YNAB 3 Review: Give Me Back My Mvelopes

This post features my original YNAB review from January, 2010. Refer to my updated YNAB review, and my newest review of Mvelopes.

Most of you have heard me talk about Mvelopes ad nauseam. But there’s another product in the envelope budgeting space, and that is the topic of today’s review–YNAB 3. Version 3 is currently in Beta testing, and is only available by invitation. Yours truly obtained a copy for review. Why?

I have been watching the development of YNAB with great interest. I’ve been mostly sitting on the sidelines, entrenched in the Mvelopes system, and feeling like YNAB 2 was a bit too clunky and missing functionality and refinement for my taste. But I love envelope budgeting and want to stay informed on the latest and greatest tools.

When the YNAB 3 beta was announced, I decided it was finally time to give this software a fair shot at competing in the space. With Mvelopes the only other realistic competitor, I was desperate to have YNAB perform at the same level and give them a run for their (and our) money. Where there’s serious competition, there will be innovation, and we (the end consumer) stand to benefit.

To avoid “cheating” and give you an accurate picture of how the experience went, I canceled my Mvelopes subscription in late December, 3 days after purchasing and transferring my information to YNAB. I wanted to be sure the whole experience was based on nothing more than the information YNAB was feeding me.

Purchase & Installation

The product purchase and download was fairly seamless. The download is performed through a link that is emailed to you, so you need to save the email somewhere.

I don’t particularly like not having an installation file for a piece of software I bought, but I guess as long as YNAB’s servers are up, the download will work if I ever need to re-install.

After the standard hoop-la of inputting serial codes and Adobe Air installation (the platform the software runs on), everything booted up smoothly.

Setting It Up

Initial setup was also non-eventful. After selecting a currency (of which there are many supported) and a date format, the program takes you to a Welcome page that explains the four rules of YNAB (scroll down halfway on the YNAB main page to read about them). If you’re familiar with envelope budgeting, they should resonate with you.

You’re then left to your own devices to add accounts (manually, since the software does not support direct links to banks), and tweak the budget categories to your liking.

First Impressions: 2 vs. 3

The first thing you’ll notice between Versions 2 and 3 of YNAB are the visual improvements. The software is very sleek, clean, and information is easily read off the screen.

There are also a slew of non-visual features that are new for this edition, including changes to how funds roll forward from month to month, search capabilities, reporting improvements, options for treating overspending, and drag-and-drop capabilities.

My first impression of the program? “Nice! I can see the appeal!” And the program does have an appeal and a huge fan base, as well as many successful users who have paid off debt, increased savings, saved their marriages, and other feats of financial glory. And for that, I’m thankful.

What I Liked

The program and I got off to a promising start, and I really enjoyed some of these features:

  • Clean, well-designed interface. Probably the first thing you notice about YNAB is the visual design, which is very pleasing on the eyes and makes information easy to digest. Even the major section icons are bold and flashy.
  • Solid reporting tools. YNAB features a high-powered reporting engine that is capable of spitting out spending and income/net worth reports and organizing them in a way that won’t make your head spin (for example, only showing the top 5 spending categories). Percentage-based reporting can easily show you percentages spent on each budget item, which makes things much easier for those following a 60% budget or something similar.
  • Well-executed basics. Everything you’d expect from a basic financial manager is here, including the often-neglected features, like split-category transactions, automatic transaction matching (after manually downloading a statement file from your bank), payee management, and scheduling transactions.
  • Cost. Clearly, it’s a deciding factor for many, and there are big savings in making a one-time purchase of a program versus using a subscription service.
  • Principles. YNAB is based around four “rules,” which makes the concept of envelope budgeting very easy for many people to understand. Additionally, the ultimate goal of the program, to live on last month’s income, is unique to YNAB and built into the framework of the software from Day 1.

