Let’s face it—sticking to a budget is tough. We’re constantly faced with spending decisions that threaten to derail our progress and leave us feeling disorganized and demotivated. That’s why many people are turning to online budgeting tools to help them stay on track and achieve their financial goals. But with so many options available, which tool is right for you?
In this article, we’ll be comparing Monarch Money and You Need A Budget (YNAB)—two of the most popular budgeting tools on the market. Both have their pros and cons, so it’s important to understand what each tool offers before making a decision.
Let’s dive in!
What Is YNAB?
You Need A Budget (YNAB) is a popular budgeting tool that aims to help you “feel in control of your money” and “gain confidence in your financial future.”
YNAB connects to your bank account and automatically imports your transactions. You can then categorize your expenses, set goals, and create a budget that works for you. YNAB also offers a range of features to help you stay on track, including the ability to set up reminders, see your progress over time, and track your net worth.
The YNAB app is accessible via the web or mobile (both iOS and Android).
What Is Monarch Money?
Monarch Money—in the company’s own words—is an all-in-one money managing platform that includes a wealth of budgeting, account management, and wealth planning features.
Monarch Money connects to all your bank accounts, credit cards, and investment accounts in order to give you a complete picture of your finances through a single dashboard. You can use Monarch Money to track your spending, set goals, and create a budget that works for you.
Like YNAB, Monarch Money is accessible via the web or mobile (both iOS and Android). However, users also have the option to download a desktop app for offline use.
Check out our full Monarch Money Review!
Monarch Money vs. YNAB: How Do They Compare?
Now that we’ve taken a look at the basics of Monarch Money and YNAB, let’s compare the two tools in more detail. To keep things simple, we’ve broken down this comparison into six categories, including:
- Budgeting Philosophy
- Budgeting Features
- Additional Features
- Customer Support
So, without further ado, let’s break down these two budgeting tools!
Monarch Money vs. YNAB’s Budgeting Philosophies
If you’re new to the world of personal finance, you might think that all budgeting tools are created equal. But that’s not the case! Monarch Money and YNAB have different approaches to budgeting, and it’s important to understand these differences before making a decision.
Monarch Money follows a “Cash Flow Budgeting” approach, which means it helps you create budgets based on your expected income and expenses. The goal is to ensure that your spending doesn’t exceed your expected income each month.
YNAB follows the “Zero-Sum Budgeting” approach, which means it helps you create budgets that allocate 100% of your income to expenses, saving, 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.
While these approaches may not seem very different on paper, they can lead to very different budgeting experiences in practice. YNAB’s approach is simpler, but Monarch Money’s approach makes it easier to work towards short- and long-term financial goals.
In other words, it comes down to your personal preferences and goals!
Monarch Money vs. YNAB’s Budgeting Features
Monarch Money and YNAB both offer users a wealth of budgeting features. But which tool offers more—and better—budgeting features? Let’s take a look.
Monarch Money’s budgeting features are also impressive. It offers all the core budgeting features of YNAB with some great extras—but we’ll save those for the next section.
YNAB’s budgeting features are some of the best in the business. The tool allows you to create budgets that cover all of your expenses, set and track goals, manage your money in real time, and more. It includes everything you could need in a budgeting tool, including automatic transaction and balance synching, overspending alerts, and the ability to set up multiple budgets and goals.
Unless you’re a professional financial planner, you probably won’t notice any glaring feature gaps with either product. We’ll call it a tie!
Monarch Money vs. YNAB’s Additional Features
In addition to budgeting features, Monarch Money and YNAB both offer users a selection of additional features. But which tool has the better selection?
Monarch Money offers users a selection of additional features that can be helpful in managing your finances. These features include:
- Debt Reduction Planning: Monarch Money will create a custom plan to help you pay off your debt as quickly as possible.
- Investment Tracking: Monarch Money will track your investment portfolio and provide insights to help you grow your wealth.
- Net Worth Synching: Monarch Money will automatically update your net worth based on synced accounts so that you can track your progress over time.
- Personalized Advice: Monarch Money’s AI-powered chatbot will offer you personalized advice based on your budget and financial goals.
YNAB, on the other hand, is focused on being a highly capable budgeting tool. That means that the company hasn’t really devoted any resources to developing features beyond its core budgeting functionality.
Verdict: Monarch Money
Monarch Money advertises itself as an all-in-one money managing platform, and its additional features more-or-less live up to that sentiment. They’re comprehensive and useful, which means less time hopping between different financial tools.
Monarch Money vs. YNAB’s Ease-of-Use
Both Monarch Money and YNAB are relatively easy to use.
Monarch Money has a bit more of a learning curve—but once you get the hang of it, it’s just as easy to use as YNAB. You may just need to click through a few more tabs to find the feature or information you’re looking for.
YNAB may have a slight edge in this department due to its more limited set of features. The interface is clean and simple, and it’s easy to find your way around the tool. Plus, the onboarding experience is well-thought-out.
As we mentioned above, YNAB has a slight edge when it comes to ease of use. The platform is incredibly easy to learn thanks to an effective onboarding experience.
Monarch Money vs. YNAB’s Customer Support
Customer support is a must for any tool you rely on. Monarch Money and YNAB both offer customer support, but they differ in terms of the quality and availability of support.
Monarch Money is quite limited when it comes to customer support. There’s a great selection of documentation, but the only option for more personalized advice is to email support. In our experience, Monarch Money’s customer support is responsive—but they don’t make any guarantees when it comes to response time.
On the other hand, YNAB offers email support with an average response time of under 24 hours. In addition, the company also maintains a robust online forum where users can ask questions and get help from other YNABers and a help center full of instructional videos, guides, documentation, and FAQs.
YNAB’s customer support is more comprehensive and easier to access than Monarch Money’s. If you need help, you’re more likely to find it with YNAB.
Monarch Money vs. YNAB’s Pricing
Monarch Money and YNAB are both premium budgeting tools that are packed with useful features. Based on that information, you might assume that they’re priced similarly—but you’d be wrong!
Monarch Money’s pricing model is the more complex one thanks to a “free forever” tier that gives users (limited) access to the platform. If you go for this option, you’ll be able to use the platform for unlimited budgeting, reporting, and goal setting, but you’ll be limited to two synched accounts. For full access to Monarch Money, you’ll need to pay either $9.99/month on a month-to-month basis or $7.50/month annually.
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.
Verdict: Monarch Money
This is a simple one—Monarch Money is the more affordable tool. The free tier is generous, and full access still costs less than YNAB.
Monarch Money vs. YNAB: Which Should You Choose?
So, which budgeting tool is the right one for you?
If you’re looking for a comprehensive money management platform with a wide range of features, Monarch Money is a great choice. The tool is feature-rich and easy to use, and it’s more affordable than YNAB.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for a more focused budgeting tool with top-notch customer support, YNAB is the way to go. The platform is easy to learn and use, and you can always get help from the company’s team of experts.
Check out our post comparing YNAB vs. Mint!
No matter which tool you choose, you’ll be in good hands! Both Monarch Money and YNAB are great budgeting tools that can help you take control of your finances.
- Monarch Money follows a “Cash Flow Budgeting” approach
- YNAB follows the “Zero-Sum Budgeting” approach
- Monarch Money is the more affordable tool
- YNAB has a slight edge when it comes to ease-of-use
- Monarch Money is the more comprehensive, all-in-one platform
- YNAB’s customer support is easier to access
Do you have any experience with Monarch Money or YNAB? Let us know! We’d love to hear from you.