YNAB vs. Mint: A Better Way to Manage Money
Looking for a new money management app now that Mint is going away? What if we told you there wasn’t just a better alternative, but an opportunity to change your whole relationship with money?
Even the most basic personal finance app offers a bit of control in a world that often feels chaotic; being able to summarize and visualize your spending provides helpful insight on your financial situation and helps people feel more involved with their money. So what happens when you no longer have access to that financial overview?
With Intuit’s recent announcement that Mint, a popular budgeting tool, is shutting down on January 1, 2024, many of their users are asking themselves that same question.
Change is often uncomfortable, disruptive, and sometimes even a little bit scary. And let’s be real: November and December are stressful enough thanks to the holidays. So, now you’ve got to make small talk with Uncle Chuck over a turkey dinner and find an entirely new system for managing your money? The timing of this announcement seems…unfortunate, to say the least. Maybe even worth a small, silent tantrum for some.
Okay, let’s all take a deep, cleansing breath, Mint users. Unclench your jaw, roll your shoulders back, and exhale. Let’s find a solution that will last.
YNAB vs. Mint: What Stays the Same
Maybe you just want the same functionality you’ve known and loved from Mint, and you’re looking for an app that can give you a lot of the same. Here are some shared features that resonate between the two:
Bank Syncing: Just like Mint, YNAB offers the convenience of seamless bank syncing. Your financial transactions are effortlessly imported, keeping you up to date.
Customizable Monthly Categories: In both apps, you have the freedom to tailor your monthly categories to fit your unique financial landscape, but YNAB goes many steps further with the ability to endlessly edit category groups and names, even with the default template. Flexibility at your fingertips.
Comprehensive Account Overview: YNAB and Mint both provide a panoramic view of your finances. All your accounts can be neatly presented in one place, simplifying your financial management.
Visual Plan: Picture your financial goals coming to life. Both apps offer a visual roadmap, allowing you to chart the course of your money, ensuring it aligns with your priorities.
Hopefully by now you’re breathing a little easier knowing you can still get your financial overview from an app. But not everything is the same—and in those differences you will see the better financial habits and behavior change that our current audience of YNABers rave about, and what could put you in control of your money like never before.
Read how a Mint user turned YNABer realized awareness is essential to good money management, even once you’re well beyond living paycheck to paycheck.
Why YNAB Works: Philosophy & Features
YNAB is based on a four-rule method that simplifies spending decisions and makes it easy to save money, demolish debt, and get a big-picture perspective of your financial health.
The YNAB Method
Rule One: Give Every Dollar a Job
Every dollar you spend on something you don’t really care about is a dollar you can’t spend on something you do care about. Assign a purpose to every single dollar you have—whether it’s to pay your groceries, mortgage, or for future plane tickets to Bora Bora—and get clear about where you want your money to go.
Rule Two: Embrace Your True Expenses
Unexpected expenses aren’t really unexpected, are they? You know your car will need new tires, the holidays come every single year, and you’re probably not going to cancel that Amazon Prime subscription. Dividing those irregular expenses into monthly amounts so they can accumulate by the time the total cost is due lets you hit the brakes on that financial rollercoaster.
Rule Three: Roll with the Punches
Managing your money shouldn’t feel punitive or restrictive. Yes, you make a plan for every dollar and, yes, you should try to predict “unexpected” expenses, but if something comes up or your plan changes—you just move money between categories to cover it. “Borrow” a little from the holiday fund. No guilt or shame needed. It’s your money.
Rule Four: Age Your Money
As your awareness grows, you’ll naturally start spending less which means you’ll be saving more. Eventually, you’ll be paying bills with money you earned more than thirty days ago. This creates a built-in buffer and allows you to feel the satisfaction that comes with having a pile of money waiting to pay bills instead of a pile of bills waiting for money.
The YNAB Method is what sets YNAB apart from any other option for managing money; it’s more than math, numbers, and graphs, it’s a habit-building tool that supports and inspires you to fund a future you’ll love living.
The magic is in the method, and YNAB’s features are designed to support that. Let’s take a look:
Integrated debt paydown tools: The way credit card spending is handled in YNAB makes it easy to avoid accruing new credit card debt since the amount spent moves from the spending category to the credit card payment category with every credit purchase. Set a target to pay down existing credit account balances or use the loan planner tool to calculate how much time or money you can shave off over the life of your loan by making extra payments.
Subscription sharing: Get more for your money by sharing your subscription, and spending plans of your choosing, with a trusted group of up to six people, each with their own individual log-ins.
Automation options: Good news for Mint users who appreciated its hands-off approach! Scheduled transactions help keep bill payments and recurring expenses up-to-date without any hassle, and options like linking financial accounts, auto-assign, and automatic import can save time and streamline money management.
Customizable transaction flags: Go a step beyond when it comes to organizing your financial data by categorizing your transactions with a searchable flag. Assign colored transaction flags for each member of the family, reimbursable expenses, potential tax deductions, items being returned, or anything that might be helpful to look up later.
