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YNAB Review

PROS / YNAB is extremely easy to use. It tracks all of your transactions and your budget.

CONS / Its simplicity also means this software has fewer features than other services, such as investment-monitoring tools.

 VERDICT / YNAB is a great choice for basic budgeting, but it lacks advanced financial-tracking and reporting features for investments and taxes.

You Need a Budget (YNAB) is a browser-based budgeting program that allows you to add transactions from your financial institution and credit cards. The program focuses on creating and following a budget. However, it forfeits advanced features such as investment tracking. If you're looking for a straightforward solution to help you keep track of your budget, this personal finance software is a good choice.

One of the best features YNAB offers for simplifying your financial tracking is connecting directly to your bank and credit card companies and automatically downloading transactions. This saves you the hassle of either manually entering transactions or downloading files from your financial institution and uploading them into the program. However, these manual options are available if you need them.

The platform is neat and logically organized. When creating a budget, you can view the actual amount you spent the previous month to gauge what you may spend the next month. You can simply copy the budget to the next month as well and adjust individual categories as needed. You can choose to have certain accounts be off budget; for example, if you don't want to factor your personal checking account into the family budget. If you want to learn more about budgeting, YNAB offers substantial educational resources such as a blog, weekly newsletter, videos, podcasts and workshops.

YNAB offers mobile apps for both Android and Apple mobile devices that continuously sync across all devices. Using the mobile apps, you can add transactions, view all accounts and adjust your budget. A summary at the top of the app displays rollovers from the previous month, the amount funded for the current month and the amount used month to date. You can set a PIN to protect your personal information. YNAB is unique in that it also has an app for Amazon's Alexa. You can ask Alexa to tell you your balances and available funds, and record transactions for you.

This software can report on category spending, payee spending, trends, income versus expenses and net worth. You can adjust the timeframe and the specific account you want to view the report for, and you're provided with a pie chart and color-coding key. This information is certainly important and useful, but its competitors offer many more reports. Further, you can only export reports in CSV format.

There are also no investment reports and no investment-tracking features. You can add bought-and-sold securities as you would a typical transaction, but that is the extent of YNAB's capabilities. It can keep track of your broker account total, but there aren't investment-monitoring tools such as a portfolio overview, asset allocation analysis or portfolio to market comparison.

Summary

YNAB is a great choice for simple budgeting. It is one of the easiest systems to use, and the interface is organized and intuitive. Creating a budget is quick and simple, as is manually adding transactions. However, the program lacks features for more complicated budgeting needs, such as for taxes or investments.