Author Topic: YNAB without YNAB?  (Read 2050 times)

ANewLeaf

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YNAB without YNAB?
« on: May 11, 2018, 09:59:20 AM »
Hi folks, as the username suggests, I'm trying to turn over a new leaf financially.  We bought YNAB a number of years ago (v. 3 I think?) and really got a lot out of it.  I really liked being able to allot my budget amounts in their categories in real time especially.

But life got in the way with a couple of emergencies and I couldn't figure out how to maintain YNAB and dropped it. Then, a year later I went back to try a do-over, but they had upgraded to 4 and we had technical issues trying to get it set up again, we got frustrated and dropped it. Now they've gone to the subscription model, I think? Which I'm not interested in.

But now I do want get organized again, so I'm looking at my options.  It sounds silly, but the only tracking I've consistently kept up with over the years is pen and paper.  Is there a way I could use a ledger or another system like that to do the same (similar) functions as YNAB?  DH is on board the low tech.  Or is there another way to approach this dilemma?

midweststache

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Re: YNAB without YNAB?
« Reply #1 on: May 11, 2018, 10:21:45 AM »
If either of you are Excel-savvy, you could set up a series of basic Excel sheets for your various accounts (a la YNAB accounts) to serve as ledgers, and then have a "Main Page" that is connected to each subsequent sheet and gives you a general run-down of your accounts, same as the left side bar on YNAB does, using various Excel formulas.

If you're SUPER Excel-savvy, I bet there's even a way to add in the relevant charts and stuff, but that would go WAY, WAY beyond my pay-grade...

inline five

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Re: YNAB without YNAB?
« Reply #2 on: May 11, 2018, 10:30:15 AM »
Personal Capital has a nice spending track feature as well. We mostly use it as a way of tracking spending over time to see trends and where we can cut back or areas that we might need to focus on.

Serious question if gas goes up in price and you go above budget do you walk (the 10 miles) to work?

Of course not right? Same goes for food, it's May 25th and you have no food at home do you not eat for a week?

Budgets are kinda stupid in that regard.

apkanne

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Re: YNAB without YNAB?
« Reply #3 on: May 11, 2018, 11:03:29 AM »
I use Personal Capital to view all my ins/outs in one place. Then I budget/track spending using the free version of everydollar, which is practically a written budget with a calculator built in. Its a dave ramsey product using the "Everydollar gets a job" type budgeting.

terran

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Re: YNAB without YNAB?
« Reply #4 on: May 11, 2018, 11:04:22 AM »
I'm still using ynab 4, and I think you can still download it, so if you have a license you could try that again.

hadabeardonce

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Re: YNAB without YNAB?
« Reply #5 on: May 11, 2018, 11:22:19 AM »
Mint is free - I use it for keeping track of household expenses, account balances, net worth...
Personal Capital is free - I use it for seeing investment details(allocation, sectors, expenses) across all accounts. It has a slick retirement plan estimator too.
Excel isn't free - I export *.csv files from Mint and use excel to analyze the data using my own calculations, graphs, conditional formatting, etc.

Apache OpenOffice and Google docs would give you a free spreadsheet application.

I've never used YNAB.

asiljoy

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Re: YNAB without YNAB?
« Reply #6 on: May 11, 2018, 12:06:04 PM »
I'm reasonably sure if you dig through the forums someone developed a ynab-esc excel template that they were sharing.

Nicholas Carter

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Re: YNAB without YNAB?
« Reply #7 on: May 11, 2018, 12:13:06 PM »
[If] it's May 25th and you have no food at home do you not eat for a week?

Budgets are kinda stupid in that regard.
No, but I do change what I'm eating. This is why hamburgers and fish filets are at the start of the monthly food plan, and steak and shrimp is at the end of it. If some big emergency cuts into the food budget, then steak and shrimp just turns into franks and beans. (The kind of emergency that would completely deplete not just emergency savings, but also all available credit and literally all money in the budgets, is probably an emergency so big that budgeting around it is pointless.

Dabnasty

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Re: YNAB without YNAB?
« Reply #8 on: May 11, 2018, 12:19:58 PM »
I've used this for a few years:

https://pearbudget.com/spreadsheet/

With a few modifications I made. It's just an excel workbook so everything needs to be entered manually but if you're currently using pen and paper that's probably not an issue for you. I actually don't put numbers into the budgets, I just let everything go into the red when I spend (in other words the budget for everything is zero) but it looks like using the budget aspect would work well.

I prefer an excel sheet with less automation so that I can play around with the numbers and it makes it a bit easier to edit things. I will say that when I first downloaded this one I thought it looked a bit messy but once you read through the intro page once everything falls into place.

hadabeardonce

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Re: YNAB without YNAB?
« Reply #9 on: May 11, 2018, 12:23:46 PM »
[If] it's May 25th and you have no food at home do you not eat for a week?

