6 You Need a Budget (YNAB) Alternatives

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
  1. Why Do You Want to Switch?
  2. What We Looked For
  3. 1. Tiller
  4. 2. Personal Capital
  5. 3. Simplifi by Quicken
  6. 4. Monarch Money
  7. 5. CountAbout
  8. 6. EveryDollar
  9. Conclusion

🔄️ Updated January 2024 with the remove of Mint as an option (they are shutting down in March 2024) and including a few others (Monarch Money, Simplifi by Quicken) that have risen in the ranks to warrant some attention. I still believe YNAB is a great budgeting tool and philosophy, but if you’re looking to move, here are the best alternatives we’ve seen.

Why Do You Want to Switch?

The Cost is Too High 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 Beyond Budgeting Congratulations! YNAB has put many people on the path to sound budgeting with its “Every Dollar Needs a Job” philosophy. 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 Simplifi by Quicken. Track your budget automatically, completely free, but you don’t get the same philosophy and guidance as YNAB.

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!)

1. Tiller

Tiller Money Logo

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.

👉 Learn more about Tiller

2. Personal Capital

Personal Capital Logo

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. Simplifi by Quicken

What is Simplifi by Quicken? Simplifi by Quicken is the sleeker budgeting and money management app built by the folks behind Quicken. It’s not free ($3.99 per month but there are frequently promotions that get it to about $2 a month) but has powerful features that can help you manage almost any aspect of your budget.

It is really positioned as a solid Mint alternative, so it doesn’t have an overarching philosophical approach like YNAB, but it does have all the features you want in budgeting from real time reports and alerts to projecting your future cash flows based on expected recurring expenses and income streams. You can also set up savings goals for “small” things like vacations and “big” things like retirement, college, and emergency funds.

Why is it a good YNAB alternative? It’s a well-designed budgeting app that can do everything YNAB does, albeit without the “Pay Yourself First” zero-based budgeting approach.

We have a review of Simplifi by Quicken that goes into greater detail.

👉Learn more about Simplifi by Quicken

4. Monarch Money

What is Monarch Money? Monarch Money is a newer entrant to the budgeting ecosystem and it’s more of a money management app rather than a “budgeting” app. It gives you the ability to manage your spending as well as investment tools so you can get a look at how your saving and investing plans are performing (and trending).

The big difference is that with this bigger picture view, you can get a better handle on long term planning like for future savings goals (car, house, vacations, college, etc.) and the biggest finish line of them all – retirement.

Why is it a good YNAB alternative? If you’ve graduated from just needing a budgeting tool, Monarch Money offers something that is bigger.

Monarch Money costs $14.99 per month or $8.33 per month if you pay an entire year up front ($99.99 per year).

👉Learn more about Monarch Money

5. CountAbout

Countabout Logo

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
  • Budgeting
  • Running register balances
  • Account reconciliation
  • Graphs for Income & Spending
  • Recurring transactions
  • Investment balances by Institution
  • Memorized transactions
  • Split transactions
  • Description renaming

👉 Learn more about CountAbout

6. EveryDollar

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.

Conclusion

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.

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About Jim Wang

Jim Wang is a forty-something father of four who is a frequent contributor to Forbes and Vanguard's Blog. He has also been fortunate to have appeared in the New York Times, Baltimore Sun, Entrepreneur, and Marketplace Money.

Jim has a B.S. in Computer Science and Economics from Carnegie Mellon University, an M.S. in Information Technology - Software Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University, as well as a Masters in Business Administration from Johns Hopkins University. His approach to personal finance is that of an engineer, breaking down complex subjects into bite-sized easily understood concepts that you can use in your daily life.

One of his favorite tools (here's my treasure chest of tools,, everything I use) is Empower Personal Dashboard, which enables him to manage his finances in just 15-minutes each month. They also offer financial planning, such as a Retirement Planning Tool that can tell you if you're on track to retire when you want. It's free.

>> Read more articles by Jim

Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any bank or financial institution. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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6 years ago

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… Read more »

Jason
5 years ago

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.

Garrett
6 years ago

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.

Aaron
6 years ago

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

6 years ago

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… Read more »

Gregory
5 years ago

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… Read more »

Gregory
5 years ago
Reply to  Jim Wang

Yes, it’s the monthly, detailed budgeting that I’m interested in. That’s pretty much all.

Andy D.
5 years ago

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… Read more »

Andrea Barros
5 years ago

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.… Read more »

Andy D.
5 years ago
Reply to  Andrea Barros

+1

Terrance Austad
5 years ago
Reply to  Andrea Barros

Totally agree please bring it back

PCB
5 years ago
Reply to  Andrea Barros

+1 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… Read more »

Darin
5 years ago

Tiller has jacked its price up to $60/year… more expensive than YNAB if you’ve been grandfathered in at the $50/year price.

Darin
5 years ago

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.

David Gentry
5 years ago

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… Read more »

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