We used EveryDollar for 9 months, then switched to YNAB. I have updated this post to reflect my current thinking abut EveryDollar after using it for 9 months. While it has some good features, my husband and I both like YNAB much better. (Detailed review of YNAB here.) In the meantime, here’s an completely honest EveryDollar review.
In it, I address how EveryDollar stacks up against the 6 main features I want in a budgeting app:
The customizability of EveryDollar gets and 8/10. You have complete control over the number and names of categories, just as you would in a spreadsheet. You have control over how you classify them as well. You can see in the screenshot below I clicked ‘mortgage’ and can change it to ‘rent.’
Or, since I don’t pay HOA dues, I can click the trash can and get rid of that line.
Or let’s say I prefer to change the budget group currently titled “HOUSING” to “YO MOMMA’S HOUSE.” Easy peasy. Just click “HOUSING” and type your preferred title.
Each month, you have the option to copy your current month’s budget for next month or start fresh.
Downside – You cannot move the category groups around. So, in the above picture, there is no way to click and drag the “savings” group to be under “yo momma’s house” group. You’d have to delete the groups and recreate them manually.
2. Rollover Sinking Funds Option
There is an option to ‘roll over’ budget categories from one month to the next or not. Let’s take the example of Christmas gifts. You know Christmas is coming. If you were to start budgeting for Christmas in June, you’d have 7 months to save up (including July and December). Let’s say you know you’re going to spend $700 on Christmas gifts. That breaks down to $100/ month between now and then. So, you set up a “Christmas Gifts” category on your budget and make it a fund.
I don’t think EveryDollar’s setup of this is totally intuitive. We ended up making every single category a fund so that we wouldn’t lose track of money. If you’re using EveryDollar, I’d recommend making them all funds because there’s no other way to account for extra ‘remaining’ money if it doesn’t roll over to the next month. (YNAB has a way better way of dealing with this, in my opinion.)
This tells EveryDollar that you want this money to stack up each month. So, in June, you turn on your fund and start the balance at zero. If you already had set aside $500 for Christmas gifts, you’d start the balance at $500.
Then, in July, your budget sheet will note you are contributing another 100 dollars, but that the balance of this category, or this fund is at $200 (assuming you haven’t spent any). In August, if you hadn’t spent any, you’d have $300, etc etc etc.
We used to do this process manually on a spreadsheet, and I know a few other friends who track their “funds” within their checking accounts manually too. So, I like that EveryDollar incorporates an easy way to make some categories funds. But, like I said, the way YNAB handles sinking funds makes more sense to me.
Related: What the Heck is a Sinking Fund and Why Will It Revolutionize Your Budget?
3. Connects with Baby Steps
If you follow along with the Dave Ramsey Baby Steps, you can make goals in EveryDollar that align with the steps. I like this in theory, but we couldn’t really figure out how to get it to line up and update. I’m sure that’s mostly a user error…. We have our own spreadsheet we’d been tracking debt progress in, so, when it wasn’t totally intuitive, we didn’t try very hard to figure it out.
4. Category Balances & Budget Adjustments
You have to click the number under spent/ remaining to see what you’ve either spent or have left.
When you’re on the “remaining” view, blue numbers are where you stayed within budget and red numbers mean you went over budget.
When you’re on the “spent” view, you just have to look closely and see that you went over, or click over to the “remaining” view.
Honestly, the view part was super annoying to me! Again, easier in YNAB, which looks like this:
The left number is what you’ve budgeted; the middle number is what you’ve spent; the colored number is what’s remaining (green) or over budget (red).
With EveryDollar, if you go over-budget, and it’s not set as a fund, you have to manually notice it, and adjust the budget accordingly. Or, if you’re under-budget and you want to use the extra for savings, you have to manually change the original budget numbers for those categories.
YNAB has an automated way of taking care of this.
You can click the red/ green numbers and move the money to other categories. Otherwise, they automatically take overspending out of next month’s budget. (All the green numbers automatically rollover within the category.)
5. Tracking Your Spending
I know some people want a budgeting tool to automatically categorize their spending purchases. In that case, EveryDollar isn’t for you.