What I Didn’t Like

The honeymoon period was great. In fact, until about 2 weeks ago, I was pretty much enjoying myself. But it didn’t take long to start noticing some of the other features that were not so good, in my opinion, especially after having just come off a software that was very intuitive and easy to use. Here are some of the major things that didn’t click with me:

  • Performance Issues. Adobe Air-based programs are unfortunately a little sluggish in responding when loading and re-loading sections, and YNAB is no exception. The more information I added to the program, the slower the three sections would take to load (Budget, Transactions, and Reports). Typical load times on my mid-level machine were 5-10 seconds. Certain commands were also sluggish to execute.
  • Lack of budget. Okay, so it might seem a little strange that the “budget” is missing from a budgeting software, but let me explain. What I was really looking for is a baseline, which was one of my favorite features of Mvelopes. I could set up what I wanted my monthly budget to look like, and try to match that every month. With YNAB, it was more like a guessing game. True, budgets can be “copied” from month to month, but if I made changes to the baseline in the previous month, I want that change to revert, not copy.
  • Budgets and transactions of different pages. This was a big one, and it’s a killer for me. Mvelopes solved the problem by presenting envelope balances in the sidebar. When inputting transactions, I could see envelope balances being reflected instantly, and it was ingrained in my head. With YNAB, I have to switch to the budget screen, and the process has been disconnected. I no longer know what my balances are by heart, and it makes daily spending more difficult (or actually, a lot easier…to overspend, that is).
  • Transaction focus. YNAB is strongly based around inflows and outflows, while envelope balances are downplayed a bit. This is reflected in the visual design of the software, as well as the way the budget screen and transaction screens work. This is a cash-flow-centric approach that I felt was inferior to the balance-centric focus of Mvelopes.
  • Envelope management. For example, deleting an envelope makes all the previous transactions in that envelope uncategorized (alternatively, you can hide envelopes). This is related to my beef with being transactions-focused, rather than balance-focused (see above).
  • Manual Import. Initially, this was the primary reason why I stayed away from the software, but I decided to give it a go anyway and deal with the extra steps of downloading transactions. Now I understand why I was so hesitant… I have to be extra-diligent to enter receipts on a daily basis, automatic transfers and small transactions get missed and only update when I import, manually approving and matching transactions is a process, not a breeze, and the whole thing just adds 10 extra steps where there really could be only one. I understand there may be some monetary costs associated with setting up direct linking, but perhaps it’s worth it…
  • Help. Heeeeelp! There is a help function in the program, so that’s a good start, but the impression that I got from reading through it (and referencing it when I needed something) was that it was rushed through. There just wasn’t enough information to go on when trying to understand many of the program’s features.

Mvelopes Killer? Sorry, But No

YNAB has one important up on Mvelopes–a fixed fee for the program that lasts indefinitely (vs. Mvelopes’ subscription-based system). But even that criteria is not straightforward, because Mvelopes rolls out updates on a monthly basis, making a direct comparison more difficult.

Based on a few critical factors–visually linking transactions to budgets, and automatic downloads, Mvelopes is a clear winner for me.

So while my Mvelopes subscription has been on hiatus for a few months, I’m going back next week.

So Who is YNAB for?/Final Thoughts

Let me contradict myself for a minute and say that YNAB is a great piece of software. It implements the principles of envelope budgeting with remarkable skill, and the principles are solid.

As I mentioned previously, many people have used it with shining success to open the floodgates to better finances.

But from where I sit, and in our own personal situation, Mvelopes still wins out as the better piece of software for our needs. We could probably accomplish solid results with either tool, but I am opting to stay as optimized and cutting edge as I can by sticking with Mvelopes. And it’s much easier to use in my wife’s opinion, and I need her on board.

If you like YNAB, I say go for it. Both software packages have free trials available, but then again–2 weeks is not very long to evaluate either. You may be forced to make a quick decision and go with one long-term to see how it meets your needs.

