If you’re looking for an alternative to You Need a Budget (YNAB), you’re in the right place. I’ve been closely following YNAB as it’s evolved over the last few years. I remember YNAB4 when it was a software application you purchased. I remember when it transitions 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.
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. Whether it was the recent price increase, outgrew the product, or you feel like you could do it on your own?
With plenty of options we breakdown the top 5 YNAB alternatives below.
Table of Contents
Why Do You Want to Switch?
The Cost – You Need a Budget costs $14 a month or $99 a year, if you pay for it all up front.
For many years, it used to be $84 a year.
It’s a sizable percentage increase but not a significant dollar increase, just under $1.25 a month.
I think it’s worth $1.25 a month for YNAB but long-time users have had to navigate several pricing changes the last few years – first, when the software went from a flat fee to a monthly fee; then a decently sized bump and now a smaller bump..
To put it into perspective, EveryDollar is a budgeting app that has a free component but costs $129.99 a year for their Ramsey Plus (they rebranded it and added features to what was previously EveryDollar Plus).
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, 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.
We compare YNAB vs. Mint in a head to head comparison that you can use to decide if Mint is the one for you.
What We Looked For
You chose You Need a Budget for a specific reason and it’s not just to “track your budget.” There are a ton of budgeting apps out there and most of them are free.
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 (until the end) 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!)
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.
Why is Tiller 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 $79/year after a 30 day trial, which makes it slightly cheaper than YNAB. If you start using it and are able to save more money in your budget, those savings could easily pay for Tiller. Read our Tiller review for a deep look at what makes this tool so great.
2. Personal Capital
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 crucial but it has a short-term view. You may budget 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.
👉 Learn more about Personal Capital
3. Qube Money
What is Qube Money? Qube Money is an app that makes envelope budgeting super easy through their powerful app and their debit card. It was founded in 2016 by financial planners who built the tool because they were working with clients that were having trouble budgeting using existing tools. Envelope budgeting is one of the oldest methods but lack many modern day tools. There are apps that try to help people budget but Qube Money offers a debit card that really helps you stick to the method.
Why is it a good YNAB alternative? When you think about YNAB, it’s kind of already an envelope budgeting system because you give every dollar a job. That’s not unlike putting each dollar into an envelope, or in Qube Money’s case – a Qube.
The best part is that Qube Money’s basic product is free. They have a premium tier at $6.50 a month when paid annually ($78), which makes it cheaper than YNAB plus you get richer features since you’re also getting a debit card and bank account. Read our full review of Qube Money to learn more about it.
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 it. 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
EveryDollar is a very basic budgeting tool created by the team behind Dave Ramsey, using his principles for managing money. We reviewed EveryDollar and found that it’s claim of being able to set up a budget in 10 minutes to be accurate – it’s super simple, very easy to navigate, and follows the overall structure of Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps.
It is a freemium product with the free version letting you do everything the budgeting tool offers. There is an EveryDollar Plus (now part of Ramsey Plus) that’s $129.99 per year which adds in automatic transaction downloads and a few other features. With the Free version, you have to manually enter all of your transactions.
If You Need a Budget has served you well, my recommendation is to find a few bucks each month to continue paying for it. No tool 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.
About the comments on this site:
These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.
Jim @ Route To Retire says
Since I my battle to get out of consumer debt 15 years ago, I still track every single penny religiously with Quicken. I’ve been pretty much obsessed with monitoring everything to make sure I was exactly where I need to be.
That was so long ago and now we’re on the other end and planning to FIRE in 2 years. I’m hoping that this coming year will be the year that I can let loose on the reins a little and ease off of Quicken.
I’ve heard Tiller’s very good, but I think I want to try something a little more hands off for once. I’m going to to try to just use a combination of Mint and Personal Capital as my combo alternative.
Thanks for the post, Jim!
Jim Wang says
Once you build up a system, it’s easier to maintain. Tracking every penny can be a pain if you do absolutely nothing, but once you have it set up, it’s easy. I think that tracking every penny should be how budgeting is done (or even better, what YNAB does which is forecast your budget and give every penny its job), but so many people just kind of wing it… which is how you get into debt when things hit the fan.
Tiller is good but it’s for someone who wants a bit of tinkering and getting it perfect for their situation. Tiller is the tool that automates the stuff that is “work” for most, like collecting numbers.
I use Personal Capital because it’s better with investments. I like the forecasting tools and never really got into Mint (it’s been many years) since budgeting was not a priority for me. Mint is better at budgeting for sure but it’s built with that in mind (and why Intuit bought them to replace Quicken Online, can’t beat them join them type of thing).
