Have you ever used You Need a Budget (YNAB), one of the most popular budgeting apps around? YNAB uses a suite of tools that allow you to gain a clearer picture of where you’re spending your money and how much you owe. You can even assign a “job” to every dollar in your paycheck before you receive it to make sure that you stay on track with your financial goals.
While YNAB may be one of the oldest and most well-known personal financial management apps, there are plenty of free and low-cost YNAB alternatives for both iPhone and Android users. If you don’t think that YNAB is right for you and your family, consider installing one of our favorite YNAB alternatives.
Quick Look: The Best YNAB Alternatives
- Tiller Money
Why YNAB May Not Be for You
You’re on a Tight Budget
YNAB is not a free app, though you can get a free trial for 34 days. You’ll pay $6.99 a month to continue using the app after your trial period has ended.
While this may not seem like a ton of money, it might not be a good idea to spend even that much if your family is on a very tight budget, especially when there are tons of free apps available that work just as well.
You Want Investing Tools
You Need a Budget, as its name implies, focuses on budgeting and helping you create a budget to follow throughout the month. While YNAB does budgeting exceptionally well, it’s also all the app does.
If you’re looking for a one-stop-shop for your personal financial management, you’ll want to choose another option.
You Need Two-Factor Authentication
Two-factor authentication is a type of security system that ensures that only you are able to access your data. With two-factor authentication, you’ll receive a unique code via text or email whenever you log into your account or use a new device. Without this code, you can’t get into your account.
Unfortunately, YNAB does not currently support two-factor authentication, though the team does say that the increased security feature is on its roadmap of future features. If you travel frequently or use unsecured Wi-Fi often, you may be putting your banking information at risk.
What to Look for in an Alternative
With so many budgeting apps competing for your business, how can you tell if you’re picking the right one for your needs? Some features you can search for when choosing a YNAB alternative include:
Access to a More Complete Suite of Tools
While YNAB might be great for helping you create a budget, budgeting is only one small piece of the financial health puzzle. Look for an app that offers other types of personal finance services in addition to budgeting to help you get closer to your goals.
For example, investing tools or an investing education center can assist you in opening an IRA after your household budget is under control, and bill pay or credit monitoring services can help you create a plan to finally pay off credit card debt once and for all.
Low Price Tag
If you know that you aren’t putting away as much money as you should be towards your eventual retirement or you’re living paycheck-to-paycheck, it’s time to take a serious look at your finances and identify areas where you can save more.
If this is your situation, choose a free budgeting app. There are tons of highly functional choices that don’t require a monthly subscription fee.
Compatibility with Multiple Users
If you’re married or living with dependents, you know firsthand that sticking to a budget is much different than when you were managing your money alone. Make budgeting a family affair by choosing an app that allows multiple users to log into a single account.
This will give you a one-stop location for all of your credit card, checking and savings account information and will help you and your family stay on the same page.
Our Picks for the Best YNAB Alternatives
Here’s a list of our best free and low-cost YNAB alternatives.
It’s impossible to compare budgeting and investing apps without mentioning Intuit’s all-star offering, Mint. Mint is a web-based desktop and mobile app that offers a complete suite of budgeting and credit management tools and services.
After you import your banking and credit card information into Mint’s platform, the app offers you a complete picture of your finances, upcoming bills and even your current FICO credit score. If you’re a visual learner, you’ll love how Mint uses graphs and pie charts to show you exactly where you’re spending your money on a month-to-month basis.
Mint’s budgeting tools work as well as YNAB’s and the app also offers suggestions and alerts to help you save even more. For example, you can set SMS and email alerts that will give you a heads-up before a credit card or loan payment is due, saving you more in interest and late fees.
Unlike YNAB, Mint is free to use forever. However, Mint does make money by serving you clickable ads. It also promotes outside financial services and collects a commission if you choose to use them.
While some users may find these services intrusive or annoying, Mint’s comprehensive set of tools that go far beyond budgeting may make the less-than-appealing interface more palatable, especially for users who need a free finance option.
