You Need A Budget (YNAB) is well-known for its budgeting philosophy and features. YNAB teaches users how to set up and stick to a budget so they can rein in spending, pay down debt and accumulate savings, something reviewers praise. The software is now compatible with Windows, Mac and Linux operating systems. Experts say it's easy to use, but you also get free online coaching if you're having problems. There's also a 34-day (yes, 34) free trial for you to check it out.
YNAB does not track investment accounts or offer financial planning tools. Also, you have to download transactions from your bank and then import them into the program, rather than having the software do it automatically. For those who want more accounting features in an easy-to-use program, reviewers recommend Moneydance 2011 (*Est. $50). You Need a Budget 4 has just been released, so it has yet to receive many reviews. Reviewers at MacWorld give YNAB 3 a rating of 4 mice out of 5, and recommend it for users of Mac computers. Users of YNAB 3 can get a free or discounted upgrade to version 4.
The blog BeingFrugal.net offers a preview of the YNAB 4; most other reviews cover YNAB 3. PersonalFinanceSoftwareReviews.com and FinanceSoftwareStore.com offer comparison reviews of YNAB 3, while FiscalGeek.com reviews the software by itself. Hundreds of user reviews on Amazon.com offer a firsthand perspective on the previous version, YNAB Pro, and About.com reviews it.
Lynnae McCoy, a user of YNAB 3, gives the latest version a try. She likes a lot of the new features and concluldes "I highly encourage you to use the YNAB 4 free trial. I think you'll be hooked. I know I was."
Review: YNAB 4: "You Need A Budget" Personal Budgeting Software Review, Lynnae McCoy, July 4, 2012
The editor of this site, who gives only his first name, is a businessman who tries quite a few personal accounting products before settling on You Need A Budget (YNAB) 3. He writes, "I strongly recommend YNAB 3… The software is fantastic and the methodology is extremely effective." This lengthy and detailed review takes the reader through the software's features, with screenshots included.
Review: YNAB 3 Review, "Chance", As of August 2012
In their review of You Need A Budget 3, the editors of FinanceSoftwareStore note that its improvements include a new interface and design, new icons, more customization options and the ability to search for specific transactions by different parameters, as well as to track mortgage and loan accounts.
Review: YNAB Version 3 Released, Editors of FinanceSoftwareStore.com, Dec. 30, 2009
You Need A Budget 3 comes in at third place in the TopTenReviews' 2012 review of personal finance software. In particular, the reviewers praise its colorful, easy to read, and even easier to understand, graphs. However, they complain that YNAB 3 does not come with any financial calculators.
Review: YNAB 3, Editors of TopTenReviews.com, As of August 2012
Brendan Wilhide gives You Need a Budget 3 a rating of 4 mice out of a possible 5 and recommends it for Mac users. Calling it "lightweight and easy to use," he highlights that your use of it can change as your financial needs evolve. He also praises its selection of financial reports.
Review: You Need a Budget 3, Brendan Wilhide, Nov. 5, 2010
The editor of FiscalGeek.com admits that he may be biased, since he has used YNAB software for years, but in his opinion, "you cannot go wrong with this program." YNAB 3, he says, is a huge improvement over the previous version, and worth upgrading to. He recommends YNAB 3 "for anyone who wants to focus their finances soundly on a budget and track their income and expenses from month to month."
Review: You Need a Budget (YNAB) 3.0 Personal Finance Software Review, Editor of FiscalGeek.com, December 2009
More than 200 owners rate You Need A Budget software, giving it 4.5 out of 5 stars -- much higher than they rate Quicken software. Users say the software is easy to download, set up and use. They like the fact that it teaches them how to set up and stick to a budget, and many report that they have started saving money for the first time.
Review: You Need A Budget (YNAB) -- Personal Finance Software, Contributors to Amazon.com
Shelley Elmblad, About.com's former guide to financial software, admiringly explains YNAB's four rules for budgeting, and also praises the upgrade. "YNAB 3 has been redesigned from the ground up, and it really shows compared to the previous version, YNAB Pro," she states. "YNAB 3 looks great and is very easy to navigate, with significant improvements to make the software faster to use." (Note: ConsumerSearch is owned by About.com, but the two don't share an editorial affiliation.)
Review: YNAB Review: First Look at You Need A Budget 3, Shelley Elmblad, As of August 2012
This article discusses how to manage your money and stick to a budget in a tough economy. You Need A Budget Pro (now You Need A Budget 3) is recommended for those who need to learn how to establish and maintain fiscal discipline. The article uses as an example the story of a woman who was able to cut her family's food expenses in half after she started using YNAB Pro.
Review: Money Tasks Made Easy, Editors of Kiplinger.com, June 2009