Let’s start with a boring reminder: there is no best.
When I refer to the best budgeting software, I’m talking about the software that is best for me and my situation. The closer your habits and preferences mimic mine, the more likely you are to have the same preferences.
Back in 2011, I wrote about the best personal finance software, and I crowned MoneyDance as the King of the software. Again, in that post I indicated that one of the primary attractions to MoneyDance was its foreign currency feature. It was also a fully financed package that allowed me to budget as well as track all my investments.
While I still think it’s the best piece of personal finance software, I’m no longer interested in tracking my investments with personal finance software. Instead, I’m interested in finding the best piece of budgeting software.
The Best Budgeting Software
In the reviews I’ve read, (see Mvelopes Review by One Money Design and my own review of You Need A Budget [version 3] or Bible Money Matters review of YNAB 4) these are the two most commonly used pieces of budgeting software.
Now, this is a good time for disclosure. I did not purchase a copy of You Need A Budget or Mvelopes. Both were promotion products given to me at no charge. The links to Mvelopes and YNAB are affiliate links.
You Need A Budget (YNAB) Vs. Mvelopes
The beauty of these two products is that they are different enough that I think you’ll clearly be able to tell which best fits your preferences and which is the best budgeting software for your needs.
On computer vs. online
- YNAB is a program you download onto your computer. All information is stored on your hard drive.
- Budgeting software is run from a password protected website. All information is stored online ‘in the cloud’.
For those nervous about information being stored online, YNAB is clearly a better choice.
How information is accessed:
- With YNAB, users go to their financial institution and download the transactions in a compatible format (OFX, QFX, QIF, or CSV). After opening YNAB, you import the saved transaction.
- Mvelopes does all the importing automatically. When you sign in, your new transactions will automatically appear to be ready to drop into the correct category.
Both programs have apps for both Android and Apple products. YNAB has a lite free version and a paid version. Mvelopes only has the full service free option.
- Once you’ve imported your transactions with YNAB, you simply need to click on the category section and assign the expense to a category.
- Mvelopes allows you to drag and drop the transaction into the appropriate envelop. Mvelopes is an online envelop budgeting software.
Both programs have simple ways to see an overview of your budget transactions and history. The features seem comparable.
Both products can be used on either a Mac or PC. Interestingly, I have trouble using Mvelopes with Chrome, so when I get into Mvelopes I always do that with FireFox.
- YNAB costs $60. One of the nice things about YNAB is that you’re never forced to upgrade. As new features and new releases are added, you’re always given the option to buy the updated version or keep using what you have. I know that was my frustration with Quicken – they forced you to upgrade every few years. The fully functional app is $4.99 through iTunes or Android.
- Mvelopes has a free version with limited functions:
The free version of Mvelopes completely implements the principles of envelope budgeting. It allows you to have up to 25 different budgeting envelopes to help you organize and manage your spending. The Free version of Mvelopes also lets you have as many as four different banking and credit card accounts which automatically record your transactions. You also have access to all of the on-line tutorials and the Mvelopes Support Database which has dozens of guides to help you begin using Mvelopes. Best of all, it’s free – for as long as you want to use your account.