When it comes to financial planning, we all have our own styles. Mint has been dominant in recent years, but there has also been a great deal of interest in You Need A Budget (or YNAB for short). One of the reasons that YNAB has received so much attention is due to its proactive approach to spending.
YNAB works on a Windows PC or Apple Mac OS X (Intel based). YNAB uses a system that is desktop based (you can also get an app that allows to fill in your information, and then sync it later). Instead of connecting to your accounts like Mint does, YNAB requires you to actually enter each of your transactions. YNAB also has you assign each dollar a job. YNAB is about planning, and is built on the idea of a zero-based budget.
This is one of the main differences between YNAB and Mint. While you can create a budget with Mint, and Mint will help you track what you’ve spent, and show you at the end of the month, YNAB requires that you by more actively involved with your finances. You are forced to enter your transactions, adding another layer of conscientiousness to your spending. With Mint, it’s more of a reaction to the spending you’ve already engaged in, while YNAB focuses on the proactive approach of planning.
YNAB has an easy to use interface, and is simple to set up. Unlike Mint.com, it does cost money. You can try YNAB free for 34 days, and if you like it, you pay $60. Mint also has a consumer-friendly interface, although it has a different feel than YNAB, and it is free. YNAB has a number of features and bonuses that allow you to see where you’re at, as well as make plans for where you are going. Mint also has some powerful features, one of which is a savings finder that can help you compare interest bearing accounts, and other financial products, to help you decide to change some of your habits so that you aren’t wasting as much money.
YNAB, however, is more of a system. It’s designed to help you get out of debt and stop living paycheck to paycheck. The YNAB system is based on four principles:
- Stop living paycheck to paycheck
- Give every dollar a job
- Save for a rainy day
- Roll with the punches
In the end, though, it really is about your style. I don’t use currently use YNAB or Mint. However, YNAB is closer to my style, with its ledger/checkbook register look in some places, and its focus on planning ahead. My main issue is the zero-based budgeting principles, which I struggle with, since I have a variable income. I found it difficult to accurately ascertain my expected income each month in order to give every dollar a job.
On the other hand, I know that there are several people who prefer Mint. It really depends on what works for you, and what you prefer. If you already have a system that works, or don’t have much debt, this application isn’t for you. If have problems managing your money. Though compared to Mint.com which automatically downloads your transaction, I question how many will fully use this application.