YNAB versus Mint

I told a friend about Mint recently and she did some research and came to the conclusion that she is a YNAB girl.  I still have YNAB on my iPhone as an app (after all, it is a paid app instead of a free app like Mint.com) but to be honest, the last time I used it was a few years ago.  This was secondary to my Quicken fail.  I just don't have the patience of diligence to enter my purchases in an app form.

If you want to know what the best fit for you is, click here take our quick YNAB vs Mint Quiz and see why one serve your needs better than the other.

According to Lifehacker, the most popular personal finance software is YNAB (but a landslide) with over 50% of respondents preferring YNAB.  Mint comes in a close second, with almost 29% of respondents preferring Mint.com over other personal finance tracking apps.

In case you haven't heard, YNAB is short of You Need a Budget.  YNAB costs around $60 (last time I checked) and it is another $5 for the App (last time I checked which is a few years ago).  I was a huge fan of it because it looked so pretty and appealing, but then I just got lazy and stopped using it.

Here is my YNAB review from a few years back if you are interested.

YNAB Versus MintFor those who haven't heard of Mint, I had a love hate relationship with Mint.  I hated how you had to enter personal financial institution information.  In fact, I disliked this so much that I ended up cancelling mint and detailed my explanation on a witty post here explaining why I broke up with Mint.com.  However, I ended up crawling back and restarted my relationship with Mint.com but in a modified way.  I set boundaries.  The only information that I have with Mint.com are my credit cards.  It helps me track how much I have been spending in the month and I found that I couldn't keep track without Mint.com.  I am in a happy committed relationship with Mint.com now.  If he cheats on me with my financial information, it is in a modified way and he only have access to my credit card information.

Here's my review of Mint.com from a few years back if you are interested.

YNAB Pros

  • It's pretty
  • There are no ads or notifications telling you that you should switch to this credit card to save $100
  • More secure than Mint.com because it does not connect to your banking institution directly
  • Increases awareness of where your money is going because you have to proactively do stuff in order to record things
  • Free for the first 34 days

Mint.com Pros

  • It's free
  • You don't have to proactively input data into Mint.com, works for those who are lazy or time crunched or cannot be bothered to enter data right after purchasing something
  • Good if you use credit cards for all of your purchases and can pay off your credit cards each month (because it can track your monthly spending since you spend most of your purchases on credit cards)

In summary, I think YNAB takes a more “pro-active” approach and Mint.com takes a more “reactive” approach.  I personally am a big fan of saving up your money ahead of time (e.g. move that money out of your account on a monthly basis in an automatic paying yourself way) instead of budgeting everything and making myself feel bad for spending more in one category than another.

What I end up using is writing how much I spend down by hand in my daily calender and use Mint to back that up.  In addition, calculating my net worth updates (in a little net worth update journal and online here on this blog) on a regular basis also helps keep me cognizant of where I need to save money and invest, and how my spending is affecting my net worth.

Or if you wanted, you could use both.  Use YNAB for planning and use Mint.com as a back up in case you forget to record any purchases.

Everyone is different, what works for one person might not work for another.  That's probably why there are so many different personal finance software options out there.

Readers, do you use YNAB or Mint.com?  Or are you a contrarian to both of these and instead use Quicken?

13 Comments

  1. Rebecca on July 2, 2014 at 8:59 am

    I use Mint and LOVE it. I agree that the the biggest down-side asking for your financial information. How did you set things up so that it only has access to your credit cards? That is what I wanted, but it would not let me start an account without giving banking information. I ended up giving them information for an old bank account that I no longer use. I add the few transactions (like paycheques) that debit/credit directly from my bank account into Mint manually. Pre-Mint I used to enter everything into a budget spreadsheet manually, I couldn’t see myself paying $60 for something where I would still need to enter everything manually.



  2. BeachBoy on July 2, 2014 at 9:16 am

    Quicken here, all manual entries, since 2007 (currently in my 8th year of data). takes a while getting used to it, but much more powerful than anything else for reporting and budgeting. I don’t trust any 3rd party app that links my banka ccounts.
    (btw we cannot post on android – chrome – because it’s impossible to click the “confirm you are not a spammer” checkbox)



  3. Bell on July 3, 2014 at 5:16 pm

    I have been using YNAB for 6 months now, and I LOVE it. It has helped me understand where my money goes, as well as find money to pay a big bill I wasn’t expecting – it’s both proactive and reactive. The app is free now, and it’s really not a big deal to spend 30 min every month reconciling my several accounts. I hated using Mint because it would send me annoying emails, and it would mis-categorize purchases, so it would take way more time to make it make sense than ynab.

