Battle of the Budgeting Software:
YNAB vs Mint
For those on a budget, investing in a budgeting software program can be quite helpful because it not only helps you develop your budget, but it can also help you actually stick to it as well, which to be honest, is the real battle when it comes to budgeting.
Another great thing about using a budgeting software is that some of the programs out there can provide you with the guidance you need to spend less money. And, if you’re reading this post, spending less money is probably a huge goal of yours.
Additionally, depending on the budgeting tool you use, you can typically set up both long-term and short-term financial goals, which is great if you are looking to set aside a certain amount of money to save each month or you want to pay off a credit card or loan.
While there are tons of different budgeting software programs on the market, I’m going to dedicate this post to comparing two popular budgeting apps: You Need A Budget (also known as YNAB) and Intuit’s Mint.
According to Investopedia, in their article “The 8 Best Budgeting Software of 2021,” YNAB is the best budgeting software currently on the market. The Investopedia powers that be came to this conclusion based on YNAB’s flexibility, the many features and tools it offers its users, and the fact that it helps you take control of your money by teaching you how to better manage your finances.
But, is YNAB the best budgeting software out there? Let’s explore its offerings and find out.
How Does YNAB Work?
YNAB employs a budgeting system that is based on what they call the “Four Rules.”
- Give Every Dollar a Job
- Embrace Your True Expenses
- Roll with the Punches
- Age Your Money
Rule 1: Give Every Dollar a Job
With YNAB, every dollar you have gets a specific job, like paying a utility bill or being earmarked for grocery shopping. The reason behind this rule is that YNAB wants the unemployment rate for your dollars to be 0%. So, you allocate every single dollar you have set aside for your monthly budget to a specific purpose, including any amount you plan to save.
Rule 2: Embrace Your True Expenses
This rule aims to help you anticipate not just your monthly expenses, but other costs that might pop up throughout the year, like your car insurance premium or your yearly Amazon Prime fee. This allows you to save for these types of expenses little by little each month, so when they do occur, you already have the money put away so you can pay for them.
Rules 3: Roll with the Punches
When it comes to budgeting, things can and do happen. Sometimes you spend way too much at Target. Sometimes an expense you didn’t anticipate comes up, like a medical bill. Sometimes you totally forget about that pesky annual vehicle registration bill you get every March. Rule 3 teaches you to move money around by taking it from other budget categories, like moving $100 from your takeout/eating out budget to your grocery budget, so you don’t go over budget for the month.
Rule 4: Age Your Money
This leverages the money you have left over from the previous month to help with your expenses for the current month. So, if you went under budget in March by $100, you will add that $100 to your April budget.
If you’d like to learn more about the YNAB Four Rules, they offer a free video course on their website for your viewing pleasure.
Essentially, YNAB is considered zero-based budgeting because instead of just saving whatever you have left over each month, you set aside a certain amount of money to put into savings at the beginning of the month, and then you work toward sticking to your budget to meet that saving goal.
YNAB offers a lot of cool features for its users, including:
- Customizable reporting (charts and graphs)
- Goal tracking
- More than 100 free online workshops
- Real-time updating
- Customer service
- The ability to share finances with your partner
- Account linking
How Much Does YNAB Cost Per Month?
You do have to pay for YNAB, which can be a dealbreaker for many, especially those on a budget who don’t want to add another subscription to their monthly or yearly expenses. YNAB costs $11.99, which adds up to $143.88 a year. You can save a bunch by getting an annual subscription to YNAB, which costs only $84.
YNAB also has a No-Risk, 100% Money-Back Guarantee, so if you do purchase a monthly or annual subscription, and you decide you don’t like it, you can get a full refund.
And, YNAB offers a 34-day free trial, which gives you more than a month to test it out and see if it’s the right personal finance tool for you.
Can YNAB Help You Save Money?
According to the YNAB website, yes they can. They state that on average YNAB users typically save about $600 during their first two months of using the platform, and that they can save more than $6,000 during their first year of use.
Pros and Cons of YNAB
While there is a lot to love about YNAB, there are some not-so-great things about it as well. Here is a breakdown of the pros and cons of YNAB.
Pros of Using YNAB
- You can link your various bank and credit card accounts.
- You can manually enter transactions.
- You can get information in real-time.
- YNAB teaches you how to budget.
- You can set up multiple budgets and seamlessly switch between them.
- YNAB syncs with over 12,000 banks.
- YNAB works on multiple devices, including the Apple watch.
Cons of Using YNAB
- You can’t track your investing with YNAB.
- It doesn’t offer bill pay tracking or alerts.
- It takes a lot of time to set up YNAB.
- Since YNAB offers a lot of different features, there is a learning curve.
- It costs money to use.
So, there you have it, YNAB in a nutshell. Now, let’s get into Mint.