Either way, I think envelope budgeting is really a fantastic tool, whose power you don’t truly appreciate until you’ve had the chance to use it for a while. I encourage you to dive in!

There’s much work and progress to be made in the space, and YNAB is leading the way as much as the other guys.

Budget icon from the YNAB Blog

This post features my original YNAB review from January, 2010. Refer to my updated YNAB review, and my newest review of Mvelopes.

35 thoughts on “YNAB 3 Review: Give Me Back My Mvelopes

  1. Hey Wojo,

    Great review! I haven’t tried Mvelopes, but I did download the trial version of YNAB. Maybe I didn’t give it a great try, but it all seemed too complicated. I decided to try a budget software by Snowmint Creative. I was excited about it until I realized that you couldn’t adjust your budget monthly….TOO COMPLICATED also. Sooooo, I decided to go back to “old faithful”, my excel spreadsheets. They never let me down:-).

    1. You’re right–even my wife commented that it’s much more complicated to understand than Mvelopes.

      I would use spreadsheets, but it just seems easier for everyone involved to stick with an easy-to-use program. (We do use spreadsheets for non-budgeting purposes).

      Thanks for stopping by!🙂

  2. YNAB or Mvelopes? – As you say in your conclusion, it really depends on the user. Different strokes for different folks. Unless you build your own system, you will always find some good and some bad with any product. In the end it depends on the individual user which he or she prefers. What works for you may not work for the next person.

  3. @ctreit “Unless you build your own system, you will always find some good and some bad with any product.” Funny enough, that is exactly why I wrote my own system (inzolo.com). I used Mvelopes for a few years and liked it for the most part, but there was a laundry list of features that I wished it had and bugs that never seemed to get resolved. I also didn’t like the sluggishness of the app as it was built on Adobe as well, so I’m surprised to read the review that Wojciech is complaining of YNAB3 being sluggish. I wanted a native web app like mint that followed the envelope budgeting principles.

    I’m finding that a lot of people are struggling with Inzolo because their bank does not support OFX which allows for automatic importing of transactions as Wojciech described. But still, you can import downloaded transaction files for banks that don’t have an OFX server. I’m fortunate that my credit union rocks (America First Credit Union) and I also use American Express which also has great OFX support. I just wish more banks would get on board with OFX.
    .-= Dustin´s last post: Ignoring Previously Deleted Transactions on Import =-.

    1. Thanks Dustin. You’re probably the only other serious competitor with a chance to run against these two companies, so I’m rooting for you! I’ve checked out your product and I can tell you’re putting in a lot of work, so I’ll be keeping an eye out.

      As for the sluggishness–I agree that Mvelopes and YNAB are both sluggish, but I found the places where YNAB was being sluggish (switching between screens, etc.) more intrusive than where Mvelopes lacks speed (mostly at start-up).

  4. @Dustin I checked out your site and watched a few of your jing videos. I like what you did there, especially the way you can manage your expense categories. I wonder how helpful an interface with my bank account is though. My bank does not capture a lot of info about my expenses.

    1. Thanks ctreit. Yeah, those jing videos are out of date. I really need to create some new ones to show off new features. What do you mean by your bank not capturing much information. I guess all you need is the date, payee, and amount to be useful. You can easily click on a memo to edit it. I do with most transactions before I assign them to envelopes.

  5. Glad to hear you decided to stick with Mvelopes! I did the YNAB trial as well, and while I was impressed with the prettiness of it, it was really lacking a lot of the features that I really liked about Mvelopes. I’ve decided to stick it out with Mvelopes, which is not perfect either (wish it had an actual iPhone app!!), but is as close to perfect as I’ve managed to get! Hope you’re enjoying that new baby of yours.🙂
    Take care,
    Alissa
    .-= Alissa´s last post: My First Bulk Food Order! =-.

