Mint.com vs You Need a Budget (YNAB)
May 27, 2015 0 Comments
We all need to manage our money well and there are dozens of various tools out there to help us with that. When my wife and I decided to retire Microsoft Money for good, we went on the search for the perfect money management tool.
Here's the list of features we required:
- Web-based service or ability to sync data so Koryn and I could independently update things on our own and have the data synced
- Check register for entering transactions on a daily basis
- Budgeting tool so we could keep track of our budget and change it as needed every month
- Ability to split transactions into two or more categories
- Basic reporting for budget categories
Both Mint.com and YNAB seemed to fulfill all these requirements, but since Mint is free, we decided to give it a try.
Our Experience With Mint
At first, we both really liked Mint. The interface was slick and entering transactions was quick and easy. The alerts you can set up were also nice. I love the budget module in Mint - super easy to set up and edit as needed.
After a few weeks of using Mint, however, we began to get increasingly frustrated with the software. There were several things that irritated us:
- Entering in a transaction was a bit "buggy". In other words, as you start typing a payee or category, Mint would drop down a menu offering suggestions (just like Google does when you start a search). But as soon as you move your mouse to select a suggestion, it would disappear. Very frustrating.
- Duplicate Transactions: one feature that makes Mint stand out from almost all other software, is that it syncs directly to your bank account. It's great when it works and frustrating when it doesn't. I found myself more and more having to sift through transactions to remove duplicates.
- Ads. Let's face it, Mint is free for a reason. There are a lot of ads, some of which I found helpful, but the whole interface started to have a gimmicky feel to it.
- Bank balances were inaccurate. Because Mint downloads transactions automatically and matches them with transactions you have entered as "pending", it was getting confused as to what our available balance was. Sometimes it was accurate, but mostly it wasn't.
Because of these frustrations, we decided to give YNAB a try. They had a 30 day trial at the time, so we thought we had nothing to lose...
Our Experience With YNAB
YNAB is definitely not as feature-rich as Mint (no auto-downloading transactions, no goals, no investment tracking), but it met our requirements nonetheless. What I liked about YNAB right away was the personal touch. Jesse, the owner, sends you daily emails to help you get started using the YNAB software.
YNAB's philosophy on personal finance is centered on the Budget. It still has a super easy-to-use transaction entering process, which I really enjoyed using. Understanding how the YNAB budget module works took a little bit of effort on my part. But once you get the hang of it, it is very useful and much more feature-rich than Mint.com's budget module.
For example, you can set budget amounts for certain categories and they will carry over to the next month if you spend too much or spend less than expected in any particular category. This allows you to, for example, save for car repairs that often come up a few times per year but not every month.
YNAB also has a mobile app (just like Mint) that uses Dropbox to sync the data so my wife and I can enter transactions without a computer.
One of things I like most about YNAB, as I'm entering a transaction into the register, it shows me right there how much is left in our budget for that category in that month. This is a great way to help me be accountable to sticking to the budget.
At the end of our 30-day trial with YNAB, we decided to spend the $60 on the software (there are no ongoing or monthly fees) and we have enjoyed using it ever since. It has worked really well for us, and best of all, Koryn is happy!
- Dead simple to use
- Lots of features
- Auto-download transactions directly from bank
- Add other assets like cars, homes and investment accounts
- Simple reporting
- Alerts (low balance, large withdrawl, etc)
- Mobile App
- Too many ads
- Buggy transaction entry
- Duplicate transactions
- Inaccurate available bank balances
- Downloadable software - no Internet access required
- Feature-rich Budget Module
- Easy transaction entry
- Personal touch
- Company philosophy
- Mobile App
- No Ads
- A bit of a learning curve involved
- Doesn't track investments automatically
- Fewer features than Mint.com
Which Software is Right for You?
If you want something simple and easy to use, Mint.com is probably your best bet. It's great for the individual or family to track spending, set up a budget and manage all their accounts and assets in one place.
YNAB is great if you are more of a nerd like I am. Also, if you require more discipline with your budget, YNAB is probably the better choice. They have a great plan you can follow so that you end up living on last month's income. They really help you make managing your money fun and exciting as you make progress on paying down debt and stop living from paycheck to paycheck.
Have you used either Mint or YNAB? Did I leave something out? Let me know in the comments below!