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You Need a Budget: Software Review

Need help to get control of your finances? Then "You Need a Budget"!

About.com Rating 5 Star Rating


You Need a Budget Logo

You Need a Budget Logo

The third step to achieving financial freedom, as counseled by LDS Church leaders, is to use a budget. A great way to get started is with a budgeting worksheet but in the long run it's best to invest in an excellent budgeting software.

"You Need a Budget" (YNAB) is the budgeting software I chose to use for my personal budgeting needs, which I did so for a number of reasons as detailed in this review.

YNAB's motto is to "Gain Total Control of Your Money" and to "Stop living paycheck to paycheck, get out of debt, and save money faster...." Find out more about this budgeting software in this full review of You Need a Budget.

The Four Rule Method of Budgeting Success

One of the best things about You Need a Budget is the four budgeting method that it teaches (and the main reason I picked YNAB as my budgeting software of choice). Not only does YNAB help you create and follow a budget but it helps you to understand the proper concepts to truly budget, save, and manage your money.

The four budgeting rules of You Need a Budget are:
  1. Give every dollar a job.
  2. Save for a rainy day.
  3. Roll with the punches.
  4. Stop living paycheck to paycheck.
The YNAB website goes into excellent detail for each budgeting rule and even has a video explanation. I highly recommend taking the time to thoroughly learn and understand each rule, because once you do it makes a lot of "financial sense." Not only does this software help with budgeting but it also helps with getting out of debt and saving money, all of which are part of the plan for achieving financial freedom.

Budgeting Software Made by a Latter-day Saint

You Need a Budget Tithing Category

You Need a Budget Tithing Category

The creator of You Need a Budget, Jesse Mecham, is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and started out following the guidelines of our church leaders by budgeting with a spreadsheet. Over time his budgeting system was developed into software and has evolved until it is where it's at today.

YNAB is perfect for budgeting tithing, fast offerings, and other donations, as well as planning for your food storage, saving for a mission, college, and retirement.

YNAB even comes setup to budget your tithing under the "Charity" category. Here's a picture of the screen shot showing the tithing category. My husband and I were able to easily add a Fast Offering category as well as other categories that fit our personal needs.

When I asked, here's what Jesse had to say about budgeting from an LDS perspective:
"I was born and raised LDS, and was taught that it's important to see money more as a stewardship situation than the fact that it's MY money. So budgeting is actually just making sure that we're good stewards with what we've been given."
Being a good steward over the finances and blessings we've been given is an excellent point and successful budgeting is the way to make sure we're on the right path to taking care of our needs, our family's needs, and helping others meet their needs.

Learning and Using You Need a Budget

You Need a Budget is fairly easy to learn, especially with all the extra resources from the developer. There are free online classes with a live teacher and students from around the world. There's an introductory webinar, budget workshop, and a weekly meetup to get together with other YNABers. YNAB also has video tutorials, a forum, and other support features to help you learn this new software as well as the techniques for managing your money through effective budgeting with the four rule method.

My husband and I attend the online course which only took an hour (including questions from ourselves and the other "students"). Starting fresh with YNAB has been a great blessing as we've started to follow the four method rules of budgeting. You Need a Budget is easy to learn and use and is hundreds of miles above the basic Excel spreadsheet we've been using for years- we won't be going back to that old clunker of a system.

YNAB Features

You Need a Budget comes with a ton of fabulous features. Here are a few of them:
  • Setup and follow the four budgeting rules
  • Import bank transactions
  • Plan for irregular bills throughout the year and easily pay them
  • Automatically record regular transactions
  • Split transactions into multiple categories
  • Jot down notes to remember upcoming events you need to budget for
  • View a variety of reports regarding your budgeting and spending habits
  • Search for past transactions with a specific criteria
  • Export your data in a snap
  • Download the Mobile app and enter transactions on the fly
  • Never pay for future updates (note: future upgrades do cost but customers are not forced to purchase a new version.)
What an excellent array of features. We've already used several of them ourselves and are very happy with YNAB and using it as our budgeting software, along with following the four rules of budgeting which has changed the way we budget and manage our money.

The mobile app is pretty sweet too. It's easy to use and is perfect for checking your budget while you're out and about. You can even check a specific budgeting category and enter a purchase you just made while leaving the store.

Now What? The Bottom Line

Do you like what you've read? If so, visit YNAB's website and check out You Need a Budget for yourself. Not sure if YNAB is the right budgeting software for you? First check out the financial software guide's review of YNAB as well as all the reviews from other site visitors like you. They rated it the Best Windows Personal Financial Software and Tax Software of 2011. Feel free to compare YNAB with the reviews of other budgeting programs to find the budgeting software that's right for you.

You Need a Budget has been more than perfect for our needs. Following the four budgeting rules has made all the difference between being run by our money vs managing our money so it doesn't keep running away from us. I highly recommend You Need a Budget as an invaluable tool for budgeting and achieving financial freedom.
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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