If you’ve done any reading on budgeting apps, you’ve almost certainly come across Mint and You Need a Budget (YNAB). These apps are two of the most popular budgeting tools on the market.
If you’re in the market for a new budgeting app, Mint and YNAB may be two of the options you’re considering. And many users find themselves wondering which is better. In this comparison, we’ll discuss the differences and similarities between Mint and YNAB, as well as how to decide which is right for you.
Are Mint and YNAB (You Need a Budget) the Same?
When you’re shopping around for budgeting apps, it’s easy to feel like each option is pretty much the same, just with a different interface and slightly different features. That couldn’t be further from the truth with Mint and YNAB.
Not only are Mint and YNAB two different companies, but the two apps take two entirely different approaches to budgeting. On the one hand, this can make it easier to choose between them since they are so different. However, some people may struggle to choose between the two apps, especially if they’re new to budgeting and aren’t sure which method is best for them.
Mint, which is owned by the company Intuit, provides a simple framework to help you create a monthly budget and track your spending.
You Need a Budget — more commonly known as YNAB — is a budgeting app that helps you to be more proactive and intentional with your spending. Rather than just having you create a budget framework that stays the same from one month to the next, it takes a zero-based budgeting approach to help you budget only the money you have.
YNAB vs. Mint: Key Similarities
As we mentioned, YNAB and Mint have some key differences. However, let’s start by breaking down the similarities between the two budgeting apps.
At their core, YNAB and Mint are both budgeting tools designed to help you set and stick to your budget. Both services allow you to create a target spending amount for each category in your budget. Additionally, each service allows you to track your spending throughout the month to ensure you’re staying on track.
Both YNAB and Mint allow you to connect your budgeting account with your other financial accounts, including your checking and savings accounts, credit cards, loans, and more. These linked accounts make it easy to automatically import and track your expenses, which we’ll talk more about below.
While both accounts allow you to link your accounts, both also allow you to set up a budget and track your expenses without linked accounts. However, YNAB is the only tool that is really designed for this purpose. Users who don’t want to link accounts may find Mint difficult to use.
No matter what type of device you use, either Mint or YNAB should work for you. Both services allow you to manage your budget directly from their website. Additionally, each has an app for both the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.
In addition to their budgeting features, YNAB and Mint also have a few other important features in common:
Expense tracking: As we mentioned, once you link your accounts, both YNAB and Mint will automatically import your expenses. You can categorize these expenses manually in the beginning, and then the apps will automatically categorize them. As expenses come in, both budgeting apps will automatically subtract that amount from your remaining funds available to a specific budgeting category. For example, when one of the apps records a $100 restaurant transaction, it will subtract $100 from your dining out budget.
Net worth tracking: Another feature that both apps offer is the ability to track your net worth. To do this, both apps use your linked accounts. Your linked checking, savings, and investment accounts make up your assets, while your linked debt accounts make up your liabilities. It’s important to note that each app can only accurately track your net worth if you’ve added all of your assets and liabilities, either by linking them or by manually adding them.
Goals tracking: Both YNAB and Mint allow you to set financial goals and track your progress along the way. Whether you’re working to pay off debt or save for a large expense, each budgeting app has a feature to help you.
YNAB vs. Mint: Key Differences
Even more important than YNAB and Mint’s similarities are their differences, these differences are what will set the two apps apart and help you decide which is best for you.
The most important difference between Mint and YNAB is their approach to budgeting.
Mint takes a fairly traditional approach to budgeting. When you set up your account, you’ll be able to establish the spending targets that will follow you through each and every month. You’ll tell Mint your income and expenses for the month, and it will tell you whether you’re sticking to your goals, whether your expenses are realistic based on your income, and how much you have left to spend for the month.
YNAB takes a very different approach to budgeting because it only allows you to budget with the money you actually have. Like Mint, YNAB allows you to set certain spending targets for each category in your budget. But then, you’ll only be able to budget what’s in your bank account.
For example, suppose you get paid twice per month, each paycheck worth $2,000. When you receive your first paycheck, YNAB will show that you have $2,000 to assign to categories. Once you’ve budgeted out the entire $2,000, you won’t be able to budget anymore. Instead, you’ll have to wait until you have more money hit your account.
It may seem like YNAB’s budgeting approach would be more difficult since you can’t budget for the entire month at a time. Instead, YNAB encourages users to budget ahead. The goal is to slowly get ahead in your budget until you’re always using this month’s income to pay for next month’s expenses.
