YNAB vs. Mint [An In-Depth Comparison]

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Are you looking for a way to track your expenses and keep better track of your money? If so, it might be time to consider a budgeting app. Budgeting apps make following a budget as easy as entering your expenses into an app and sticking within your decided limits.

There are several fantastic budgeting apps available, but we’re going to be focusing on two of the most popular: YNAB and Mint. In this guide, we’ll be taking a deep dive into the benefits and drawbacks of both to help you decide which app is right for you!

What is Mint?

Mint was founded in 2006 and launched by Aaron Patzer in 2007. It was officially introduced to the public in 2009 at TechCrunch 50, which set records for being the most well-attended event in the conference’s history. 

It’s a budgeting app that allows you to easily track your spending and create a budget. It has an online interface as well as apps for iOS and Android devices. Mint automatically categorizes transactions into different accounts such as Banking, Spending, or Cash and Cards.

The categories can be edited manually if the program’s preselected options don’t exactly reflect how you spend money.

What is YNAB?

YNAB, formerly known as You Need A Budget, is an online program that automatically tracks expenses in different accounts. YNAB has been around for a long time. It was founded in 2004 by Jesse Mecham, who wanted to create an easy-to-use online system that would help people get their finances under control.

Since then, the company has grown from just one employee working out of his house to over 100 employees worldwide! It has both a desktop and mobile app available. 

Using the mobile app, you can take pictures of your receipts, so you do not need to manually enter details about your purchases. YNAB also teaches the “rule of thirds,” which means budgeting with one-third of income for living expenses, saving one-third, and giving away another portion to charity or paying off debt.

YNAB vs. Mint: Common Features

There are quite a few similarities between Mint and YNAB.

  • Both are budgeting apps and help you organize accounts
  • Both are accessible on mobile devices and desktop
  • Both offer user-friendly interfaces
  • Both offer valuable insights into the ways you spend and save

What we’re interested in are the differences, though. Both Mint and YNAB offer budgeting tools that are easy to use, but the functionality of each app is slightly different.

To help you decide which budgeting app is best for you, we’ll be going through the differences between the two apps.

YNAB Budgeting Features

YNAB follows the “Zero-Based Budgeting” approach, which means it helps you create budgets that allocate 100% of your income to expenses, savings, and investments each month.

The goal is to make your money work for you by giving every dollar a “job”—things like rent, car payments, groceries, and investments.

YNAB allows you to set savings goals and specific categories where money can be allocated, but there aren’t any sub-categories. Instead, the focus is on showing how much money is left in each category rather than breaking things down into smaller parts.

That can be helpful for people who want a clear overview of their accounts and don’t mind a relative lack of specificity.

If you prefer a budgeting app that forgoes extra features, YNAB clearly takes a bare-bones approach. It is what allows them to excel at what they do, which is budgeting in its purest form.

Mint Budgeting Features & More

With Mint, you can create sub-categories within your budget to help track spending more closely.

Since Mint pulls data from various sources (like bank accounts), it’s easy to see all your transactions in one place. And if you need to update your budget, the app will automatically update your future spending limits, so you don’t go over what you’ve allotted for particular expenses.

Mint also offers several tools and features beyond purely budgeting.

Let’s take a look at some of them:

  • Mint has an automatic bill payment feature that allows users to set up automatic monthly expense payments and ensures that they’re delivered on time.
  • Mint offers credit score tracking. When enabled, your credit score sits at the top corner of your home screen, where you can easily keep tabs on it while checking your budget.
  • Mint gives you custom tips and recommendations via their partnership with Find Savings to help you save money.
  • Mint can help you find deals on credit cards and loans tailored to your particular financial situation.

Both YNAB and Mint are great at helping you save money. However, if you’re looking for an app that allows you to get specific when tracking your spending or automate bill payments, Mint is probably a better option. Its design may be minimal, but its functionality is anything but.

How much does YNAB cost?

YNAB’s service costs $14.99/month if you pay monthly and $8.25/month if you pay annually. While that may seem like a lot, YNAB justifies the price by pointing out that the average user saves $6,000/year after subscribing!

