More Updates to the YNAB Android App

Hi Android users –

Graham and Adam continue their work on a full refresh of the Android app; in the meantime we’ve released an update that offers several fixes and improvements. This update touches on issues with transaction entry and cloud sync, as well as a few bugs with adding and deleting budgets.

…which is all just to let you know we continue putting polish on the current Android app even as we look forward to the new, shiny version!

YNAB is Now Free for College Students

The headline basically says it all.

We’re fighting free with free.  I was given a free t-shirt when I signed up for my first Visa credit card while in college (charged a mattress on it, forgot about the payment, paid it off, and cut it up in disgust—the card, not the mattress).

More kids are graduating from college absolutely weighed down by student debt. I don’t know what portion of their debt is avoidable, but I’m confident that if those students were following YNAB’s Four Rules, they would graduate with less debt.

Starting today, if you’re a college student (even only part-time), we’ll let you use YNAB for free while you’re in school.

How to Obtain Your Free Copy of YNAB

  1. Write to us at and include proof of registration at your college.

  2. We’ll send you a special license key, good until the end of the calendar year.

  3. At the end of the year, just shoot us another email if you’re still cranking away on your schoolwork, and we’ll send you a new license key that’s good for the entire next year.

Answers to a Few Questions

If I’m still living at home, but am attending college, do I get a free copy?

Yes! Instead of having a household license (the kind we sell every day), you’ll receive a special license key that is good for your personal use, through the end of the calendar year.

Why not have the license key run for the entire school year?

Different countries have different “school years” and we thought it’d be easiest to handle them all with an easily-remembered calendar year. It’s 2014, you’ll need the 2014 Key. It’s 2015? Grab the new 2015 Key.

Can I share my license key with my friends that are also students?

Instead of having your friends use your license key, send them over our way (, with their proof of registration) and we’ll set them up properly. This helps us in a few ways: 1) We can send them a few emails re: getting started with YNAB. 2) They’ll receive an invitation to our spring free online class we run for college students re: student loan debt and, 3) We’ll know how successful this program is. If it’s successful and gains some traction, we’ll hopefully be able to get some media muscle behind it and let even more schools know.

What about Making YNAB Free for [some other well-deserving group]?

Perhaps some day. We’re new at this, and want to see where this goes!

What should I send as a proof of registration?

You can send a scan or screenshot (PDF, jpg, gif, etc.) of a document issued by your college, with your name, the college name, and information that shows you’re currently enrolled.  This may include a school ID card, a report card, a transcript, or a tuition bill or statement.

How Does YNAB Benefit from This? You Don’t Run a Charity.

YNAB has been growing by leaps and bounds over the past several years. That growth has come almost entirely from word of mouth. We think that having a bunch of super-savvy, money-smart, socially-active, recent college graduates—all hooked on following YNAB’s Four Rules—will only increase that word of mouth. Also, we really like the idea of college students graduating with less debt, even if it means they miss out on a free t-shirt from Visa.

Please Help Us Spread the Word!

Use the buttons below to share this post on Facebook, tweet this post on Twitter, or forward this blog post to college students you know (or, parents of college students you know)!

I resented my budget…until my husband tossed it to me like a hot potato.


Meet Annie, the last (but not least) of our new blog contributors.

I’m not gonna lie; I haven’t always loved budgeting. In fact, I hated it – a lot. I blame a poor introduction into this world of financial responsibility for my prior disdain.

As a teenager with my first real job and first real crappy car, my dad wrote a budget out for me on a yellow legal pad and told me that I needed to stick to that if I wanted to keep my car maintained, gas in it, and insurance for it. With the level of responsibility that he expected of me combined with my meager BBQ restaurant earnings, there was no money left for a teenager’s highest priorities – clothes, music, and going out.

(I know you’ve never done this, but…) I figured that if I just ignored the budget, then the realities of my responsibilities would just magically work themselves out as long as I bought everything that I wanted first, you know, so I’d have the money.

My dad’s heart was in the right place, but in his effort to teach and even protect me, he didn’t “teach me to fish.” (See what I did there?)

College continued pretty much like high school, and then when I got married we had no choice but to budget. We were $80k in debt as precious 23 year olds. Precious, credit card-abusing 23 year olds.

