Computerized Investing > July 9, 2011

You Need a Budget (YNAB)

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You Need a Budget (YNAB) is a well-reviewed financial budgeting software and one of the best that we’ve covered in Computerized Investing. The layout is extremely clean and user-friendly, and the tutorials ensure that users will not feel lost, even when first starting the program. In addition, the software works on Windows, Mac and Linux computer systems. The YNAB website allows you to download Adobe AIR for free, which you will need in order to run the program.

After installing the program, the first step is to create a main account, where most of your expenses and income will be credited and debited. When you first start the program, step-by-step instructions on setting up accounts will pop up. Enter your starting balance for each account, and each transaction associated with the account will be tracked by the program. The account summary page lists each date, payee and category and keeps a running total of the balance. Users are also able to list scheduled transactions at the bottom of the page.

A detailed budget section allows users to track their monthly expenses and plan for unexpected events. The budgets section updates whenever you enter new transactions, and it provides timely data to show how closely you are following your spending goals. Furthermore, a category balance column shows whether you are overspending your allotted budget.

At any time you can pull up the reports section, which shows your monthly spending trends and totals. The program will categorize your spending and present the area from which most of your spending occurs. The line graphs offer an easy way of tracking any trends in spending, allowing you to quickly pinpoint areas where spending is increasing. The graphs can also be exported into an Excel file or printed.

YNAB also offers users the ability to install the program on multiple computers and share the budget file across a network. Help documentation specific to each section is found in the lower left corner of the screen. A comprehensive help section can also be opened using the help pull-down menu at the top of the screen. YNAB also offers forum and support sections on its website. Finally, YNAB is now offering an iPhone app that lets you enter transactions on the go and then sync them to your computer.

Overall, YNAB has a very impressive look and feel. The program is not overly complicated, but it does a great job of tracking expenses and income and creating and maintaining a budget. YNAB also comes with a seven-day trial period and a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Please note that the file in the Download Library is the main installation file only. In order for the program to run properly, you must also install Adobe AIR, which can be found at the YNAB website ( or at You will also need a software key to start the program. The YNAB website provides a free trial key that works for seven days.

You Need a Budget

System requirements: Windows, Mac or Linux computer; Adobe AIR (free download)

Price: 7-day free trial; $59.95 with a 30-day money-back guarantee


Randy from NM posted over 6 years ago:

Can you configure the program to import data from credit card and checking accounts either automatically or manually?

Nicholas from IL posted over 6 years ago:

It would be nice to get a sense of how it compares to other programs like the market leader Intuit. Can it download bank statements? Can it download credit card transactions? etc.

Peter from WA posted over 6 years ago:

Yes, to both Randy and Nicholas. Also, it is both better and much easier to use than Intuit. Intuit can do many other things than YNAB, which for me jsut get in the way and makes Intuit overly complicated and difficut to use for the specific tasks of tracking budget and expenses.

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