Budgets are kinda stupid in that regard.
No, but I do change what I'm eating. This is why hamburgers and fish filets are at the start of the monthly food plan, and steak and shrimp is at the end of it. If some big emergency cuts into the food budget, then steak and shrimp just turns into franks and beans. (The kind of emergency that would completely deplete not just emergency savings, but also all available credit and literally all money in the budgets, is probably an emergency so big that budgeting around it is pointless.
Maintaining a habit probably works out better. Our household eating habits are the same throughout the month. When we find ourselves under our average spending(under budget), we celebrate by saving that money- not by spending up to the amount we set.

I pride myself on being an expense tracker who strives to be consistently below average.

Nicholas Carter

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Re: YNAB without YNAB?
« Reply #10 on: May 11, 2018, 12:42:18 PM »
It's a worthy goal to always shoot under budget. I do so myself.
But I think you misunderstand me: I budget to eat steak at the end of the month, because I want to eat steak every month. I schedule the steak at the end of the month because I use my luxury food budget as a secondary emergency fund.

dogboyslim

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Re: YNAB without YNAB?
« Reply #11 on: May 11, 2018, 03:18:58 PM »
I use YNAB.  Its $50 a year.

I could create a spreadsheet that does everything YNAB does from a budgeting perspective, as I have a ton of Excel and VBA experience.  I don't though, I pay the $50.  It works as well as anything I'd do, the auto-import features work more often than not, and someone else does all the research to fix bugs instead of me.

If your goal is to do it yourself for the sake of doing it yourself, I say go for it, but the time I save by using YNAB lets me do other things that give me more than $50 a year.

ANewLeaf

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Re: YNAB without YNAB?
« Reply #12 on: May 11, 2018, 08:59:15 PM »
Thanks everyone.  I'm in Canada, so no Personal Capital option, but my bank does have something similar that I've been considering using for tracking.  I don't think it has YNAB's ability to allocate dollars.  I appreciate the Excel tips; that's definitely an option.

We've budgeted for years, but I find we're just too flexible with budgets and have no trouble justifying extra spending. The real time feedback that YNAB gives was really helpful, but at the time the technological frustrations turned us off.  It's been a couple of years, though, so I will poke around and see what might be workable.

Dogboyslim, I was hoping for something a little simpler than YNAB, I think. Without all the cell phone syncing and reporting, just a way to use pen and paper in a slightly more sophisticated way?

Thanks for all of your thoughts!

MayDay

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Re: YNAB without YNAB?
« Reply #13 on: May 12, 2018, 05:35:29 AM »
I'm curious too. I am still using YNAB 3 and I don't know what I'll do when we replace the computer.

I won't do an online one so I'll probably end up with n Excel spreadsheet of some kind. YNAB is far superior to the old Excel spreadsheet I used to use so I am not looking forward to it.

midweststache

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Re: YNAB without YNAB?
« Reply #14 on: May 12, 2018, 05:45:44 AM »
I use YNAB.  Its $50 a year.

I could create a spreadsheet that does everything YNAB does from a budgeting perspective, as I have a ton of Excel and VBA experience.  I don't though, I pay the $50.  It works as well as anything I'd do, the auto-import features work more often than not, and someone else does all the research to fix bugs instead of me.

If your goal is to do it yourself for the sake of doing it yourself, I say go for it, but the time I save by using YNAB lets me do other things that give me more than $50 a year.

Did you also use the desktop program when it was available? I did the trial of the online system, and for whatever reason it was a lot more difficult to wrap my head around--my numbers weren't coming out right from the sync-up, and it wasn't capturing my totals in the same way the desktop program did--I think part of it is sometimes it would pull from 'credit card' balances on my budget that don't exist there on my desktop program, but I couldn't figure out how to delete on the online application...

So I guess my real question is, if you did use the desktop how long did it take for you to get used to the online program?

*Because someday YNAB 4 will die and it will break my stone-cold heart...

Dr Kidstache

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Re: YNAB without YNAB?
« Reply #15 on: May 12, 2018, 02:16:28 PM »
I second the Pear Budget recommendation. It's what I used back in the day before YNAB. Free, basic, gets the job done.

life_travel

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Re: YNAB without YNAB?
« Reply #16 on: May 13, 2018, 06:59:51 AM »
I never used YNAB Classic but was using pen and paper like you . However the inability to see running budget was definitely hindering our progress :)
I was put off even trying new YNAB because people kept commenting how it was so different than desktop version , too complicated , etc
Then one day I thought , you know what ? I'm going to give it a go and make up my own mind .
But keeping negative feedback in mind during 34 day free trial I've watched ALL videos on their site and read every single faq. I just wanted to give it a proper go ! :)
Well it worked ! I found it to be easy , logical , beautiful interface , syncs between my phone and laptop , I love it!!!
I enter all my transactions manually so there no is miscategorizing , it saved us WAY WAY more than $6 per month .
I look back nostalgically on my pen and paper days but there is no going back for me .

