YNAB – You Need A Budget

If you want to skip the reading palaver and jump straight to one extra month of YNAB free, just click GIVE ME YNAB.

My favourite budgeting tool for the modern age. Years ago I used paper budgeting, before I graduated to spreadsheets. After a break that was far too long (and that paved the way for our lifestyle inflation), in 2016 I realised I needed more. I needed a system that could:

  • handle multiple accounts, of different types.
  • be easily accessed, no matter where I was.
  • allow multiple people to contribute.

YNAB hit all of those needs for me.

A list of our top level YNAB Categories
These are my categories – they don’t have to be yours.

Related: Your Budget Isn’t Out To Get You

But… Money?

I admit, I was sceptical. If we were trying to cut spending and save money, why on earth would we pay for budgeting software? Well, I signed up for their 34 day free trial, and within a fortnight, I knew I was going to happily pay for the product (but not until my free trial ran out, it is still about saving money!)

The system is easy to set up. They supply a budget template to get you started, which you can modify or scrap altogether if you like. Then, as you slowly build categories and find unexpected expenses, it’s easy to make changes.

If you want more than one budget, you can do that too! I created one just to track spending for our New Zealand holiday. Finally, if you feel like you’ve mucked it all up and you aren’t getting anywhere, you can easily start over without losing everything using a nifty feature called “Fresh Start.”

YNAB multiple budgets for household and New Zealand holiday.
A special budget for our New Zealand holiday, along with a Fresh Start.

What Else?

The core of the YNAB budgeting system is four rules. YNAB does an excellent job of explaining them, so I won’t paraphrase. These four rules really do become ingrained – I find myself saying them in my head. Even if you don’t buy their software, go and check out their four rules of budgeting. YNAB supports their software with education, education, and more education. You can read manuals, watch videos, download podcasts, join online workshops and even sing along to song parodies about budgeting!

Also, for me it isn’t just about the product. It’s about the company. This is a company that wants you to succeed in budgeting and in life. They seem to have a philosophy of helping. They certainly have a high level of transparency. I love it when companies don’t try to hide their mistakes. YNAB is a growing company that is constantly looking to improve. They aren’t  scared to say sorry if something goes wrong, and I respect that. And don’t be worried – I’ve never had a problem using the program, and I appreciate all the new functionality.

Finally, on average, YNAB users manage to save $600 within two months of using the software. I didn’t keep track, but here is what our savings graph looks like. I give all credit to YNAB for supporting us in our efforts to halt lifestyle inflation, spend less and save more.

Graph of ETT Savings.
Look at our savings after beginning with YNAB. And the dip at the end? We started investing!


Related: ETT Budget Breakdown with YNAB Overview


If you think you would like to try YNAB, you too can sign up for the 34 day free trial, obligation-free. If you use any of the links on this page and decide to sign up at the end of the trial, we will each get one month free! In total, that’s 1/6 of a year at no cost to you, and if you are anything like the average user, you should have already saved more than $600 by then!