Ease of Use
Mint and YNAB have two very different learning curves. Mint requires considerably less effort on the part of the user. When you first set up your account, you’ll have the opportunity to create your target budget and link your accounts.
From there, almost everything in Mint happens automatically. The same target budget carries forward from one month to the next, and your transactions are automatically imported and categorized to ensure you’re staying on track. For users who want a set-it-and-forget-it system, Mint definitely provides that.
YNAB, on the other hand, has a considerable learning curve. First, you can’t simply set up your budget and watch it run on autopilot. Instead, you have to budget each dollar as it comes in. And it can be confusing to learn how YNAB works when it comes to setting up your spending targets, budgeting your income, rolling money over to the following month, and more.
YNAB is a far more hands-on approach to budgeting, and it’s designed that way on purpose. If you’re someone who has previously enjoyed using a spreadsheet to track your expenses and spending a lot of time in your budget, you will probably appreciate YNAB.
Other Features and Services
Another important difference between Mint and YNAB is the other services and features they offer. YNAB has a more robust budgeting system, but Mint has a few other features for users to enjoy. These features include:
Bill tracking: Mint offers a bill tracker that lets you know how much you’re paying to each company and on which date. Each month, you can look in your Mint app to see which bills are coming up. You’ll also be notified if any of your bills have increased and if Mint detects any added fees.
Subscription management: In addition to tracking your other bills, Mint also makes it easy to manage your subscriptions. You can see a roundup of each subscription you pay for and how much it costs you each month or year.
Credit score monitoring: When you have a Mint account, you’ll also get free credit score monitoring. You can see your score at any time, see the different factors affecting your score, and get tips on how to improve your score. You’ll also receive notifications when something changes on your credit report.
A final important difference between Mint and YNAB is their costs. Mint has a free version that includes nearly all of its features. However, you can also upgrade to a paid subscription to access an ad-free experience, spending projections, subscription cancellation, and more. You’ll pay $0.99 to upgrade to an ad-free experience and $4.99 per month for all of Mint’s premium features.
Unlike Mint, YNAB has a subscription model, and after your free trial, you’ll have to pay to use it. First, you can choose the monthly plan at a price tag of $14.99 per month. You can also switch to an annual plan for $98.99 per year, which offers $80 in savings.
YNAB vs. Mint Alternatives
YNAB and Mint are two of the most popular budgeting apps on the market, but they aren’t the only ones. Some of the other top budgeting apps on the market include Tiller Money, EveryDollar, Quicken, and more. If you’re looking for alternatives to Mind and YNAB, then we’ll dive into how they compare to Personal Capital’s budgeting features below.
Mint and YNAB vs. Personal Capital
Personal Capital is similar to Mint and YNAB in that they all allow you to set up your monthly budget, link your accounts to track your spending, track your net worth, and more.
But there are also some important differences. At their core, Mint and YNAB are designed for budgeting. Each has robust budgeting features, despite using different budgeting methods. Mint offers a set-it-and-forget-it budgeting tool that allows you to set your target budget once and then use it over and over again each month. YNAB, on the other hand, uses a zero-based budgeting approach that requires you to be more proactive and hands-on with where your money is going.
Personal Capital also offers a budgeting tool that makes it easy to connect your bank accounts, track your spending, and see how your income and expenses compare.
But unlike Mint and YNAB, Personal Capital really shines in areas beyond budgeting. Instead, the financial dashboard is designed to help you track your investments and net worth. In addition to being able to track the spending in your checking account, you’ll also be able to track your investment performance. The dashboard also includes other tools to help you manage your finances, including a retirement planner, savings planner, investment fee analyzer, and more.
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Author is not a client of Personal Capital Advisors Corporation and is compensated as a freelance writer.
The content contained in this blog post is intended for general informational purposes only and is not meant to constitute legal, tax, accounting or investment advice. Compensation not to exceed $500. You should consult a qualified legal or tax professional regarding your specific situation. Keep in mind that investing involves risk. The value of your investment will fluctuate over time and you may gain or lose money. Any reference to the advisory services refers to Personal Capital Advisors Corporation, a subsidiary of Personal Capital. Personal Capital Advisors Corporation is an investment adviser registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training nor does it imply endorsement by the SEC. Analysis is conducted at the time of publication and may change over time, please see each company’s website for updated information.