Even though budgeting feels like a significant chore we need to cross off our list, it is one of the first steps to achieving financial freedom. How would you feel if you were able to finally afford that vacation without going into major credit card debt or not wondering where your paycheck has gone before the end of the month? To help you budget better, enlist the help of a budgeting app.
In this review, we will compare You Need a Budget (YNAB) with EveryDollar, two of the most popular budgeting tools. While both can help you achieve the same goal, their respective features and usability are different.
In a Nutshell
YNAB is for those who want a more complex tool to categorize spending as they go and better understand financial habits.
EveryDollar is for budgeters who want a simple budget app that focuses on following a predetermined amount for the month.
You Need A Budget, or YNAB, has loyal fans who claim it has changed their financial lives. This budgeting style looks at every dollar coming in and out and makes sure you keep track of every single penny. It can even work with variable income and expenses.
Their budgeting app is based on four rules the company claims can help you get total control of your finances:
- Give every dollar a job: This means you’ll need to take all the money coming into your bank account and allocate every penny to a category.
- Embrace true expenses: You should set goals for variable expenses or short-term savings like a holiday gifts fund, an upcoming vacation, or paying for an annual subscription. This means setting aside an amount each month to go towards a future goal.
- Roll with the punches: Budgeting is meant to be flexible, so it’s okay to allocate more or less money to certain categories as long as you’re not spending more than you make. Did you have an unexpected car repair? That’s okay, but you might have to cut back on your restaurant spending this month in order to cover your car repair expenses.
- Age your money: The goal is not to spend all your money the second it hits your account. It’s ok to have some breathing room, especially for those who want to get out of the paycheck to paycheck cycle.
Learn More: 4 Reasons YNAB Beats Mint Hands Down
EveryDollar was founded by Dave Ramsey, a popular finance expert, most known for helping folks get better with their finances using baby steps. This budgeting app was created in 2015 to help users, according to Dave Ramsey, create a better budget in 10 minutes.
There are both free and paid versions. With the paid version, there are additional features, such as the ability to sync with your bank to automatically populate transactions.
The type of budgeting EveryDollar uses is called zero-based budgeting (similar to YNAB). It entails taking your income and dividing it into spending, saving, and investment categories like housing, transportation, and food. You have to allocate every dollar (hence the app’s name) until there’s nothing left, or it reaches zero.
The purpose of this system is to stop you from wondering how much you can afford to spend, pay off debt, and save at the end of each month. Instead, you will know exactly how much you can spend in certain categories and be forced into prioritizing debt payments and savings.
YNAB vs EveryDollar: Features
Features of YNAB
Sure, YNAB looks like traditional budgeting software, but there are several features that help you look toward the long term.
When you sign up, you’ll need to add spending categories (you can eliminate or adjust them later). Then you assign money to each category until all your income has been accounted for.
What stands out about YNAB is the interface makes it easy for you to see your entire budget in one place. At the top of the dashboard, you’ll be able to see your total cash flow. On the right, you can see how much you’ve budgeted for the month, the total amount that’s available in your budget, and your total monthly activity, including inflows.
You can then look closer at your budget and see what happens to it in real-time when you change your spending categories. It will show you what’s left in each category, allowing you to shift your spending as necessary.
Automatically Import Transactions
YNAB users have the option to manually enter their transactions or to import them automatically. For the automatic option, you link your financial accounts, and YNAB ensures it’s as secure as possible (they don’t have the ability to make changes to your account, only import transactions).
To import your transactions, click on the import button, and any transactions that are at least 24 hours old will populate. This works with some financial institutions better than others. Whether you enter them manually or sync them automatically, you’ll need to assign those transactions into categories. You can also split single transactions into multiple categories.
When you link your credit card accounts, YNAB will track your cash and credit spending separately, which is useful if your goal is to balance the amount you spend on cash and credit.
Age of Money
The Age of Money is a unique feature. YNAB believes the longer your cash stays in your checking account before spending, the better off you are financially. The goal is to be more mindful by spending less or making smarter spending decisions. YNAB encourages you to get to the point where your money is 30 days old. In their own words, "When you are spending money you earned last month, you will have nothing to stress about money-wise."
The Age of Money indicator will show up at the top right corner of your budget and will keep updating as you go. It’s meant to motivate you, so shoot for a higher age!
This feature is exactly as it sounds: create financial goals. It’s a helpful way to clarify what you want and find a way to track the metrics. Ideally, seeing your goals will motivate you to stick to them.
To use, create a goal and select a spending category. This goal will indicate how much money you need to save each month in that category to reach it by your specified date. You can see where you stand any time YNAB will show how much more you need to save.
You can even set goals for an amount you want to pay towards your debt within a certain timeframe. All you need to do is link your credit or debit accounts though not all accounts can be linked.
