negative balances will affect my practice. In YNAB 4, I never use the budgeting feature, so I always have negative balances in every category. I only used the software for keeping track of my spending. Comparison to previous months was always enough for discipline. Anyhow, if the category balance starts from 0 every month, that will be fine for me.

Samuel
Samuel

Thanks a lot for your review, it really helps me a lot in my search for a piece of software to replace my old excel spreadsheet. YNAB looks great but I definitely prefer a stand-alone app. I think I’ll give a try to MoneyDance or MoneyBrio.

Jess
Jess

Hello! Thanks for your review! I’m eagerly awaiting for your Jan 2017 review as I haven’t gone back to trying the new YNAB after the trial period. I’m a YNAB4 user (been using it since v3 and love it tons). I note from the comments that the search/report function now exists. However, the red arrow function is still missing?

I’m hoping I can continue to use YNAB4 both desktop and mobile app but looks like this year will be the last year. What alternatives/suggestions do you have? Thanks in advance! Glad to know i’m not the only YNAB4er that can’t seem to like the new YNAB atm.

StotheD
StotheD

Thanks. I’m waiting for your Jan 2017 review before beginning. We are currently using Mvelopes but dislike it. When will you write an updated review for the new YNAB? Hopefully soon! Thanks again.

Andylytical
Andylytical

Regarding “workaround for negative category balances”:
YNAB has suggested (in their docs at http://docs.youneedabudget.com/article/183-reimbursements):
Pay the reimbursement up front, and track it with a one-time future dated transaction.

I just switched to YNAB (from YNAB4 after 4 years). I plan to try out the above method. I am carrying over two reimbursement categories with large negative balances. One other thought I had was to carry forward those negative balances manually each month until I can pay them in full and adjust to the new method. I hope that I can just click on the “To Be Budgeted” balance and move a negative amount to the reimbursable category. If not, I expect I can just re-assign the negative value manually.

In general, if reimbursable expenses are a main part of your daily life, I think it makes sense to make it a goal to have a well funded reimbursable category.

Keith
Keith

Alex, you mention in a comment you’ve found a workaround for the negative category balances. I’m interested to learn what your workaround is and see your updated post here in January!

utahhomesgirl

I’ve been using YNAB4 for about 18 months and love it. I tried switched to the New YNAB at hated it. A lot. I love that I can see 3 months at a time in the budget page- and I can see a lot of categories at once. The New YNAB annoys me because I can’t get the side-by-side and I used that a lot to compare months and plan ahead. I don’t like that I have to scroll so much to see all of my budget categories. I hope to use old YNAB for as long as possible before switching, which I think will be inevitable since they won’t support the old one forever. :/

YNAB User 151
YNAB User 151

The YNAB4 mobile apps will stop working in 2017.

For all those YNAB4 users that use the YNAB Classic iPhone or Android apps, the mobile apps will stop syncing with Dropbox on 6/28/2017 as Dropbox will be shutting down its v1 API. If YNAB does not update the apps to support the v2 API, which sounds unlikely as official support for YNAB4 ends on 12/31/2016, then you will be stuck with only using the desktop version of YNAB4. Also, it wouldn’t make sense for YNAB to update the old classic apps if they are trying to convert people to the subscription model. So with that being said, YNAB4 users should prepare to find alternatives if mobile syncing is a desired feature for you.

https://blogs.dropbox.com/developers/2016/06/api-v1-deprecated/

Rahmat Awaludin
Rahmat Awaludin

Dropbox sync worked for today :)

Kerri
Kerri

I’ve been using YNAB for about 4 years and it has helped me and my family immensely. I have recommended it to others many many times. However, I will not be switching to nYNAB. I’m not a fan of the starting over process, since I look back into history all the time to verify how much I paid for something, or when I bought something. I cannot live without the search function and I cannot start over from scratch with no history. Further, like you, I need to have temporary negative balances. My expense reimbursements are huge every month and there is no way to fit this in to my budget if I can’t let my categories go negative. I would be borrowing from other categories all over the place and it would get way confusing and require lots of outside math to then figure out how much really should be in each category. I don’t like that. Alex do you know how long we can stay with old YNAB? I just got a new iphone 7 and everything looks like it transferred over just fine. I’m synching etc. If I will be forced to switch, I’m going to need to start researching other programs.

