You Need a Budget 3: A Principles-Based, Powerful Budgeting Tool

Several readers have expressed their love for the download-able budget software, You Need a Budget (YNAB). I had to include it in this week of budgeting reviews. YNAB 3 was recently released in beta. I downloaded the free trial version to my computer last night and gave it spin.

You Need a Budget is what I would call a zero-based budgeting tool. The software allows you to “give every dollar a job” and get beyond living paycheck to paycheck. I would describe it as a principle-based, straight-forward budgeting tool with an easy-to-use (and enjoyable to look at) interface. Here’s a look at the budget function:

YNAB is Not a Complete Money Management Tool

Something I quickly discovered about YNAB 3 is that it isn’t a well-rounded money management tool, like Quicken or Mint. But it’s not really trying to be that. YNAB is a budgeting tool. The creators really understand the psychology behind budgeting and “getting ahead”, and they incorporate that into the software.

For this reason, YNAB isn’t for the person who has a lot of stocks or real estate to track. Nor is it really for someone with a small business to keep track of. It’s not personal accounting software, plus budgeting. It’s simply budgeting software.

YNAB’s 4 Rules of a Money Management Methodology

You Need a Budget is built on four principles, or rules as they call them. They are:

  1. Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck
  2. Give Every Dollar a Job
  3. Save for a Rainy Day
  4. Roll with the Punches

It’s these four rules that set YNAB a part from the competition, I believe. If you are a Dave Ramsey fan and believe in the power of the zero-based budget, then this software is right up your alley.

Read more about YNAB’s four rules to budget by.

What’s New in YNAB 3

YNAB 3 just rolled out replacing YNAB Pro. Here’s what’s new…

  • Available Funds Roll Forward – Any available funds that you have not budgeted roll forward to become a part of next month’s starting buffer.
  • Drag and Drop to Order Categories – I noticed this right away on the budget screen. You can arrange the categories to prioritize your view based on you most important categories.
  • Other new features include: transaction search/filtering, improved reporting, and overspending flexibility

YNAB has a Passionate Following

Check out this recent comment from a reader,

“I have YNAB 3 (beta), and I cannot say enough about this budgeting software. IMO it is the BEST user-friendly budget software I’ve ever bought. It’s worth every penny. I think the four rules are the foundation from which to go by when starting a budget.” – Jo

YNAB Community and Personality

There’s much more to the YNAB website than a download button. The creator of the software, Jesse Mecham (@jessemecham), has developed a large set of online resources to help you. There’s a blog, which he personally contributes to. A series of Whiteboard Wednesday posts where he shares specific budgeting methods and tips. Very real stuff. Also there are support forums, live online classes, an online university, and several videos to view which will show you how the software works.


This software looks like the real deal. To try the YNAB 3 software on your computer, risk free for 30 days, just click the You Need a Budget banner below. You can also download the free trial version.

Avatar About Philip Taylor, CPA

Philip Taylor, aka "PT", is a CPA, blogger, podcaster, husband, and father of three. PT is also the founder and CEO of the personal finance industry conference and trade show, FinCon.

He created Part-Time Money® back in 2007 to share his advice on money, hold himself accountable (while paying off over $75k in debt), and to meet others passionate about moving toward financial independence.


    Speak Your Mind


  1. PT, I’ve been using this software for a few years now, and recently purchased the most recent version. I completely agree with your review. As long as users don’t buy it, expecting that it will be a complete financial management program, it works great.

    There’s a bit of a learning curve, though, even with the budgeting aspect. But I’d highly recommend it to people who don’t mind taking a little time to learn a software program.