YNAB: Not For Lower Class

I already talked twice about my short experiences with the software You Need A Budget. I was able to get a free year for being a student, so I decided I’ll keep it. The company, on the other hand, can bite my dust.

Apparently, I have an improper definition of the word “budget”. I always thought budgeting was to manage your money. At least, that’s what I and everyone I know does with it.

But apparently, YNAB is to manage your behavior.

Let me put it this way: if your annual salary has six figures, you don’t have a money problem.

More so, I notice a lot of users who worship the ground YNAB walks on couldn’t fight their way out of a paper bag. It’s a nice tool – I believe that – but I question how some of these people get dressed without help.

One comment I recently read was from a user who claimed she used Mint for ten years and would cry when she looked at it because she could never figure out where her money was going.

I have Mint, and it tells you that. Really, it does. That’s kind of its point. But unless you use only use physical cash, your bank account’s history will tell you where your money is going. Again, I would know because I’ve had a bank account for nearly a decade. I don’t know how long the history extends for each bank, but mine goes back seven years.

There’s no way that user didn’t know where her money was going. More likely scenario is she knew and didn’t want to acknowledge it.

Another recent comment was, at least, truthful.

I no longer have weekly panic attacks over money. I used to ignore my bank account and just wait for overdraft emails because I was too afraid to check the account to confront my wasteful spending.


I’m not knocking anyone finding what works for them, but both of these people needed  counseling, and I’d wager many other users do as well. How can you recognize you’re acting like a twit and continue to act like a twit?!

Nobody answer that.

I came to find, in my opinion, the company as a whole is tone deaf. Maybe that’s not a surprise. It’s for profit, not charity. I have the physical book and while it has some good advice, I did not read it in its entirety for two reasons.

  • The author tells far too many anecdotes. I skipped over a lot of content because I tired of stories about his neighbors.
  • A lot of it is only applicable if you’re at least middle class.

As an example, something that really got on my nerves is his motto of “debt is never an option”. He’s entitled to his opinion, but I’m equally entitled to mine, and I think that motto is garbage.

If he was referring only to debt like credit cards, I’d still disagree, but I would find it reasonable. But he means no debt whatsoever… despite he has a mortgage.

Find me a doctor, a lawyer, a veterinarian, a dentist, or a person in any profession that takes more than the standard four years who didn’t take out loans, and get back to me. Ask them if they regret that career while they’re at it.

My local community college charges $10,560 for one year, and that’s solely the tuition. Minimum wage in my state is $10/hr and after taxes, a full-time worker is likely bringing home only around $15,000. And scholarships are luck-based (talk to my straight A best friend about that one). In other words, I wish the 18-year-old trying to pay for college without financial aid a ton of luck.

Yes, I think student loans can be better handled, but unless someone does the stereotypical “$100K for a degree in underwater basket weaving” (and that is a real degree!), student loans aren’t that horrid of a debt. Life is easier without them – big duh – but they’re not terrible for financing an education if you don’t take more than you need.

Also, sometimes, stuff happens. I want to know the person who can pay for $10,000 worth of dental work upfront in cash before the dentist simply has to say “screw it” and remove their teeth. Or the $25,000 medical bill because you broke your arm and your insurance doesn’t want to cover it (can you guess I live in the US?). Health problems aren’t exactly patient. Sometimes, it’s debt or (very slowly) die. Take your pick.

I reiterate: YNAB is a nice tool. It’s useful, and I find it to be a similar case to the game, The Sims. It’s not the only budget tool to exist, but it’s one of a kind in the same vein The Sims isn’t the only simulation game, but has no viable competition. Still, I advise the actually financially struggling group to avoid it.

There is one thing I can’t find to ever be addressed and that is sometimes, you simply don’t have enough. Sometimes, the problem really is you need more money. No matter how perfect you are at budgeting, if you don’t have enough, you don’t have enough.

Someone in the subreddit proposed the idea YNAB being associated with low-income folk wouldn’t be a good look, and sadly, they’re likely right when you consider how people on that side of the scale are regarded.

If you have a behavior problem, not a money problem, go for it. If you have a money issue, look elsewhere or pirate YNAB 4.

Well, That Was A Bust

11/1/2021 Update: As of Dec 1st, YNAB is increasing their pricing. Their year subscription will go from $84 to $99. I barely considered $85 worth it. $99 absolutely isn’t. I cancelled my subscription, though I will use YNAB until the day it expires for the assign feature. YNAB was a big bust for me. Oh, well.

Rarely do I prove myself wrong within a week’s time. That happens a lot, but rarely within a short time period.

Okay, not totally wrong. The YNAB software is still okay, though I find myself not really caring for their rule of “give every dollar a job”. Lately, I leave money to be assigned because I’ll move it sooner or later.

I’m referring to the YNAB community. That proved to be a bust. Of course, maybe my mistake was trusting Reddit. Yes, them.

The story here is YNAB, for a reason I’ll never understand, auto-imported the interest on one of my credit cards… two days late. I asked a question on the YNAB subreddit about why YNAB thinks the interest was unpaid for when that’s exactly what the credit card payment (that YNAB never auto-imported; I find that interesting) would cover.

Apparently, I should’ve spoken in kindergarten terms.

Every. Freaking. Answer to my question was made with the assumption 1) I couldn’t have possibly made the payment after the interest charge and 2) I was mad about it. “What the actual fuck” is an understatement. I was already on edge with this community because someone condescendingly asked if I’ll really not spend any money in two days (just because that’s beyond your capabilities doesn’t mean it’s beyond mine), and this event murdered any and all desire to be a part of this community. And of course, I was the bad person for finally snapping and getting frustrated over needing to repeat myself no less than ten times. Sheesh.

