About a year ago, I started using You Need A Budget 3, a software application for creating budgets. I had done some research into different budgeting software and downloaded a few trial versions and found there is a lot out there to consider when looking at budgeting software.
Software I evaluated in some form or another:
All of those apps have their pro’s and cons. I already owned Quicken (though it broke with the latest MacOS version), Mint.com is free and I use it regularly. Gazelle Budget is included as a part of my membership to Dave Ramsey’s My Total Money Makeover (which also has some other cool tools). Here’s another good site to check out to keep yourself informed: PersonalFinanceSoftwareReviews.com.
But after evaluating the options, I ended up choosing You Need a Budget 3 (YNAB3) for my primary budgeting platform. It is a purpose-built application for budgets only. It’s not going to let you set up online bill payment. It won’t keep you updated to your current account balances. But it will not only let you create awesome budgets but it does it in a way that forces you to be honest with yourself about where your money is actually going. Dollar by dollar.
Along the way, I will continue to evaluate other options as they are all improved regularly. But for now, I am happy with YNAB. I am considering trying to do some budgeting with Mint as well as it has some nice notification features that are more active than YNAB as the iPhone app seems to be better integrated. More on that later.
For the better part of a year I did pretty well with the household budget. Getting buy-in is sometimes a challenge, but I just consider that that is “part of the process.” And it’s important to the marriage that we have financial communication. I imagine that will be something that lasts forever and is never really “easy.” During that time we made great progress in lowering our debt and changing some financial habits. But In the last 6 months, the budget has fallen by the wayside. That happens when life gets in the way (moving to a new house, school and sports activities, etc.) Did I mention my wife & I have 7 kids between us. Yes, that will keep you busy.
The budget is an essential tool if you want to be in control of your money instead of having your money in control of you. This is one of the take-homes from Dave Ramsey and from my reading of The Millionaire Mind and The Millionaire Next Door (both worthy reads, btw). So I’m getting back on track. And hope to stay there.
Luckily for me, YNAB 4 was just released today (June 26). I’m going to use that as an excuse to work on the budget hard this week and simultaneously blog about the process and my thoughts on how it’s going. Check it out and let me know what you think. There is a free trial for a period of time.
Among the topics I’ll cover in upcoming blogs:
- Getting ready for your budget
- Working with YNAB 4
- Maintaining your budget & pitfalls you may encounter