YNAB Review

YNAB Review

Written by Lisa Rennie
Fact-checked by Caitlin Wood
Last Updated May 12, 2021

If budgeting has never been your strong point, you may want to start making use of a tool that can help you get a handle on your finances. YNAB is a mobile-accessible platform that promises to help you budget, manage your money, climb out of debt, and reach your savings goals faster. 

YNAB – an acronym for You Need A Budget – is a fee-based app available on Android and iOS and was developed to be different from others in that it teaches you how to manage your money and get ahead rather than living paycheque to paycheque. You’ll be reminded of when bills are coming due rather than letting them pile up.

You’ll also be educated on how to handle your debt relative to what you earn so you’re not always playing catch-up. You can also keep track of your bank and investment accounts all in one place. 

The layout of the app and website is easy to understand and navigate and can be quickly accessed on the go.

Let’s take a closer look at YNAB to help you determine if this app is the budgeting tool you need to better manage your finances.

How Does YNAB Work? 

YNAB is designed to help you take a more conscious approach to managing your money. After downloading the app and signing up, you can link your financial accounts (though this is optional). You can also have YNAB automatically synch your accounts for you, but you’ll have to give the app access to your data and passwords. Otherwise, there’s the option to upload the data yourself.

You’ll then create a budget once all your banking account information is synced and uploaded. You will tailor your budget by customizing categories, amounts, and other information. You also have the option to use the “Quick Budget ” feature which will automatically list the more common budgeting categories. 

YNAB allows you to keep track of what you spend during the month for each of the categories you choose. Either let the app import them for your can choose to enter the information manually. That amount will then be deducted from the appropriate budget category. Regular payments – like rent, mortgage payments, or cell phone bill payments – can be pre-scheduled if they’re the same every month so you don’t have to enter them every time. 

The app uses colour codes that make it easy to see when a category is underfunded or when you’ve overspent. That way, you can quickly spot where there’s trouble and nip it in the bud before it gets out of hand. 

The app also makes saving a cinch and has made this an integral component of the tool. Whatever your specific goal may be, YNAB can help you reach it. The app will encourage you to create goals for certain budget categories.

Simply put, YNAB is centred on three rules to help you stick to your budget without you feeling like you have to sacrifice or scrape by: 

  1. Allocate every dollar to a specific purpose. 
  2. Allocate money every month to all the expenses that are unavoidable.
  3. Expect added expenses to pop up and financially prepare for them. 

YNAB is strictly a budgeting app that doesn’t get too involved in other financial aspects. 

Who is YNAB Best Suited For? 

YNAB is a great online tool for people who are looking for a convenient way to come up with a workable budget quickly and easily and follow it without hassle. If you feel that your spending habits should be controlled, this app can help so that you’re always in-the-know about where your money is going. 

The app is great if you understand better when you’re presented with clean and simple visuals thanks to the graphs and charts presented. And the ability to sync your accounts means you can see everything in one convenient spot without having to manually enter data (though you will have the option to manually enter information if you so choose). 

How Much Does YNAB Cost? 

You can pay monthly or annually for their YNAB app. The monthly fee is $11.99 a month, and you can cancel anytime. Or, get billed annually at $84 a year and save $59. YNAB offers a money-back guarantee if you feel the app is not helping, at which point you’ll receive a full refund. There is also the option to try YNAB for free for 34 days as a trial to see how you like the app before committing. 

Pros and Cons of YNAB


  • Compatible with both iOS and Android. 
  • User-friendly. Even those who are not technically savvy should find the YNAB app easy to use.
  • Easily track your budget. Keeping tabs on your budget on the go is quick and easy.
  • Visually friendly. Graphs and charts are integrated to give you an easy-to-understand snapshot of your budget.
  • Live workshops. Take part in YNAB’s free, live classes led by financial experts every day for quick 20-minute lessons to help you master budgeting.
  • Personal support. In addition to the live classes, you can also get personal support and teachings every day of the week. 
  • Sync your accounts. Easily sync your accounts with the YNAB app. 
  • Track your goals. Set your financial goals and keep track of them in real-time to help you reach them faster. 
  • Pull reports. If you’re the type who likes to see things all laid out for you in a mathematical way, generating a report can be helpful.
  • Financial wellness playbook for employers. YNAB offers educational and support tools for employers to help their employees get a handle on their finances. 
  • Secure. YNAB makes use of the same technology that the CIA uses to keep personal information secure, including data encryption.  


  • It’s not free, unlike some other budgeting apps.

How Do You Create an Account With YNAB?

Creating an account with YNAB is very simple. You can start your free trial by entering your email address and choosing a password. No credit card number is required. 

You can then add accounts by clicking on the Add Account button, and decide if you want to link your accounts. If so, you’ll have to take a few extra steps. After choosing an account type, name it and add today’s balance. Otherwise, the balance will automatically be filled out if you synced your accounts. 

Overview of Features

Fee$11.99/month or $84/year (free 34-day trial)
Track spendingYes
Sync bank accountsYes
PlatformWebsite browser or mobile
CompatibilityiOS, Android, desktop, laptop
Bill TrackingYes
Credit Score MonitoringNo
Personal SupportChat
Bill PaymentNo
Investment TrackingYes
Manual EntriesYes
Special PerksLive training workshops
Locations AvailableAnywhere

Is The App Safe?

Yes, YNAB will keep your personal and financial information safe. The platform makes use of robust technology that the CIA uses as well to keep your data safe through the following measures:

  • One-way hashed passwords that required a variety of characters to make it almost impossible for hackers to get in
  • Data encryption
  • Information completely wiped out when you terminate your account

What Support is Available With YNAB?

YNAB offers two ways to get in touch with them if you need any support: via the contact form on the website or live chat. The app also offers a number of educational tools, including training videos and live workshops to help you better manage your money. 

Should You Get the YNAB App?

YNAB is a great tool to show you how and where you spend money so you have a better handle on your expenditures. It’s a user-friendly platform that is simple to navigate and will help you improve your budgeting skills so you can reach your financial goals faster. Compatible across all devices, you can access it from whatever platform you happen to be using at any given time. And with the online training videos and live workshops, YNAB has made it easy to be fully engaged in your financial future and learn as much as possible to make you a master at budgeting.

Lisa has been working as a personal finance writer for more than a decade, creating unique content that helps to educate Canadian consumers in the realms of real estate, mortgages, investing and financial health. For years, she held her real estate license in Toronto, Ontario before giving it up to pursue writing within this realm and related niches. Lisa is very serious about smart money management and helping others do the same.

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