- Budgeting apps can help you consolidate your banking, take a more active role in managing your money, and guide you toward accomplishing financial goals.
- Mint delivers a wide variety of budgeting tools like credit score monitoring and bill tracking, going far beyond basic money management.
- YNAB approaches finances from a more simple, practical standpoint and encourages users to live within their means via spreadsheets and reports.
Why Should I Use a Budgeting App?
Although there’s nothing wrong with breaking out a pencil and paper to figure out a budget, digitizing your finances cuts down on both time and paper cuts. Budgeting apps give you a convenient way to connect all of your bank accounts, loans, and credit cards in one place. App features vary, but they often include income and spending breakdowns, transaction pattern data, and reports – all from a bird’s eye view.
With that said, not all budgeting apps are created equally. Two top players in the budgeting app game are Mint and YNAB. Below, we’ll dive into the differences and why one may be better for you than another.
Mint is a free budgeting app designed to fit users from various walks of life who have wide-ranging financial priorities. Users can stick to the app’s straightforward features like creating a budget or categorizing transactions. But Mint’s real value comes from all the other opportunities to gain insight into your financial life like credit score monitoring and bill tracking.
Features of Mint
- Bill Tracker: Have you ever been blindsided by an unexpected bill? Mint’s bill tracker allows you to schedule bill payments within the app with alerts for upcoming payment due dates.
- Spending Patterns: After a few months of transactions, Mint will show you a breakdown of your spending. You can choose how to splice the data: by category, by merchant, or by budgeting tag.
- Credit Score Monitoring: You’ll get real-time access to your credit score, allowing you to note any increase or decrease.
- Investment Insights: Learn more about your investment portfolio breakdown and what (if any) investment management fees you’re paying.
- Daily Budgeting: Using Mint’s budgeting categories, you can monitor your everyday spending and analyze where your money is going.
- Goals: Create goals like paying off debts or saving an emergency fund within the app.
Drawbacks of Mint
- Lack of Future-Oriented Budgeting: You can’t edit a future month’s budget ahead of time if you know your finances will change. Unfortunately, you’ll need to wait until the first of the month to start your new monthly budget.
- Overwhelming Details: If you’re new to budgeting, it can be intimidating to take in all of the app’s features. The bells and whistles might be too much for users still learning the ropes.
YNAB is short for You Need a Budget. It’s a paid budgeting app designed around their savings and spending rules. Rather than believing that budgeting = restrictions, YNAB helps you get excited about setting goals and accomplishing them. The four principle rules for managing money on the app are as follows:
- Give Every Dollar a Job
- Embrace Your True Expenses
- Roll with The Punches
- Age Your Money
Features of YNAB
- Reports: Charts and graphs will give you a visual illustration of your finances as a whole.
- Goal Tracking: YNAB allows you to set budgeting goals like saving a certain amount of money or getting out of credit card debt.
- Budget Together: This is a specialized feature that makes it easier to share your accounts and spending habits with your partner. Be careful with that feature though… “Honey, do you realize you’ve gotten donuts eight separate times this month alone?”
- Free Online Workshops: YNAB gives its users access to a wealth of live video resources to learn how to handle your money better.
- Customer Support: Get answers to your questions via email or through the app’s self-help platform.
Drawbacks of YNAB
- Minimalist Features: Unlike Mint, YNAB has a simpler set-up. For detail-oriented people, the minimalism of the app might not be as helpful.
- Not Free: Although you’ll need to pay a fee to use YNAB, the app offers a free trial, so you can test out whether the software is right for you before committing.
Budgeting Apps: Finding the Right Fit
Budgeting isn’t glamorous, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important. Using either Mint or YNAB can help enhance your financial literacy. Both apps offer user-friendly budgeting tools and a way to sync all your accounts in one place. For users who want to learn to live within their means and spend wisely, YNAB might be a better app because of its no-frills approach to money. For those who prefer more comprehensive features like credit score monitoring, and the ability to track more budget categories, Mint is an excellent choice.