Geri
Geri

I’m still a YNAB 4 user and want to avoid going to the web version as long as I can. However, I noticed that 2017 isn’t in the Time Frame drop down box. Does anyone know how to update?

Peter Hoy
Peter Hoy

I started using YNAB 4 end of 2015. I didn’t even know about this whole “new YNAB” controversy until yesterday. Saturday, my wife and I got new iphone 7’s, and all the apps were imported automatically (good thing) including “YNAB Classic”. We were using it to enter transactions but “Syncing…” never completes. So the one of the biggest advantages (multi-users, multi-devices, synced data set) isn’t working.

Anybody run into this? … find a fix for this? … suggestions? … anyone? … please?!?!?!?

Regarding YNAB 4 features …
– I never have had and never want to hook into my bank accounts.
(that’s just me)
– I always selected to have negative balances carry to next month so I can see them and balance them out … under my own control. I just did a review of all 2016 categories, and made sure that, by the end of the year (but not all individual months necessarily), all were positive.
– I read below that category searches and output to csv files was in the new YNAB. This is very important to me also. I have one rental property and this REALLY helps speed up the data gathering portion of tax preparations.

I’m a software engineer. I was starting to develop my own tool when I came across YNAB 4. It was created just how I was trying to do things. The tool has a lot of great subtle shortcuts … hopefully they are all in the new one, if and when I try it out.

Ian S
Ian S

For yNAB 4 / Classic, sync’ing needs Dropbox. Their implementation using Dropbox sort-of works, but it fouls up the files if you open a budget file on a computer which doesn’t have Dropbox sync completed before opening YNAB.

G G
G G

What is new YNAB like for people who don’t want YNAB to know anything about accounts at financial institutions? I don’t want to give YNAB any information about my bank account credentials or credit card credentials. No usernames and no passwords. I would prefer to track transactions manually on a mobile app and do manual reconciliation. Is this still possible with the new YNAB?

Ian S
Ian S

You don’t habe to link to anything, can record transactions manually using the app, But no reconciliation is possible without a desktop browser

Ian S
Ian S

Ugh! I’ve just wasted more of my life with nYNAB. Conclusion: it’s still garbage. They should have stuck with the YNAB4 model. Sure, the transaction-import feature is a nice touch. But it doesn’t come even close to fixing their breakages of things like debt or carry-forward. It’s also clear that none of the reviewers have ever tried to use this garbage on a mobile device, whether using the app or the website.

Ian S
Ian S

I did the trial of nYNAB, but quickly ditched it for a few reasons: 1. I don’t like the price, 2. I don’t like it being web-only, 3. I had issues with getting it to link with my American Express account, 4. I resent paying for the privilege of being someone’s beta-tester. 5. Reporting. 6. Some bright spark decided to change the rollover logic to the detriment of usability.

YNAB4 works. If it works, don’t fix it. My biggest problem with YNAB4 is Dropbox. That works, but is a very clunky implementation. The very fact that YNAB implemented it this way convinced me they’re not too clever with the security or stability of a cloud-based solution that concerns my financial stability.

So I may check it out again. Perhaps they’ve improved. But they’ve given me absolutely no incentive to change.

