Looking for personal budgeting software - YNAB alternative

I don’t think of myself as a YNAB fan boy if that is what is being suggested. I felt able to comment given my long usage of YNAB. It works for me and my family but you are right there are alternatives.


I too don’t live pay check to pay check. Any money earned this month is allocated to next months envelopes. It has taken us years to achieve this but we’ve found envelope budgeting the perfect fit for us. For others it won’t be.

Envelope budgeting is not new either. My parents used a tin with slots in it for food, rent, domestic gas, electricity etc at least 60 years ago when my Dad was paid in cash.

He would bring the money home and Mum would divvy it up into the slots or envelopes. You couldn’t budget more than you had because once the pay packet was empty there was nothing else to place in the slots.

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Marmite or Vegemite. Fun fact I used to live just down the road from the Marmite factory in the UK. Loved the smell of the factory can’t stand the taste.

Vegemite. Since moving to Australia over 20 years ago I would rather poke myself in the eye than eat Vegemite. I failed that part of the citizenship test but had accumulated enough points from mowing the lawn wearing thongs (footwear before anyone panics)


I switched to YNAB from Quicken about four years ago, and it was a great decision. I never heard of it until I joined the MPU forum. So I looked into it, watched some of their videos, did a webinar or two, and then decided to sign up. It does exactly what they promised.

There was a bit of a learning curve getting acquainted with the approach, but I figured it out, and it’s been easy ever since. I never used or needed their forum. Not even sure I knew it existed. I’ve needed very little in the way of support, but what few interactions I’ve had with YNAB support were helpful.

Took me years and several tries to find a budget solution that just worked the way I needed so I could be smarter when making decisions about money. For me it has been unquestionably worth the $10 a month or whatever it works out to.


I had intended to switch away from YNAB this year, but it hasn’t happened :roll_eyes: When they did their price hike I paid for an additional year in advance at the old price, so my sub wasn’t due for renewal until April, which I’d thought would give me time to settle with an alternative. I don’t object to the price (I remain undecided), I dislike how they present themselves generally.

My problem is that I find the app itself very useful, and there’s a huge mental overhead in moving to another app (plus no guarantee that I’d like the next app as much anyway). I never even tried an alternative during the time I’d given myself to find one - I looked, but dreaded the thought of starting over so never tested anything properly. Thus, I ended up renewing last month, whilst resenting that I was doing that :roll_eyes:

I’m thinking I should try to look properly (Actual Budget mentioned here looks like a good fit for me), but now I have the existing mental overhead of trying a new app AND annoyance that I just paid for YNAB for another year anyway.

I do think it’s interesting how switching task managers (which mechanically should be similar to switching personal finance management) is in many ways much easier. Heck, during the period I was meant to be finding a new budgeting app, I changed task manager multiple times. That has friction as well, but it’s a lot less than the mental barrier to changing budgeting app (in my experience!). And a good budgeting app should be sensitive and respectful of the trust we place in them, like a good task manager app is. (I do not believe YNAB is.)

I’ve been thinking of going back to YNAB for my day to day budgeting and doing something similar to what you do in GNU cash in Moneydance for higher level tracking. I use Moneydance right now because it can track my investment portfolio really well AND it’s built in forecast feature allows me to plan months ahead in terms of bills/budget items and investments while making sure I don’t over spend because it shows me future balances across accounts. Doing a monthly ‘true-up’ of the YNAB budget into my Moneydance account might give the best of both worlds.

Before I commit to this, are there any other apps discussed here that allow you to forecast account balances into the future based on budgets and scheduled transactions/transfers? It looks like MoneyWiz has it, but limited to transfers to savings accounts right now?

This looks interesting - someone has created aYNAB system on Google Sheets - and it is free - I have still yet to try this out but looks promising for basic needs!

I use Moneydance to create our envelope system. It’s a local application (Mac or PC) with an accompanying mobile app available. It does take some effort, so it may not be for everyone, but I’ve used this system for many, many years. I created some pretty boring how-to videos as well, but have received some nice feedback where others have found the system helpful. Here’s a post I made in 2018 on the system.

Moneydance Envelope System

I should probably have used YNAB in my younger years (just turned 60) and I might be in a better financial position now.

