Why Choose YNAB?

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YNABWith all the different budgeting software packages out there, why choose YNAB? What have they got that other budgeting software doesn’t have. Well, for one thing, their software program is what you would call “alive” as opposed to “static.” In other words, YNAB will not only help you maintain a budget, but their real goal is to get you to the point financially, where you are living on last month’s income. As far as I know, this is the only software that boasts this goal and has the customer feedback to prove that it really is possible to occur.

Of course, there are other reasons for choosing YNAB.

Make Informed Spending Decisions

With YNAB4, you have the power of Cloud Sync to keep you informed even on the go. No longer do you have to wait for days to see all your transactions. With Cloud Sync, you can view your budget anywhere at any time. In addition, you can get the same results whether on your ipad, windows desktop, or the Mac laptop at home. Cloud Sync keeps everything updated and ready to go at a moment’s notice. After all, that is part of the budget…to stay informed.

Get Off the Financial Roller Coaster

One of the great aspects of YNAB is that it is built with the future of larger, infrequent purchases in mind. Do you have an insurance payment due every six months? YNAB will help you set aside funds needed to meet that bill every month so when the bill arrives, you just pay it and that is that. Letting the budget tell you what is needed now for what will be needed next is YNAB’s strong suit. With this type of budgeting, the quality of your spending decisions will increase and you will be managing your money better than you ever thought possible.

Money Management Made Simple

YNAB will happily import downloaded transactions in all the popular formats. Also, Most of our users spend less time managing their money than ever before. How? Scheduled transactions, an interface designed for fast entry, and mobile apps for entry on the go.

Save More, Faster

With YNAB4 you will save like you never could before. The “living budget” will help you deal with overspending and make it easy to save for your goals. While this rule #3 is a reality check in itself, the fact is YNAB will help you manage those times when you had to overspend for one reason or another and still help you stay the course of your budget over time.

Yes, these reasons alone make YNAB the best choice. But don’t take my word for it, check it out for yourself.

What I Learned by Examining Every Personal Finance Software Application on Planet Earth

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The goal for this site is to be THE most trusted site for objective information on personal finance software on the internet.  It is also to create a site that is so well done, people who use it feel there’s no more need to research and so it becomes their last stop on their quest to pick the right personal finance software for them.

It is a lofty aspiration given how many review sites are out there.  As of now, I’m very pleased to offer content that goes deeper than the standard 1 to 2 paragraphs they all provide.  Writing that content takes a lot of time.  Consequently, I’m kinda picky on what budget software tools receive my attention.  But at the same time, to truly achieve my goals, I feel compelled to always be watching the world of personal finance software and be on top of what available  (part of the value of this site – I do the research for you).

I mean, is there some personal finance software out there that isn’t on my list that should be considered?

Allow me to provide a little visibility for you into  all the different personal budgeting tools that I’ve examined as I’ve decided which to analyze.  First, I’ve compiled my list using  many different “big lists” from budget bloggers, other review sites, about.com, wiki, forums and any other site I could find.  Most just compiled the list and did not offer a lot of insight as to what they did with it.

For the record, I have literally opened up, registered myself as a user and spent time navigating the tool for each of these packages.  I got a sense for how the data flowed, how the reports looked, what functionality it provided.  I’ve watched their video (if they have one) and saved their logo and many screenshots to my machine in the event I decide to do a review.

Let me share with you what I have learned in a very straight forward way that I hope will aid your efforts to find the right tool.

Be A Critic

All these personal finance software applications will enable you to upload your banking transactions, make a budget and graph it.  Keep that in mind when you’re looking for software.  Don’t be wow’d as you see a tool can do that.  So many of these vendor descriptions are the same “hey!  You can keep track of a budget in our tool!”

Big freaking deal.  With all these options, you’d better be coming to the table with something more than just that.

Demand More

Given there are literally HUNDREDS of available tools, there are some things you should absolutely require:

1.     A software interface that gives you a warm fuzzy.

If the tool looks like it was written in 1995, keep looking.  A high quality user interface is one way a budget software tool can set itself above the rest.  Reward those vendors who have paid the price to get that feel and you’ll simultaneously reward yourself with a better experience for years to come.

