Ah, personal finance. I wish they had taught this in high school, otherwise I would I think have gotten my degree in it. Ever since my senior year in high school, I have used personal finance software to track my spending. I was, and always have been, particular about tracking where my money goes. My college room mate always thought it was weird that I saved all my receipts and tracked it.
In our household, Ryan is definitely the saver. Although, when he does want something, he tends to think about it for months, and then spends a chunk of change on it. I, on the other hand, am an impulse spender. So we balance each other out. Every month I break out the pie charts and tell him where the largest percentage of our money goes (daycare and fuel), he just says, "I really don't want to know." Why wouldn't someone want to know?? He says, "Because it makes me sad." I tell him to grow up, and sit down, because he's going to know whether he likes it or not. How diva is that? 🙂
Ryan and I tried at one point to do the Dave Ramsey cash envelopes, but that process didn't last long. I'm sorry to say this out loud - but I like the convenience of not having to go into the gas station to pay my cash, then come out to my car to find out that I need to go back in to get a refund of my money or to realize my tank wasn't full. We, well I, had to find a better way to have a more modern way to manage our finances.
The answer: Finding personal finance software that works with our daily spending. The very first software I ever used was Microsoft Money. I loved it. I had version 2005 and 2007. Then, they sunsetted it. I kept keeping my fingers crossed every time I upgraded my computer's operating system in hopes that Money version 2007 would still work.
What was cool about Microsoft Money was it allowed me to keep track of all my accounts, balance/reconcile my checking/credit card accounts, and quickly graph expense charts. In talking to my friends and co-workers, a majority of them don't balance their checking account and use the bank's online balance...what??!!! I don't understand that - and never will.
Anyway, I was on the hunt for new finance software that would be just as easy to keep track of my accounts, expenses, and budgeting. I purchased Quicken with the understanding that they were the market leader. After using it for 7 weeks, I found this product to be complete and utter crap. It was soo slow. Every single transaction took about 4 seconds. I promptly submitted for a refund.
I also tried Mint.com. My hope was that since it was online, I could have access from anywhere. What I found out is that you can't add "manual" transactions (e.g. if you wrote a check, you can't put it in there...it only shows up when it shows up at your institution). Suck. I tend to write my daycare checks a month in advance, and want to see what my balance would be at any given week. Additionally, the fact that it requires passwords for all of my institutions made me weery as well.
Next up was YNAB (You Need A Budget). YNAB is freaking awesome. At about $20 less than Quicken, this software did everything I needed. The most awesome feature that YNAB has that Microsoft Money and Quicken doesn't? You can use your phone to track transactions as soon as they happen - and then it syncs to ALL OF YOUR COMPUTERS...and that's with one subscription. How awesome is that? No more hoarding receipts...just make the transaction at the grocery store, then immediately record it on your phone. Before you make the purchase, you can even see if you have enough in your budget for that category to even buy it! It doesn't require logons or passwords, making all transactions manual (it has an import feature). Which was fine by me!
This was the review that baited me to buy it, it has tons of screenshots. Head on over to the official site, ynab.com, to see what its all about and download a 34-day free trial. Heck, buy a subscription for someone you know is budgeting and wants a easy way to manage it!
Here are my top 4 reasons to by it:
- Cloud sync
- Budgeting no matter where you are and what device you are using
- Its fast (take note Quicken)
- I've saved money!