Calling all long term users... Would you recommend the long haul?

So my trial is coming to a close. I have to say that the longer trial made a worlds of difference for me. One month is just not enough when you are NOT new to budgetting. I can get a month making a difference for someone who was not breaking even but when you are transposing one budget model into another it takes more time.

I have heard from alot of great people of the pros and cons with this product. My journey has been mixed so far. The simplicity of the process was easy to adopt from MSMoney since that is basically how we ran our operation. My wife likes the app and mobile and having all categories in our faces makes conversations easier. 

Now my concerns...

How strong is this company? Whats their revenue? The lack of important features and frustrations from long time users are concerning. I would not classify myself as an intro "budgeteer". So the features I am looking for seem to jive more along the lines of the longer YNAB budgeteers. But their responses of "yeah, still waiting" are concerning. 

With all of this with your journeys, do you still recommend the online YNAB version? Moving to this app is putting most of my eggs in one basket (YNAB as a company). 

Thanks

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  • As far as I know, this is the best thing out there with the current feature set, probably because of the philosophy.  I can't think of any other tool that would allow my husband and I to communicate so well about financial priorities, plans, implementation (spending), and revaluation.

    They're also hiring 2 product managers and a developer, so I'm hopeful about more of the "advanced" core functionally features being added. 

    They've also been dropping hints about big changes to... Something. I hope they'll prepare us for the changes. People don't like surprises.

    But, take my perspective with a grain of salt. I've only been using YNAB for 9 months. Friends and family have been using it for years.

    Like 2
  • Still waiting.  At this point, doing workarounds for what I need in YNAB is the best budget solution I have.  I continue to look for alternatives.  Plan B is to retreat to my YNAB 4 license (for however long that program works) if the company makes the budget more inconvenient for me as it pursues optimization of the budget for people living paycheck to paycheck.  Plan C is a competing product which, at this point in time, is better at budgeting but far inferior with transaction entry and reporting.  Plan D is to continue to use Quicken to track net worth and do reports, and build my own budget in Excel that will map to the subset of my Quicken accounts that currently corresponds to my YNAB on-budget accounts.  I'll need to play a bit with exporting transactions from Quicken to see if I can eliminate double data entry.

    The fact that I have a Plan B, Plan C, and Plan D is less than a ringing endorsement for YNAB as a company; but right now, YNAB is the least bad budget option I have found.  I just don't trust it to stay as not-bad as it is right now, and I certainly don't expect it to improve for my needs.  Recently, YNAB has been talking like they understand some changes need to be made to support people who are no longer living paycheck to paycheck.  Time will tell whether this is just talk.  Meanwhile, I shall continue to pay my annual subscription fee for as long as YNAB does not get worse and no alternative improves to the point of being as good as YNAB.

    That having been said, I am single.  I do not need to communicate with someone else about my budget.  Until recently, I did not use Direct Import, and it won't bother me much to move to a solution that does not import bank data.  I do rely on the mobile app for transaction entry at point of sale; that is the biggest sticking point keeping me from moving directly to Plan C.

    Edit to add:  I can't bring myself to make an unqualified recommendation for YNAB.  It may do very well for your needs.  It may adequately meet your needs with appropriate workaround for the weaknesses/bugs/features designed for people situated differently than you and forced onto all users.  You may have a better alternative for your needs, or you may not.  Only you can tell.

    Like 1
  • Patzer said:
    Plan B is to retreat to my YNAB 4 license (for however long that program works)

     That was my plan with MSMoney but I felt I was basically gambling. MSMoney is really old and don't want to rely on that always working. Then again I am not sure I want to put all of my eggs into YNAB basket since there have been hurdles so far which I was not expecting. YNAB was the closest I could find but I am still looking and keeping my eyes open. 

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      • Patzer
      • Retired at age 60. Thank you, YNAB!
      • Patzer
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      RIP_MSMoney 

      Quicken is the closest cognate of MS Money on the market.  There was a period when Quicken looked like it was going downhill; then Intuit spun it off, it went to a subscription model, and now it looks better than it did before I bit the bullet and upgraded to the subscription.  Unfortunately, the budget in Quicken is still a forecasting and variance comparison drill, without the control of expenses and flexibility of adjusting priorities that a zero based budget gives me.  So I will always need a zero based budget in addition to Quicken.  But I expect to keep Quicken for my lifetime, because Quicken reports make YNAB reports look like a bad joke, and Quicken deals with investment tracking for real, and YNAB only pretends to.