YNAB also offers users a generous—and oddly specific—34-day free trial to decide whether the tool is right for them.

How much does Mint cost?

Mint is 100% free.

They make their money through advertisements and partnerships. When you use the app to find credit cards, loans, or insurance, Mint gets paid by the companies they recommend. While it’s nice to have a free app when you’re trying to save money, the advertisements can be annoying.

But, unlike many of the other areas we’re going to cover, there’s an undeniable winner here.

If cost is the sole factor in your decision-making process, feel free to skip the remaining comparisons and download the app. If you want to find out whether YNAB is worth the money, stick around!

YNAB vs. Mint: Ease of Setup

Mint has a slight advantage over YNAB here. You can sign up in just a few minutes by connecting your existing bank accounts and credit cards to the website and then answering a few questions about how you spend money. If Mint isn’t sure about something, it’ll ask you for clarification before grouping an expense with the wrong account or category.

YNAB takes a bit more work. It isn’t too difficult to set up, but the initial process is time-consuming. You’ll need to answer questions about your financial situation, create financial goals for yourself, and then manually enter each transaction into YNAB. After that’s done, you’ll need to categorize each entry into one of the 45+ potential accounts.

While YNAB does a good job educating users about its functionality throughout the setup process, the process is significantly more complicated. However, for users that enjoy complete customization control over their apps, that might be appealing.

If you’re not willing to spend a significant amount of time learning how YNAB works and how to set it up, Mint might be the better option for you.

YNAB vs. Mint: User Interface

The UIs of the two apps couldn’t be more different. Mint’s ultra-minimal design and color palette make it easy to navigate, but YNAB takes a unique approach focusing on text and graphics rather than buttons and menus.

In terms of design, Mint does a great job of making it easy to figure out how to use its app. The interface is clean and well-designed, featuring four tabs that make navigating the app and finding information easy.

Mint also takes a graphical approach to representing user data that uses color-coded charts and loading bars to display a lot of information in the most efficient way possible. 

Source: Intuit

YNAB isn’t bad in the UI department, but it certainly takes a less modern approach. The app is designed with text-heavy screens that show data in black-and-white. Instead of opting for clean, apparent minimalism, they’ve chosen to pack the UI with tons of information represented by numbers and figures.

For example, your home screen displays the transaction history and current balance of your primary accounts. This will probably appeal to people who like quickly glancing at their numbers without having to dig for them, but it’s likely not ideal for customers who want simplicity. Or those with poor eyesight.

Source: YNAB

Overall, this one comes down to personal preference. If you like your apps clean and modern, Mint is the way to go. If you can tolerate a bit of digital clutter for the sake of having easy access to your raw transaction data, YNAB might be for you.

YNAB pros and cons: The pros

Pros

Let’s take a look at some of the pros of using YNAB:

  • User interface packed with numerical and text-based data
  • Commitment to user customization
  • Strong customer service offering

YNAB pros and cons: The cons

Cons

Now let’s take a look at some of the cons of YNAB:

  • Not as secure as Mint
  • Limited (extra) functionality
  • Steeper learning curve
  • More manual input
  • More expensive

Mint pros and cons: The pros

Pros

Mint’s got some pros going for them:

  • Clean UI featuring charts and infographics
  • Makes monitoring your credit score simple
  • Automated budget tracking
  • Automated bill payments
  • Free

Mint pros and cons: The cons

Cons

Mint’s cons include the following:

  • Less customization potential
  • Limited customer support

Is Mint safe?

Mint has an outstanding track record when it comes to security. The company uses bank-level security protocols and physical servers in secure data centers to protect your information from hackers and thieves.

Is YNAB safe?

YNAB is less secure. Its security protocols are on par with most other financial services, but they’re still not as strong as Mint’s. Additionally, YNAB has experienced quite a few data breaches throughout its existence, so that is something to consider if security is a high priority for you.

YNAB app reviews (by real users)

YNAB has exceptional reviews online in both the Apple App Store and Google Play. In the Apple App Store, they’ve garnered over 39,000 ratings with an average rating of 4.8/5 stars. On Google Play, they’ve garnered over 10,000 reviews with an average rating of 4.7/5 stars.