I used Quicken for ages and like you say, it’s great for tracking expenses. What drove me nuts about it and what drove me to YNAB was the fact that it was really only good for tracking expenses. It’s budgeting features were quite limited–it didn’t let you plan how to spend your money over the long term. This is YNAB’s strength. I have to admit I’m still kind of annoyed YNAB switched to a subscription model (and am glad I got YNAB4 while it was available) although I at least partially understand why.
Dude, Mint requires you to send all your financial information, your bank accounts, and passwords up to their servers. This is not a software package that is kept local on your own computer. This is probably the most important consideration imaginable… and, you don’t even mention it. In fact, your language choices even hints in the opposite direction… “package”… “tools”… “budgeting application”… all make it almost sound like a traditional software program. Instead, you turn your entire life over to an evil, greedy corporation that can sniff around on your data all they want. Not cool, Dude… not cool.
Jim Wang says
I never meant to imply that Mint wasn’t in the cloud, that you weren’t uploading data, but that seems pretty clear if you sign up that it’s being stored somewhere and it’s not a local program.
Happened to stumble upon your site. Very interesting list of accounting / budgeting programs.
Q. Does either (Tiller, or Countabout) has a feature (like YNAB), allowing me to enter a transaction on a cell phone or similar device, and then to sync it when I get home? Thank you. BTW, I’m a new subscriber. Aaron
Jim Wang says
Tiller is a tool that helps you pull data into your Google Sheet (spreadsheet) so that’s not applicable.
As for Countabout, I haven’t used it but they do allow manual transactions. In fact, the basic account is completely manual.
Ian Mayman says
This is an interesting article, I’ll have a look at these suggested alternatives. Personally, I quit YNAB simply because their third-party partner stopped syncing with “international” (non-U.S banks). As of a month ago, that is much easier to do in the UK which is the first country to offer “Open Banking”, so I’m hoping the feature will return.
One thing I miss is the “Age of Money” feature, but today I’ve come up with a simple spreadsheet calculation that I call “Income To Balance Ratio”, or I2B. At the start of every month, I sum the balances of all my accounts to get my net worth, then I sum balances of accounts immediately available to determine what percentage of my income I have available, 200% means I immediately have enough to cover two months of expenses. It’s not as good as Age of Money but it’s much simpler.
Jim Wang says
That’s a really interesting statistic – but I’m not sure the calculation tells you what you think it does. Your calculation gives you the % of your net worth that is immediately accessible, not how many months it covers in expenses. I think you are just getting the percentage of your net worth that is immediately available with that division.
Personally, I think of it as “liquid net worth.” I discount the items in my net worth (cash gets no discount, a car gets a higher discount) to find out how much cash I could get my hands on within any given moment (or within a month, like selling a car or something similar).
Can you recommend an alternative to YNAB that is a standalone app?
I’m in Canada, so I can’t link a financial planning app to my bank account, or it will invalidate my service agreement. This is true for all major Canadian banks. So I don’t need that capability.
And in general, I don’t want a web-based service, because I don’t trust any of these companies to keep my financial information secure.
I liked the old YNAB (which I still use), because I could download my account information manually and import it, and it stayed only on my own computer. But I am worried about the eventual lack of support for this old YNAB.
So is there an app that does what YNAB does, but is standalone (not web based) and that will let me import my own account information?
Jim Wang says
Hmmm, I don’t know of too many that work like YNAB does… did you just want something to help manage your budgets?
Yes, it’s the monthly, detailed budgeting that I’m interested in. That’s pretty much all.
Andy D. says
We loved YNAB4 for a couple reasons 1) the virtual envelope model, 2) multi-device sharing and ‘on the go’ input of expenses, and 3) ABILITY TO FORECAST. This is where the change to the new YNAB lost me, they intentionally took away one of the most useful features for me. YNAB4 provided the ability to not only look at the now, but also look at the future. For my income (base salary with vesting and stock payout) forecasting makes sense and was instrumental in us getting out of debt. When I’ve talked to the YNAB team they continually tell me about their philosophy – which I totally understand – but it’s best suited for those with a primarily variable income. I have somewhat of both stable and variable. Do you have any recommendations that embraces YNAB’s virtual envelope approach, allows cross device functionality, AND allows forecasting? We’ve been using the now not-supported YNAB4 since the transition to the new YNAB.