  6. I would be curious what your thoughts are since your review of the early beta in January. YNAB has released it’s full production version and it is a lot faster! I have been using YNAB (started with 2.0) since August and can’t say enough about how much it has changed my financial picture for the better. YNAB3 is great. I haven’t tried Mvelopes but actually am not interested in having all that financial info on a website. Plus I found manually entering my transactions in the register has really really helped me stay on top of what I am spending. I love YNAB!!!!

    1. Bill, more power to you! As I point out, everyone’s system preference is very personal.

      My main issue with YNAB was not its speed, since Mvelopes has comparable lag, but rather the system setup itself. I felt a deep disconnect between transactions and envelope balances, which I touched on in the review, and I could feel the difference in my daily spending. Manually entering transactions was more a nuisance for me, rather than a plus, since I felt I still got the “on top of things” effect with Mvelopes.

      I no longer use either Mvelopes or YNAB, but have gotten by with a simple spreadsheet. More on that in a few weeks…

      “I haven’t tried Mvelopes but actually am not interested in having all that financial info on a website.” Again, everyone’s comfort level is different, but I believe there are enough safeguards out there (and enough of your information floating around that trying to hang on to it so tightly may not be effective anyway). I would say a good portion of people now online bank, online track, etc.

  7. Hello Wojo,

    I appreciate the review. I am currently reviewing both of these programs for my clients. I am mainly looking for something as simple as possible for my clients to take the cash envelope system online and bring it up to date with the way most people spend money. It has to be simple, intuitive and as automatic as possible.

    Most people don’t have or want to take the time out to focus on budgets and spending which is typically why they don’t work. For most of my clients, cost will also be a major factor, since we are trying to squeeze every dollar out of their budget we can to get them out of debt.

    Cost wise, YNAB is the clear winner and I know many people find more comfort in a desktop software, especially for this type of information. However it seems like mvelopes might be more intuitive and automated.

    At the end of the day, cost doesn’t matter if it is too difficult for people to stick to. However 7 to 13 dollars a month is a lot more than 59 one time, especially if people are going to use it for many years.

    I am wondering if someone had never used Mvelopes before and started directly with YNAB if they would miss some of the features you have mentioned.

    I am going to do further research including purchasing both of them and letting my wife give them a whirl. I will just give them to her cold turkey and say tell me what you think with no instructions and see how she does.

    Have you heard any rumors about a new version of ynab anytime soon?

    1. Damon,

      You’re spot on with most of your observations. Let me tackle them one by one:

      “I am looking for something as simple as possible.”

      When it comes to simplicity, I think there’s no clear winner between YNAB and Mvelopes. A lot of it (as you point out) will also be client preference, since many people don’t like using the Internet at all, while for others the portability will be critical.

      I would offer a third alternative–the spreadsheet, which I’m testing out now. It’s super-simple, but does require basic comfort with math. A couple of side benefits include the cost (free!) and strong psychological effects (it puts your envelope balances front and center). I’ll be doing a write-up in a few months.

      “It has to be…intuitive and as automatic as possible.”

      If you’re looking for automation, Mvelopes is the way; it will quickly pull information from all of your accounts and can even match it to the appropriate envelopes. YNAB and a spreadsheet will both be manual, with YNAB to a lesser extent because you can import transactions manually from a bank.

      “Cost will also be a major factor.”

      For us, Mvelopes was well-worth the cost (at least for 6-12 months to learn the principles and habits of envelope budgeting), but it won’t be for everybody.

      “…many people find comfort in a desktop software.”

      You’re absoutely right, and for them YNAB or a manual spreadsheeet would be the best idea. Mvelopes (and most other online financial managers) do a good job with security, but many people are still uncomfortable with giving away their passwords.

      “I am wondering if someone had never used Mvelopes before and started directly with YNAB if they would miss some of the features you have mentioned.”

      Not really. Many people use YNAB exclusively, love it, and have been very successful with it. But for me, it had some fatal flaws which I couldn’t get over based on the habits I had established with Mvelopes.