Check out some of their reviews below:

“This is one of the best things I’ve done for myself. I’ve always lived paycheck to paycheck and it’s been difficult for me to save. I had tried to make a budget before using spreadsheets designed for budgeting, but most had me figuring out what I would bring in and what I would spend. YNAB starts by only having you budget the money you have now. Every dollar has a job and it makes it so much more manageable. In six months, I’ve gone from having debt to no longer having debt, and I just reached 30 days of the age of my money.”

“The new app lets me do everything I used to have to go on my computer to do. It went from feeling 8 years outdated to one of the best-designed apps on my phone. I used to have to apologize for it, but now I can wholeheartedly recommend the YNAB system to people who ask for help with budgeting. Don’t fall for the convenience of automated tracking with other apps. YNAB’s system makes you pay attention to the consequences of every single purchase.”

“I have a thing about app subscriptions (hate them), but the YNAB team is consistently rolling out improvements and features. It’s one of those rare cases where I get enough value that I’m not only willing but am actually happy to pay to help the company grow. I could not recommend this app more highly.”

Mint app reviews (by real users)

Mint also has exceptional reviews in both the Apple App Store and Google Play. In the Apple App Store, their average rating is 4.8/5 stars. On Google Play, they have a slightly lower average, at 4.4/5 stars. Most users love that Mint has so many features without charging a cent to users.

Let’s take a look at some reviews below:

“Longtime Mint user here. It’s the best app I’ve found for tracking spending and managing a budget. However, it seems like Mint eventually learns how to categorize some transactions, but it just takes forever. Just give me a box to check that says ‘always categorize transactions from this vendor this way.’ It gets tiresome having to individually recategorize transactions over and over. For the millionth time, no, our favorite restaurant Nose Dive shouldn’t be under ‘sporting goods.’ Purchases from Pet Supermarket shouldn’t be ‘groceries.'”

“Mint has been solid for keeping an eye on our finances. Account refreshes still have issues but are much more improved. My biggest gripe is that the ad-free plan still has ads. It’s just a buck a month, but it’s misleading. I expected to have a better experience after paying for the ad-free plan, but that dollar per month didn’t change much. It actually left me feeling tricked and less satisfied with it.”

“My credit score has increased over 50 points since I’ve been able to monitor it closely with this app. My favorite part is the flexibility of this app. When I get frustrated and need a break from tracking finances, this app is still working in the background, so that when I get back to it, I can just hop right back in and get a relatively accurate picture. There are ads and the syncing isn’t perfect, but for a free app, I have zero complaints.”

YNAB customer support

Thanks to its helpful email newsletter and active forum community, it’s easy to get help with YNAB.

That being said, if you need personalized, human assistance from a member of the customer service team, YNAB also offers email support with an average response time of under 24 hours.

YNAB doesn’t have chat access at this time, unfortunately.

Mint customer support

Mint has an active Facebook community where users can help each other out, but it does not have an in-house forum or email newsletter. That means you’ll need to hunt down information on your own. Mint does, however, offer reasonably responsive online support – albeit through its parent company Intuit.

In conclusion

YNAB and Mint both offer budgeting tools that help users track spending, create monthly budgets, set financial goals, and more. However, the two apps differ in several key ways.

Let’s summarize: 

  • YNAB is $14.99/month if you pay monthly and $8.25/month if you pay annually
  • Mint is completely free to use
  • YNAB is a zero-based budgeting approach and guides your spending proactively
  • Mint gives a more comprehensive bird’s eye view and guides your spending retrospectively
  • YNAB is simpler to set up and has a dedicated and supportive fanbase
  • Mint is more modern and aesthetically pleasing
  • Mint is more secure, as YNAB has had a few data breaches in the past

We recommend Mint as the better option if you want something with solid security measures, intuitive design, and deep functionality; however, YNAB is still worth considering if those aspects are less important to you than straightforward but excellent budgeting ability.

Have you tried either of these apps? If so, what did you think of them? Let us know! We’d love to hear from you.

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