That said, I can’t see a use for YNAB now. My wife and I allocate funds to savings, we have superannuation here in Australia (is that like a 401K?) for retirement, and we allocate funds for spending at our own discretion. All our bills and shopping funds are paid weekly into our respective utility accounts and we are in surplus for those (i.e. I pay weekly whether I need to or not). Everything is automated. I have an interest free (for now) credit card (must check on the sunset in that! :rofl:) that I don’t need to pay off yet.

I think automating bills payments decades ago was the game changer, we only had money in our account that was for spending. Everything else was taken care of.

I did try YNAB and a couple of alternatives but couldn’t see the point. It just caused extra mental overhead.

All the above is couched under my initial statement:
“I should probably have used YNAB in my younger years (just turned 60) and I might be in a better financial position now.”

So the point of all that was this:

  1. Work out your yearly spend on ALL bills, accounts etc and then automate them in line with your pay cycle.
  2. The money will zoom out of your account to your commitments when you get paid
  3. What’s left is yours. :grinning:
  4. You can also create an automatic payment to your spending account (we do this) so you can still pay yourself first if that is what you want to do.

(I am not a financial advisor, as you can probably tell!)



This forum isn’t the place to discuss financial stuff, but after reading your sensible remarks I did think I should say that people use YNAB because the system works and they teach it well (as discussed elsewhere in the thread, the system is not something they invented, and other apps use the same budgeting method).

I’m in my 30s. I’ve tracked my expenditures since I was 14 (first on paper, then on a spreadsheet), but switching to YNAB a few years ago has done more for my bank balance than a spreadsheet ever did. Obviously that’s because in my spreadsheet I was tracking expenses, not budgeting income, and there is a huge difference between the two, but I didn’t even know I didn’t know the difference until I came across YNAB.

So, they may be quite annoying, but they do teach things that a lot of us don’t learn anywhere else. In fact although I wouldn’t recommend YNAB without context, I think if someone was asking for advice and they were starting from scratch, I would still recommend that they overlook YNAB’s brand and dive into the process. Read the book, read the articles, watch YouTube if that’s a thing you like. It’s beneficial in the long run even if you only stick with the app until you’re comfortable enough to look else where (as I want to do).

Plus, although their “you save more than we cost” comment is trite and didn’t address the concerns people have over their pricing, they’re not technically wrong. It’s probably worth paying for a few years just to learn the process and set yourself up with the skills you need for the rest of your life.


Impressed with their iPhone app for on-the-go data entry, I started getting excited about YNAB’s zero-based budgeting but then I noticed there was no Mac app and my data would have to be stored out on their website. :worried:

Then MacMost helped me make a handy data entry form on my iPhone that is linked to a Numbers spreadsheet on my Mac! So I think I’ll attempt a spreadsheet approach.

Simple Data Entry With iOS Numbers Forms (#1660) - MacMost - YouTube

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Thank you for the link, this is interesting. I don’t like the look of google sheets and I find it clunky and unresponsive but I could imagine doing this with numbers. I have to look into it.
There are also some good people working on actual budget. It’s a YNAB clone.

At the moment I’m using YNAB 4. It is still working as intended thanks to a community patch.


their answer was that this isn’t normal, a family should always have just one bank account. They alleged that my wife and I have trust issues because we aren’t throwing all our money into one place.

First of all, as my psychiatrist always said, “Normal is just a setting on the dryer.” Who the heck are they to say what’s normal?! And to go a step further with it and insult you? Oooooh no :face_with_symbols_over_mouth:

Glad you’re ditching them, glad I never supported them, and I hope you wrote a strongly worded letter to them.

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I’m surprised that GreenBooks wasn’t mentioned here.

It’s a simple personal finance app for Mac and iOS that I’ve been using for many years.

They went with subscription a couple years ago but then reverted to one time buy.


I tried it at one point on Setapp and didn’t like it, I might give it another chance in the future because I can’t remember what made me uninstall it.

Subscription. Pass. …

MoneyWiz is now on Setapp, and it’s the best I’ve tried so far. I am subbed to it for about 2 years now.


I agree. I’ve tried a number of apps over the years and this works best from my point of view. I like that it’s powerful and straightforward.