Do you enjoy YNAB’s simple, envelope-based budgeting system but don’t want to continue to pay YNAB’s monthly fee? If so, EveryDollar might be right for you.
EveryDollar assigns a job to every dollar in your paycheck, which allows you to set a monthly budget for expenses like child care, groceries, rent, entertainment, charitable giving and much more. As you track your spending and deduct money from each of your budgeted items, EveryDollar gives you updates throughout the month.
If you follow Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover system, the app also has built-in features and tips to help you reach each individual step in the program.
EveryDollar offers two versions of its app: a free version and a paid version, which costs $99 per year and automatically imports transactions for you from banking and credit card accounts.
EveryDollar’s free version offers zero ads and promotional materials, which offers you a more streamlined, less cluttered experience.
PocketGuard is a budgeting and saving app that aims to help users create and stick to a budget with money left over for investments and retirement accounts.
PocketGuard is a free app that offers many of the same tools that YNAB and Mint feature, including bill reminders and assistance that generates a budget based on your income. The app can even link with your investment accounts and credit cards and gives you a total picture of your finances in one convenient place.
The app also features a paid version at $34.99 a year, which offers more in-depth budgeting tools for less than the price of a year’s subscription to YNAB.
PocketGuard isn’t just about budgeting and investing. The app’s developers also understand that spending responsibly is an important part of living. PocketGuard’s “In My Pocket” feature shows you exactly what you have left over in your budget after you’ve finished allocating money to specific categories. This can be a useful tool for guilty spenders and those who have had overspending issues in the past.
Unlike YNAB, PocketGuard offers multi-factor authentication tools to keep your data safer. The app also employs high-level encryption security with 256-bit SSL — the same security layers used by some of the world’s largest banking institutions. If you’re budgeting on-the-go and you need to protect yourself when using public WiFi, PocketGuard has got your back.
Like EveryDollar and YNAB, GoodBudget is based on the envelope system of budgeting. After you create an account, you can manually fill expense categories with the amount that you plan on spending for the month. As you deduct money and enter transactions, GoodBudget will use bar graph sand visuals to show you how much money you have remaining.
Unlike some competitors, GoodBudget does not automatically sync your transactions, so you’ll have to enter them manually. If you want a streamlined and simple app, you may not mind taking the time to categorize your expenses.
GoodBudget is the perfect app for savers who need to get their family members on board with a budgeting program. For $5 a month, couples can subscribe to GoodBudget Plus, which allows an unlimited number of users to connect their devices and budget under a single household. This can be useful for those living with a partner or roommates, older children or dependents and married couples who share an income or joint checking account.
GoodBudget is a low-cost YNAB alternative that offers multi-device sync and essential money management tools.
Do you love using spreadsheets to manage money and data? Like YNAB’s platform but wish it was more customizable? If you answered “yes” to either one of these questions, you’ll love Tiller Money.
Tiller Money is not a mobile app. It’s a powerful spreadsheet service that syncs your financial data and uses Google Sheets technology to update your budget, help you build a spending plan and allocate money to specific expenses all from your desktop computer. Tiller features compatibility with over 18,000 financial institutions, ranging from Visa to Vanguard.
This allows the system to provide you with a one-stop portfolio that features all of your debts, investments, income and expenses in a single, convenient place. From there, you can adjust your sheets to set spending and savings goals and let Tiller take care of the data, math and calculations.
At $5 a month, Tiller is comparable in price to YNAB, and the service focuses entirely on budgeting as well. However, if you’re searching for a desktop-native, ad-free way to take more control over your finances, Tiller Money’s connective AI and auto-import features give you a hands-off approach to tracking your spending.
Taking Control of Your Money
Whether you’re in college or a working professional balancing a career and raising a family, you can use a budget app. Even if you aren’t in debt, creating a budget and sticking to it will allow you to save more toward retirement or other financial goals like owning a home or buying a new car.
Whether you use YNAB, Mint, another competitor or simple pencil and paper, sit down with your bank statements today and draft a budget for you and your family. Your future wallet will thank you!