Author Topic: YNAB users - what makes it so great?  (Read 9305 times)

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YNAB users - what makes it so great?
« on: November 24, 2012, 04:42:22 PM »
Hi everyone,

I've been using iBank for awhile, and it's fine for most things (investments aren't handled so well, unfortunately) but trying to get DW on board with some more Mustachian budgeting. She's never been one for sticking to a budget - it doesn't seem flexible enough to her - and complains with all of the financial information on iBank at home on the computer, she doesn't have real insight into how we're doing against our financial goals, so it's harder to think about choices and tradeoffs in the moment.

I've been considering YNAB because of its popularity here, and because it's synced via the cloud with decent-looking mobile applications. Why do you like it, and what works for you?

I'm particularly interested in anyone who can give insight on what YNAB means when they say, on their web site:

Quote
Most budget software asks you to guess a number on the 1st, inevitably leaving you to feel guilty on the 31st because you guessed wrong. YNAB is a new kind of budget, a flexible 'living budget' that helps you deal with overspending and makes it easy to save for your goals.
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caligulala

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Re: YNAB users - what makes it so great?
« Reply #1 on: November 24, 2012, 05:42:22 PM »
YNAB is the best. It's how I always thought money should work but didn't know how to put into practice. Best $60 we ever spent, hands down, no doubt.

In regard to your question, YNAB makes it very obvious when you've overspent in real time. For example, you budget $100 for groceries on the 1st. But you saw a great sale on tomatoes and spent $120. YNAB doesn't let you ignore that overspending. You can either address it immediately by taking money from another category to cover it (Whack-a-mole in YNAB speak) or it automatically subtracts your overspend from your available amount to budget next month. This is way more brilliant in practice than it might sound.

The best thing for us is that it makes money negotiations very simple in our relationship. We can look at the budget separately and then discuss how to cover anything that comes up. Is getting new lights for the bike more important than going out to dinner with our friends? Maybe it's best to wait until next month for lights. Or both are important to us, but we have extra money in our travel category so we'll reassign some dollars. YNAB makes all your options visible.

There is a 34 day trial, so you can always try it out to see if it works for you guys. The forums are super friendly and helpful while you are working out the methodology.

Will

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Re: YNAB users - what makes it so great?
« Reply #2 on: November 24, 2012, 09:06:04 PM »
I will echo what caligulala says.  You'll see both of us on the forums over there too.  Anyhow, I think the best thing you can do is try the free trial and see for yourself what makes it so great.  It was just a year ago (I actually bought my software last year on Cyber Monday, on sale!) that I started in YNAB and my finances are in so much better shape, that I can barely believe it myself. 
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smalllife

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Re: YNAB users - what makes it so great?
« Reply #3 on: November 25, 2012, 08:31:00 AM »
I second the others.  YNAB is great for forcing you to make decisions about your money.  It also is extremely flexible so that you can make it work for YOU rather than the mythological end user.  But I think the biggest selling point is the 34 day trial (note that it is 34 days, enough to cover an entire month and one time switching to the new month). 

It's not perfect, but it is well worth the money and is by far the best budgeting tool I've seen.
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Khao

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Re: YNAB users - what makes it so great?
« Reply #4 on: November 26, 2012, 08:35:10 AM »
I'd love to try YNAB but it seems like this only works when you download and install their software. Is that true? Can you use it only from the web?

I love Mint because it's 100% web based so I can always check it out. Also, I'm always using a bunch of different computers (2 laptops, 1 chromebook, iPad, android phone and work desktop) so using a web app is by far my preferred way of doing this. Since you can't install normal software on a Chromebook (which is my favorite device) it would really be impossible for me to get used to YNAB.

kudy

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Re: YNAB users - what makes it so great?
« Reply #5 on: November 26, 2012, 09:15:40 AM »
Was hoping they'd have a cyber monday sale again this year, but doesn't look like it's going to happen :(

smalllife

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Re: YNAB users - what makes it so great?
« Reply #6 on: November 26, 2012, 04:13:45 PM »
@Khao: they have cloudsync now, so you can have the program open on multiple devices.  YNAB actually is not a web app but a piece of software that connects to Dropbox for backup and syncing with mobile or other devices.   I'm not sure what a Chromebook is though.