      “I am going to do further research including purchasing both of them…”

      My overall recommendation would be to take both for a test drive (as you’re planning to do). 2-4 weeks may still be too short to get a true idea of the power of either, but it’s a good start.

      “Have you heard any rumors about a new version of YNAB anytime soon?”

      No, I have not. YNAB 3 was just released earlier this year, so I don’t foresee a new version for at least a few years.

  8. Mvelopes costs a boat load of money in my opinion. The lowest price you pay if you sign up to pay in advance for several years amount to something like $85/year. Agreed it has some good functionality but goodness. I cannot imagine spending $85 a year for MS Windows knowing that if I stopped paying I can no longer run Windows? I would even agree to pay more initially for Mvelopes (say $100.00) than YNAB if I could own it and use it forever. Sure maybe I would have to pay extra if I wanted upgrades with added functionality but if I chose not to upgrade I could still continue to use it. Maybe some of the functionality (like accessing banks) costs Mvelopes more to do but I would even be willing to pay a small subscription fee for bank access if I owned the base software outright and maybe I just lost the convenience of bank access if I stopped paying the fee. Just me but I cannot imagine paying this much for finance software.

    1. Debates of desktop vs. software-as-a-service aside (the idea of which some people are simply not comfortable with), your point is well-taken–it does cost a lot of money. On the other hand, you get the typical SaaS services, like consistent upgrades without ever having to buy a new version of the software. (I used to spend $60 year after year on new versions of Quicken).

      P.S. Mvelopes does offer a lifetime service, but it’s not $100 (last I checked, it was $300+). So it is an option, but may not be at the price point most people are looking for.

      For us, Mvelopes was well worth the cost, but it may not be for everyone.

    2. I have a lifetime membership with mvelopes. Yes it was pricey…but well worth it in my opinion. I was using the software for two years when they offered the lifetime membership. I jumped on the offer right away, because the service has become invaluable to my family.

      Other than the price, I have no problems with mvelopes. Maybe the user interface is a bit old, but it is still very simple to use.

      I have not tried YNAB myself but the main feature for me that is an absolute must requirement…is automation. So it seems that mvelopes is the best option for me.

      1. Agreed, Vlad. If automation is the deciding factor, then Mvelopes is a clear winner! Personally, we’ve moved to YNAB for the time being, but our expenses are so infrequent these days that it’s working out okay.

  9. Hey Wojo! Great review and comparison of YNAB vs. Mvelopes. I too went through the same dilemma a few years back. Started with Mvelopes, switched to YNAB, then switched to Yodlee and/or Mint (couldn’t decide), and ultimately ended up doing NOTHING for the past 2-3 years. I still have a Yodlee account, and I get alerts (which I like), but I rarely log in to categorize, and I don’t like budgeting after the money has already been spent.

    Actually, the reason I found your site is because I was searching for Mvelopes reviews and seriously thinking about switching back to it. To be totally honest, back when I was using Mvelopes was the ONLY time I can remember being so engaged with our finances and actively managing our money. My wife was even on-board with it and could easily understand the system. We both really liked it, and I think it easily saved us the subscription cost (and probably much more) each month.

    I really did love YNAB too, and I think Jesse is an amazing person, but I just couldn’t get to the point where I felt really comfortable with the software or fully engaged in managing my money/budget. I also HATED manually downloading and/or entering my transactions. I’m pretty lazy!🙂

    So…. I’m curious to know what you’re doing today? Are you still using just a spreadsheet? If so, have you written about that yet? Would love to hear more about how you’re getting along after leaving Mvelopes and YNAB.

    1. Hey Dave,

      I haven’t written about the spreadsheet yet, but I’m working on the post. These days, I’m back to using YNAB because it’s meeting out needs pretty well.

      I would have never been able to get into the envelope budgeting “habit” without Mvelopes though, so I totally agree with you! Mvelopes was well worth the cost.

      I’ll definitely be writing more about envelope budgeting soon!

