The Difference Between Mint and YNAB

From Podcast #197: The Difference Between Mint and YNAB, the one in which Jesse—wait for it—explains the difference between Mint and YNAB with television and movie analogies.

As I’m chatting with strangers in the grocery store, as I meander up and down the aisles, sticking to the outside to keep things healthy, sometimes, I end up talking about what I do.

Fellow Grocers: “What do you do?”

Me: “I own a software company. We teach people a new, better way of thinking about their money and we sell them software. It’s called YNAB.”

Fellow Grocers: “It’s called Y-What?”

Me: “YNAB.”

Fellow Grocers: “Oh, okay. I use Mint.”

Me: “Right, okay. That’s great.”

We are often lumped together with Mint as if we are interchangeable. We aren’t.

And here’s why. The difference between YNAB and Mint is like CSI. At the beginning of the show, you’ve got a body. There’s been a death—probably something very tragic—and the rest of the hour-long drama is figuring out how the person died. So you’re connecting a lot of dots and digging into the past, looking back and trying to put it all together. But the person did die and they are still dead.

YNAB, on the other hand, is a lot like Minority Report, that Tom Cruise movie with the precogs? Remember? They were a little creepy, but they can predict the future and actually prevent crimes from happening in the first place. They could prevent the death. No dead body necessary. YNAB is all about focusing forward, where Mint is looking back.

I think Mint’s great for other reasons—getting a big picture of your finances or finding a new online savings account or a new credit card, they help sort those things out as well. But it is not a budget.

YNAB helps you look forward and proactively decide where to spend your money instead of looking back and kind of wondering, “Gosh, what happened? Where did it all go?”

So, Mint: post-mortem on a dead body. YNAB: no dead body.

But in all seriousness, if you really want something to change, and you want your finances to look or feel differently, you have to be intentional and proactive about where your money will go, before you spend it. You can’t just look back and pretend that an end-of-the-month spending analysis is going to move the needle. The only way to really change things is to look forward and change them before they happen.

For more about how to stop living paycheck-to-paycheck, get out of debt and save more money, faster—subscribe to the YNAB podcast today! Until next time, follow YNAB’s Four Rules and you will win financially. You’ve never budgeted like this.