@kudy: I waited until the very end of my trial session and they gave me the $40 sale price as an enticement to buy.  I don't know if that is universal however.  With the new release of YNAB4 I'm not terribly surprised at the lack of a Cyber Monday sale.
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Khao

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Re: YNAB users - what makes it so great?
« Reply #7 on: November 26, 2012, 06:56:56 PM »
A Chromebook is a tiny laptop with pretty much nothing but Google Chrome on it so you can browse the net but you can't install anything. You can see it here : http://www.google.com/intl/en_ca/chrome/devices/

Since I'm using this nearly all the time it's hard to consider using a budgeting app that you need a Windows pc or a Mac to run.

kudy

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Re: YNAB users - what makes it so great?
« Reply #8 on: November 27, 2012, 10:32:33 AM »
@kudy: I waited until the very end of my trial session and they gave me the $40 sale price as an enticement to buy.  I don't know if that is universal however.  With the new release of YNAB4 I'm not terribly surprised at the lack of a Cyber Monday sale.

Interesting... hope they give me the teaser price too. Helped my sister set up a budget using YNAB yesterday, I am liking it so far.

C40

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Re: YNAB users - what makes it so great?
« Reply #9 on: November 27, 2012, 04:51:55 PM »
I was thinking about trying it out, it until I clicked the Purchase link on the website to check the price first..

Sixty dollars.

SIXTY FREAKIN' DOLLARS !!!

For a simple little budget program... what !?!?  (I suppose it's not the simplest thing around since it appears the data is stored online so you can use different devices)


Maybe I should partner up with a programmer or two and create a budget software product myself.






« Last Edit: November 27, 2012, 05:22:27 PM by C40 »

Khao

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Re: YNAB users - what makes it so great?
« Reply #10 on: November 27, 2012, 05:21:32 PM »
As a software developer, I don't see anything wrong with paying $60 for quality software that you're going to use often. These guys need to make a living you know? A software like this can easily take 1-2 years to create and it's constantly being updated to fix bugs and add new features to it.

swiper

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Re: YNAB users - what makes it so great?
« Reply #11 on: November 27, 2012, 05:28:40 PM »
I was thinking about trying it out, it until I clicked the Purchase link on the website to check the price first..

Sixty dollars.

SIXTY FREAKIN' DOLLARS !!!

For a simple little budget program... what !?!?  (I suppose it's not the simplest thing around since it appears the data is stored online so you can use different devices)


Maybe I should partner up with a programmer or two and create a budget software product myself.


lol yeah! Cause you know, the software really just writes/test/markets/improves itself!

TLV

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Re: YNAB users - what makes it so great?
« Reply #12 on: November 27, 2012, 05:42:00 PM »
As a software developer, I don't see anything wrong with paying $60 for quality software that you're going to use often. These guys need to make a living you know? A software like this can easily take 1-2 years to create and it's constantly being updated to fix bugs and add new features to it.

+1. Software is often much more complex than a lay-person would expect. Think of it like buying a car, but where nano-technology has been perfected so copies can be made cheaply. The development costs are still high despite the low marginal cost, so depending on the market size the price must be much higher than marginal cost in order to cover R&D.

Will

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Re: YNAB users - what makes it so great?
« Reply #13 on: November 27, 2012, 05:58:27 PM »
I was thinking about trying it out, it until I clicked the Purchase link on the website to check the price first..

Sixty dollars.

SIXTY FREAKIN' DOLLARS !!!

For a simple little budget program... what !?!?  (I suppose it's not the simplest thing around since it appears the data is stored online so you can use different devices)


Maybe I should partner up with a programmer or two and create a budget software product myself.