      1. Thanks for the quick reply! You make a great point about how Mvelopes laid the groundwork. Personally, I think I need to go back to Mvelopes, at least for a while, to get myself back in the habit… Also, this might sound silly, but paying for the service actually forces me to use it. I can get Yodlee and/or Mint all day long for free, but for some reason I end up never logging in to actually USE them.

        Reading your blog really makes me want to start my old blog (Mauder’s Money Matters) back up again!🙂

      2. Very true! I use WeightWatchers for the same reason to manage my weight! Paying for it mentally forces me to use it, especially since we’re trying to cut costs wherever possible.

  10. Hey Wojo,
    I left a comment on another blog post as well but wanted to let your users know that we are currently offering a 10% discount off any of the Mvelopes.com packages and a 14 day trial to test drive the system. If anyone is interested, please go to http://www.Mvelopes.com and click “Start My Trial”. When you setup your account, just make sure to enter the promo code “10off” to get a 10% discount on any of our packages. That’s the number ten and the word “off”.

    Let me know if you need any help or have any questions. Happy holidays!

  11. {This whole column reads like a veiled Mvelopes ad.} My two cents. I’ve used Mvelopes for more than 5 years, MInt for a few months and I switched over to YNAB a month ago. Mint was horrible and I’m concerned about my data privacy with Intuit. In my opinion and for my needs, YNAB is way better than Mvelopes or Mint. I finally got fed up with the complicated spending plan / funding screens, the weak reporting, and the reconciliation process in Mvelopes. I like the fact that YNAB realizes that life is not a perfect budget and is geared for letting you revise the budget to deal with real life. Mvelopes was too rigid. I loved the automatic transaction download in Mvelopes and was worried that YNAB would be tedious. But it only takes me 5 minutes to download all my accounts into YNAB weekly and the transaction matching is very smart. I use the iPhone app to record cash spending. The Mvelopes product features have stalled out and they keep sending me email to sign up for lifetime or gift memberships. The company seems desparate to me. Time to read ‘Who Moved my Cheese’.

    1. Rich, interesting–the spending plan/funding screens are actually one of the features I liked BEST about Mvelopes. I’ve called it like I see it (though yes–it’s no secret I’m an Mvelopes affiliate). You can refer to my updated post (linked to above) for my thoughts on switching to YNAB to see that I can change my mind.🙂

      On the other hand, I agree 100% with your last assessment. Mvelopes has become very stagnant in the last 12 months from what I can see.

  12. I downloaded a trial of YNAB but didn’t get a chance to test run it before the trial period ran out. I thought about giving it a whirl any ways because I knew I must start using SOMETHING. After reading the reviews and pondering the features, I decided YNAB wouldn’t work for me. The key feature my wife and I need for our budgeting to work is to be able to see and track our savings broken down into categories / envelopes which YNAB does however we also decided we needed something web based so that my wife or I can easily access fund availability for specific categories / envelopes from anywhere vs. one computer. It also has to be easy and intuitive so that my wife will use it. We don’t want to spend hours on end every week keeping up with it so automated downloads would be preferable. I’ve spent a lot of time this weekend trying to setup inzolo and it looks like it has a lot of cool features however there is virtually no setup instructions other than a vague you tube video. I’m pretty frustrated with it right now as there isn’t instructions or the information I need in the blogs or forums. Anyways I’m considering trying Mvelopes and although a bit pricey, I have thought of a couple of things that help me justify the cost. 1. My bank charges me $0.40 for every bill pay transaction. I get around this in a large part by having my payees draw from my account vs. pushing the money out from my bank and incurring the charge. Nevertheless, I still have $4 or so a month in fees that would be built in to Mvelopes with the free bill pay service. 2. As mentioned, the efficiency gained through proper management will prevent pissing away much more money than the monthly fee. I just thought I’d throw those items out there for people contemplating the costs of Mvelopes in case they incur bill pay fees as well. I hope this helps.

