Monday, May 18, 2009

Consumer Review

One year ago Matt and I started using the "You Need a Budget" budgeting software. At first I was a frustrated skeptic. I just didn't want to let go of my Microsoft Money.

It didn't take long before I was completely sold though.

The premise of the software is to help you live on a monthly budget and NOT on what is in your checking account. The idea is that you no longer have to live "paycheck to paycheck." One of the first goals when using the software is to create what is called a "buffer." The buffer is one month's worth of expenses. You then use that buffer to pay your bills each month. As your paycheck arrives each week, it goes towards next month's "buffer."

You Need A Budget Pros
(taken from

Save time: Once You Need A Budget is set up, you only maintain and analyze your personal budget in total for about one hour per month.

Less stress: Because YNAB works on the principle of spending money you already earned and not money you will earn in the future, you will not experience overdrawn accounts or extreme personal budget deficits (you are not spending what you don't have).

Fluctuating income: Most budgeting software requires the person with fluctuating monthly income to enter an average income for each month. This doesn't give an accurate view of income, and paying bills will be difficult if income is unexpectedly low one month. Since YNAB only has you spending what you have already earned, dealing with fluctuating income is easier.

Rainy days: Save for unexpected expenses and expenses that occur less than once a year with YNAB, and not just your usual categorized expenses.

Ease of use: If you are familiar with Excel, using YNAB is a breeze. But even if you haven't used a spreadsheet before, YNAB has on screen explanations and directions for your data input and you can't get simpler than that. YNAB does all the number crunching behind the scenes formulas never interfere with beginner's experience.

User Support: You Need A Budget comes with a user manual in PDF format. This manual is comprehensive, yet only 11 pages long because YNAB is not complicated to use. The YNAB website has a good Frequently Asked Questions section and if you can't find an answer in the FAQs, click on "Ask a New Question" and enter your question with your email address to get a reply with an answer to your question. Another perk: the Articles section of the YNAB website offers software tips along with advice and thoughts on managing personal finances.

Guarantee: Use YNAB for up to 60 days. If you don't like it, you will get your money back.
Low cost: One-time cost of $19.95. The developer is currently does not charge for upgrades, so pay for YNAB once and you are free to re-download the product if needed and to download future upgrades.

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