May 5, 2019  

Need a Budgeting App? Here Are 9 Reasons You Will Be Obsessed With YNAB

Looking for a good budgeting app? Hear from real people about how YNAB has changed their life and you’ll understand why it has such raving fans!


This post contains affiliate links. See my disclosure policy for details.

I’ve been using the same budgeting app for more than three years now. When I signed up for the free trial, I was honestly grasping at straws.

Budgeting was like a bad diet that we never ever stuck to. It felt restricting and impossible. And, month after month, we failed to stay on track with the carefully crafted budget I’d written down.

Well, little did I know back then that everything I knew about budgeting was about to be turned upside down. When I signed up for YNAB (which stands for You Need A Budget), I was desperate. I had tried all sorts of budgeting tools and tips before. Mint, EveryDollar, spreadsheets, cash envelopes . . . that’s what all of the tips I found said to do but none of them worked for us.

Three plus years later and I am 100% obsessed with YNAB for life. I’ve had several friends ask me about budgeting lately which means I’ve been singing YNAB‘s praises over and over again. So I started jotting down all of the reasons I’m obsessed with this budgeting app and want to share it with you today!

I’m a huge advocate for creating systems to stay organized, and YNAB‘s budgeting software is one of the 7 planning tools and systems I cannot live without. It takes the stress out of budgeting and helps me keep our personal finances organized.


Reasons To Be Obsessed With YNAB

YNAB aims to be a different kind of budgeting software — one that will help you break the paycheck to paycheck cycle, get out of debt and save money, and ultimately helping you reach your financial goals. It is a web-based tool with mobile apps that make it super easy to consult your budget whenever you’re out shopping or wondering if you have enough money to eat out for lunch.

There are so many reasons to love YNAB! I started my own list and then got curious what other YNAB users love about it the most.

There is a Facebook group called YNAB (You Need a Budget) Fans! that has nearly 40,000 members and it is a wealth of information and conversation about personal finance and budgeting. When I decided to write this article, I asked the Facebook group why they are so obsessed with YNAB. More than 100 people replied that same day! The level of excitement about YNAB is contagious!

I am dead serious when I tell people YNAB changed my life.

~ Liz

I distilled all of the Facebook comments into a few reasons why YNAB users are obsessed with the budgeting app. I hope this gives you a glimpse into the impact YNAB can have on your life!

Use these links to jump straight to each of the nine reasons people are obsessed with YNAB:

  1. You feel 100% in control of your money
  2. You will improve communication about money with your spouse
  3. You are prepared to roll with the punches
  4. You can see exactly how far ahead of bills you are
  5. You can spend money totally guilt-free
  6. Your irregular expenses will no longer be surprises
  7. You will manage your credit card spending so much better than you used to
  8. You can stop using that complicated spreadsheet
  9. You will love payday because it means you can budget those dollars

Note: All of the quotes I’ve weaved into this blog post are copied from Facebook comments inside the YNAB Facebook group. Out of respect for everyone’s privacy, I am only using first names.


1. You feel 100% In Control Of Your Money

YNAB has turned out to be the best thing I’ve ever done to get our budget under control. My relationship with budgeting has completely changed. I now eagerly wait for the next paycheck to hit our bank account so I can go into YNAB and start organizing our money. It’s empowering and, believe it or not, it’s fun!

I have had lifelong anxiety about money. I never looked at my bank accounts, I didn’t know where my money was going or what it was doing. Money no longer scares me, it kind of excites me! I know I’m in control of my money, and my future. Love YNAB forever.

~ Emily

When you have a budget in place that actually works, your life will change. Our budget doesn’t stress me out, in fact it actually feels very freeing!

I know where each dollar is going, I can see which upcoming bills are covered, and our savings funds continue to grow.

Previous budgets were always a guessing game for me. I’d create the “ideal” budget for the month. Then I’d check it at the end of the month only to be completely frustrated that our reality didn’t at all line up with what I put in our budget.

YNAB is different. Instead of budgeting future income and spending, YNAB is a zero-based budgeting tool. That means you budget your income only after it’s already deposited in your bank account. Basically, YNAB doesn’t allow you to count your chickens until they hatch.

When your budget is tight, YNAB is a life saver. It’s really useful for managing cash flow as you go, rather than just creating a budget you hardly ever look at.

It makes us feel so empowered and intentional with our money. It helped us get on the same page (literally) AND it helped make my transition to self-employment so smooth.

~ Joanna

2. You Will Improve Communication ABout Money With Your Spouse

Money is a common source of stress in a marriage. The key is to get both of you involved in the budgeting process so you are both on the same page and have your finger on the pulse of your finances.