      Like 2
  • The odds the company won’t be solvent I would say are very low. Their target market is gigantic, and they are doing a great job of creating software that provides just the right level of benefit to that target market. 

    The odds they will break a useful workflow in an attempt to better serve people who have no personal finance knowledge and no desire to gain it are quite high. For instance, in their latest attempt to make the CC handling clear as mud, they removed the information that enabled you to quickly determine the size of the float on your credit card. This is then a problem for people who use the float to handle reimbursements. I would expect to see more decisions like that in the future. 

    Like 3
      • RIP_MSMoney
      • Software Developer at Microsoft
      • rip_ms_money
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      WordTenor Yeah, I stopped CC awhile ago and went cash based. With that said SaaS concept concerns me some since I can't control the upgrade path lol

      Like 1
      • WordTenor
      • Can we agree that goals are dumb and immature? Sure.
      • WordTenor
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      RIP_MSMoney No reason not to use a card when you’re using YNAB, if you haven’t discovered that yet.  I understand that some people got in trouble with them in the past and now the cards give them the heebie-jeebies (I don’t know if you fall into that category),  but using YNAB your cards are effectively cash.  Some users even put them in as checking accounts so that they really are cash— I like to use the stock handling to float work reimbursements when I need it. 

       Just booked a flight to Mexico on points. Cash would not have done that for me. 

      Like 1
      • RIP_MSMoney
      • Software Developer at Microsoft
      • rip_ms_money
      • 2 yrs ago
      • Reported - view

      WordTenor I could see that, where we always fell short was the 1.5 spread between spending and when bill came in. We also found that spending started getting out of control with the "oh but we are getting points" mentality. I can see where YNAB boxed (it all has to come from a category) approach can help with that. With MSMoney it was more gray with those boundaries unless directly imposed by the implementer and I was not always on top of that.

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      • Patzer
      • Retired at age 60. Thank you, YNAB!
      • Patzer
      • 2 yrs ago
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      WordTenor 

      WordTenor said:
      The odds they will break a useful workflow in an attempt to better serve people who have no personal finance knowledge and no desire to gain it are quite high.

       That's an elegant description of why I have Plan B, Plan C, and Plan D.  A budget is critical to my finances.  Forcing a budget into a system designed for living paycheck to paycheck is not.

      Like 1
      • Patzer
      • Retired at age 60. Thank you, YNAB!
      • Patzer
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 8
      • Reported - view

      RIP_MSMoney 

      RIP_MSMoney said:
      I could see that, where we always fell short was the 1.5 spread between spending and when bill came in. We also found that spending started getting out of control with the "oh but we are getting points" mentality. I can see where YNAB boxed (it all has to come from a category) approach can help with that.

       Spending by category helps, and a zero based budget that makes payment method irrelevant helps; but the big adjustment is mental.  If you let the fact that a card has rewards affect what you buy, chances are you're spending more than you otherwise would.

      I like cash back.  Cash back is nice.  But in the grand scheme of things, cash back or airline miles or points are chump change compared to the benefit of controlling the spending.

      Like 8
      • bevocat
      • Sometimes, It Just Sucks to Be You
      • bevocat
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      Patzer It's the same idea as "you can't outrun a bad diet!"

      Like 2
  • Where I struggle is that I am who family/friends kind of relies on for some financial guidance. Since starting the trial, 3 have started a trial as well. I want to ensure I am heading in the right direction.

    Like
      • lindsay_g
      • Beige_Banjo.3
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view

      RIP_MSMoney I'm just going to point out that the reason you know all these long term users have issues, is that they are still using the product. :)

      Like 3
      • RIP_MSMoney
      • Software Developer at Microsoft
      • rip_ms_money
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      lindsay_g very true! At the same time, I believe several of those users still use YNAB4 or have that as a backup. That is not my case

      Like 1
  • I still recommend it.  While I agree with most of the things "long time users" would like to see improved, I disagree with the view that any of these things make ynab unusable.  In the end it is a budget.  If tomorrow it disappeared, I'd open excel and document the same thing until I found a replacement.  (first i would go back to ynab 4 I suppose but I'm not part of the camp that thinks it was this nirvana of budget software.)