Barbara Stankiewicz
Barbara Stankiewicz

I tried the new Ynab, many of my Ynab 4 available balances were totally different. I also like manual entry and reconciliation… it makes me see where the money is going. I could not search old transactions on my phone in the new ynab either, they said I could on my laptop but I could not get that to work either. I also like being able to carry neg balances in certain categories, especially reimbursable ones. Anyway I will stick with the old Ynab 4, it seems less complicated. Why can’t they support both versions, I would happily pay yearly for Ynab 4.

yaco
yaco

so would I

Brad Hull
Brad Hull

We had used YNAB 4 since late 2012 and when YNAB web became available in early December 2015 we started using both YNAB 4 and YNAB web at the same time, all categories exactly the same and accounts exactly the same and had very few problems that were not user error. When importing our YNAB 4 data into web YNAb became available we imported everything from YNAB 4 to YNAB web (three years of data) with no problems at all (I am still amazed and delighted about that).We are still keeping both versions of YNAB up to date and not having any non user created problems. Probably because we have a very large buffer and no credit cards and no debts of any kind. In the last month YNAB web now has reports and the ability to search transactions and the ability to export to CSV all the budgets transaction and budget data (as a backup if anything goes wrong or for spreadsheet analysis). It should be interesting what happens when they stop supporting YNAB 4 in January 2017.

Christina
Christina

I agree with absolutely everything you said here about YNAB! I love YNAB 4, and tried using YNAB up until Oct 2016 when I ended up cancelling my YNAB subscription to go back to YNAB 4. I deal with a lot of reimbursements for work and I use the rollover-negative-category-balances feature a lot. I tried doing things differently in YNAB, but as you said, I didn’t feel like I had as much control — like I was being forced to do things their way — and it didn’t work for me. Also, without the rollover option, I feel little urgency to repay what I overspend when it doesn’t have to do with work reimbursements; the other features they have to promote savings didn’t work so well for me and it put me on a negative cycle. To YNAB’s credit, when I emailed them with my feature request, they were incredibly prompt, personable, respectful and helpful, and I still adore their software overall; I just prefer the old way and YNAB 4.

Bea
Bea

I was halfway through my trial month when nYNAB was launched, so I made the switch without thinking too much about it. If I’d read this article at the time I might have stuck with YNAB4!

The pro’s / con’s for me are:
– I love the goals and quick budget features; they make it so much faster to budget.
– I enter transactions manually to make myself keep track, so direct import never really mattered to me (there’s also file import now)
– They’ve added search and reports. It was much slower than anticipated, but I actually had them already through a Chrome plugin (Toolkit for YNAB).
– Wouldn’t matter to everyone, but I think nYNAB is prettier than YNAB4.

– On the other hand, the old Rule 4 made a lot more sense to me than “age your money”. My money is ageing because I’m getting close to some big purchases, but I’m not actually living on last month’s income. As soon as I make the purchases the age of my money will plummet. I decided to use the plugin to hide the number so I can concentrate on budgeting for the future.
– The way months interact is confusing, and makes it hard to send money to the future. After budgeting money for Dec, I can keep budgeting for Nov without Nov’s “to be budgeted” changing. Nov essentially steals from Dec’s budget, and I won’t even realise it until I budget more than Dec’s budget, or click over to Dec and see Dec’s negative “to be budgeted”.
– Rollover of negative category balances seems like a good feature! Sounds like flexibility that I don’t know I’m missing.
– The app could be more powerful. It’s great for checking category/account balances and entering transactions, but not much more. The process for moving money around the budget is confusing. I can’t access reports in-app, and I wish I could budget through the app, or at least through a mobile (rather than a desktop) browser.

I never really budgeted before YNAB, so I’m sure there’s a lot of features that I haven’t really thought about. I think at the moment I’m using work-arounds to get the flexibility I want from YNAB.

Loretta S
Loretta S

I really hope they keep supporting YNAB4 for a long time. Since my bank (a Finnish bank) will NEVER allow direct import, I’m not interested in the new YNAB and I will not download it. Maybe it really is time to look for alternatives. Too bad, I have really liked YNAB4.