If you try it for 34 days and don't see the value of it, then don't buy it.  Although if you don't, on that 35th day, you'll probably wish you did.
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Want YNAB for $6 off? Use this:  http://ynab.refr.cc/89THXPM

C40

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Re: YNAB users - what makes it so great?
« Reply #14 on: November 27, 2012, 06:05:17 PM »
A budget program is fairly simple.. I've made detailed budget files myself using Excel, Apple Numbers, and Google spreadsheets. I've also had people at work create programs for me that are similar to this. It doesn't take them anywhere near a year to make them (I'm setting them up with pretty thorough data/structure needs from the start.. and there are some parts the guys at work already have set up - things like user access and security, servers/storage, erc). What they make for me at work is certainly not as complete finished product as this, but compared to other software that costs $60 (very complex games), a budget program seems quite simple.

As software engineers, you guys know way more about this stuff than I ever will, and I suppose my initial instincts aren't good enough to fully comprehend the amount of work it takes to make a 100% polished product like this.

Much of my sticker shock comes from me being very frugal. I'm an excel whiz and can whip up nearly everything I've imagined for tracking and displaying my finances with Excel. So paying $60 for something I'm already doing isn't appealing.. I guess for folks who aren't good at spreadsheet programs and/or don't already even have one, spending $60 is a lot easier than buying Excel AND becoming good at it.

Edit: Just to be clear, I've never used YNAB - so don't make a decision not to try it yourself based off what I'm saying..
« Last Edit: November 27, 2012, 06:16:12 PM by C40 »

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Re: YNAB users - what makes it so great?
« Reply #15 on: November 27, 2012, 06:26:32 PM »
A budget program is fairly simple.. I've made detailed budget files myself using Excel, Apple Numbers, and Google spreadsheets. I've also had people at work create programs for me that are similar to this. It doesn't take them anywhere near a year to make them (I'm setting them up with pretty thorough data/structure needs from the start.. and there are some parts the guys at work already have set up - things like user access and security, servers/storage, erc). What they make for me at work is certainly not as complete finished product as this, but compared to other software that costs $60 (very complex games), a budget program seems quite simple.

As software engineers, you guys know way more about this stuff than I ever will, and I suppose my initial instincts aren't good enough to fully comprehend the amount of work it takes to make a 100% polished product like this.

Much of my sticker shock comes from me being very frugal. I'm an excel whiz and can whip up nearly everything I've imagined for tracking and displaying my finances with Excel. So paying $60 for something I'm already doing isn't appealing.. I guess for folks who aren't good at spreadsheet programs and/or don't already even have one, spending $60 is a lot easier than buying Excel AND becoming good at it.

Edit: Just to be clear, I've never used YNAB - so don't make a decision not to try it yourself based off what I'm saying..

Specialized software has a smaller user base and hence less sales to spread the cost of the design/product cycle. I assume YNAB likely has around 1-3 core designers and a small team of part-time coders/testers. btw, i work on said "complex games" and I can tell you they aren't all that complicated; many parts are licensed out, or reused from past titles.

IMHO, YNAB is slick, original and has decent smart phone clients. In the end your valuation of the sticker price may differ, but judging by the positive reviews in this thread and ever time YNAB mentioned on this forum, why not try the free trial and decide for yourself?






C40

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Re: YNAB users - what makes it so great?
« Reply #16 on: November 27, 2012, 06:35:57 PM »
I see.. I probably will try it out one of these days. I guess if I like so much that I want to spend the money, it will be much much better than what I can make in excel. If I don't want to buy it, I should still get some good ideas about how to improve my own excel budget file.

I'm probably a rare breed; I think it's fun using Excel, so I enjoy building, using, and improving my budget file.
« Last Edit: November 27, 2012, 06:38:38 PM by C40 »

Will

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Re: YNAB users - what makes it so great?
« Reply #17 on: November 27, 2012, 06:54:34 PM »
C40-

One thing to keep in mind is that there is more to it than just the software.  There is a whole paradigm shift, a new thought process involving the methodology of budgeting using YNAB.  It isn't like other "budgeting" software or tracking that you might do on your own spreadsheet.  It doesn't just show you a graph and say "You budgeted $100 at the beginning of the month and you spent $125," and then that it is it.  It makes you address that and come up with the $25 from somewhere.  It is much more proactive than reactive. 