    Like 4
      • WordTenor
      • Can we agree that goals are dumb and immature? Sure.
      • WordTenor
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

        Herman Yeah I still think it’s the best thing out here, I agree. I know people like Patzer will do the legwork of finding out if something else hits the market that is even better. 

      Like 1
  • I started using YNAB in 2012. Prior to that, I was a 14-year plus Quicken user, and I've also tried things like Mint, etc, over the years.  I've fallen off of the YNAB wagon a few times, but I come back because YNAB gives me control/power over my money like no other program ever has.  As far as how strong the company is - I don't know.  I hope they'll be around for the long haul.  As I like YNAB better than anything else I've used, I'll be sticking with it.  As far as other features go... well... it's meeting my needs just fine right now.  If you need more, then I guess you should look for another program that offers those features you want.  

    Like 1
  • It might be more helpful to us to describe what features you feel are missing.   I'm not sure what other longtime users have been wanting.

    Have you added the YNAB Toolkit?  It's pretty cool and adds a lot of functionality that makes YNAB even better.

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  • I don’t think there’s a better choice right now. I’ve been using the YNAB method religiously for 10 years now with incredible results. I am concerned about the new direction of nYNAB but I’ve been able to maintain my YNAB method (Basically the YNAB 4 method) with a few work arounds plus the toolkit.

    If they were ever to break my method, I’d just recreate it with a spreadsheet unless another viable alternative had sprung up in the meantime.

    Like 4
  • Yep, no hesitation here. It would be a different response if we didn't have the Toolkit, though!

    Like 3
      • Patzer
      • Retired at age 60. Thank you, YNAB!
      • Patzer
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 3
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      Anarane 

      Toolkit developer burnout, in conjunction with a random YNAB change breaking Toolkit (which would then not get fixed) is the most likely scenario that could get me to cancel my subscription.

      Oddly enough, the insane color change fiasco improved my web-YNAB experience.  I learned a bit about coding CSS, fixed the colors, and while I was at it fixed some other low grade nuisance things.  The budget is easier on my eyes now.

      Like 3
  • RIP_MSMoney Maybe tell us more about how you use YNAB and what you’re concerned about losing? Or is it just the worry that they will eventually sell it/abandon it like MS Money? Then we can answer in something other than generalities. 

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      • RIP_MSMoney
      • Software Developer at Microsoft
      • rip_ms_money
      • 2 yrs ago
      • Reported - view

      WordTenor its less of how I am using it and more of the long term investment. Its one thing with offline software because you own the software (eg ms money). Its another when you are paying for a service. 

      It sounds like all still like but have other backup means. For alot it is ynab4 which i dont have. I will have to consider what my backup plan would be but so far we are strongly considering signing up.

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      • WordTenor
      • Can we agree that goals are dumb and immature? Sure.
      • WordTenor
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view

      RIP_MSMoney Most of us aren’t worried about the company having issues, though, which is why I ask. We’re worried about workflows getting broken as YNAB increasingly caters to the desires of people who are paycheck to paycheck and in debt. So if your principal concern is that you’ll pay and they’ll disappear;  I’d say that’s pretty unlikely.  But if you’d like to know how likely it is that the way you’re using it will be changed by some future update, more details will help . 

      Like 3
      • RIP_MSMoney
      • Software Developer at Microsoft
      • rip_ms_money
      • 2 yrs ago
      • Reported - view

      WordTenor i would say that it works fine for how for currently it (minus the feature requests i have already mentioned here). It would be hard for me to describe which feature would kill me if they suddenly took it away.

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  • It's the best option right now, in spite of the criticism. Much of that from long-term users is because we know it can be better, both for the newbie and experienced, and for those who are and are not paycheck-to-paycheck.

    If YNAB becomes unsuitable (for whatever reason), there will be options. I wouldn't use a less suitable option for the foreseeable future even if I KNEW YNAB would go out of business in 5 years.