The main reason I started YNAB was because it makes it SO EASY for both my husband and I to see at a glance what our financial situation is. No more arguing/wondering if we have enough money for a new splurge or if we’ll be able to pay the credit card in full. Now we are debt free, buffered, and have an emergency fund.

~ Karla

As with most relationships, one of us actively manages the budget day to day while the other checks in here and there. For us, I’m the person who logs into YNAB pretty much every day to keep tabs on our spending and manage our budget.

Although David is actively checking and managing our budget every day, he is still in tune with our finances because we sit down and review things regularly. YNAB gives us a great foundation for discussing how to allocate new income and monitor our progress toward our financial goals. The app is also so nice because David can log in if he ever has a question about how much we have left in a category of our budget.

For example, we both got bonuses from work earlier this year. Instead of treating that extra cash like play money, we used YNAB to play around with how we wanted to use it. We decided to allocate the majority to pay down some debt and also earmarked some for a new car purchase we’ve been saving for. And then we treated ourselves to a little extra spending money for the month (which we get to spend however we want without the other’s approval).

I’ve been the money manager in my marriage since the beginning. I like that YNAB takes the guesswork out if it when my husband asks, or I wonder, if we can afford something. It’s a simple look at the category for a yes or no.

~ Beth

I love the boost to our communication about finances. Discussing the jobs we want our dollars to do and then being able to use the app on the go to instantly connect what we each do separately to our shared budget. It has helped eliminate so many problems – overdrafts, missed bill payments, miscommunication, and mindless spending just to name the top few.

~ Danielle

3. You Are PrePared To Roll With The Punches

If I had to pick just one reason I’m obsessed with YNAB, this would be it. YNAB is super helpful for managing cash flow, not just a set-it-and-forget-it budget.

YNAB treats your budget as a working document, one that should be referred to often and updated often. One of YNAB’s core philosophies is to “roll with the punches” and they really mean that. It helps you create a budget that is flexible, not something that is locked in stone.

Consider an example where you budgeted $500 for groceries this month. After you set your budget, you decide to invite some friends over for a grill-out and head to the grocery store to stock up on food for the party. With a typical budgeting mindset, you would be buying that extra food knowing you are blowing your budget.

With YNAB, you don’t have to stress because you know how to roll with the punches. Before going to the grocery store, you log into YNAB and make some adjustments. Some of your other categories will have some money leftover for the month, so you move that money into your grocery category instead. Then you know you still need around $40 more to cover the food for the party. So you and your spouse both agree to give up $20 each from your dining money so you can afford groceries for the party.

4. You Can See Exactly How Far Ahead Of Bills You Are

YNAB makes is incredibly easy to see exactly how many of your upcoming bills are covered. I organize our categories by due date and when we get a paycheck, I allocate that money to the next bills on the list.

YNAB got me out of living paycheck to paycheck for the first time in my life. It created a vision for what that meant and how to do it, and it provided the structure/was the precise tool I needed to help me do it.

~ Melissa

When you’re living paycheck to paycheck, this ability to see what bills are covered is priceless. It will keep you out of trouble and make sure you have a handle on what bills are coming up.

You can also easily budget money into future months. So if all of your bills are already covered for the current month, you can use your next paycheck to start getting ahead. As your finances improve, you’ll slowly be able to see yourself getting further and further ahead on your bills. And that is incredibly liberating to see!


5. You Can Spend Money Totally Guilt-Free

YNAB takes the shame out of spending. We used to feel guilty for every dime we spent. Choosing ahead of time that it’s okay to spent x amount on a new outfit (while still paying the credit card balance in full) makes shopping truly enjoyable for the first time. Plus in a marriage, it’s so much better letting the software be the spending police instead of each other. Best thing we ever did.

~ Heather

Heather’s quote above sums this one up so well. Being stressed out about money all of the time is no way to live. No matter what your financial situation is, I think everyone can fall into the trap of feeling guilty for spending. But when you have money set aside for fun things upfront, you can spend with confidence knowing it’s planned for and won’t derail your other financial goals.

When we started using YNAB, we were living on one income and things we very tight. We were always afraid to go out to eat or make a purchase because we felt trapped by our budget. But once we learned how to manage our cash flow using YNAB, it freed us of some of that guilt around spending.

We set up dining and fun money categories for each of us and put a few dollars in them every month. It wasn’t much, but for the first time we could actually go out to eat feeling confident that we could afford it.

David also liked this method because when a new video game was coming out, he would save up his fun money for a couple of months. Then he could buy that new game without me being the money police.

I know exactly what each dollar is doing and it’s so fun to spend when I know my obligations are covered.

