Should I start YNAB now, wait for sale, or wait until after I move?
May 19, 2015 8:50 AM   Subscribe

I've been looking over YNAB (You Need A Budget) and it looks like a good next step for me financially speaking. I am not sure if right now is the best time to start however. I may be seriously overthinking this plate of beans.

It seems like people expect a STEAM sale of the software within the next few weeks which could potentially drop the price from 60 dollars down to about 15 and I am about to start the search for a new apartment which I know leaves me completely incapable of focusing on anything properly until I move into my new place. I'd hate to start it and then 2-3 weeks from now go off the rails and have to start over again when my life settles back down.

So with those factors, should I:

1. Download the trial version now and hope the sale happens within the trial period?
2. Get the trial version and buy the software after I move without worrying about catching a sale?
3. Snag it during the STEAM sale and then not use it until after I move?
4. Stop assuming it will actually go on sale? I can afford the full price, but I know it would bug me if I pay full price when I could have gotten it at a steep discount.
posted by Julnyes to Work & Money (16 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
I did #1 and am glad I did, even though I ultimately decided to not wait for a sale. I found the trial period really helpful for getting used to the software. It also gave me time to do a "fresh start" when I totally screwed up my transaction history. Keep in mind that you can always do the free trial and then wait for a sale, even if there's a gap between. You could then fill in the gap once you have the full product, or just start a new budget.
posted by neushoorn at 8:55 AM on May 19, 2015

I started using YNAB in February, right before a move and I am SO GLAD I DID. Moving is a time when you can easily spend more money than usual. YNAB kept me from doing that. Really, it saved me $60 within the first week. In my opinion, the sooner you start using it, the more money you will save, so I wouldn't try to time buying it on sale.

FYI, about moving: if you have an iPad, you can reallocate (Rule 3) using the app. If you don't, then you will have to wait until you have Internet at your new place before you can do any budget adjustments (you can't move money around with the iPhone and Android apps, you can just input transactions). So you may want to get all your budget lines set up before you move so you can just input transactions for a couple weeks and not worry about having to do any allocations.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 8:56 AM on May 19, 2015

Best answer: 1. Yes.
4. I think you can pretty much count on it going on sale. You can also watch the webinars - they give away a free copy each time.

I found YNAB to have a bit of a learning curve (especially when dealing with credit cards), so I would think having a couple of weeks to play around with it before you are seriously focusing on it wouldn't be a bad thing.
posted by needlegrrl at 8:58 AM on May 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

I did the free trial and didn't manage to catch a sale, so I paid the full $60. Have been using it since last fall and it was worth every penny. The time to start is right now and it is worth making time for. Could be (and probably will be) hugely helpful when budgeting for your move too.
posted by futureisunwritten at 10:20 AM on May 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

It is very regularly discounted to 15 bucks, but try the trial and buy if you cannot wait.
posted by graventy at 10:57 AM on May 19, 2015

Best answer: They do a bunch of webinars regularly and give away one free copy of the software to participants so maybe do the webinars while waiting for the sales and if you don't win and the sale isn't in time then buy it. The classes are pretty full but you never know.
posted by edbles at 12:07 PM on May 19, 2015

Just do it now. It will change your life.
posted by latkes at 1:25 PM on May 19, 2015

YNAB has a 34-day (not sure where they got that number from...) trial, so I would just download it now. If it goes on sale within the next five weeks or so, you'll be covered.

It's very... opinionated software, in the sense that it has a very clear idea about how you should use it. This is generally a good thing; some of the limitations can be irritating (I'm not sure if the reason the mobile phone version is just a glorified transaction register that can't reallocate budgets is philosophical or just a failure on the company's part to implement the feature, but I hate it either way), but it works better for me than stuff like Mint ever did.
posted by Kosh at 1:49 PM on May 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Also, re: the concern about things going off the rails, the Fresh Start feature is really nice for this. As others have indicated, the software has a learning curve, so unless you really study the webinars and documentation first, you should expect to have to do a Fresh Start or two until you get the hang of using it.

Your budget categories will carry over when you do a Fresh Start; your specific allocations for those categories will not, so if you have a lot of fixed, predictable costs (like a phone bill or a cable bill) you have to re-enter those, which is annoying, but it's not so bad if you plan for it ahead of time.
posted by Kosh at 1:51 PM on May 19, 2015

I "fresh start"ed (or just started over from a totally blank slate) a couple of times while I was getting the hang of the way I wanted to use YNAB (which is mostly according to the four rules, but little more complicated because I use it to manage our personal finances but also both my and my wife's business finances). So I'd say start now without worrying about screwing it up, and if it does go off the rails that's fine because you'll learn from that for when you start fresh.
posted by Emanuel at 1:56 PM on May 19, 2015

Best answer: If Steam has a Memorial Day sale, it's quite likely YNAB will be in it. Check the YNAB forums over the course of the weekend and someone will post when it drops to $15 for a day. (It's often $45 for much of a holiday weekend and then drops to $15. I think I bought my copy 4th of July weekend last year.)

The webinars are surprisingly helpful, given that watching someone else demo software for an hour is enough to make me run away screaming almost without fail. The first month can be kind of rough in that you constantly feel like you have no money (since you're basically guessing how much to put in each category and you're still in the mindset that having to change the budget is bad, rather than neutral), so whenever you do start, remember that you're not failing.

YNAB has a 34-day (not sure where they got that number from...) trial,

I'm pretty sure they were aiming for "a few days more than a month" so most people would be paid at least once during their trial.
posted by hoyland at 4:05 PM on May 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

Check the YNAB forums

There's a typo in the URL. Good link:

(I had planned on downloading the trial tomorrow so this is very timely. I'll be looking for that $15 sale and I'll post here if I catch it.)
posted by Room 641-A at 4:35 PM on May 19, 2015

Definitely do the trial. I did the trial and really liked it, but actually ended up feeling like I didn't need everything on offer and was inspired to make up my own modified version in a spreadsheet. Plus you never know, it might not be the right thing for you.

Also, it took me quite awhile to figure out, but I'm a moron with money. I think it would be a lot to get that set up while in the moving process.

Do plan to hit that fresh start button a couple times.

It is a great program - the whole "give every dollar a job" thing is so simple but really changed how I looked at my (meager) money. Definitely download the trial.
posted by imalaowai at 8:18 PM on May 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for all the suggestions. I downloaded the trial version and the phone app last night and signed up for some of the tutorials this weekend. I also put it on my Steam wishlist so I'll get an alert when it goes on sale.
posted by Julnyes at 7:53 AM on May 20, 2015

Looks like the Steam sale starts on June 11: So you're golden!
posted by rabbitrabbit at 9:53 AM on June 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

Bad news. The developer says it's not part of the sale. He does provide a 10% discount link, though.
posted by Room 641-A at 8:04 PM on June 11, 2015

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