This is actually a “pro” to us! In all our budgeting experience, we’ve found that tools that automatically categorize all your spending for you don’t really work that well. They generally end up being too “hands off” for the budgeter. It’s hard to make progress in sticking to a budget if you don’t have to categorize your own spending.
Plus, the automatic tracking apps are typically glitchy & you have to spend a good chunk of time up front teaching those tools how to categorize your money. What if “Walmart” is usually connected to your groceries budget, but then one time you get a birthday gift there and then forget to categorize it accordingly? It throws off both your grocery and gift budgets. Or, if you go to Walmart and buy groceries, a gift, and diapers, you have to manually split the transaction anyway. I’m sure you could get used to that but it seems like a hassle.
Plus, there’s a bigger reason we like manually categorizing transactions anyway.
[Just a one minute side track from this “product review” style post to make a case for not using an automatic-categorizing budgeting software.]
Getting control of your money is emotional.
Just recently, someone I really respect and who is a good money-manager described the following to me: they use a credit card for most of their spending (to rack up the points), and then pay it in full every single month. They are debt free besides their home and don’t use credit to buy things they can’t afford. They merely use a credit card instead of a debit card in order to earn the rewards.
This person said to me that their family recently decided to open two more checking accounts at their bank, one for the husband and one for the wife’s personal spending/ allowance/ blow money categories. We take out cash each month for those categories, but this family strongly preferred to not carry around cash, and had some other preferences in terms of carrying a card.
BUT, they recognized it was hard to track on a credit card even though they were paying it off in full each month. So they move the allotted amount at the beginning of the month into their “spending money” checking accounts, and each has a debit card tied to his or her account. Then, when the money is gone from there, it’s gone.
No more spending money until next month. The person telling me this described how it feels a lot different and they are much more careful now with their spending than when they used the credit card. “Because when it’s on debit, the money is actually leaving the account and it makes me reconsider whether I really want that item or not.”
And these are people who do not carry credit card balances or have any debt besides a mortgage. People who have a good handle on their money. And they still notice that it feels different to use debit than credit.
Spending money is emotional. And I am extremely convinced that if you don’t feel that you are spending money, it is much much much harder to stick to a budget. So, it makes sense then, that I have a strong preference for manually categorizing all of our purchases. This is what we’ve done on a spreadsheet for a long time. EveryDollar makes this so much easier because of the option to automatically connect to your bank account.
[side track over – back to the product review stuff]
So How Does EveryDollar Handle Transactions?
EveryDollar has two options for entering transactions:
Manually enter it using this button and box (it took me 2 minutes to do 5 transactions).
This box will pop up and you enter in the information about your purchase.
The second option is pay $99 for EveryDollar Plus, which connects to your bank account so your transactions show up on the side, and then you just click and drag them to the correct category.
After a month of using EveryDollar, we thought we’d stick to EveryDollar as our main budgeting tool, so we decided to pay for this for two reasons. Convenience. Obviously it’s easier to click and drag than to type in the transactions (even though typing them in doesn’t take much time). Were it only a matter of convenience, we probably would just do it ourselves in the spirit of not-spending-extra-money-to-get-out-of-debt.
But a few times, we’ve missed purchases. And when you’re tracking every dollar you spend and you miss one, it gets pretty complicated. We’ve dumped extra money towards loans only to have a debit card transaction clear a few days later that we forgot about. We just decided it was worth it to not miss any transactions to pay the $99 for a year. EveryDollar is free, but if you want to connect to your accounts, it’s $99 for one year up front, which is what the banks charge them to connect. If you’re going to pay the $99, don’t forget to budget it in 🙂
$99/ year seems high to me, especially since YNAB is $50/year and they connect to your budget too.
6. Generally Glitchy
We found that while we really wanted to like and stick with EveryDollar (since we had paid $99 for it and done 9 months worth of budgeting with it), it was just too glitchy. 🙁
Conclusion of EveryDollar Review
- EveryDollar is a fine basic budgeting tool, but not great.
- The free version functions basically like an automated version of a pen and paper. There’s a lot of manual messing with it required.
- It’s better than nothing!!
- Ultimately, I think YNAB is way better, and have reviewed it in detail here.
Anything I missed? Have you tried this new budgeting tool? If not, what do you use to budget? If you have any questions or comments, feel free to comment below.