Should I Upgrade to YNAB 4?

I have a long history with YNAB (You Need a Budget), both good and bad.

To make a long story short, I was using and loving Mvelopes, while YNAB had a lot of problems with its new release. YNAB then fixed those problems, Mvelopes went south and I switched back.

Today, I use a combination of Quicken 2011 and YNAB to manage my money, and was excited the see YNAB 4, the newest version of the software, make a premiere last month.

Do you really want my envelope budgeting speech again?

I didn’t think so. I know that you know that I love it.

The trick is to find the best way to implement envelope budgeting, and for me that’s YNAB. It’s not perfect, but it’s the best combination of visual clarity, backbone, and simplicity you’ll find today.

Notable new features

Head back to my previous YNAB reviews (links up top) for general software information. Today, I’ll look only at some of the notable improvements in YNAB 4 over the previous versions.

For example, I love the new “version” feature, which saves me the heartache of screwing up my budget and not having a simple way to get it back:

The graphics took a big improvement, with larger fonts, a cleaner interface, and bold colors. Reports, in general, are very good-looking, simple to understand, and get to the point.  Here’s a sample spending report:

One big selling point for YNAB is the new Cloud Sync. I decided not to use it, since I don’t own a smartphone and already made this syncing work to the level I need by sharing the YNAB file over Google Drive.

Among some of the other changes, the increase in speed is definitely noticable–the program feels zippy and more responsive. Changing screens and entering data feels direct and immediate.

Here’s a sample account I was playing around with in budget mode:

And here’s an example of the simple interface for creating a new account:

The verdict

YNAB 3 was a big step up for the software a few years ago.

Version 4 is not as revolutionary, but I still think it’s worth the $40 upgrade fee I paid to get it. And if you’re not using any kind of envelope budget software at all, it’s an excellent way to get into the market.

Bonus offer for my readers

The regular cost of the program is $40 for upgrades and $60 for new users, which is well within reach.

For a limited time, save an additional $6 with my coupon code at this link:

I got my review (and personal use) copy before this deal came out, but if you use the link above, not only will you get $6, but I will as well! That means you’ll be on my awesome list and support this blog.

If you have any questions on the new YNAB version, let me know in the comments or get in touch with me!

(Post image from YNAB)

12 thoughts on “Should I Upgrade to YNAB 4?

  1. The $6.00 link doesn’t take anything off the upgrade price of $40 😦 It seems to only work for new users…..

    1. Pffttt…that stinks, sorry about that. I suppose they figure we’re already getting $20 off or something.

  2. Ok, signed up for the free trial. I have tried the MVelopes and I could not make it work for me. But I am really liking YNAB, the only thing I am having a really hard time getting my head around is spending and using my credit card. I use it and pay half of it off every month. I do this to earn cash back. Yes, I am trying to pay it off. For example, I use it to pay my cell phone bill, $100. I budget this in the cell phone category, but I can’t budget in my pay credit card because it will be a duplicate. So I guess I need to stop thinking of it as a bill paying app and manually add up what I charge to pay off every month.

    1. Not exactly. I don’t have a credit card in the system at the moment but from what I remember it works like this. Any existing balance you can have a category for called “credit card payment” or something similar, and use that to pay it down. Any NEW expenses on the card go in their respective spending categories. This will deduct them from your available envelope and overall balance, so you know you have the money in checking to pay the bill when it comes, because you’ve already removed it from the available amount.

      Basically, the difference between your total envelope balance and your actual checking balance when you’re ready to pay the card should equal the amount you spent on the card. Then add the pay-down amount from your credit card payment envelope.

      There’s a bit more here:

      1. Ok, that makes sense. I also did not see how the credit card balance was changing as I was adding transactions, until I expanded the left hand column! When I added transactions it did nothing to the Outflow columns under the CC.
        I have set it all up and I am going to start on the 1st, since I get paid once a month. Which actually is really nice in a way because I usually pay everything by the 10th of every month.

    1. I used Mint for a while (and still do on occasion), but I could never get the budget tools to work for me “just right.”

  3. Wojciech, I’m using the upgraded YNAB 4 now as well, and I’m loving it. One thing we love about the new cloud sync feature is that my wife and I can both enter receipts into the software at the same time. She can be upstairs on her Android app entering receipts, and I can be entering from my laptop downstairs. With the cloud sync you’ll never have a file conflict – which was a real possibility with the previous version. Your entered transactions immediatley get synced to the file on dropbox, and magically appear in the file as the other person is entering. Love it.

    1. That’s awesome Peter. I don’t have that problem since I’m the only one that tracks in my family, but for multi-device households, it sounds like CloudSync would be the way to go.

  4. Wojciech,

    I am researching YNAB, hoping to use it in place of Quicken ( I am fed up with the forced upgrades and haven’t been satisified with Quicken for years anyway). I stumbled upon your blog and see here that you use both. I just have a fairly simple family budget to keep up with. Will I still need Quicken if I use YNAB?


    1. Kristin, No–I have used YNAB exclusively and Quicken exclusively and you don’t need both. I use Quicken only because I like the net worth and investment reporting, but could easily do without it or use something like Mint online.

      1. Thank you so much for your quick reply. I will head over to YNAB right now.

        I look forward to reading more FiscalFizzle in the future.

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