Lindsey
Lindsey

You can’t download the new one, because it’s only available with an online internet connection to their servers

Anna W
Anna W

What you write about the weird way that negative balances are rolled over, I can completely relate to. I thought I was going crazy because I was so used to the old way, and suddenly I hadn’t budgeted enough money to pay off my credit card in full. It is mind-boggling and makes me feel uncertain of the accuracy of my budget.

Mike
Mike

Does YNAB (either version) allow you to split transactions in to multiple categories? For example, a $120 Target receipt might contain two or three categories of budget items: food, clothing, car repair, etc.

Tiz
Tiz

FYI, reports have been released. As being new to YNAB, I would like to hear if this announcement meets expectations.

Jesse

I cant agree more. Nixing the search feature in my transaction history is a huge deal breaker for me! I just upgraded to Sierra and my desktop version is working just fine. I’d personally forgo updating my Mac OS ever again if it means I don’t have to switch to YNAB 5. The direct import is pretty worthless, if you use the mobile app regularly. I’d go as far as to say this behavior is paramount to proper budgeting as it forces you to look at your category balance and reminds you how much is remaining after logging each transaction. Thanks for this review. I felt very conflicted after trying the new YNAB and this overview gave me some much needed closure :)

Diane
Diane

Thanks for this. I started using YNAB (AKA the brand, or the company, or…) in January 2007. I’m not ultra techy, and I’m sure I don’t use it to it’s fullest, but some of the features missing from YNAB (AKA the latest version circa 2016) are features I count on. I’m gonna stick with YNAB 4 for a while.

One question: why couldn’t they name it something other than “YNAB”? MAN it’s so confusing! “YNAB 5” maybe? Seriously. Sheesh!

Mike
Mike

It’s Q3 of 2016 now. Are you planning to do an update to this analysis now that we’re nearing the end of the year? Have there been any significant improvements to YNAB that, in your mind, indicate that it’s on its way to catching up? I’m very curious about this. I heard the YNAB Classic Mobile App is going to stop working next year, so it seems that YNAB4ers will be stuck on desktop only or have to update. Is it still a good idea to stick with YNAB4? I feel that way, but I haven’t seen YNAB since my 32 day trial ended in February, so I don’t know if there have been any improvements. I want to give it a fair shake.

For my money, the red arrow thing is a deal breaker, and not so much because the feature itself is so important, but because it was a litmus test of the “YNAB now feels like it’s the YNAB way or the highway” thing. This attitude was palpable back in January from every interaction I had with them. It really infuriated me as a former loyal and very vocal cheerleader for YNAB. I used to evangelize for them, and as a result of their attitude toward their loyal customers, I revoked my endorsement – not that I’m really anybody that people pay attention to, mind you. But the point is, no company with that kind of attitude toward their customers is worthy of their customers’ loyalty.

Has there been any sign from YNAB that they’ve learned this lesson? Any change in the wind? I’ll have to do some of my own digging, I suppos.

Mike
Mike

*suppose

Becki
Becki

Great questions, Mike. I could have written your post and will anxiously await Alex’s reply.

Mark
Mark

I’ve been a user of YNAB since v3. Every time I check out the others, none replaces YNAB. EveryDollar might come close but I haven’t tried it because it cost twice as much. I did start using nYNAB when it was released. It does what I need for now. I do miss the Net Worth graph.But I can get that with the extension. I think YNAB has been spending all of this time getting Direct Imports working. It’ still not perfect. But they are starting to roll out Search and Reports. I haven’t got them yet. But other report they have showed up.

Tim Miner
Tim Miner

I cannot disagree more. I have been a regular fan of YNAB 4 and now had to migrate to the new YNAB. The company has left so many features out that were in YNAB 4 and I cannot wait to hear you actually use the new product. Everything you do, will take 4x the time and you will longingly jump to Mint.

Chris
Chris

I just signed up to http://www.financier.io It’s still in the works at the moment. Closest thing to YNAB4 I have found yet. I’m loving it so far. It’s just like nynab but with the features we’ve been missing.