Full disclosure, I actually use Mint, and I really like it. But, I also want to help you find the best financial tool for you and your budgeting needs. So, I’m going to tell you everything you need to know about it, good and bad.
Mint is owned by Intuit, which is also the owner of TurboTax. In the Investopedia article I mentioned earlier, Mint is considered the best budgeting software for beginners because it allows you to have all of your accounts in one place. Mint also helps you track your net worth because it has the ability to pull in any investment accounts you have, including your 401k.
How Does Mint Work?
Mint aims to make budgeting easy by allowing you to link all of your financial accounts (bank accounts, car loans, investments, etc) in one place, so you can better manage your money. It claims to help you “save smarter” by setting up custom budgets.
When you set up your monthly budget in Mint, you select categories for every dollar you spend, so you can see where exactly your money is going. And, since your bank account is synced with Mint, when you buy something, that transaction is recorded in your budget within its respective category. You can also set up notifications, so you will get alerted when you are getting close or even when you go over your monthly budget.
Unlike YNAB, Mint provides investment monitors, so you can track your different investment accounts. Mint also allows you to see if there are any hidden fees that may be hampering your investment returns.
Mint also offers what they call “Mindsights,” which are personalized insights to help you spend smarter, save more, and pay down your debt. And, it allows you to compare the interest rates of your credit cards, which is super helpful because it helps you to determine which one you should pay off first.
Another cool thing about Mint is that it gives you access to your credit score and even breaks down which factors are affecting your credit.
Like YNAB, Mint also offers a lot of cool features for its users, including:
- The ability to see how your spending compares to the national average
- Investment tracking
- Mint alerts
- Mindsights to help you better manage your money
- Credit score access
- Goal setting
- Goal progress monitoring
- Bill tracking
- The ability to see a picture of your overall financial health
How Much Does Mint Cost Per Month?
MInt is free, which is a major draw for many of its users.
Can Mint Help You Save Money?
Unlike YNAB, Mint doesn’t claim to help you save money. Instead, it claims to help you “save smarter.” However, I find that it does help me save money, so I would say yes to this question.
Pros and Cons of Mint
There are a lot of great things about Mint as well as some things that aren’t so awesome. Here is a breakdown of the pros and cons of Mint:
Pros of Using Mint
- You can track and pay bills all in one place.
- You can set up bill pay reminders as well as view bill due dates and amounts due for each one.
- Your bill list automatically updates to show what’s been paid and what still needs to be paid.
- You can set up long term goals, like saving up for a down payment for a house.
- Mint offers users easy-to-follow advice based on your lifestyle and goals.
- Mint automates your finances, so you don’t have to manually enter your spending.
- Mint offers you savings opportunities, like auto insurance and low interest credit cards.
Cons of Using Mint
- There isn’t a lot of goal variety.
- Because Mint is free, you will be subjected to lots and lots of ads from their various partners, both on the platform and by email.
- As of writing this post, mortgage payoff isn’t available as a goal on the Mint platform.
- Account syncing can be slow at times.
- Unlike YNAB, Mint doesn’t teach its users how to budget.
- Budgeting is month-to-month, so you can’t set a budget for a future month ahead of time.
And, that my friends, is Mint in a nutshell.
Mint vs YNAB Comparison Chart
Here is a mini breakdown of YNAB vs Mint so you can see how they compare side-by-side in terms of cost, device capability, credit score access, customer service, and cool features.
|Software||Cost||Device Compatibility||Access to Credit Score||Customer Service||Features|
|$11.99/month or $84/year|
34-day free trial
|No||Yes – Email|
|Yes||Yes – Live Chat|
YNAB vs Mint: The Verdict
I’m not going to lie. This is a tough one, and it’s difficult to pick just one in the YNAB vs Mint debate. I’m an avid Mint user, and I really like it. And, while during my research of these two budgeting software platforms, I did see some articles that marked YNAB as the best, I also saw several articles that didn’t designate a clear winner. This is because at the end of the day, whether or not YNAB vs Mint will be better for you really depends on your budgeting and financial goals. You also have to consider the fact that you will be paying YNAB, while Mint is free.
If you need help budgeting, YNAB is a great choice for you because it teaches you how to budget. YNAB’s budgeting method can also help you save money, which is great if you want to boost your nest egg.
If you mainly want all of your finances in one place and to keep track of your spending, Mint will work just fine for you.
Since Mint is free, and YNAB has a 34-day free trial, it could be worth giving them both a shot and seeing which one works better for you and your financial needs.
YNAB vs Mint – let me know which you prefer in the comments once you’ve tried them!
A forty-ish web designer/developer by day, a budget & financial fanatic by night. I’m a mom, wife, avid reader, and DIY enthusiast who’s tracking our journey to debt freedom. Read More