In January, I put up a long review of the newest version of YNAB, being fairly disappointed in how it stacked up to other alternatives I was using at the time, like Mvelopes. Knowing how to create a budget was a good start, but I needed the right tool to help me make my plan a reality.
I then moved away from Mvelopes to an off-line spreadsheet system, having mastered the idea and process behind envelope budgeting. Recently, I started to miss some of the features that made Mvelopes great, including the ability to see history and reports with ease.
With YNAB 3.0’s beta period over and excellent updates being put out on a regular basis, I decided to give YNAB another look. I had already purchased a license with my first review, so there was nothing much to it except downloading the newest version.
Taking Another Look
I was very pleasantly surprised, with some critical improvements implemented that have me singing a much different tune. Let’s take a look at my original concerns and what has changed:
- Performance Issues: I originally considered the program sluggish and slow to respond. It looks like the load times have improved significantly, and the software designers have done a good job at having well-placed “transitional” screens that show up when switching modules. These pass the time when loading.
- Lack of a baseline budget. Unfortunately, this is still an issue that hasn’t been addressed. However, I’ve created work-arounds in the software by using future months to plan for income-to-expense balance.
- Disconnect between budgets and transactions. The latest YNAB update shows my envelope balances when selecting envelopes in the register! That’s exactly the link I was missing to connect the transaction screen to the budget, and one of the main concerns I had during my original review.
- Transaction focus. This hasn’t changed since my last report (YNAB is still driven on inflows-outflows, rather than balances), but I’ve learned to live with it. In some instances, it’s made a positive difference in the way negative balances roll over from one month to the next. Force of habit, I guess.
- Manual import. Yes, you still have to download your transactions form the bank manually. But as I got used to doing this with my spreadsheet anyway, it no longer seems like such a big deal. As long as I stay up-to-date on receipts, there’s really no need to sync because my balance’s always accurate.
Can YNAB Compete?
YNAB could always compete, but at the time of my first review, I strongly preferred Mvelopes. These days, after having gone through a few other envelope budgeting systems, I can honestly say that I would recommend YNAB to a friend.
While we’re currently back to using Mvelopes, I encourage you to try envelope budgeting and the various tools available to you, including YNAB! It’s changed the way we handle money for life. Update: As of 2012, we’re back to using YNAB for our budget. Read my latest review of Mvelopes to find out why.
YNAB 4 Bonus Offer
2012 Update: Get $6 off the latest version of YNAB by using this coupon code link: http://ynab.refr.cc/R8HPVQJ (affiliate link)