The real answer turned out to be YNAB can’t recognize charges like that. All charges are treated like I bought something. Why someone couldn’t say that and call it a day is beyond me.

Mint does this same thing, but worse. Mint takes away any charges after the payment from the payment. So, even if I put $200 on my credit card, if I charged $10 to it a week later, Mint will think that $10 came from the $200 payment and say I paid only $190.

That’s… that’s not how credit cards work. And people pay for these intellectually stupid apps?

Yes, they do, including me. Well, I said their customer service was great. You see what three years in retail did to me?

In the end, I fixed the problem myself, but it took me well over an hour to get it sorted. I ended up leaving a 1-star review on the Android app for the frustration. Maybe I should’ve asked customer service to start with.

I’ve gotten somewhat hooked on their videos and guides, and I’m interested in their book. I wish, however, their “inspirational” stories didn’t consist of people making over twice my salary and six figures. I’ve been homeless. My family lived on waffles and water one summer when I was a teenager. We lived in crap apartments all our lives. I am not inspired by people whose biggest problems in life amount to having too much money, and they needed YNAB to know how to plan their sixth vacation of the year.

Where are the stories about how YNAB helped someone living on less than $20,000 a year? Helped someone budget the tiny bit of spending money they have left after bills? Heck, I’m not a fan of teenage parent stories*, yet I’d prefer those to “we make $200K and don’t know what to do with ourselves”. Tell me how YNAB helped a college student from a poor background not live on ramen noodles.

(*I feel they’re “glossy”, to say the least; I recently read one from a woman who had her first child at age 13, and let’s just say I’m not a fan of the idea that 13-year-olds, or teens of any age, who don’t become parents are, ahem, immature. It does make me wonder if I missed out on something, though. I’ve never had the desire to be a parent, but I briefly had baby fever as a teenager. What? I’m human. I like praise and presents as much as everyone else.)

I’ll continue to use the software, but my very brief time with the community is done. At least, on Reddit. YouTube is rather good. I can’t believe I said that.

My Attempt At YNAB

Since April, I kept a budget, and since I have a strange enjoyment of organizing, it turned out to be easier than I thought. I became interested in YNAB because I wanted to know 1) why anyone would pay for a budgeting app when, even if you suck at spreadsheets, free apps exist (like the one I keep my budget in) and 2) if it’s as life-changing as the claims… claim.

I signed up, but changed my mind, so left the account. However, I forgot to delete it, so the free trial was close to running out when I remembered I had it. I started using it at the end of August. So far, it’s… meh.

Apparently, it’s based on a budget strategy called the envelope system, and I think real envelopes might be more useful (not that I keep envelopes anywhere). I essentially do the same thing I do with the free app I use. The one annoyance I have is I cannot budget my paychecks until I am paid. Considering I have my budget planned to the end of November, this is extremely irritating to me, so my budget in YNAB is not planned to the extent it is in the other app.

The reason I say real envelopes might be more useful is I move money around a lot. Apparently, this is encouraged, but since I can easily attain extra money if I want it, I alternate between categories like I’m playing with a pinball machine.

Supposedly, the idea is not to budget future money because anything could happen and you may not get that paycheck. Frankly, I want to know what crap jobs people are working for that to be a concern. Even when I worked in retail – a job that made me borderline suicidal – I never had to worry about not being paid. If the concern is losing your job, that’s different, but that would throw most people for a loop anyway.

All this said, I don’t think YNAB is bad. I enjoy playing around with it more than I probably should and, similar to why I use Mint (solely for my credit cards and student loans), it’s nice to see my accounts in one place. Speaking of which, the reason I was initially turned off by YNAB is they take a shot at Mint in their advertising. I’m not a fan of childish advertising, but I guess competition is nothing new.

The one thing I can praise YNAB for is customer service. I submitted a question to ask why I couldn’t connect one of my credit card. I got much more thorough answer than expected and an additional two weeks for my free trial, which I didn’t request or expect. Can’t argue with good service. I considered subscribing, so they ultimately cemented the decision.

I wonder if I’m doing it wrong. Even if moving between categories is encouraged, I can’t imagine you’re supposed to treat the software like a pinball game.

Only a week and a half passed since I began using YNAB, so I will give it more time. Some users are veterans of this software, so I suppose it’ll take a lot of time.

The Autobiography of a Self-Proclaimed Monster

As my lack of posts may indicate, my life hasn’t recently been eventful. That’s a good thing. Some things happened, but nothing I deemed worth posting about. Unfortunately, yesterday, I found something to rant about.

Yes, “unfortunately”. That’s why it’s a rant. But it’s a topic that boiled me.

I talked about the childfree subreddit two years ago, and why I’m done with it. However, I’m still part of Reddit, and every so often, that sub comes up. Today, a post (that has since been deleted, but is still viewable) was made that’s a clear reminder of why that sub is deserving of the immense hate it receives in other places.

I can’t tell you why I chose to write about this, of all things. Maybe I’m too sensitive. Speaking of which, I will give a warning for sensitive material. Please read no further if the subjects of narcissism and abuse are a trigger for you, or if you recently ate.
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Nine Years Ago

No words. Only acknowledgement. My blog started nine years ago and still exists. Yes, I’m surprised. But happy.