Andrea Barros says
Ditto to all that has been said by my fellow YNAB4-until-it-dies friends! It’s all about the unique services that YNAB4 has provided us, the ability to make a one-time purchase of the program, the fact that the program is essentially free-standing and loaded on my computer for my use. I’m not interested in uploading or linking my personal banking information to someone else’s server and trusting them to protect my privacy (or to not sell my information). None of us are looking for something free, but for something USEFUL and PRACTICAL. YNAB4 ticked off all of the boxes for us. An overview of several months at a time (no longer avail in YNAB), ability to budget several months at a time (also no longer avail?), ability to keep our personal information….well….personal, and a NON-SUBSCRIPTION service. Bring it back! 🙂
Andy D. says
Terrance Austad says
Totally agree please bring it back
I also do not like the new YNAB. I have no problem with the subscription model (or in general paying for good stuff), my problem is the new YNAB is worse than the old YNAB. Overall, the new YNAB has made it HARDER (not easier) for me to manage my budget or look at information overtime.
In addition to keeping my data on my machine (and the other features already mentioned) , I just find that 75% of the things that made YNAB4 my application of choice have been removed. Ease of use AND usefulness have also decreased. I have a list of about 20+ gripes and counting.
It’s very difficult to find an application that provides the right balance and ease of use for establishing a budget, recording transactions, and that are not a nightmare at tax time.
When I found YNAB4, I had been looking for an alternative to Quicken. Now I’m actively looking for an alternative to the new YNAB and I am even considering going back to Quicken.
Tiller has jacked its price up to $60/year… more expensive than YNAB if you’ve been grandfathered in at the $50/year price.
Jim Wang says
It’s been priced at $59 per year ($5 per month) for quite some time.
Oh, your article (prior to it just being edited) had only stated “$5 after free trial”… it didn’t state that the $5 was a monthly subscription. Thanks for the making the change, as I was about ready to jump on that offer.
Jim Wang says
I updated it with the latest pricing. When I first wrote the post, the fee was $5 per month. I missed “/ month” and that was incorrect. I edited the post with the slightly updated pricing (it’s $4.92 / month) and fixed that typo.
I’m sorry for the confusion… $5 would be a steal!
David Gentry says
I have used YNAB since late 2009 and don’t mind paying for it more than once. But, I do take issue with not being able to have full control over my own data as I still do for the time being with my “Drop Box” account. I also have grown accustom to seeing more than one month side by side and the ability to run a negative balance in a few isolated sub budgets due to spending patterns for that category. The new YNAB has removed this option and thus is an irritation.
If someone comes up with a good alternative to the new YNAB and it’s total control over my budget I sure would like to give it a try. I absolutely love the “envelope” concept to budget and wants to keep that!
I love YNAB4. Completely changed our lives and now we’ve saved more money than ever.
However I can’t stand the new ynab. I hate subscriptions but also they changed the interface(hate) and they changed 3 rules from YNAB4 to the new YNAB which I absolutely cannot stand. It just makes a lot more work to get the same results. It’s harder to “see” what’s going on. The interface is bad and it’s slow.
Mint just bombards you with ads and it doesn’t support envelope budgeting. If i’m going to have to pay for a subscription i’m going to seriously look at mvelopes. Seems to be the best fit for what I want to do.
When YNAB increased their price, it was only for new users. Current users still get the old price, so it’s not really accurate to say long-time users had to whether two price increases and it’s not a reason to leave YNAB if you already had it before the price changed.
Jim Wang says
That’s great to know, thanks!
Bill P says
Everydollar is now $129.00 per year. I’m not sure when their price increased. I do find everydollar very easy to set up use but am exploring other options before my free everydollar trial expires next week as I do find the price pretty steep. I would like the budgeting app on everydollar to be stand alone vs bundling with Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University content so maybe they could maybe offer it at a lower price.
Jim Wang says
Thank you for letting us know about the price increase, that’s relatively new (within the last year).
TBH, that is a pretty steep price just for automatic transaction importing… but I guess they throw in the FPU if you want it. I think that was probably an afterthought just to make the price increase more palatable?
Bruce E. says
Regarding YNAB 4: I have a MacBook Pro and iPhone. I’ve used YNAB since it came out in a beta version.
Apple announced that its newest Operating System, called Catalina, will not support 32-bit apps. YNAB 4 is most definitely a 32-bit app, meaning if you upgrade your Mac to Catalina, YNAB 4 will not open. As of October 31, 2019, Jesse at YNAB decided they will no longer be able to support YNAB 4
This means I have to decide if I will forget upgrading to the new Mac operating system or not. But YNAB will no longer help support YNAB4 after this October.