    Like 4
  • I'm certainly a vocal critic, but I'd still recommend it over the non-YNAB alternatives. It's unusable for me because I have YNAB4. If I didn't, I could make it work as some of my other cohorts have done.

    Like 5
  • Investment in subscription cost?  Though,  I am ALWAYS concerned about future subscription costs, YNAB is still low in cost for the value it has given me.  The current cost for new subscribers is more than when I first subscribed, but the good news is they didn't increase the costs for people who were already subscribed.  Will they always grandfather us in to what we originally signed up for?  Who knows.  I do know I trust this company they will keep it as low as possible.  It is a privately owned company and Jesse seems to practice what he preaches.  He talks the talk and walks the walk from what I've seen about him.  His employees seem happy.  They are continuing to improve, educate and support.  I've not seen any performance problems with the site.  I think once that I know of they had problems with people logging in, but it was fixed in a short while.  

    Investment in time?  You can download your budget any time.  I do ever so often.  When you download it you get a Budget list of your Categories and their status and a separate Register which includes all of your accounts.  If things really did go belly up - you could pretty easily use the files to continue on until you found a new home for your budget.

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  • I highly recommend YNAB.  

    RIP_MSMoney said:
    My wife likes the app and mobile and having all categories in our faces makes conversations easier. 

     There are so many features that YNAB has, that tracking programs do not. I like that I can see if something I want to purchase fits into the budget BEFORE spending.  It doesn't help me to see my spending after all the choices have been made.   I also use the toolkit as it has features I really enjoy.  

    The bottom line, for me, is the progress I've made, which is phenomenal.  Many people complain about the program and most (but definitely not all) are because they want to fit their old thinking into the program.  You have to do some learning to use the zero based budget.  I've had problems  (that haven't worked), and learned new ways of doing things (that work).  I also use the credit card option, with paid in full cards, and don't give it a second thought these days.  YNAB helps with the learning with the constant classes, youtube videos, White Board Wednesdays, and all the other learning options.

    Overall, I highly recommend the program.  Haven't found anything out there that even comes close to helping me stay on budget, and reach my goals, like YNAB does. 

    Like 1
      • lindsay_g
      • Beige_Banjo.3
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      MsTJ This is close to my experience. I immersed myself in the various teaching tools and quickly learned the software (couple of problems, but they got solved. Usually by asking on here!) I’ve never had any of the credit card problems, although I have two cards, one debt and one PIF.

      The major learning isn’t the software, it’s the mindset. I think the transformation in myself would have been a bargain at twice the cost, but, sshhhh, don’t tell YNAB 😜

      Like 2
  • I am also a long time YNAB user who used YNAB 4 previously.  I have complained about YNAB 4 features that were not carried forward to nYNAB, particularly the ability to restore a backup is no longer provided which I think is essential in any budgeting software where you have a history of transactions,  also stealing from the future still is not fixed.

    With that being said, I still like nYNAB a lot.  It has improved in other areas such as goals and the ability to easily money between categories.  YNAB4 also had something called Income for Next month that did not make it in the nYNAB methodology but a simple work around for that is to create a category for Income for Next Month and immediately transfer all deposits in TBB to that category for safe keeping till next month.

    I also did not like the new method of handling credit cards in nYNAB but an easy fix for that was to simply set the credit card up as a checking account to effectively make it work like YNAB 4.

    I am sticking with nYNAB as I actually enjoy using it and it has helped me a lot, I am laser focused on my budget and cash flow.  I do hope they do roll some of the YNAB 4 features that did not make it in a future revision though.

    Like 2
  • Short answer, yes, absolutely.

    Longer answer: For the way I run my budget the key problems are niggles that would make YNAB better and/or avoid problems for other users but they don't massively impact on my use of YNAB.

    I also use an income next month category because I came from YNAB4 and so was used to working that way. If they had multi-month view in the web version, I might consider budgeting ahead but as it is I preferred to continue using my old methodology which has the added benefit of avoiding SFTF. I do use the Toolkit and have the SFTF warning turned on so could now try budgeting ahead but I'm happy enough with how I use it currently.