A few years into our marriage we started using YNAB and finished paying off our debt. My husband made the budget, showed it to me, maintained it, and then complained when I went over in my categories (and sometimes he didn’t even complain, so I didn’t know about it). I still felt the familiar frustration of not having enough money for what I wanted to do. The budget was very constraining for me.

I secretly resented it.

Finally, one January a couple of years ago, my very frustrated husband decided that February would be the month that I maintained YNAB. I would make the budget, pay the bills, import the transactions, and balance the budget as needed – for one whole month.

One long, excruciating month.

You see, why on earth did I have to worry about the budget before that February if my very smart, capable, computer-programming husband was there to do it for me? He was the one with the passion for it, so he’s more suited for that role, right?

Well, that February was the turning point, my friends. It wasn’t so much that I saw the error of my ways or felt sorry that I put my husband through all that work, but it was then that I saw the freedom in budgeting.

Instead of feeling that familiar sense of powerlessness, I felt in command of my household – a protector of it, even, no longer vulnerable but controlled and able.

For those of you with spouses that are merely an observer or even a saboteur of your budget, I encourage you to let them experience first-hand the freedom that it brings. It requires some letting go on your part, but it’ll be worth it in the end!

Today, I’m a YNABing force to be reckoned with, but it all started with my husband relinquishing some control in order for me to discover the freedom that was available to me.

I look forward to sharing more of my story with you in the weeks to come!

I Thought I Was Budgeting. I Really Did.

jeremypMeet Jeremy, another new YNAB blog contributor.

Hey, YNABers! I’m so excited to be talking finances with you. My adventures in helping people with finances range from micro enterprise start-ups in West Africa to my current career in home loan origination. I have been hooked on YNAB for just over a year now and am learning to use it better all the time.

I fell in love the first time I read the Four Rules of the YNAB Method. Before I discovered the YNAB way, I had developed my own system without even being aware of it. Perhaps you’ll relate.

Rule 1: Obsess about the past.

Using a popular website and phone app, I started budgeting by categorizing expenses as far back as I could. It was long and grueling work, but I felt good having revealed where I had messed up. But with my eyes fixed on the rear view mirror, I was still lost and lead-footed.

Rule 2: Brace for impact.

Even with up-to-the-minute spending updates via texts, I kept getting spun out by unanticipated expenses. An alternator gave out. Property taxes came due. A guitar I had my eyes on went on sale (don’t judge me).

Sometimes I ran the margins so thin that a slight spending miscalculation would send me careening toward the guard rail.

Rule 3: Give up.

When my budget got off, I would feel so discouraged. I’d invested tons of time but nothing changed.

So I’d quit.

I lived with an ugly feeling in my gut, knowing that I wasn’t making progress in my finances. The only thing left to do was take my hands off the wheel and…

Rule 4: Hope for the best.

Surely, I’d get a better job and get ahead eventually. Maybe Social Security would be kind. Maybe one of my kids would be rich and generous. Right?

That about sums up my former financial strategy.

There were times I didn’t know if my card would clear at the checkstand. In my college years, sometimes it didn’t, and I walked out of my small-town Safeway, embarrassed and empty-handed.

That’s why I’m passionate about YNAB. It is, for me, a mindset. It means deciding my priorities and having my finances align with them. It means being on the same page with my wife. It means having peace in my home. Recently, it has meant passing along ideas and strategies to my kids that will serve them well in life. How cool is that?

YNAB also happens to have the best software I’ve ever seen to encourage and support that mindset.

The YNAB’s Four Rules are so superior to what I was doing before that I seriously wait for someone, anyone, to bring up budgeting so we can share thoughts and geek out. I’m stoked to share stories, strategies, and blunders with you. And after that, we can check out my guitar, the one that didn’t cause my accounts to bounce.

Meet Jessiebird: Farmer, YNABer, and Blog Contributor

jessiebirdHello, YNABers!

Jessie, not Jesse

I’m Jessie, one of YNAB’s new blog contributors. I’ll be going by my YNAB forum username, jessiebird, in the hopes that people don’t get me confused with Jesse Mecham.

We’re actually pretty easy to tell apart: Jesse’s a young guy who lives with his family in Utah. I’m a 46-year-old woman who lives with her family in Vermont. More importantly, Jesse started YNAB and runs the company. I’m just a satisfied customer who likes to write about budgeting.