2.     Tutorial Videos

The reason I say this is two-fold.  First, if a personal finance software product has a video, it means that the vendor was at a point it the maturity of their development process to actually spend time on something that is a “nice to have”.  With all the inexpensive, high end video editing software on the market, there is NO REASON any of these budget software vendors should be without this.

Which leads me to the 2nd half – Videos are the fastest and easiest way to learn the information.  I’ll add this too.  Training videos earns the vendor a seat at the table.  It’s a minimum requirement.  The best way to teach you would be to offer free online classes with a trainer.  That’s how the vendor earns an A+

3.     Mobile app

There are too many who already have one to be stuck in waiting mode at this point.  And it’s dang convenient to have all your key information at your fingertips whenever you want.  Demand it.

The Graveyard

I’ve been building up this list for a while now.  I occasionally will go back through and update my notes on a product.  And what I’ve found as I’ve gone back through my list is just how many didn’t make it.  And by that I mean the retailer has discontinued the software.

What I’ve also found is that you can still download many of these dead n’ gone budget tools from sites like cnet.  Be aware of that anytime you are on these kind of sites.

It’s noteworthy as you consider who you trust by investing the time it takes to learn a new tool and set up your finances.  Having them continue as a viable entity is a good thing.  Maybe I should start a “graveyard” section….hmmmm

With that, here you go.  My personal pool of all the personal finance software applications on the planet.  I’d love any help in identifying any I’ve missed as this is an ever changing list as new ones are created and others fail.

Why am I posting logos instead of just a list?  First, it’s visually more appealing, but it’s also evidence I’ve spent time on the site.  Perhaps someday I’ll share all my notes (prices, functionality, what I think of their user interface/reporting/functionality, if they have a mobile app, etc), but you’ll have to get by w/ this for now.

 

Mvelopes – Leveraging Envelope Budgeting Electronically

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Dave Ramsey

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With the popularity of budget guru Dave Ramsey at an all time high, it’s hard to live in the information age without at least hearing of the envelope budgeting system.  But in the event you’ve lived outside the reach of this ingenious brainchild, let’s spend a minute to recap it.

The envelope budgeting system is based upon a simple, if not impractical idea of taking one’s paycheck and turning it into cash.  The budgeter takes these dollars and distributes all of it into multiple basic envelopes that have been hand labeled with customized categories such as “food”, “entertainment”, “household products”, “clothing” and “savings”.  This method’s undeniably effective results are produced from the visual, tangible reminder that there is only so much money to put towards those expenses.  If you have to spend more, you are required to dip into another envelope for the money.  Countless sites online that recite this approach in varying degrees of supporting detail, but you get the idea.  And why is this method getting so very much attention from all the online frugal bloggers?  The answer is easy, because it works.

But in a world that is constantly moving further away from using cash, is there a way to still benefit from the powerful message this seemingly archaic, cash-based system delivers?

The answer is yes.

Mvelopes is one of those products.  Mvelopes has developed an online tool (no download required, accessible from home, work or mobile phone) that replaces the need for the manual handling of cash by creating virtual envelopesmvelopes that convey the same perception altering results that as their physical counterpart.  In addition, Mvelopes inherent another budgeting tactic by employing this approach; zero-based budgeting.  Zero-based budgeting is named such due to it requiring one to spend all income first “on paper.”  Giving every dollar a task is another eloquent and proven way to take financial control.

When searching for ways to make ends meet, keep focused on what is important.  And that is:

  1. Living on what you earn
  2. Getting yourself off the paycheck to paycheck cycle

Once you cut through all the marketing, the most effective personal finance software tools are ALL built upon this concept.  Resist the urge to be unduly influenced by flashy interfaces and less critical functionality.  Remember there is nothing special about a screen that display the results of your prior month’s spending compared to what was budgeted (even an Excel spreadsheet can do that).  The budgeting software you want is the one that will actually help you succeed at those two objectives.

And Mvelopes is a great tool that can do just that. Read my complete review of Mvelopes.

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