YNAB 4: “You Need A Budget” Personal Budgeting Software Review

I have been a big fan of You Need a Budget for years. I began using it on the advice of a reader about 4 years ago, back in the days of YNAB Pro. When YNAB 3 was released, I jumped on board. And now YNAB 4 is out. I was offered a free upgrade in exchange for a review. I have to say, I would have upgraded anyway. I love YNAB 4 THAT much! Why?

Let me count the ways!

YNAB 4 is Beautiful!

I dread updating my budget. It’s boring and tedious. I’d much rather be writing. Or reading. Or playing with the kids. Though being a beautiful program may seem trivial, it really does increase the enjoyment factor in updating the budget.

YNAB 4 Includes Cloud Sync

I keep my YNAB software on my laptop, but I don’t always have my laptop with me. For instance, a couple of weeks ago I went on a week long vacation. Because my intention was NOT to work, my laptop skipped the trip.

cloud sync

However, we spent a lot of money on our vacation, and entering all those receipts when we returned from vacation was a pain. It would have been much better had I been able to update my budget with my iPad everyday. After all, there’s not much else to do in San Diego traffic. If my budget would have been available in the cloud, I could have entered my transactions on the fly, while my husband drove.

YNAB 4 can do this.

YNAB 4 Includes Reconciliation

One of the things that’s been missing from YNAB is account reconciliation. If you’ve ever used Quicken or Microsoft Money, you’re familiar with this feature. It allows you to reconcile your checkbook with your bank statement within your budgeting program.

ynab4 account reconcile

I personally never missed this feature, as I tend to look at my bank account every day and know exactly where I stand. But for those who are attached to reconciling their accounts, YNAB 4 makes it easy.

YNAB 4 Steps Up the Reporting

When YNAB 3 came out, I was very excited about the reporting features. I have to say, though, that YNAB 4 blows earlier reporting features out of the water. Instead of line graphs, reporting now includes pie charts and bar graphs. You can view reports on spending by category, spending by payee, income vs. expense, and net worth. And the reports are beautiful, don’t you agree?

ynab4 report spending category

Info to Know Before You Buy

YNAB 4 is the easiest program I’ve found to keep track of a zero based budget. If you’re trying to get out of debt (and even if you’re already out of debt), it’s a great way to get on top of your finances. All of the things I loved about YNAB 3 still exist. YNAB 4 just makes the process a bit easier, and did I mention beautiful?

ynab4 budget

If you want to learn more about the principles behind YNAB, read my earlier review of YNAB 3. If you want to try it out for yourself, you can download a 34 day trial.

YNAB 4 costs $60, which isn’t bad for a budgeting program. However, if you bought YNAB 3 after December 26, 2011, you can upgrade at no cost. And if you purchased YNAB before that, you can upgrade for $40.

YNAB 4 is available for both PCs and Macs. There are also iPhone and Android apps available, though I haven’t tested them. Maybe I will soon. It would be handy to have my budget available on the go.

If you’ve been searching for the perfect budgeting software, I highly encourage you to use the YNAB 4 free trial. I think you’ll be hooked. I know I was.

What budgeting software do you use? What do you like about it? Dislike? Have you used YNAB before?


By , on Jul 4, 2012
Lynnae McCoy I'm Lynnae, wife of one and stay-at-home mom of two. I'm committed to getting out of debt by being frugal with my choices in life.


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  1. Keith:

    I use Mint.com on my pc and my phone. It’s great on the go, alerts when bills are due, and tells you if you’ve gone over your customized budget. You can add debt or properties into the software and it will tell you your net worth. The best part is that it’s completely free.

    I’ll give YNAB 4 a shot though and see where I stand.

    • Caleb:


      I’m curious to see what you think. Have you given it a try and compared them yet? I love YNAB 3 but would be curious to hear your comparison. Thanks.

  2. Interesting. That’s cool it’s allows you to budget for 0 sum. $60 is a bit steep though when you’re trying to pay off debt. I will stick to my overly complicated but ultimately powerful and free Google Doc. :)

  3. My budgeting software is Excel, paper and ink! And, it’s very basic! :-) And, let me tell you, I’m tired of it. LOL. :-)

    I’m going to give the trail version a try. I am still not sold on it yet.

  4. Amy:

    I love YNAB! The move up to YNAB 4 was very simple and pain free. I cannot wait for the iphone app to catch up to v4, but it works very nicely with v3.

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