My YNAB story

I found YNAB in the summer of 2011, at a time when I was starting to feel truly ashamed and defeated about our financial situation; my husband came on board a bit later, after he saw that YNAB worked and that “having a budget” didn’t mean “never spending money.”

Since then we’ve wiped out close to $30,000 in consumer debt. We’re not debt-free yet, but now we know it’s within reach — and we’re managing to live a good life and make conscious financial decisions that are getting us where we want to go. The difference between our mindset (and bank balance) now compared to three years ago still blows me away.

About me

Despite my lifelong fear of and incompetence with money, somehow I got stuck being the bookkeeper for my husband’s construction company as well as for the family finances. How we survived before YNAB I will never know.

I stayed at home when the kids were small, but these days I work as a typesetter at the local newspaper. For over a decade I’ve been writing a biweekly humor column there as well.

In 2006 we bought a small farm just outside of town, where we raise as much of our own food as possible. I keep a blog documenting our adventures in everything from digging potatoes to making lard to pressing apples for cider. In my spare time, I enjoy cooking, knitting, spinning yarn, exercising, and chasing the goats out of the gardens.

We have not had a boring day in eight years.

The blog

My YNAB blog posts will appear here about once a week. And of course I’ll still be busy over in the forums.

As far as topics go, I’ve got a few in mind already, but I’m open to suggestions; email me at

New to YNAB? Use the YNAB Quick Start Workshop to Set Up Your First Fully-Functional Budget

graduation_capErin here. From my experience teaching YNAB’s live classes, I see a lot of people who downloaded YNAB so they could take control of their money and reduce financial stress. Maybe you’re one of them? You read the testimonials and felt excited, empowered, and optimistic.

Then you opened the software and weren’t sure what to do next. When I started YNAB seven years ago, I remember feeling overwhelmed by my financial situation (tons of credit card debt) and that made it hard to get going.

YNAB is a powerful and simple money management tool, but I know how hard it can be to climb over those first obstacles. That’s why we’ve created a thorough support structure:

  • A knowledge base with articles covering every aspect of YNAB’s features and philosophy.
  • About one hundred free live webinars each month hosted by one of YNAB’s expert teachers.
  • Hours of video tutorials that walk you through the software’s key features.

I hope you’ll use these resources – they cover both the YNAB method and the software.

At the same time, I know some of you don’t want to figure YNAB out on your own. You’d prefer to do it once and do it right. I know when I started it would have been perfect if a YNAB expert had been willing to sit down with me at my kitchen table and walk me through it step by step.

That’s why I’ve created YNAB’s Quick Start Workshop. It’s the closest I can get to actually sitting next to you during your crucial first hour with YNAB.

Here’s how Quick Start works:

After registering for the workshop, I’ll send you a few assignments to prepare you for the live sessions. Don’t worry – it won’t be anything too difficult. I’m talking about gathering financial information available in your online accounts, and maybe reviewing some YNAB orientation material just to make sure we’re all on the same page when we start.

Once you’ve finished your pre-workshop assignments, you’ll sit in on a live webinar with me and a few other new YNABers. Many of our free classes have as many as one hundred attendees. For the Quick Start Workshop, we’re capping attendance at 20. That will allow us to really dig in deep and answer your questions directly.

You’ll open YNAB and I’ll walk you through setting up your budget file, one step at a time. It’s that simple: I’ll give you a YNAB task, then pause while you implement it in your own budget file. You can ask questions as you’re working, as they come up, and get them answered in real time.

We’ll spend 60 minutes in the first live session, covering as much ground as possible before turning you loose for a week to budget on your own.

During the week following our live session, I’ll send you a few emails reviewing what we covered, and giving you small tasks to help you feel more confident with your budgeting process.

After you’ve had a week to practice budgeting, we’ll get back together for our second live session. This class will be less formal; you and your classmates will have plenty of questions after spending a week on your own with YNAB. Those questions will drive the second session. We’ll spend another 60 minutes together, making sure your questions are answered before you strike out as a fully operational YNABer.

Summing up the Quick Start Workshop, participants will:

  • share two live 60-minute webinars with a YNAB instructor and a few other YNAB users.
  • receive personal guidance on setting up and using their budget.
  • have a week of budget practice between the live sessions.
  • graduate with a fully functional YNAB budget file and the confidence to maintain it.

We’ll be running the Quick Start Workshop for the first time on Monday, March 3rd at 8pm with the follow up Q&A on Monday, March 10th at 8pm. I look forward to personally interacting with you in our first session!

