One time purchase app for envelope budgeting?

I’ve been doing my research and found some options like Banktivity, YNAB, Good Budget, and other popular choices but all of them are subscription based. Although I have no problem paying again a fee to upgrade to a newer version of an app.

I don’t need a direct connection with my bank to justify a subscription. In fact, I enjoy adding my expenses and incomes manually.

What do you use to budget? I’m thinking about just resorting to spreadsheets or hledger which someone suggested in the forum (although I’m not familiar with working with the terminal).


Do you need phone access? If not, Buckets might be worth a shot. I gave this a go and it’s as close to YNAB 4 (the version before it went subscription) and it works well.

The only reason I don’t use it anymore is because I’ve got YNAB 4 working on macOS Apple Silicon now, and have gone back to that - which I went to after YNAB upped the price of its subscription and that made to expensive for me (blame the falling £ against the $!)


I have used both YNAB and Banitivity, but left because of subscriptions and features I don’t want (bank syncing). I use a spreadsheet for this. I use Excel, but anything would work. You will need some spreadsheet skills depending on how fancy you want to get.


Caveat — I am not doing budget management or planning as extensively now as I once did.

Many years ago, I was an advocate for MoneyWell.

My search for budgeting app with buckets also turned up Buckets.


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If you want to keep it cheap, and type in anything by your own, I would also recommend to use a spreadsheet.
For this kind of usage, it shouldn’t really matter which App (Numbers, Excel, Obsidian, Devonthink?, or any other App providing Spreadsheets) you use for this.
The only think I would have a look on, would be the possibility to export the data via CSV.


No phone access required, so I will give this a try. Thank you!

BTW, which one do you use? Do you still use YNAB4?

I think aspirebudget is based on a google sheet, so I might try that. How long have been working with Excel for this purpose?

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I think I will try first moneywell, the main reason is because it is native to apple hardware and I saw they are also developing a mobile app.

I’ve never heard the use case of Devonthink (which I own and use) for budgeting, I’ll look further into that. What app has helped you to budget? or What software have you used for a longer period?

MoneyWell had an iOS / iPadOS app when it was first posted. The app was sold to someone who dropped that development and let the macOS app coast with only modest bug fix changes. The app was sold again to the current owners. From what I see, the UI remains unchanged from the time it was first offered (at least a decade ago if I am not mistaken).

All this is to say that your anxiety about non-native macOS code and your expectations for an iOS app may not be the best metrics to make a final decision.

At the time I was doing budgets more diligently, I did find MoneyWell more effective for me than YNAB. These were essentially the only two choices back then for the bucket approach to money management.


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Finances 2 might also be worth a look. It doesn’t get a lot of updates but it’s good software, and it’s available on macOS and iOS.

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I downloaded the app for the trial period and I have to say I am enjoying setting everything up. Banktivity was a lot more complex for my needs, and gave up with it because of that. I think I will send a message to the developer of MoneyWell to see if the iOS is still around, although I don’t need it. I really prefer to get to home and do track everything with my laptop, it’s just like more intentionality.

Does it work for this new MacOS?

I use MoneySpire, has both macOS and iOS versions.

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I didn’t know about that app, thank you, I’ll check it out.

I used Finances for a long time and was satisfied with it. The app was inspired by the double entry accounting software ledger-cli. But the developer has confirmed that it’s not going to be updated any more. So I switched to the open source plain text double entry accounting software beancount, which shares the same principles and origin. It takes a bit of time to learn but the documentation is thorough. It’s a modern Python implementation, which works quite well.

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I use Moneydance mainly because of the ability to track my investments with auto download of stock/crypto prices along side my budgeting in one app. I tried so many times to get Banktivity working like this and never made it. It’s not really an envelope budgeting app though. I use its ‘foresight’ function to budget, it;s good because it allows me to forecast account balances based on future transactions & budget items.

For a free YNAB clone you can’t go wrong with Buckets or Aspire.

3 years now I think? Every year my spreadsheets and stats grow. It’s probably too much work for most people, but I enjoy it. I love having access to all my data and not being limited by any app on what I do with it.


Does it support zero based budgeting? For the moment I’ll go with money well. I’m not a developer so my familiarity with command line tools is zero. I plan to learn how to use things like hledger or gnu cash while I do everything with moneywell.

That sounds great. Complex works for some people, specially if we love tinkering and playing with what we see. Others just want to spend little time and use an app.