    1. In my opinion, paying for bill pay in this day and age is unacceptable with so many banks offering this service for free. But that’s a discussion for another day… Your analysis is absolutely spot on. In addition, I think the money saved from taking the envelope approach more than pays off ANY software you decide to get.

  13. Since early this morning, I’ve looked at Mint.com, YNAB.com and Mvelopes. I know I don’t want Mint.com, but a bit indecisive on which of the other to buy. I do need something! I want something easy and without a long learning curve (that’s why I won’t buy Quicken). I do use online bill bay with US Bank and love it, so the online downloadable feature is a plus. It sounds from what the comments many of you are techies or good at accounting…I am not! I am curious of the females out there what do they feel works for them or at least seems more user friendly.

    1. I’ll chime in here, since my wife also weighs in on this issue, and she prefers Mvelopes for ease of use. She liked it so much at home, she now uses it for her business (she’s an administrator). She is VERY anti-numbers, so getting her to use a financial software was incredible.

  14. Wojo, I appreciate all your response and this blog. I decided to trial (7days) YNAB and completed a couple of webinars yesterday. I prefer not to pay for a subscription so we’ll see. My problem is I need to stick to it and not fall off the wagon -like a diet!

  15. I am trying to decide between YNAB and Mvelopes. Are you saying that I cannot download transactions from my credit card and checking accounts into YNAB but I have to enter them manually? If so, that would weigh pretty heavily in favor of Mvelopes, despite its higher cost.

    1. No, you absolutely CAN download transactions. What I’m saying is that in Mvelopes, this is done for you automatically, while in YNAB you have to do it yourself for each and every account you have.

  16. We’ve been using mvelopes for 3 months now and it’s great to be budgeting but I’m really frustrated with some of the glitches on Mvelopes. For instance, it doesn’t allow for yearly budgeting. This year I got an extra few thousand. We decided to build our spending plan (budget) to include spending that money monthly for the year. unfortunately, the budgeting software won’t allow it– lots and lots of glitches and the tech help couldn’t solve the problem. They just suggested I let my budget look like it’s in the red when it is isn’t. NOT A SOLUTION.
    Mvelopes live chat is helpful for the frequent problems but those folks in Bangalore or wherever are not trained enough to solve even a medium complexity problem.
    I’d like to check out the competition– any good ones for small business owners who don’t earn the same salary each month?

    1. Julia, YNAB and Common Cents are the closest competitors you could check out. Have you tried doing a “monthly average” for your income in Mvelopes to include the extra from your few thousand? That would be how I’d set it up. If you need more monthly detail, the only software I’ve really seen that’s capable would be Quicken.

    2. I’ve been using mvelopes for more than 3 years now and have found it suitable for all kinds of income. I don’t have any affiliation to mvelopes other than being a happy user.

      Julia what you’re describing it’s easily solved in Mvelopes…I’m surprised that the support folks haven’t really pointed this out to you. In your spending plan you add a new Income (Click on Spend Plan then New Income), you give it an Annual recurrence and enter the paydate on the date you expect the income to become reality…you could use December 31st if you want or January 1st of this year…it doesn’t matter. Then this becomes part of your Spending Plan.

      Another easy way is to create a new Pending transaction with a future date when you can expect the income to realize. You assign this transaction to your Income Pool and this becomes part of your available income pool which you can use to fund your spending plan each month.

      I hope I understood correctly what you’re describing…let me know if my solution doesn’t make sense.

  17. Wojo,

    It seems you have experience with few budgeting software out there. From your experience and point of view, what’s a good software for those who don’t have the same income from month to month?

    1. Kong,

      YNAB is designed for that purpose because it teaches you to live off last month’s income. So that’s what I would recommend…
      If your swings are huge (like $1,000 one month and $5,000 the next), I would also recommend some kind of separate checking account where you keep the excess from good months and use an average for your budgets.

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