~ Jessica

6. Your Irregular Expenses Will No Longer Be Surprises

Christmas gifts, your dog’s annual vet checkup, the car insurance premium you pay twice a year, and your annual car registration are all infrequent expenses that so many people treat as emergencies. Don’t be like most people!

Upcoming expenses like this do not constitute as emergencies, they really can be planned for. YNAB makes this really easy and has saved us a lot of stress. We have categories for these types of expenses in the budgeting app and we allocate money to them every month.

For example, our dog just had her annual vet appointment. We paid that $400+ bill without batting an eye because we’ve planned for it all year. YNAB let’s you create goals for each budget category. Those goals can be a total amount you want to have in there by a certain date or else you can set a goal for a certain dollar amount you want

Expenses like home maintenance and car repair are bound to happen, you just don’t know when. Since using YNAB, we’ve started allocating money to these categories every month so when these irregular expenses come up, we’re prepared. This gives me so much peace of mind to know we have money set aside already. We use this same method to save money each month to put toward annual or semi-annual payments.

Like all of us, I had financial commitments in the future that I knew about, but never planned for. At most, I’d set aside some money with no real plan and slowly chip away at it. I had just accepted that when big things like Christmas or a car repair happened, I would just put it on a credit card. I knew it wasn’t great, but because I easily paid way more than the minimum on my cards, I accepted my situation as good enough. I had no idea the stress that was causing until, in just a few weeks, that stress was gone. I have a plan for all my future commitments that are known, I have a plan to deal with the unknown, and neither of those plans involves credit cards (except the part of the plan where I pay them off for good). On top of all that, somehow using the app itself is … fun.

~ Diana

7. You Will Manage Your Credit Card Spending So Much Better Than You Used To

Credit card spending is handled so well inside YNAB. When you import credit card expenses, you categorize them into the same budget categories you do for everything else. And it then moves that money out of that category budget and into a category specifically for your credit card payment.

This means there’s no paying minimum balances or guessing a random amount you can afford to pay of each month. Instead, you are setting aside money to pay off your credit card balance as you spend it.

If you have credit card debt, setting up a goal for how much you want to budget for it every month is really easy inside YNAB. You’ll be able to track your progress and make sure you’re remembering to set aside money to pay off that debt each month.

I love, love, love the credit card stuff. Makes it so easy to use my cards for my miles and pay what I spend right away. I used to write it all down.

~ Jennifer

8. You Can Stop Using That Complicated Spreadsheet!

I heard this over and over again in the Facebook group when I asked what people loved about YNAB. So many were previously tracking everything inside a tedious spreadsheet. But even a more complex spreadsheet has it’s limitations.

YNAB not only makes things easier to manage but it also automatically pulls in your bank transactions which is a big time saver!

I had a spreadsheet for years and tracked everything. But the tracking wasn’t enough. One month with YNAB did what five years of a spreadsheet couldn’t for me. Seeing exactly how everything totals out and what I have coming up to pay makes me sit up and take notice. I’m no longer excited to get paid so I can spend the money…I’m excited to see how far out I can pay something.

~ Lynsey

9. You Will Love Pay Day Because It Means You Can Budget Those Dollars

Many YNAB users mentioned how fun budgeting is now and how YNAB gamifies budgeting, and I 100% agree!

I love Fridays because they are pay days. That means I have new income waiting for me to move around and organize. It’s really fun to see how far I can stretch each paycheck and watch those savings funds build up while our debt shrink.

Totally obsessed, I check it 10 times a day to make sure it’s up to date and get super excited when it’s pay day and I can fund my categories, lol

~ Natalie

I’ve been using YNAB for more than three years now and I’d be lost without it. Rather than dreading dealing with our money, I look forward to the time I spend organizing it all into categories.

Whether you have a lot or a little money, you still should have a budget. And not one of those set-it-and-forget it budgets in Mint or a spreadsheet. Use YNAB to get a true picture of where your money is actually going day to day and use it to stay focused on your financial goals.

YNAB offers a free 34-day trial so you can test it out before subscribing, so you have no excuse to get started! Thanks for allowing me talk budgeting today, and please let me know what questions you have! If you already use YNAB, I’d love to hear what you enjoy most about it.

Looking for more budgeting tips?

Have a great day!

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About the author

Emily Counts is the founder of Small Stuff Counts, a home and organization blog she created in 2013. Her goal is to help moms make home life easier so they can create beautiful, organized, and thriving homes. She shares life at home as a mom juggling two young kids and being a working mom with a corporate job. The Iowa-based blogger lives in the suburbs of Des Moines, Iowa, with her husband, two children, and rescue dog. Emily has collaborated with brands including The Container Store, Cricut, Command Brand, Bissell, Sam's Club and Rubbermaid.

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