And the forums over there have some of the nicest people you will ever find.
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C40

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Re: YNAB users - what makes it so great?
« Reply #18 on: November 27, 2012, 07:04:50 PM »
That's cool.

I don't have my budget file set up that way at the moment, and that might be my first good idea to try out. (It is certainly something you can do in Excel)

And I definitely like nice people :-)


StashtasticMomo

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Re: YNAB users - what makes it so great?
« Reply #19 on: December 18, 2012, 03:44:01 PM »
Hi. YNAB is a useful tool however to be objective there are reasons to pause and not purchase it. Personally found it a year ago but was not enamoured due to the lack of accounts autosyncing and no investments and net worth tracking.

Definitely agree with the four rules but these are not new concepts to everyone. Concur with the mindset change, how each dollar is given a job, and living off of last months income. However, for extremely proactive people who already are living the Mustachian way: a) budgeting/living well below their means, b) debt free, c) aggressively saving, d) maxed out in 401k & Roth contributions, and d) on-track to retire decades early... the value YNAB provides mainly as a budgeting tool is very limited.

Your mileage may vary but for people who experience budgeting challenges YNAB certainly can help guide you in a new direction and change your relationship with how you manage/view your money.

Cheers!
« Last Edit: January 09, 2013, 06:03:14 PM by momo »
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nawhite

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Re: YNAB users - what makes it so great?
« Reply #20 on: December 19, 2012, 04:19:07 PM »
Anxiously awaiting YNAB implementing auto syncing with bank accounts, or Mint implementing realtime budget adjustment. The account auto syncing is more important to me right now so I'm sticking with mint but someday!

Will

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Re: YNAB users - what makes it so great?
« Reply #21 on: December 19, 2012, 09:15:13 PM »
Anxiously awaiting YNAB implementing auto syncing with bank accounts, or Mint implementing realtime budget adjustment. The account auto syncing is more important to me right now so I'm sticking with mint but someday!

There is at least one thread over on the forums for YNAB about how to do an auto sync with PocketSense, but I haven't really paid any attention to them because being physically "hands-on" involved in my own budget is more important to me than just downloading information.
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marz1982

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Re: YNAB users - what makes it so great?
« Reply #22 on: December 29, 2012, 01:52:19 AM »
I'm a big fan of YNAB - been using it for 5 years, starting with their first version after the excel spreadsheet version (Which may still be available for free?).  I upgraded once after that, using a upgrade special for $30. 

You could probably get away with using an fancy excel spreadsheet.

What I like about YNAB :
- Easy to enter transactions, easy to import data directly from my bank account (I download statements in OFX format and it imports it no problems), it also remembers the "Memo/payee" info on each transaction, so I don't have to always select the budget category - only confirm it.  You can take a single transaction and split it into several categories (for grocery shopping, I track how much I spend on groceries, non-food groceries, lunch and snacks, for example)
- Helps to keep track of spending per budget, and during the month  I can easily see if I'm on track or overspending. 
- Good to start allocating a "job for every dollar", for people struggling to get to zero debt, and to plan for future emergencies.  By pre-allocating funds to a category monthly during the year, eg "Car Repairs", you can be prepared for an unexpected car breakdown.
- It can handle credit card accounts, investment accounts and normal cheque/savings accounts.
- Really nice graphs that show what your top expenses are, breakdown of expenses/savings etc.

What I don't like:
- I recently realised, that the "allocate a job for every dollar" basis, meant that I really was "allocating jobs" left, right and centre, and not realising how much I was actually spending.
- Budget doesn't really work for me - I was simply spending whatever I like, and just updating the budget post-fact.
- I don't like how Investment accounts work.  When you transfer funds to an "off-budget" investment account, it appears on the Budget as if it was an "expense" as it flows out of your account.  It makes it difficult to figure out how much you're actually spending vs saving.
- Can take a while to work out the YNAB "quirks" and how the accounts/budget works.

