Mvelopes vs YNAB

Personal budgeting software, like Mvelopes vs YNAB which we will discuss below, will not help much with self-deprivation. Your income is just what it is and you have to work within it or change it. Well, somehow, budgeting has developed a reputation as a tedious and challenging process. But you need to do some budgeting to make sure that you don’t spend more money than you earn. Personal budgeting software can take out both the tedium and the challenge from the whole process; the software can help you create and stick to a plan, and some apps also come with additional features that can be handy depending on your needs.

Frankly, Mvelopes and YNAB are two very different apps. The stark differences can make it very easy for you to determine which one that you need. Mvelopes is an online personal finance app that is based on the antiquated“envelope budgeting” premise. Divide your cash into envelopes that are specifically marked for different purposes. On the other hand, You Need a Budget a.k.a. YNAB is an extremely popular finance app that has practically built up cult following, thanks to the beginner-friendly tools.

Installation and Data Storage

First of all, Mvelopes vs YNAB have different characteristics in terms of installation and data storage. Mvelopes is a web-based service. You can access the website from any browser, and simply login with your password to get into your account. Of course, all data are stored in the cloud. While Mvelopes is indeed safe and trustworthy, some people may feel uncomfortable with the idea of storing private data online.

On the other hand, YNAB is a browser-based program that you download to your computer. Since it runs on your computer, all data are stored on your hard drive. This may seem like a safer option, but don’t forget that the security greatly depends on your computer’s defense.

Nevertheless, both Mvelopes and YNAB are also available as mobile apps for Android and iOS platforms. Their mobile apps automatically sync with the cloud/desktop client. In other words, you should be able do the budgeting even when you are away from your computer. Mvelopes’s mobile apps are fully free, whereas YNAB is available as a lite free version and a paid full version.

Creating a Budget on Mvelopes

When creating a budget on Mvelopes, you first schedule your paychecks for the month so that you will have a base amount that should not be neglected. From here, you budget the amounts for other expenses. In Mvelopes’s terms, this means that you allot amounts to specific envelopes. You can create more envelopes, delete some envelopes, add limits. You can also copy the budgets from a previous month to save time.

Furthermore, you can edit every individual envelope to change the name and category. You can also set a bill to be daily, monthly, or periodically. So, you can schedule out for the whole year instead of just for a few months. It would be great if you can pay online bills right from the app, but, no, Mvelopes cannot do that.

Creating a Budget on YNAB

YNAB’s interface is very neat and logically organized. When you are creating a budget, you can also view the actual amounts that you spend on the previous month to approximate how much that you need for the following month. Of course, you can also copy the budget from month to month to save time and then adjust the individual categories as needed.

One nice thing about YNAB is that it enables you to have certain accounts off budget. This is useful if you need to separate different accounts into different budgets – one example is if you don’t want to factor the personal checking account into your family budget.

Mvelopes: Accounting Methods

The next difference between Mvelopes vs YNAB is regarding the accounting methods. Mvelopes is very convenient because you can easily drag and drop transactions into the appropriate envelopes. You can also make it sync automatically to the financial institutions so that it will auto-import your balances and transactions. Although the transactions are automatically categorized, you can still customize the categories as needed.

When the budget of a category or envelope is exceeded, the balance appears in red. Mvelopes will also ask you on how to address the situation if a transaction puts an envelope into a negative state, either by adding more funds or letting it go negative. However, Mvelopes doesn’t really send alerts if your budget is exceeded. This app lacks specific reporting for tax purposes and investment accounts. Reports can be exported as PDF or CSV files.

YNAB: Accounting Methods

One the other hand, YNAB is also able to simplify your financial tracking by connecting directly to the bank and credit card companies to automatically download transactions. However, you can also download them by yourself (the compatible formats are CSV, OFX, QIF, and QFX) and import manually, if necessary.

YNAB can report on spending, trends, net worth, and incomes versus expenses. You can adjust the timeframe of the report, and you can also export the reports as CSV files. However, just like Mvelopes, YNAB doesn’t have tracking and reporting features for investment. Well, you can add bought/sold securities as typical transactions and keep track of your broker account total, but that’s just the extent of YNAB’s capability in this aspect.


Finally, let’s compare the pricing of Mvelopes vs YNAB. Even though Mvelopes does not have any free tier, it provides 30-day trials for the two lowest of the three subscription tiers. The Basic plan is only $4/month, already providing unlimited envelopes and financial accounts, automatic transaction importing, and reports. The Plus plan costs $19/month to provide quarterly coaching sessions and some features like deb assessment and debt reduction center. Finally, the Complete plan costs $59/month for monthly coaching sessions, personalized financial planning, and high-level support priority.

On the other hand, YNAB’s pricing is much simpler; it provides a free trial for 34 days and then it costs $50 per year. You can get the complete features from the subscription.

- Based on envelope budgeting- Beginner-friendly budgeting tools and features
- Web-based app that is accessible from any browser- Browser-based client app
- Stores data online- Stores data in the hard drive
- Automatically import transactions from financial institutions- Has automatic and manual transaction importing
- Lacks specific reporting for tax purposes and investment accounts- Can add bought/sold securities and keep track of your broker account total


Mvelopes is great if you are a fan of envelope budgeting. This app is simple yet effective. You can access Mvelopes from any browser, as well as from the mobile apps. However, YNAB should be your choice if you prefer to use a desktop client instead of storing data online. YNAB is also great because it keeps track of your broker account.

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