    Credit cards - I use stock handling and have had no issues. I use my credit cards to pay for most things (fully budgeted) and pay my statement balance by direct debit each month so my balance has never gone positive and I don't encounter any of the issues that others report. My cashback comes in the form of reward vouchers (which never hit the budget) rather than a statement credit so no issues there and gift cards are just not used in the UK in the same way as I read here.

    Red arrow - Personally, I'm happy that it's gone. It has made us more honest about categories and covering overspends. I understand the reimbursement issue but it's not a big issue for me so I can't really comment other than to say, I don't have the problems others have. I would use a separate credit card for this purpose if my amounts became higher.

    Import (direct or otherwise) - I don't use it. I'm in the UK so direct import isn't an option but I wouldn't use it even if I could. 

    Toolkit - This brings YNAB closer to my ideal but they're not deal breakers. The things I use are:

    • running balance - helps reconciling and key for cashflow management
    • reports - not really sure why, spending by payee maybe
    • striped transaction rows - surprisingly helpful when reconciling or doing multiple manual entries
    • SFTF alert - I'd say this is crucial if you budget ahead
    • PIF CC assist - helpful if you like the colour warnings rather than checking numbers
    • naming flags 
    • goal indicator warning colour 
    • display total monthly goals in inspector
    • days of buffering - because AOM is a waste of space but to be fair I haven't take the time to fully understand the days of buffering calculation either so don't rely on it.
    • some toggles and ability to resize columns

    The most important of those for me is running balance. If I wasn't using a budget for next month category, the SFTF alert would top trump everything.

    Like 2
  • I completely agree with your statement about 1 month (OK, 34 days) not being long enough, especially if you get paid monthly. For me the first month was: "Right, now I've set my budget, can I stick to it/roll with the punches", then the second month was taking those lessons learned from the first month and apply those to this month... Thankfully, they do seem to be open to requests to extend the trial.

    2 months was all it took to convince me. The app integration is invaluable, as I've always got my phone with me to log the expenses.

    I'm sure there are other products out there, but YNAB suits my needs right now. I've used Quicken in the past, but didn't like it... YNAB just clicked with me.

    Like 1
  • I'm in the sticking with it despite the issues camp, too, I suppose. For what it does for me, having to create work arounds every now and then isn't the end of the world. It's irritating, yes, but hopefully they'll learn and move forward over time, too. I don't think there is a perfect product, and the way that YNAB works would be super crazy challenging for me to try to code into my own spreadsheet. That being said I DO keep a spreadsheet, but that is retroactive tracking that I use for my taxes and accounting, instead of forecast tracking which allows me to plan ahead.
    For someone who has had major anxiety about managing money and debt YNAB is just about the best thing ever.

    Like
  • monkeyhanger said:
    I also use an income next month category because I came from YNAB4 and so was used to working that way. If they had multi-month view in the web version, I might consider budgeting ahead but as it is I preferred to continue using my old methodology which has the added benefit of avoiding SFTF. I do use the Toolkit and have the SFTF warning turned on so could now try budgeting ahead but I'm happy enough with how I use it currently.

    I think there’s more to it than that. I am budgeting ahead, next month, as soon as I receive my last fortnightly paycheck of this month. It’s the ability to budget an entire month at once that’s the key. You can’t do that the new YNAB way. That was a huge positive change for me once I got to that point and I’m not giving it up just because nYNAB hasn’t built in a way to do it.

    Like 4
      • monkeyhanger
      • No animals were harmed
      • monkeyhanger.1
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 5
      • Reported - view

      Superbone Oh I agree. I was trying not to get into a debate about the differences between the YNAB4 and nYNAB methodologies but just focusing on the potential flaws in the software for people coming to YNAB now and SFTF was the problem raised above. My answer was long enough as it was!

      In the UK, it's most common to be paid monthly towards the end of the month so decoupling the budget from paycheques is less mind-blowing. It was just a case of stringing one paycheque out a few days longer than normal and hey presto we were YNAB-buffered. 

      Like 5
      • Superbone
      • YNAB convert since 2008
      • Superbone
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view

      monkeyhanger Gotcha. We’re on the same page and I think we can all agree that the most important thing is that no animals were harmed. 🙂

      Like 3
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