Basically, the situation we are in, we have very low expenses (no kids, no mortgage, 2nd hand car paid for with cash), so we had lots of cash available to get whatever we want.  I used YNAB to keep track of our expenses, but whenever we wanted to buy something we wouldn't really consult "the budget".

I'm now using a separate spreadsheet to keep track of total monthly spending/saving and dividend/interest payouts, and we've planned out a set savings goal.  It also helped to setup automatic transfers to squirrel away our savings instead of keeping it around in the normal account (Makes it tempting to buy something when you have cash available...).

So it is a great application, but not sure if you need it as a Mustachian.  A custom spreadsheet (either download from the Internet or work out how to create one) might work better and be less frustrating to use.

Note - not being in the US, we don't have access to the excellent Mint.com service.  I think if you have access to this you wouldn't really need YNAB to track expenses if you're a Mustachian, unless you really want the YNAB principles guiding your spending as well.

marz1982

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Re: YNAB users - what makes it so great?
« Reply #23 on: December 29, 2012, 01:55:11 AM »
Anxiously awaiting YNAB implementing auto syncing with bank accounts, or Mint implementing realtime budget adjustment. The account auto syncing is more important to me right now so I'm sticking with mint but someday!

For me it's a once-a-week, log onto my back account, select my statement period, export to OFX format and double click on the downloaded file to automatically import into YNAB.  It's pretty easy, but dependent on your bank implementing decent export functionality.  It could be slicker to save some time I guess :)

Budget_Ninja

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Re: YNAB users - what makes it so great?
« Reply #24 on: January 07, 2013, 07:00:40 PM »
...

I'm particularly interested in anyone who can give insight on what YNAB means when they say, on their web site:

Quote
Most budget software asks you to guess a number on the 1st, inevitably leaving you to feel guilty on the 31st because you guessed wrong. YNAB is a new kind of budget, a flexible 'living budget' that helps you deal with overspending and makes it easy to save for your goals.

You allocate your money to spending at some point - your plan.  You spend through the month and if you find you really should have allocated more, you have the option to 'steal' money from some where else.  YNAB is a zero based  envelop budgeting system.  All your money get a job.  You can reassign your workers to other jobs at any time you need to.  In a worst case scenario - where you can't steal from another category (envelop) it will roll over your overspending and deduct it from the next batch of money that comes in.  Kind of like an IOU envelop that your required to pay first if you use it.

GoStumpy

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Re: YNAB users - what makes it so great?
« Reply #25 on: January 07, 2013, 08:25:13 PM »
Hello Budget-Ninja, fancy seeing you here :)

YNAB allows priority changes mid-month.  That is not the case with nearly ever other budget program out there.
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Budget_Ninja

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Re: YNAB users - what makes it so great?
« Reply #26 on: January 07, 2013, 09:19:23 PM »
I was thinking about trying it out, it until I clicked the Purchase link on the website to check the price first..

Sixty dollars.

SIXTY FREAKIN' DOLLARS !!!

....

While I can relate to your concern for cost, I would gladly pay more than this for YNAB retrospectively.  It paid for itself a hundreds of times over in the 16 months I have been using it.  But again that's retrospectively.  When I was trialing it we only had 7 days.  I ended up mocking up a spreadsheet that was comparable but not as easy to use (VBA and such).  Once hooked on the method the $60 came a lot easier.  I think now with the 30+ day free trial I might not have bothered with a spreadsheet, but I really wanted to be sure the method would work for me and my wife before dropping $60 on it.  My wife was already giving me a hard time about buying Quicken... again....

Budget_Ninja

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Re: YNAB users - what makes it so great?
« Reply #27 on: January 07, 2013, 09:26:06 PM »
...

Much of my sticker shock comes from me being very frugal. I'm an excel whiz and can whip up nearly everything I've imagined for tracking and displaying my finances with Excel. So paying $60 for something I'm already doing isn't appealing.. I guess for folks who aren't good at spreadsheet programs and/or don't already even have one, spending $60 is a lot easier than buying Excel AND becoming good at it.