The problem is that from time to time YNAB 4 stops syncing with Dropbox and you have to delete the app from your phone, delete your Dropbox app, Save a version of YNAB on your laptop, reinstall the Dropbox app and reinstall the YNAB APP. With no support, it will be impossible to use YNAB4. In fact, come to think of it you CAN’T FIND THE YNAB4 APP (Classic Version) any longer in the iTunes app library because they NO LONGER display apps that are unsupported!!!!
So I guess I could ditch the use of the app on my phone and just update my laptop YNAB to keep track of things. I can still download transactions from my bank and credit cards.
I’ve loved YNAB and especially YNAB 4. There seem to be a lot of negative reviews for the new cloud version and the loss of many good features YNAB 4 had. That’s sad. I may try it but it looks like I am going to be searching for an alternative. Any feedback from people that have tried Brans?
I hate the fact they went subscription but nowadays (at least for the past 10 years) that’s the direction all companies have been moving so as to make money for themselves. I guess if I had an online business like theirs, that would be my ultimate goal too. I think that was the initial intention anyway as they were looking down the road… get PEOPLE HOOKED and then go subscription. They may lose 30-40% of their followers but what the heck, that’s not where the money is. Ugh….
I have nearly 10 years of transactions in YNAB 4. The new YNAB does not work for me and I now dare not upgrade my Mac as YNAB will stop working and I have not yet found a replacement.
I am UK based and with open banking I hope a product will emerge. Money Dashboard nearly works for me but has some missing functionality. I am hoping a future release of this will solve my problem but for now I hate it that I am probably going to lose access to the tool that I use to manage my finances.
The most important thing for me is to have a hierarchy of categories. I want Home/Mortgage and then Home/Utilities and even Home/Utilities/Electric but very few of these have that YNAB does have two levels but even that’s not enough. I like deep categorization not horizontal
Agree with many of the YNAB4 users above. Had this discussion with Jesse at the time of nYNAB and they just don’t seem to get that many long loyal YNAB users/evangelists don’t want their personal financial data out there in the cloud. Look at what outfits have been hacked and tell me YNAB can guarantee your security (they can’t). nYNAB also lost functionality some of which were core reasons for using YNAB. Why YNAB cannot see there is room for a cloud version and for a standalone version I don’t know. I’d be happy to pay for upgrades to YNAB4 that didn’t monkey with its functionality.
Susan I Bensen says
Thanks for this article. It was very helpful. I’m wondering if you know of any budgeting software that’s NOT cloud-based, that I can just house on my computer, and that I can import old YNAB 4 information into. I’ve just had to buy a new iMac that doesn’t support YNAB 4. The more I read the comments above, the more uncomfortable I am with having all my information in the cloud. I’ve always manually entered everything. I liked YNAB 4 because I could manually enter things, NOT link it up to my bank, have it on my desktop and generate reports at the end of the year for taxes. Do you know of anything like that? Thanks so much!
Jim Wang says
I’m afraid I don’t, I don’t know of any software that imports from YNAB.
Collette Barr says
Every Dollar is now 140.78 / year
Jim Wang says
They’ve integrated EveryDollar Plus into Ramsey Plus and the fee is $129.99 per year.
YNAB is now $98.99/year for all users.
Jim Wang says
Yeah, technically it goes into effect December 1st but it’s yet another bump.
Stacy Curtis says
I love Ynab, but I’m miffed about their latest “Closing the support community”. I poured my soul out in the journaling there and got some great advice. I was okay with the increase in cost, but to remove the entire forum is just WRONG!
Jim Wang says
Hmmm removing the community seems a bit much, I wonder what the reasoning was behind it?
I had YNAB4 downloaded onto my laptop and I loved it. It was the answer to my dreams. Then… YNAB switched over to an online subscription. First – I don’t want my budget and all my account information sitting online. 2nd: I didn’t like the interface. It was not as easy or clear as the YNAB4 software. They had a perfect product and then they made it worse. 3rd: I am so over EVERY single app being a subscription. I literally spend upwards of $300/month now on subscriptions. And they can change the apps, raise the price etc. and I don’t like being at their mercy. So I am going old school. I’m going back to tracking things in a simple spreadsheet. It won’t be as good as YNAB but it also won’t raise prices on me or become incompatible with OS systems, etc.
Jim Wang says
That’s the risk of using tools over spreadsheets – sometimes they make decisions that force you to move onto something else. Without being 100% in control, it’s hard to predict. I use a variety of tools but the core data is my Excel spreadsheet.