    And I do both types of saving – move my money into savings accounts (“off-budget”), as well as budget what I do have. It doesn’t make me feel bad about over-spending, as one of it’s tenets is to roll with the punches – which means you can reallocate funds as needed.



  4. Vik on July 6, 2014 at 4:53 am

    +1 for YNAB.

    I’ve been using YNAB for over a year now and it is better than using mint for many reasons one of the primary ones being its security as you do not connect to your bank account with 3rd party software therefore you aren’t in breach of your banks terms and conditions.

    It did take some getting used to, but if you give it the time that it needs, this becomes a habit that you almost don’t notice it anymore.

    YNAB’s budgeting features are the best, it is a system that forces you think differently. I have always been a great saver, I spend less than I earn but I always had issues with Cash Flow, i.e. I’d see $10k sitting in one account doing nothing and I would move it to my investment account only to find out that the next day a $1K payment was leaving my account for a cheque I had written. YNAB has solved this, I no longer make decisions based on my balance in my bank account, it is by categories and categories only.



  5. Boris on July 7, 2014 at 12:48 am

    I’ve been looking at my Mint account for the past little bit now and I think i’m done with it. I have been a user since I added my first account back in 2011. The problem is that I bank mainly with CIBC which seems to have constant issues with mint. I’m giving up on it and from what I’ve seen around online, and here, YNAB is the way to go.



  6. Brent Woods on November 3, 2014 at 3:11 pm

    I’ve taken a liking to YNAB as well. Been with mint for a while, but it keeps getting challenged with password questions it can’t answer, leaving my accounts ‘in error’. Sure is convenient to have your accounts aggregated, but giving a company other than a bank your full financial profile is a tad unsettling.



  7. Lindsey on November 6, 2014 at 6:51 pm

    I just wanted to make sure everyone knew that YNAB is free for all students! If you are a student just email support@youneedabudget.com (with proof of registration, student ID, etc.) and we’ll send you a special license key, good until the calendar year. And at the end of the year, if you are still in school, email us again and we’ll keep you flush in free personal budgeting software as long as you’re in school!



  8. Alan on January 20, 2015 at 4:25 am

    I have a been a committed YNABer for 2.8 years now. Every now and then it’s even useful to find the name of a business I used a few years back and paid (correctly and without dodging tax) in cash… but that info isn’t on my bank accounts.
    I like the philosophy of YNAB and even though I used to run my own Excel budget, YNAB has made it easier to keep track of all upcoming expenses without having to redo it so manually as I once need to.



  9. Shakira on April 14, 2016 at 3:19 pm

    I too had a love hate relationship with Mint. Right now I am in the hate phase but I like the idea of setting boundaries and just using CC. Which I will do. This is my first time about YNAB ( sounds familiar probably heard it before and forgot) but as a student I will give it a shot. I am diligent in collecting my receipts and adding them at the end of the month. but would appreciate a more modern way rather than the old chisel and stone method.



  10. John on September 12, 2016 at 9:21 am

    Tried both but could not connect all my financial sites, so not much of use for me…
    Now I use Geltbox Money which lets me create my own account aggregator, set budgets and more all in my laptop.



  11. don dalton on February 3, 2017 at 3:55 pm

    I am thinking of getting YNAB.
    Could you tell me if this budget accumulates fixed expenses and carries the balance forward in the next month? For example: if I budget $20 each month for yard equipment repairs, and don’t use any money for 6 months, will there be $120 in that item 6 months later?



  12. Kyle on February 4, 2017 at 10:53 am

    You can set it up that way for sure Don, stay tuned for a cool resource we’re putting together comparing the two.



  13. Anne on June 26, 2017 at 1:00 am

    I’ve been using YNAB for about 6 months now and it’s been great for me. It suits me really well and it’s really the first budgeting software that really makes sense to me intuitively. It just makes sense that I only budget money I actualy have, but I can still “roll with the punches” and move things around if the unexpected happens and I have to spend money for an emergency. They have great online tutorials to help learn the systems, that are live streamed too.



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