Erin Lowell
YNAB Education Lead

Click here to register for YNAB Quick Start ($40).   *Please note, the workshop above is over and there’s not yet another one scheduled.

Common Questions about YNAB Quick Start

How does Quick Start differ from YNAB Coaching?

YNAB Coaching participants work with their coach for over a month, exchanging emails and usually sharing at least one phone call. The typical Coaching client has already spent time with YNAB and is mostly looking for insight into their personal workflow. The price ($179) reflects the length and format of personal coaching.

We see Quick Start as a tool to create a solid foundation for YNABers who are just getting used to the software and method.

Is Quick Start only for “new people?” What if I’ve had YNAB for a while and just want to make a Fresh Start with an instructor’s help?

Yes, we’ll be making a fresh start with new budget files. This is a great fit if you’ve had YNAB for a while and haven’t settled into a good budgeting habit. We’ll be happy to have you!

Do I have to connect a mic and headset to my computer to participate?

No, you can just listen through your computer speakers or dial in from your home or cell phone. Either works great. You’ll type your questions over through a chat window. We’ll send connection instructions well in advance of the first live session.

Will I have to share my budget or personal financial details with other participants?

No. Participants will be able to see the instructor’s demo budget file on the screen, but none of the participants’ budgets will be visible.

What if I have questions between the live sessions?

If it’s a technical issue, YNAB Support is always ready and happy to help. If your question relates directly to Quick Start, save it for the second live session – Q&A is its main purpose!

Click here to register for YNAB Quick Start ($40). *Please note, the workshop above is over and there’s not yet another one scheduled.

Get Un-Stuck with the Help of a YNAB Budgeting Coach

ynabThere’s been a lot of internal dialog at YNAB lately about how to best support you. We know you love the knowledge base and the free live classes (over 2,200 of you took part in the New Year’s Day live class marathon!), but we also know some of you are still just…stuck.

If you’ve used YNAB’s free educational resources and still found yourself struggling to find a good budgeting rhythm, one-on-one coaching could get you over the hump. I’m publishing this post because we’re testing a new approach to the personal coaching we’ve always offered: we’d like to try email as the format (rather than using the phone).

Email is Easy; Phone Calls are Hard

Phone coaching has its advantages: direct interaction and dialog.

But the phone comes with big drawbacks:

If a person signs up for a phone coaching session, there’s lots of pressure on that call. The client (rightfully) expects some fireworks, so coach and client both feel stressed about making the call “worth it.” Phone coaching also creates the inconvenience of scheduling (and re-scheduling).

Email, on the other hand, offers a no-pressure, plenty-of-time-for-reflection conversation. Coach offers insight; budgeter (and significant other) have time to implement and then come back with questions.

Rather than a single phone call, email offers the opportunity for the dialog to go on until both sides feel great about the outcome.

How many emails does it take? As many as it takes to achieve the three “C’s.”

Clarity, Confidence, and Cash

You’ll know your coaching relationship has been a success when you’ve found:

1. Clarity

You’ll work with your coach to develop a budgeting workflow tailored to your circumstances. You’ll feel totally clear on the what, how, when and why of YNAB.

2. Confidence

You’ll no longer feel anxiety about “messing up” your budget. You’ll know your plan and feel certain about implementing it.

3. Cash

Your coach has seen dozens of budgets; as he or she works with you to refine your budgeting workflow, you’ll inevitably discover areas where you can save money without reducing quality of life.

Once you’ve gained clarity, confidence, and cash, you and your coach will know the job is done.

Who’s The coach?

You’ll work with one of three coaches: Erin (YNAB Education Lead and long-time YNAB coach), Todd (educator by day, long-time YNAB coach by night, or Mark (yeah, that’s me – ready to coach you after working with dozens of YNABers on our popular budget reviews).

What’s it cost?

$150 $179, paid once. (We’ve had more demand for the help than initially expected, and raised the price accordingly.)

Update 1/20/2014: We’re in a good groove with the initial group of clients. If you’d like personal help, please email me at

New to YNAB, or maybe just a little rusty? Jump into our live class marathon on January 1.

graduation_capThe YNAB education team wants 2014 to be your best budgeting year ever, so Erin, Lee, Todd, Malisa, Ronna, Dave, and Sherri will be running eleven live classes on New Year’s Day. The classes and times of day are outlined below (in Eastern Standard Time); check out the official Live Classes page to see the schedule in your own time zone.

