YNAB vs. Mint: Which Budgeting App is Better?

How To Choose The Best Budgeting App For You

While YNAB and Mint’s budgeting apps are great, let’s be honest: You’re going to want to download just one or two of them.

(That is, of course, unless you’re a huge personal finance nerd who loves to keep track of their spending. If that’s the case, you’re on the right website.)

When it comes to choosing the best budgeting app for you, there are a few questions you should ask yourself:

What are my goals?

This is a very important question to ask, no matter what budgeting app you ultimately choose.

Knowing your personal finance goals is the first step to financial success. And it can also help you choose the best app.

For example, maybe you want to simply save a little more each month without having to worry about looking at spreadsheets or a bunch of data each week. If that’s the case, Albert is probably the best app for you.

But if you’re a finance-savvy person who wants to improve their investments’ earnings by 10% this year, perhaps another app is more your speed.

If you need help coming up with a good personal finance goal, check out our article on how to create a SMART objective (aka the best kind of goal-setting out there).

How hands-on do I want to be?

When it comes to personal finance, people either want to be as involved as possible or completely hands-off.

Luckily, there are apps for every level of involvement.

Want to be able to go in and look at different data sets for your budget to optimize it? Tiller Money, YNAB, or Empower (formerly Personal Capital) would be good for you.

Want to take a more backseat approach? Mint could be good for you.

Decide how hands-on you want to be with your budget. There’s no right or wrong answer here.

Am I in debt?

Before you choose an app, it’s a good idea to take a look at the current state of your finances and answer one important question: Am I in debt?

Debt is the most common roadblock for people wanting to live a Rich Life. That’s why it’s so important that you work on getting out of debt before you even think of doing things like saving for huge purchases.

Those in debt want to choose a budgeting app that’ll help them lessen or get out of their debt entirely. Apps like Albert, YNAB, and Mint can help you do just that.

They’ll give you a snapshot of your spending as well as show you how you’re paying it down each month.

For more, be sure to check out our article on how to get out of debt fast.

Mint Budgeting App: Pros and Cons

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.

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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 Budgeting App: Pros and Cons

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:

  1. Give Every Dollar a Job
  2. Embrace Your True Expenses
  3. Roll with The Punches
  4. 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 their  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.

Simply burying your head in the sand and not paying attention to your money isn’t a solution; it’s just creating a problem. We talk about this situation in episode 78 of my podcast with Alex and Courtney. They don’t pay attention to their money and are facing dire consequences.

Key Takeaways:

  • 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.
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Written by

Host of Netflix's "How to Get Rich", NYT Bestselling Author & host of the hit I Will Teach You To Be Rich Podcast. For over 20 years, Ramit has been sharing proven strategies to help people like you take control of their money and live a Rich Life.