You Need a Budget (YNAB) is a fintech budgeting app that’s crossed the sea from the United States. And while it’s not the first fintech app to help you control your spending and saving, it is certainly one of the most detailed.
We’ve reviewed it to help you decide whether that level of detail is just what you need.
What is YNAB?
YNAB says that “with just four simple steps” you can rein in your budget. YNAB provides a straightforward system to help you understand your income and outgoings and plan ahead for bills, holidays, insurance and the unexpected.
How does YNAB work?
YNAB works from an app on your smartphone; you link your bank accounts to the app.
Registration and account set-up are as simple as advertised. It takes less than 15 minutes to fill in your personal details, set your budget and list your expenses. The app itself balances depth and functionality well, coming with five tabs including:
- Budget. This is the meat of the app. A breakdown of your income and the different directions it’s heading in. If you have provided a detailed breakdown of your budget, YNAB can lend you a hand in making sure you’re keeping up with your financial responsibilities.
- Accounts. From here you can sync bank accounts to YNAB and view accounts you have already linked. If your bank isn’t listed on the YNAB app, which is currently the case for many UK banks, you can enter your bank balance and details manually.
- Transaction. Record a transaction on the YNAB app, give a description of what it’s for, when it cleared and for how much. This is then considered alongside your budget.
- Settings. Self-explanatory. From here you can edit your budget settings, start a new budget, view your account details, read FAQs and write reviews.
Using YNAB abroad
YNAB isn’t a current account, so you won’t be spending money through it whether you are at home or abroad. However, YNAB can help you save for your holiday and keep you from overspending while you’re away. You can start a new budget exclusively for your time abroad, and YNAB will notify you to help you stick to it.
YNAB fees, limits and pricing
As mentioned above, YNAB doesn’t offer a current or savings account and so doesn’t come with a long list of fees and limits. YNAB charges a monthly subscription fee of $14.99 (or about £12.70), or an annual fee of $99 (about £84). An annual subscription is about the same cost as your Netflix or Amazon Prime subscription. YNAB also offers a 34-day free trial, so you can try before you buy.
Is YNAB safe?
YNAB has a number of measures to keep your details safe. First, your information is kept behind a password of your choosing, which is then secured by industry-level encryption. Your data is only held for a limited time, and all account-pairing technology is of the highest standard.
Pros and cons of YNAB
- In-depth breakdown of your income and outgoings.
- Customisable and detailed budgeting help.
- Manually or automatically enter your bank accounts and balances for YNAB to help you manage.
- Helps to keep you on top of your financial responsibilities.
- Helps you understand your net worth and the current size of your budget.
- Prioritise your spending to customise your experience.
- Available on-the-go.
- Safe and secure.
- Currently not optimised for use in the UK.
- The app cannot pair with many UK banks.
- Hefty subscription fee.
- Slightly busy user interface in comparison to other budgeting apps.
If you have problems when trying to pair your UK bank account with YNAB, you can manually enter your account balance and details. This will allow you to use the app’s features properly.
The bottom line
YNAB cannot work miracles, and it requires effort on your part to stick to the budget, but it can be an effective tool to help you bring your finances under control.
However, you might struggle to pair your British bank account with it, which could be tiresome. In addition, YNAB’s subscription fee is a tad steep, especially when considered alongside competitors like Money Dashboard, Wally and Emma.
Get started by visiting YNAB’s website and download the app. If you have read this review and the app is not for you, you can also discover more budgeting apps.
Alternatives to YNAB
Accountz offers two types of personal finance software. There’s “Home Accountz” for personal budgeting and “Business Accountz” for commercial budgeting. Home Accountz is perfectly adequate for all of your individual budgeting needs. You can manage your bank accounts, track your income and outgoings, set budgets and forecast your future financial position with ease.
BankTree offers downloadable personal finance software for a one-off fee, or a cloud-based service which you’ll either pay for monthly or annually. It’s not as intuitive as YNAB, nor as many of the alternatives listed in this guide. You’ll find it takes longer to set yourself up. Still, once you get the hang of it, you’ll find BankTree has everything you would expect from personal finance software. There’s account tracking, goal-setting, investment management, plus plenty of graphs and charts.
If you’re looking for traditional accounting software, Moneydance is as comprehensive as it gets. It is packed with a series of graphs and charts, so you can track your income and spending. It’s possible to categorise your spending as deeply as you wish. You can follow various investments using this software too.
Money Dashboard isn’t as complex and comprehensive as other options in this list, but it is free! You’ll be able to keep track of multiple accounts and regular outgoings to understand where your money is going, plus how close you are to your savings goals.
Monzo is primarily a mobile-only current account. It comes with a debit card, which doesn’t charge loading fees on overseas transactions or some cash withdrawals. You can add an overdraft and complete all account management easily from your mobile.
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