Getting Started with YNAB

ONE HOUR LONG: If you are new to YNAB, this is the place to start! It provides a solid, in depth introduction to the YNAB Methodology. You will learn how to set up an account, customize your categories, budget your dollars and work toward building your YNAB Buffer.

Jan 1 classes at 9am, 3pm, 6pm, and 9pm (Eastern Time)

Register for “Getting Started with YNAB.”

Starting Over

ONE HOUR LONG: During this class we’ll explore a few different ways you can start over in YNAB. Are your accounts balances way off? Has it been a while since you updated your budget? Are you feeling overwhelmed with your current budget? If you’ve been wanting to hit the reset button on YNAB, this is the class for you. A fresh start is not a sign of failure. It’s a way to take what you’ve learned and apply it. Join us for a fresh start!

Jan 1 classes at 5am, 10:30am, 1:30pm, 7:30pm (Eastern Time)

Register for “Starting Over.”

Handling Credit Cards

ONE HOUR LONG: During this class we’ll discuss how credit cards are handled in YNAB. We’ll go over how to set up a credit card account, budget for prior debt, budget for new purchases, record spending and payments and handle interest.

Jan 1 classes at 4:30pm, 10:30pm (Eastern Time)

Register for “Handling Credit Cards.”

Making your Budget Work

ONE HOUR LONG: In this course we’ll discuss how to add multiple accounts, organize your categories, use the scheduler to save time and work, and how to handle cash.

Jan 1 class at 12pm (Eastern Time).

Register for “Making Your Budget Work.”

Black Friday Sale: Get 50% Off YNAB (You Need A Budget)

ynab4_iconOver 5,700 You Need A Budget (YNAB) users replied to our recent Deep Dive Survey. More than 3,100 told us they’ve reduced their expenses by at least $100 per month since starting with YNAB’s money management method (and software).

Another 2,700 YNABers have added at least $1,000 to their savings account balances.

These numbers excite us, considering over half the respondents have been using the software less than one year.

We feel like those numbers prove YNAB is a great value at the normal $60 price – which makes the 50% discount we’re offering for Black Friday borderline silly.

From midnight US Eastern time through 11:59 PM on “Cyber Monday,” you can get YNAB’s powerful budgeting system for just $30.

If you’re ready to take total control of your money – and you love a good deal – it’s a great time to get started with YNAB.

If you need a little more inspiration, check out a few of our users’ success stories.

Apple Will Not Allow Us to Offer Discounted Upgrade Pricing to Mac App Store Customers

Here’s the gist of it.  Normally, when we release a new paid upgrade of YNAB (YNAB 3 to YNAB 4, 4 to 5, 5 to 6, etc.), we give discounts to existing customers, and give the upgrade for free to people who purchased recently (we call that the “my timing couldn’t have been worse” guarantee). Having always just sold YNAB directly from our website, this was pretty straightforward.

When we began selling YNAB through the Mac App Store a few months ago, we had planned on offering that same discounted upgrade pricing to those who purchased from the Mac App Store. Why wouldn’t we? They’re fellow YNABers, entitled to all our normal TLC.  Unfortunately, we’ve learned that Apple will not allow us to offer those discounts.

Basically, Apple sees Mac App Store customers as their customers. We understand that, but just feel bad that we can’t offer better service to those customers down the road.

Recently, the Omni Group, another popular Mac software vendor tried to offer discounted upgrade pricing. Within two days of announcing their plan to allow their Mac App Store customers to upgrade at a discount, they announced they were unable to offer upgrade pricing for Mac App Store purchases. The message is very clear: Apple does not allow vendors to offer discounted upgrades for customers who purchase software in the Mac App Store.

Like many of you, we’re quite disappointed.

If you’re a Mac App Store customer, and you have a specific question about this, reach out to us privately via email. We’d love to chat.

UPDATE: This post wasn’t meant to imply YNAB 5 is right around the corner (it’s still a long way off), it was just to let people know as soon as we knew, that we wouldn’t be able to offer an upgrade price (even through our own website) for those who originally purchased from the Mac App Store. Also, this limitation only applies to people who purchased their first YNAB version from the App Store, Mac versions purchased from Amazon, Steam, or directly from us will be eligible for any upgrade discount.