....

I am good with excel and had YNAB basically replicated with some added touches like scheduling my mortgage payment to reoccur using an amortization schedule.  It was still cumbersome to maintain, especially when you wanted to reorganize categories.  There is really two parts to YNAB.  The program and the methodology.  I am a really big fan of the methodology, you could do it with paper and pen if you wanted, but YNAB is build to support the methodology.  IMO Spending $60 dollars is a lot cheaper than creating it in excel if you value your time. 

Still I have considered trying to make something better in VB.net...  I like to program as a hobby.

Budget_Ninja

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Re: YNAB users - what makes it so great?
« Reply #28 on: January 07, 2013, 09:28:54 PM »
Hello Budget-Ninja, fancy seeing you here :)

YNAB allows priority changes mid-month.  That is not the case with nearly ever other budget program out there.

Ya, saw the MMM referenced a few times so thought I would check it out. 

GoStumpy

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Re: YNAB users - what makes it so great?
« Reply #29 on: January 07, 2013, 10:23:35 PM »
I get a lot of resistance that YNAB costs $60... I suppose I'm one of the few people nowadays that is willing to BUY software... I bought my copy of Windows for $130, I bought many video games for ~$60 each, I can spend the cost of YNAB in ONE MEAL at a restaurant....

"After a lifetime of bad spending decisions, don't scoff at the trivial price of a GOOD spending decision!" - me!

-edit-
Oh, and it's only $54 with a 10% off discount:
www.youneedynab.com


-edit2-

Quote
When you buy YNAB, you're buying more than just software.

That is straight off YNAB's webpage, and it rings so true.  What other software offers unlimited training & support after purchase?  YNAB offers real-time classes via Webinar on many different aspects of using YNAB, beyond just entering transactions...   As well as a very populated forum filled with helpful people!
« Last Edit: January 07, 2013, 10:26:29 PM by GoStumpy »
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arebelspy

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Re: YNAB users - what makes it so great?
« Reply #30 on: January 07, 2013, 10:34:47 PM »
Do you work for YNAB Stumpy?

We get it, you like it.  You posted that, several times, in the Mint thread. 

Others here have recommended it as well.

Although I don't use it myself, I just recommended it to a friend the other day who needed budgeting software.  But I'm not ate sure why you seem to keep posting about it.  One recc. is probably fine.  :)
« Last Edit: January 07, 2013, 10:37:07 PM by arebelspy »
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arebelspy

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Re: YNAB users - what makes it so great?
« Reply #31 on: January 07, 2013, 10:36:51 PM »
It paid for itself a hundreds of times over in the 16 months I have been using it.

You'd pay $12,000 for it?

That's some software!
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Re: YNAB users - what makes it so great?
« Reply #32 on: January 07, 2013, 10:45:45 PM »
Do you work for YNAB Stumpy?


Nope, but I'm on a new forum, coming from YNAB's forum, therefore so far I am talking about something I know about :) 

I don't want to jump into conversations randomly, to begin with I'm picking ones I can add something constructive..... Apologies if I'm coming across pushy!  I can see how it could be seen that way

-edit-

This is "YNAB users - what makes it so great?" thread, is it not??? LOL
« Last Edit: January 07, 2013, 11:17:50 PM by GoStumpy »
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Re: YNAB users - what makes it so great?
« Reply #33 on: January 07, 2013, 10:59:50 PM »
It paid for itself a hundreds of times over in the 16 months I have been using it.

You'd pay $12,000 for it?

That's some software!

?? I didn't say I'd pay 100 times the amount for it.  I said it's paid for itself a hundred times over.

So instead of paying $12,000 dollars for some software, by using the software I have $12,000 + more than I figure I would have with out it.  I actually believe that number to be close to $40,000.  It's not so much the software as it is the change in attitude/spending habits.  Sounds sensational, I guess that is because it is?