Malkynn

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Re: YNAB without YNAB?
« Reply #17 on: May 13, 2018, 07:04:33 AM »
Do you want to just track or do you want to budget. Those are two separate things.

Dollarbird is a very simple tracking app, you could try that.

NowClear

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Re: YNAB without YNAB?
« Reply #18 on: May 13, 2018, 02:21:59 PM »
I used old YNAB and have since made the switch over to new, online YNAB.

Honestly, I love new YNAB. It took me about a month to get used to new YNAB, and I think it worked better for me to "start fresh" with new YNAB as opposed to importing my old YNAB budget. I didn't have any of the syncing problems you report. You may want to brush up on credit cards through their training programs since those are handled differently (to my mind, in a superior way) than old YNAB.

I also don't know when you tried new YNAB, but they've made quite a few updates in the two years or so new YNAB has been running. It might feel different to you now than it did when you first tried it.

YNAB has saved me so much money and works so well for me that the subscription cost is well worth it. Your mileage may vary.

Monkey Uncle

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Re: YNAB without YNAB?
« Reply #19 on: May 14, 2018, 05:18:25 AM »
I use a fairly simple self-designed Excel workbook.  My raw data worksheet has the following columns:

Date   Vendor   Type   Category   Subcategory   Item   Amount

"Type" refers to recurring vs. discretionary expenditures.

On another worksheet tab, I use a pivot table to keep a rolling 365-day summary by Type, Category, and Subcategory.  Expenses are entered in the raw data worksheet daily, and then the pivot table is updated by adding the current day to the summary and dropping the oldest day.  So the summary is always showing me spending for the last 365 days.  I don't have a budget for each category or subcategory; rather, I strive to keep the total 365-day expenditure within a pre-determined allowance.  If it gets out of whack, I look into the categories and subcategories to see where I'm overspending and try to cut that back.

It's simple, free (assuming you already have Excel), and it works for me.  If you don't know how to construct pivot tables, it's pretty simple.  I'm sure there are youtube videos that demonstrate the process.  The key for me is keeping up with entering expenses on a daily basis.  If I let it go for a week, it becomes too onerous.  But if you're already keeping track with pen and paper, it shouldn't be difficult for you to do daily spreadsheet entries.

dogboyslim

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Re: YNAB without YNAB?
« Reply #20 on: May 14, 2018, 07:51:47 AM »
So I guess my real question is, if you did use the desktop how long did it take for you to get used to the online program?

No, I've only used the online version.  Wife and I were using a virtual Dave Ramsey envelope system in Excel prior to using so it very much just clicked.  Took a while before the auto downloads worked, but I just entered transactions manually until they worked.  Best feature is that both of us have access to the budget at all times vs. having the spreadsheet back at home.

Arbitrage

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Re: YNAB without YNAB?
« Reply #21 on: May 15, 2018, 02:23:35 PM »
Got YNAB Classic (used to be YNAB 4, I think) for $15 during a Steam Sale.  Works great.  No desire to drop $50 a year or whatever on it.  If it dies, maybe I'll look more seriously into Personal Capital - really don't want to give out a bunch of my passwords - or perhaps just spreadsheet it myself; I already have other planning spreadsheets.

lateralwire

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Re: YNAB without YNAB?
« Reply #22 on: May 15, 2018, 05:46:14 PM »
I use YNAB primarily for the integration with my bank accounts, credit cards, and the mobile app. It makes tracking day to day expenses easier as long as you keep up with it, and it serves as a back up in case I forget to enter the information in the app as I'm going.

I an Excel workbook set up with the exact same budget categories as YNAB, a list of subscriptions, my loan paydown schedule and I use it to project future finances so I can play with cash flow scenarios, measure savings rates, etc. I then true up the numbers for each category at the end of the month in order to keep a tab on what I've spent.

I'd say Excel is a more helpful tool for the big picture, but YNAB is better for tracking the everyday stuff and keeping you honest with yourself. I think YNAB is worth the expense for its customizability (over Mint) and the way it forces you to understand where your money is actually going. Mint is definitely easier and better at being passive, but IMO if you are on this site you probably are more interested in being proactive about your finances.

SweetTPie

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Re: YNAB without YNAB?
« Reply #23 on: May 16, 2018, 05:05:38 PM »
I use a ledger system in Google Sheets.  You have to enter everything by hand, but it's basically the electronic version of pen and paper, with the bonus of having the month and year totaled up for you.  Because it's also google, it's on my phone via Drives, so theoretically I can check how much has been spent up to then at any time.

I've modified mine over the years, but the original template is called Personal-Budget-Planner-Extended.

ANewLeaf

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Re: YNAB without YNAB?
« Reply #24 on: May 16, 2018, 09:59:43 PM »
SweetTPie, thanks for that super-smart idea! I don't have any idea why it never occurred to me that we already have software that syncs to our phones. Duh! 🙂