Spending and savings targets: Make a plan to fund your priorities and stay on track to achieve your savings goals with progress bars and helpful reminders about how much more you need to assign to each category.
Real-time syncing: YNAB is available on the web and as a mobile app for iOS and Android in the App store or Google Play. Manage your money (and your priorities) on your Apple watch, your laptop, a tablet, with Alexa, or set up a mobile widget on the home screen of your phone.
Reports: We have pie charts and graphs too! Track spending across custom date ranges, categories, your income and expenses, your net worth and more with reports. Slice and dice your data however you’d like.
Accurate overview: You reconcile the accounts in YNAB to your account balances, ensuring a trustworthy reference to determine how much you have to spend or save. No more checking your bank account before making a purchase—just YNAB.
Resources: YNAB has award-winning customer support, active and engaging social media communities, live workshops, personal coaching, printable and digital assets, and a wealth of user-friendly resources in whatever format or learning style works for you.
YNAB vs. Mint: Features and Functionality
YNAB and Mint are different on a foundational level but when it comes to the desired outcome of managing your income, both sets of users have the same basic needs and both options have similar functionality. YNAB just takes a more holistic, aspirational approach and Mint allows you to overspend on burrito bowls and then fills your email inbox with pie charts of shame.
(Can you tell I’ve had some pie chart-related trauma? I know. I’ll take it up with my therapist.)
YNAB vs. Mint: The Big Difference
Let me share a simple truth: Mint is the past and YNAB is the future.
And I don’t just mean that in a marketing sense, where I’m trying to talk you into something new. I mean it literally—Mint is a free budgeting app that primarily tracks cash flow and offers a retrospective view of your finances.
I guess it’s nice to know how much you spent on take-out last month, but that money is already gone. You might feel guilty and anxious to realize you spent that much, but will it stop you next month when you’re really craving Chipotle? Does last month’s pie chart have that much power over you?
YNAB, on the other hand, is a money management method that inspires behavioral change by encouraging you to make intentional decisions about where you want your hard-earned dollars to go ahead of time. It supports a proactive approach to money management, with the flexibility to change your plan when plans change.
Does that mean you can’t splurge on Chipotle anymore? Absolutely not. You can have Chipotle every single night if that’s a priority for you. When you use YNAB, you’ll feel like you have total control of your finances because you decide what’s important and how much money you’re willing to spend on those things before you swipe that debit card.
If you have a change of dinner plans and end up spending more on take-out than you intended that month, you can change your plan in YNAB by moving money you’ve assigned elsewhere to your Dining Out category to cover the difference. No guilt! (There should be no guilt about ordering guac.) And your financial overview is still entirely accurate. Your categories in YNAB reflect your priorities in life, and priorities change.
If you overspend in a certain area on the Mint app, it will alert you but it doesn’t prompt you to figure out where the money you’ll need to cover that overage will come from, so you can’t see how your hunger-inspired decision might affect your overall financial situation. Overspending doesn't affect your future months in the Mint app, even though it would in reality.
In YNAB, you cover overspending in an expense category with money from other categories, which keeps your financial overview accurate and reflects the trade-off you may have made due to the change of plans.
So, if you had planned on spending $50 for take-out this month but spent $100, Mint would still tell you that you have $50 earmarked for next month—but you actually already bought two months’ worth of take-out (and I am not judging you for it!) and need to account for that extra $50 somewhere.
What this looks like in real life
Let’s say you like Chipotle, but having it every night isn’t one of your life goals. However, staying in one of those little overwater bungalows in Bora Bora is a major player on your bucket list. You don’t feel like cooking and a steak burrito bowl is calling your name, but when you check YNAB, you realize you’d have to move money out of your Bora Bora Bungalow fund to cover the cost—is the steak burrito bowl worth the delay to your dream vacation? Maybe it is. There’s no wrong answer. Either way, it’s important to weigh that trade-off before you make the purchase.
With Mint, you’d be more likely to go ahead and order the bowl. Maybe you’d adjust the dollar amount assigned to your Dining Out budget to get rid of the red warning, but Mint wouldn’t ask you where that money was coming from. Maybe you’d feel some guilt when you reviewed the next Pie Chart of Shame, but it wouldn’t be as clear that you’re accidentally choosing Chipotle over Bora Bora.
Mint shows you what you’ve already done, for better or worse. YNAB clarifies your priorities and empowers you to achieve your goals. Intentional spending leads to effortless saving, and both will change your life.
Again, change is hard, and even harder when you feel forced to find something new. However, with YNAB, you’ll change your relationship with money, for good this time—and that will change your life in a lasting way that you’ll welcome.
Did you know that the average new YNABer saves $600 within the first three months and $6000 in their first year of use? And you seem anything but average! Learn how to easily transition from Mint to YNAB and sign up for a free trial today.