When talking about Mac software for personal finances, my money is on YNAB. (Ha, see what I did there?) Read on to find out why.
I LOVE working with numbers, always have. It's not a chore to me to balance the checkbook, even when I had to do it the old-fashioned way with the form on the back of the monthly bank statement (remember those?). I love planning a budget, making all the columns add up nicely. I even love Algebra – go figure. (Well, confession time: I used to be a math teacher. So that might explain things a little bit.)
What that means is that I have almost always been the accountant in our family. And just like I like working with numbers, I like working with computers… so it follows, then, that I enjoy using personal finance software. For many years I used Quicken and loved it.
When we converted to Macs about three years ago, though, I found YNAB. (Although it is also available for Windows, so no worries, y'all.) And I have to say that I like it much better than Quicken. Here are some reasons why:
1) YNAB stands for You Need a Budget. As its name implies, it's gonna help you get to where you have a budget and use it. This software doesn't just help you balance your checkbook, it comes with a whole lifestyle change as well. I think it's neat that the YNAB website says: “It's not just software. It's a mission.” Their whole purpose in offering this software is to help you, their customer, get out of debt and become financially stable. I like that.
2) One of the main ways the software accomplishes this is to help you work towards living on last month's pay. When you are entering a paycheck in the register, you can choose to have it apply to this month or next month. You may start out always applying your pay to the current month, but the goal is to eventually set aside all of this month's pay to cover next month's bills. This way you will be ahead of the game and there will be no need to spend more than you actually have.
3) The software includes a complete budget form that you can customize with your own budget categories and amounts. As you enter transactions in your register, the amounts are entered into the correct place on the budget, thus reducing the amount remaining in the given category. This encourages you to live by your budget, because you can always see how much you have left to spend.
4) The company provides free online classes on how to use the software, how to transition from living on this month's income to living on last month's income, how to budget, how to pay off debt, etc. There is also a blog, and there are video tutorials, and there are forums for when you have a question. YNAB is a community. You can't say that about many companies in this day and age.
5) There is a YNAB app for your iphone or android phone. Using the app, you can sync your phone with the data on your desktop computer. That means that at the store, while still at the register, you can enter your transaction into your phone; and (if you use their Cloud Sync feature) it will automatically show up in your desktop register. Or you can sync over wifi when you get home.
6) Which brings up another aspect of YNAB that I personally love: I don't HAVE to use the cloud. I can store all of my data on my computer at home, and I can sync with my phone over my own wifi. This is my financial information, y'all, and I have no intention of having its “atoms scattered back and forth across space” for anyone to hack into. (That was a quote from Dr. McCoy, btw, about the transporter — but I think it fits, don't you? :-) ) I like that YNAB respects my privacy concerns.
In addition to my favorite features listed, YNAB also has the usual functions, like being able to download bank transactions and create reports for tax time. And the price is reasonable, only $60 at this time; updates are free. Gotta love that!
One thing I do miss is a debt-reduction calculation tool. Like, if I add $100 extra to my minimum payment on my XYZ card, how long until it gets paid off? Then how does that change if I add an extra $200 instead? It would be helpful to me to be able to find these things out, because I think then I would be able to plan my budget better. But in my opinion the other features of YNAB outweigh this one shortcoming.
P.S. I was not solicited by YNAB to write this review, nor am I being compensated for it. I just want to pass on the tools I use to make my life easier — cuz that's what it's all about here; if you follow me at all, you know I like to make everything as effortless as possible. Why spend more time or brain power on the finances than you have to? I'd rather be reading a book or hugging my child, wouldn't you? :-)
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