Graduating from YNAB?
I'm in my trial period and I can see the benefits of the method. But I'm struggling to see the value of ongoing spending of CAD$7-10 a month (depending on exchange rate). I can see doing that for a year but forever? That adds up to a lot of money!
I'm sure that people save money due to greater clarity and control but that must have diminishing returns as the method becomes just your way of doing things.
Obviously folks here are keen users. Why do you continue to subscribe? Do you ever feel that you know enough to "graduate"? Or does the convenience of the web and app software give you enough value for money? Have you stopped using the software then come back? What makes it worth coming back for?
At this point I'm leaning to not subscribing but I'm open to being convinced.
Hi Navy Blue Cyborg !
I know my opinion may sound a little bias, but I wanted to include a few numbers here! On average, new budgeters save $600 by month two and more than $6,000 their first year - following those numbers, most users save enough to cover a YNAB subscription for several years in just the first couple of months. :)
Some users do feel like they "graduate" and other users leave and come back. I agree with Wessel that it's a matter of making it easier to stick to those practices and all the included resources - such as the free, online workshops, access to support, the Help Docs, and being involved with the community here - all help to keep you on task.
I'm going to move this over to the Tips & Tricks discussion thread to hopefully have more users weigh in here!
I *could* do everything YNAB does with a spreadsheet (that's how YNAB started!), but I choose not to, why? Because the time it would take for me to update that spreadhseet with my transactions, enter transactions, reconcile, etc., is totally worth the monthly fee for me. (That's in addition to the fact that the phone & web apps make it easy for me to "check-in" on my budget every couple of days - I wouldn't do if I had to maintain a spreadsheet.) Full disclosure: in the past, I've used Quicken & Mint which have the same "convenience" but YNAB is what taught me to *budget* not just track spending.
My preference is not to be stuck with a subscription. I bought the license for the old version once and can use it on any computer that I want, whether I have an internet connection or not, and I can create as many budgets as I want. I paid once and I'm happy with that. I do the same thing with my business. I run it on software that is local and it works fine. I pay nothing for support and it works out okay.
I started with YNAB at version 4, about 4 years ago and it made a big difference in my financial situation. Last December I transitioned to nYNAB (second time: the first time I opted out due to missing features) and I appreciate the features it now offers and what it has taught me about budgeting sanely and successfully. I now have cash left over at the end of the month.
I also keep YNAB4 active and I run both concurrently: they help to serve as double-checks that I'm accurate in my budgeting, (I do not import transactions: I enter them manually), and much more importantly, YNAB4 does much better at letting me project my future expenses in that it allows me to look ahead two months or so, to know exactly what is coming up as expenses, which vary, something that IMO nYNAB fails at. I also don't like the way nYNAB disallows future-dated transactions in my registers.
Mainly, I am somewhat resentful that the crew at YNAB is abandoning those of us who bought into the desktop versions, back when they were building the company. They have stopped development of YNAB4, virtually pushing new users to the web-based version. That means those of us who basically funded their efforts at the beginning will be out of luck unless we agree to pay up every year. I would gladly pay for upgrades to Y4.
Although YNAB(X) should continue to work until it breaks, I'm on a Mac: Apple will soon discontinue support of 32-bit apps, which YNAB4 is, so I will shortly be out of luck with that application on my Mac, unless I take the trouble and possible expense of setting up a virtual machine. Otherwise, at that point, I'm relegated to a hostage situation with nYNAB. That's not YNAB's fault, but it plays into my scenario and it affects a fair number of desktop YNAB(4) users, loyalists who helped the company get started.
Here's what I think: I've learned enough about "sane and successful" budgeting over the years due to YNAB, and for that I am sincerely grateful. However, since there appears to be no gratitude on YNAB's part for the loyalty of Y4 customers, I have trouble finding any loyalty for YNAB in return. I'll probably wean myself off YNAB altogether, having learned what I need to know and having found alternatives that, combined with my own "newly learned expertise", will work for my situation.
Because one of the things YNAB taught me is to budget ahead for yearly expenses - a simple and useful concept that had just eluded me in the past - it's ironic that one of my current monthly line items is for nYNAB renewal in December. Not a problem, obviously, as when December rolls around and maybe I won't need to renew, I'll be able to use those extra few bucks that I would have spent on YNAB for fun money.
I don't really think of YNAB as a course through which I learn a skill and then graduate once I've mastered it, although I think it does help many people reframe their relationship to money. Instead, I think of it as a tool that helps me manage my money. Because I view it that way, I'll continue to pay for it (even on a small graduate student stipend) as long as it continues to be the most helpful tool for the job. To make an analogy: some people pay for Adobe Creative Suite despite the existence of comparable free programs because Adobe products offer more features, are more robust programs, etc. You just have to decide whether it's worth it for your needs. You can definitely budget (even using the YNAB method) using a piece of paper every month, but you lose the ability to sync with banks and CCs, to share a budget with other members of your household and input things on the go, etc.
I've been using YNAB (YNAB4 to nYNAB) consistently for more than 3 years now and has seem me through several life transitions including a divorce, move to a new state without a job, and getting back on me feet. I will always use YNAB because of the clarity and direction it continues to provide me of what I need and want my money to do and giving me the instant information I need to make informed spending and planning choices. Before YNAB, I used various other "budgeting" tools including my own spreadsheets, and immediately saw how much more powerful YNAB is. For me, there is no substitute; it's a life tool.
Thanks everyone for your input.
I think part of my reluctance is the steep learning curve. I like to think of myself as smart enough and the software is just not clicking for me. I get the 4 rules, I listen to the podcast, I read the forums and FAQs, I watch the videos and have done a class. I get it in general. I get the theory. And yet when I use the tool I don't really get it. *shrug* I've not yet had that lightbulb moment.
I'm going to keep at it for a bit and see how it goes.
PS Is it possible to pay once off for YNAB4 now? Or do you need to be grandfathered in to that?
Did you get your last questions answered from elsewhere? The wording is a little unclear for me. What do you mean "pay off for YNAB4 now"? If you are thinking about transitioning from YNAB4 to nYNAB online, my understanding is that you will be grandfathered a 10% off the subscription. nYNAB is much more robust and the credit card usage flow made more sense to me.
If you'd like, I'm happy to work with you on what might not be clicking. You are correct in that there is a learning curve, part of which is a mindset shift from "forecast budgeting" to planning usage for actual money on hand (in the bank, cash, etc.).
I'm chiming in again, two weeks after my first diatribe, to change my answer. With two more weeks of nYNAB under my belt, I have definitively decided to keep up my subscription. I still feel like a newbie and transitioning from YNAB4 has been a strange journey, (I run them both concurrently) but I think I've gotten past the differences and I've learned to appreciate nYNAB a lot more. I use the Toolkit Add-on: it's vital for me because it adds a lot of features that are sadly missing from the native app.
That said, with the Toolkit add-on (free) you'll have most of what Y4 offers, and a whole lot more.
Please move my vote from the NAY column to the YEA column. Thank you.