This post is probably going to date me, ha. When my wife and I were first married, I started using Larry Burkett's Money Matter software for budgeting. It did a pretty good job and for me, the envelope method worked best. I haven't stayed on top of a budget for years and am wanting to start one again.
Other than EveryDollar, YNAB seems pretty similar to Money Matters which is a zero-sum envelope method. Is that a fair statement?
I love that the versions I found when googling advertise that the book “comes with a CD-ROM!” 😂
Not able to find any info about Burkett’s method however to compare it to YNAB. The big difference between other zero-based budgets and YNAB is that YNAB is not only zero-based, it *is* an envelope budget. The Ramsey method, for instance, asks you to plan out your whole month on paper, and then you go to the bank and get your $400 for groceries in cash and put it in a paper envelope.
The problem with that method is that while you may not overspend the entire month if you are diligent about using the budget, it’s entirely possible to overspend one part of the budget in a way that will make it impossible to safely spend another part of the budget. You have to constantly be not only checkin your budget but also your overall cash flow to determine if you can take advantage if your friend’s offer to go out for a nice dinner.
With YNAB, if you don’t have the money, you can’t plan to spend it. Period. Doesn’t matter if you’ll receive Ten grand tomorrow, if you have ten bucks today, ten bucks is your budget until you get more money. That takes some “income in, outgo out” month-at-a-time planners some adjustment to get used to. It’s worth it.
I don't know anything about Burkett's system. I can tell you that YNAB is a zero-sum envelope system that is the best out there I've ever found and turned my financial life around. Just give the system the full 34 day trial and decide for yourself. Feel free to ask questions and try the free online classes.
The easiest way to describe YNAB for me is that you take ALL the money you have everywhere, in every weird little account and add it up. Then you divide it up into all the jobs that money needs to do. No more 25 different bank accounts to keep track of Christmas and tuition etc. And as @wordtenor said, Dave Ramsey system can get you in trouble because it gets you to budget money you don't have (yet). Not very helpful in keeping the mortgage payment from bouncing. I find people get frustrated with YNAB because they try to watch all the videos and read all the articles and watch Nick True YouTube videos etc. Yes, YNAB can do a lot of things, but if you try to do them all at the beginning, you just get frustrated. I liken it to reading the entire car manual of every feature and function of your car before you just drive. The other stuff comes along over time.
To add to what MXMOM has said, This article is often linked to as it is so helpful. It took me a long time to get my head around the balance in my checking account not corresponding to my budget and to just trust the budget balances.
I hope YNAB works out for you, it's been a revelation for me.