The jury is in on my series, “Budgeting using YNAB – Does it Really Help?”. I switched from Quicken to YNAB about three months ago, and have been making notes on what I liked, didn't like, and if I felt like it had helped.
The short answer is yes. Switching to YNAB (You Need a Budget) was a good decision, in my opinion.
The main reason I switched was that the Quicken mobile interface left a bit to be desired, and I wanted an easy way to stay on track with our budget on the fly. I had been budgeting for years using Quicken, so it wasn't a dramatic change for us, but I have found myself looking at the new app and making spending decisions frequently based on those numbers.
This is in contrast to Quicken, where I would usually download a big batch of transactions and then hope it matched up with my budget after the money had already been spent. YNAB is a much more in-your-face style of keeping track of your finances. You can still download transactions from your bank, but it encourages you to put things in as they happen.
There are some downsides to YNAB; this is what I miss most from Quicken.
- Reports aren't nearly as nice in YNAB, although they get the core ones down.
- It is harder to track investments; you are essentially only tracking the account balance.
The upsides outweigh the downsides, in my opinion. Here are the key upsides.
- YNAB is designed from the ground up to keep you on track with your budget. It's in your face all the time if you are using it correctly. It's harder to spend what you don't have with this app.
- It's extremely easy to enter transactions from your smartphone, even keeps track of location to automatically suggest which store you are in.
- I love the fact that it is instantly synchronized & available from everywhere.
- It makes it easy for spouses to see the budget and remaining funds and enter their own transactions.
Unfortunately, YNAB will not magically make all your financial problems go away. Since switching, we have had a septic backup in the basement, which is costing thousands to repair, and racked up thousands more in medical bills. Unexpected expenses will never go away, but I strongly believe YNAB will go a long way toward preparing you for them.
If you haven't tried YNAB yet, I strongly recommend taking part in their free trial and seeing for yourself how it works. Good luck!