Features of EveryDollar
Overall, EveryDollar is a simple budgeting app that doesn’t have snazzy features compared to others. Still, it’s a useful tool to help your budgeting game.
You get to customize the spending categories. You’ll be asked how much you spend in common or major categories like housing, food, and transportation when you sign up. You then add and name additional categories as needed.
Examples include debts, household items, and even your annual HOA fee. You’ll have to make sure you allocate all your money. The app will tell you each month how much is left to put into your budgeting categories.
Just because you allocate a certain amount of money for each category doesn’t mean you’ll stick to it. That’s why EveryDollar has two columns: the budgeted amount and the amount you’ve spent so far. This allows you to see how much you have left to spend by the end of the month and review your spending habits to see where you may need to make adjustments.
You can turn any spending category into a fund, where the money you didn’t spend rolls over to the next month. This feature is useful if you have variable expenses like holiday spending or when paying your property tax bill.
Automated Syncing of Bank Accounts
The paid version allows you to sync your bank accounts, so your transactions populate automatically.
YNAB vs. EveryDollar: Price
How Much Does it Cost to Use YNAB?
YNAB offers a 34-day trial (check it out to see if you like it). After that, it costs $11.99 a month or $84 a year.
How Much Does it Cost to Use EveryDollar?
The good news is there’s a free basic version of EveryDollar. However, as we mentioned above, you have to input all your transactions manually. This might be an upside if you want to make sure you’re really seeing what you’re spending or are new to budgeting.
The premium or paid version allows you to import transactions directly from your financial accounts. EveryDollar Plus costs $129.99 per year, and you can get a 15-day trial to see if you like it.
YNAB vs EveryDollar: Pros and Cons
Pros and Cons of YNAB
Offers tools to motivate you: Sure, you can budget better with YNAB, but the goals function and the dashboard is designed to push you to reach other financial goals.
Intuitive dashboard: From seeing all your cash flow at a glance, to more detailed spending reports, YNAB has you covered.
Free trial: you can check out YNAB free for 34 days to see if this app works for you. Paying the membership fee might be worth it if you can save more than $11.99 per month (or $84 per year) by using this tool.
Continual updates: YNAB has seen over four different versions before rolling out the latest version. With each update, YNAB continues to improve, making it more user-friendly for its customers.
No investment features: This might not be a downside if you’d rather just have budgeting software, but those who want more from their programs need to look elsewhere to track their investments.
Takes a while to get used to: YNAB is great once you get the hang of it, but you might encounter some challenges when getting started. Not a total dealbreaker, but keep this in mind when you start using the app.
Not many ways to contact customer service: You can’t call or email YNAB to answer any questions. Only live chat and a contact form are available.
Pros and Cons of EveryDollar
Simple to use: You can get everything set up with EveryDollar within a few minutes, assuming you know how much you want to allocate to each category. Plus, the interface is very user-friendly.
Focuses on budgeting only: No need to worry about all the other shiny features if you don’t want to, since EveryDollar does what it does best: help you create a better budget.
Syncs with Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps: the app has a section where you can learn the additional baby steps, such as saving for an emergency fund. That way, you can continue to get better with your money.
Ad free: you don’t have to worry about being bombarded with ads like other types of free budgeting software.
Paid version doesn’t offer much: Sure, you can sync your transactions, automatically, but to pay $129.99 a year for the privilege might not seem worth it.
Free Version is Limited: You’ll need to manually enter transactions which could be a turnoff for many budgeters.
Related: Best Online Budgeting Tools
Why Choose YNAB
If you’re someone who loves being extremely detail-oriented and wants to see how your daily or monthly budget can add up over time, YNAB is for you. Their dashboard allows you to see how each dollar is accounted for and whether you’re reaching the financial goals you set.
Why Choose EveryDollar
EveryDollar is best for those who are beginners and want something simple to get started with. Plus, if you’re a Dave Ramsey fan, this budgeting app is a great choice because you can learn about the Baby Steps all in one place.
YNAB vs. EveryDollar Which One is Best?
|Fees||$84 per year||Free (basic version) or $129.99 per year|
|Manually enter transactions||x||x|
|Rollover budget from the previous month||x||(limited)|
|Create savings goals||x|
It’s hard to pick the best budgeting app because it ultimately depends on what features you want and how you work best. For instance, EveryDollar is a simple budgeting app that focuses on making sure you’re following the amount you set out for the month.
YNAB, on the other hand, is a more complex budgeting app that doesn’t offer a free version, but you’ll get to allocate all money coming (in excruciating detail), and you get more snazzy charts and tables.
Ultimately, think about which one you’ll use the most. Remember, the best budgeting app is one you will use. There’s no point picking a cheaper option because you’ll end up wasting money if you never log in (and your budget won’t like you very much).
So start with one, see if you like it and if you need to change your mind, do so.