UPDATED: July 27, 2021

Living paycheck-to-paycheck means that you may feel like you have to postpone your financial goals. Having the wherewithal to develop a budget and stick to it is typically the largest inhibitor for saving for that trip, paying off debts, or creating lasting financial health. YNAB and Mint, however, have hit the app store by storm, claiming to help you clean up your finances in order to help you meet these goals. 

However, you don’t need two budgeting apps, so which one is the right choice for you? 

Which budgeting app will help you meet your goals? YNAB and Mint can both help you meet your financial goals — the only differences in how affective they are come from how you personally react to them. If you want a budgeting app that gamifies budgeting, you will enjoy YNAB more. YNAB also works for households by connecting with your partner’s YNAB account to help you budget together. However, if you want to cut to the chase and see the numbers splayed out in front of you as straightforward as possible, Mint may be a better fit. 

Understanding Budgeting Apps

When you were a kid, did your mother ever tell you to hold onto cash because it’s harder to spend? Budgeting apps take your credit or debit cards and make them just as accountable, by showing you a blow-by-blow of your spending habits

By analyzing your spending habits through categorizing your transaction data, these apps are able to show you just how much you’re spending in a way that gives you parameters to adhere to. Visualizing your spending through graphs, percentages, and even notifications make you vividly aware that the money that leaves your account is actually leaving, making it far harder to ignore. 

Mint and You Need A Budget, or YNAB, are both major players in the budgeting technology industry. YNAB has a cult following, while Mint is one of the longest lasting apps that has provided this service. Both the average YNAB review and the average Mint review spell out plainly what the companies themselves claim — these techniques of making money visible as you spend it work. 

If you’re looking for an app that is ranked high for security and is incredibly effective 

You Need A Budget (YNAB) Review Highlights

YNAB goes beyond the basics of just recording your spending habits and showing them to you. This app teaches you how to budget, from providing you with “Four Rules” to help you learn to budget to video lessons to teach you tricks and tips for responsible money management. As a comprehensive learning experience, YNAB definitely delivers. Rather than seeing budgeting as a limiting experience, YNAB teaches you to see this as a way to set and reach financial goals. 

If you use YNAB software, you are able to connect your YNAB account to laptops, tablets, and other cell phones, giving you access from any point. Because the app analyzes your banking data, YNAB guarantees security, as well. The app is entirely encrypted, as is the software system and its communication. 

Progress is highlighted in graphs, and there is unlimited online support for YNAB users. Once you buy into YNAB’s proven method, budgeting doesn’t just become a necessity to stop living as paycheck-to-paycheck, but rather as a tool to directly meet your goals. 

YNAB’s system requires awareness of each dollar, almost giving each one a “destination” before it can be spent. The app reminds you of this mentality with updates about your spending habits as you develop better money management skills. 

Mint Review Highlights 

Before we begin, let’s start off with Mint’s parent company, Intuit, developer of Turbotax and Quickbooks. This developer understands personal finances, and he definitely did not skip any steps in security, either. 

While YNAB presents itself as a lifestyle change, Mint presents itself as a slick, functional tool. And Mint has proven itself to be a longstanding dependable tool, set to go the distance to help you reach your financial goals without the nagging and work that may come with YNAB. The only interference Mint may provide is the occasional input about saving and investment opportunities as they appear. 

If you are an already experienced budgeter who would like to just see their finances analyzed and presented to them, then Mint is perfect. Not only does Mint report on your balances, it checks your credit score as well. The numbers are crunched for you so you can understand your financial situation in a glance, and Mint currently connects to almost every financial institution in the United States as of 2020. 

Mint also will analyze your spend habits and break down your expenses into reasonable sizes that respect your financial goals. There’s no need to go cold turkey on eating out when pulling back to only eating out once a week will make a major difference for you without setting a goal that may be uncomfortable or different. 

Mint encourages responsible spending by documenting how much money is left after you spend as a means of motivation. For someone who doesn’t want the fuss and mess of online classes and customer service, this is a perfect budgeting app to help you reach your financial goals. 

Product Comparison 

While the goal for both YNAB and Mint are very much the same — don’t spend all of your money — their methods are very different. YNAB makes budgeting into a bit of a lifestyle, giving you access to learn instead of just do. Mint is old school, and while it can make budgeting suggestions, there are no affiliated classes or ongoing checkins. With Mint, you merely analyze the data and make actions accordingly. While Mint may make suggestions for your budget, it does not typically enforce them outside of request. 

Both systems are intuitive, highlighting the information about the transaction analyses, and both are friendly for Android and iOs systems. 

Pricing Differences

YNAB is flashy. It has video lessons and people ready to speak to you at any time you face a problem. This quality attention, as well as the ongoing learning the person does while going through the process add to the price of the product as well. 

YNAB pricing currently sits at a little less than $12 a month, or $84 annually. They have a no-risk, 100% money back guarantee as well. Mint is, however, free to download. If you search “how much does Mint cost,” you’ll just get the download button. 

What are Some Product Drawbacks? 

Due to the broad categories of spending that can be recorded by our banks, the apps we use to track our budgets can avoid getting too specific. For instance, if you ordered food from Amazon, it would not appear in the grocery budget, but rather would appear in the shopping section. Keeping this in mind will allow you to not take Mint or You Need a Budget as the end-all-be-all for your budgeting needs. 

As always, these products are only as good as the effort that you put into them. If you turn off your ringer or don’t interact with the apps, they won’t be able to give you accurate or useful information. 

Categorizing your expenses may happen unintentionally, which can affect your goals and the amount spent in both apps. 

Mint doesn’t currently run any currency but the American dollar, which makes any form of foreign travel a more “up in the air” outcome with budgeting in mind. There also aren’t multiple savings account goals available per account, meaning that your savings through the application must be handled as one unit, which may not work for every individual. 

You Need a Budget largest issues are the mentality that follows it and the serious approach it takes to savings. If you have previous budgeting experience and do not want to work with a system that is built to teach people budgeting, it’s understandable as to why someone would not want to pay for the service when the free service would better suit their needs. 

In Conclusion: It’s Up to You. 

If you want an app that holds your hand more as you figure out how to manage money and set feasible goals, YNAB would be the best option for you due to their incorporative teaching techniques. If, however, you’ve been doing this work and you would rather have a budget selection and a breakdown of where your spending is going, it makes sense for you to choose the free option and stick with Mint. 

If you want to work on your financial goals with your partner, You Need a Budget’s sharing system makes it easy for you to get the job done and learn with your significant other. If you are by yourself or manage your finances alone, the beneficial and suggestive nature of Mint would be recommended. 

Budgeting has gone online, and these two tools can work to help us understand and conquer our unhealthy spending habits.