If you're looking for an alternative to You Need a Budget, you're in the right place.
I'm a fan of You Need a Budget because I've seen it evolve over the years. I remember YNAB4 when it was a software application you purchased. I remember when it transition to a monthly service. I remember how upset people were but I felt from a business perspective, it made them better suited to invest in the business to make it even better.
What I remember most is their philosophy and the Four Rules of YNAB:
- Give Every Dollar a Job
- Embrace Your True Expenses
- Roll With The Punches
- Age Your Money
It was a simple framework that changed how so many people approached their money.
I thought what they were doing with Live Workshops was brilliant, the Whiteboard Wednesdays were always strong, and I always found Jesse to be hilarious with his dry wit and sense of humor.
If you're here, you're thinking about replacing them – not for me to sing their praises – so I want to share some good options. There are several reasons why you might be looking to replace YNAB. The best alternative for you will depend on why you're replacing it.
Was it the recent price increase?
Did you feel like you outgrew YNAB?
Did you feel like you could do it on your own?
Why Do You Want to Switch?
The YNAB Price Increase – YNAB used to be $50 a year, billed annually. It will now be $6.99 a month, still billed annually so $83.88. It's a sizable percentage increase but not a really high dollar increase, just under $3 a month.
Personally, I think it's worth $3 a month for YNAB but long-time users have had to navigate two pricing chances the last few years – first, when the software went from a flat fee to a monthly fee; now, to a slightly higher monthly fee.
To put it into perspective, EveryDollar is a budgeting app that has a free component but costs $129 a year for their EveryDollar Plus service (recently increased from $99).
It follows Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover approach, has a similar “give every dollar a name” philosophy, and is on a freemium model. That means the app is free but if you want to connect financial accounts, to download data automatically, that'll run you $129 a year. It's still cheaper than one of their most similar alternatives (which we don't list below because it's more expensive).
You've Graduated – Congratulations! YNAB has put many people on the path to sound budgeting with its “Every Dollar Needs a Job” mentality. If you're ready to graduate to a free tool without as much guidance, then there are several options below.
If you need less guidance and you want more support in the area of investing and retirement planning, my best recommendation is Personal Capital. It offers a personal finance dashboard that lets you plan for your investments and retirement better than any of the alternatives.
If you need less guidance and just want to track your budget, my best recommendation is Mint. Track your budget automatically, completely free, but you don't get the same philosophy and guidance as YNAB.
What We Looked For
You chose YNAB because of the philosophy and how the tools married with those philosophies. You wanted more than a simple tracker tool.
We also didn't include alternatives like EveryDollar because they were more expensive. We recognize YNAB is pretty solid on features so you're probably looking for a cheaper replacement rather than a more expensive one. (if we're wrong, let us know!)
Here are the best (and cheaper) alternatives to You Need a Budget:
What is Tiller? Tiller is an automation tool that integrates with Google Sheets so you can build your own budgeting spreadsheet while pulling in data automatically from your accounts. It's the customization of
Why is it a good YNAB alternative? First and foremost, they have a way to import your YNAB budget into a Google Sheet. So if you wanted to make the transition, it's super easy.
Second, and this is more about spreadsheets than about Tiller specifically, but you get complete control and customization with Tiller powering your spreadsheet. You tailor the spreadsheet to exactly what you want and they pull in the data so you avoid the manual data entry. I use a spreadsheet for this very reason.
Tiller is just $59/year after a 30 day trial.
What is Personal Capital? Personal Capital is a personal finance dashboard that will aggregate all of your accounts in one place. They have a premium financial advisory service as well as wealth management, but those are optional (I don't use them). There are also powerful planning tools, like planning future income in retirement based on your expenses, that really make it a 30,000 foot view other tools don't even try to do.
Why is it a good YNAB alternative? It's not a good budgeting tool replacement for YNAB but if you want to graduate from just budgeting to higher level financial management, Personal Capital can be a helpful tool. I don't mean “higher level” as in “better” or “superior,” I mean 30,000 foot view vs. 10,000 foot view.
Budgeting is absolutely crucial but it has a short-term view. You may budget to your paycheck, which may be weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. You may budget annually too – but you won't be budgeting from now until your retirement. That's why a tool like Personal Capital can be valuable – giving you visibility on the long term view.
Personal Capital is free.
What is Mint? Mint is one of the oldest budget tracking packages out there and they are owned my Mint, who were the former owners of Quicken. Mint has everything you need in a budgeting app and is completely free. Many of the budgeting tools may sound familiar to YNAB but they will take getting used to. You have bill pay functionality as well plus additional features like credit monitoring and some investing tracking (but no recommendations or advice).
Why is it a good YNAB alternative? If you need a budget but don't want to pay for You Need a Budget, this one gets you all the budgeting functionality at absolutely no cost.
Mint.com is free.
CountAbout was designed specifically to be an alternative to Quicken, which is one of the oldest and most popular budgeting packages out there. CountAbout was founded in 2012 and offers a very rich feature-set at a very modest price. It costs just $9.99 for the Basic and $39.99 for Premium (which includes automatic transaction download).
Here are some of the other key features, making it a solid budgeting tool without the monthly fee:
- Imports data from Quicken and Mint
- 12,500+ financial institutions
- Multi-factor login protection
- Android and iOS apps
- Category customization (add, delete, rename)
- Tags (add, delete, rename)
- Reporting for Account balances
- Reporting for Category activity
- Reporting for Tag activity
- Report exporting
- Individual Account QIF importing
- Running register balances
- Account reconciliation
- Graphs for Income & Spending
- Recurring transactions
- Investment balances by Institution
- Memorized transactions
- Split transactions
- Description renaming
If You Need a Budget has served you well, my recommendation is to find a few bucks each month to continue paying for it. There is no tool that offers what it does at a cheaper price and there's a reason why it's one of the most popular personal finance tools out there – it works.
One of the nice things about many of the recommendations on this list is that they have trials or are completely free. Keep with YNAB, try one of the alternatives we listed, and if it wins – switch. If it doesn't, you won't have lost a step with your existing budget.