Monarch Money vs. YNAB:  Which Budget Tool is Better?

November 10, 2023

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You know that budgeting is critical to hitting your family’s financial goals. But what’s the best budgeting tool when there are so many options? It is time to explore two budgeting powerhouses in this Monarch Money vs YNAB throwdown! 

Who is Monarch Money?

Monarch Money is an all-in-one money platform. Created by a team of startup veterans, Monarch Money launched in 2020. Co-founders include Val Agostino, Jon Sutherland, and Ozzie Osman. With their startup background, they wanted to create a finance app that really prioritized user experience. 

Their goal is to ensure that families have the tools and information they need to optimize their finances. To do that, they incorporated many features to create a comprehensive financial picture. 

Some standout features include:

  • Net worth syncing
  • Budgeting
  • Investments
  • Spending insights
  • Financial goals
  • Transaction list

Monarch Money also tracks transactions across all your accounts and recurring transactions in one calendar. Additionally, all of this information is available at your fingertips through a personalized financial dashboard. To make sure that they are helping families get on the same financial page, Monarch Money allows users to invite a partner to join their household. Then, you and your partner can have a fuller picture of your family finances. 

Who is YNAB?

YNAB, otherwise known as You Need a Budget, is one of the original budgeting tools to take the personal finance world by storm. 

Jesse Mecham launched YNAB back in 2004. He designed the tool based on a spreadsheet that he and his wife used to turn their financial picture around. YNAB uses four different principles to help people take control of their financial lives.

The YNAB principles include:

  • Give every dollar a job
  • Embrace your true expenses
  • Roll with the punches
  • Age your money

YNAB doesn’t try to tell people how to spread their money. Instead, it encourages users to align their spending and saving with their true priorities—whatever they may be. Then, YNAB designs a plan to hold you and your wallet accountable. By knowing where your money is going, you can hit your goals more efficiently. Plus, you can adapt and adjust throughout your financial journey.

According to YNAB, new budgeters save an average of $600 in the first two months of using the app. That number jumps all the way up to $6,000 by the end of the first year. 

Monarch Money vs. YNAB: The Ultimate Showdown – Round 1

When it comes to the Monarch Money vs. YNAB debate, how do you determine a winner? Take a look at the top features of each app to help you get started. 

Monarch Money: Best Features

Monarch Money Overview

There are so many aspects of Monarch Money that we love. Let’s take a deeper dive into some of the best features. 

Net Worth Syncing

Your net worth can be a solid indicator of your financial health. But sometimes it gets a little complicated to calculate it. 

With Monarch Money’s net worth syncing feature, you don’t need to worry about overlooking any assets or liabilities. Instead, Monarch Money allows you to sync all of your financial accounts so you can track your net worth with ease.

User Experience

There is a lot of overlap across fintech tools. Many crunch numbers similarly and help you budget, save, and invest. One thing that tends to lag, though, is the user experience.

That is not the case with Monarch Money. Users will notice that the interface is incredibly intuitive. Customers report being so excited by the app that they are quick to want to add a partner–and they can do so easily. There simply isn’t the learning curve that exists with other financial platforms. 

While Monarch Money certainly isn’t the most widely used budgeting tool (yet), it’s making a name for itself for being so user-friendly. Many testimonials on their site are from people who have happily abandoned the clunkier apps in favor of Monarch.  


It’s no secret that we think money is something that couples should do and discuss together. While we don’t necessarily think everyone needs joint finances, we do think it’s important to be transparent and honest. Sometimes that can be difficult, though. 

Monarch Money makes it incredibly simple to add users to your finances. Plus, you can customize how much financial information is shared between partners. With more and more people living in the sandwich generation, it wouldn’t be uncommon for someone to add both their husband and an elderly parent to their household finances. Of course, the information you might want to share could vary greatly depending on your relationship. Monarch Money makes it easy to customize that. Additionally, you can add extra household members for no additional cost. 

YNAB: Best Features

YNAB Homepage

YNAB has thousands upon thousands of loyal fans, and they didn’t grow their fanbase by accident. The best features of YNAB were deliberately designed and are worth exploring more. 

Money Principles

One of the best features of YNAB has to do with the four guiding money principles. Very few other budgeting apps are built around such a clearly articulated methodology. While this methodology does require some getting used to, it pays off big for YNAB users. 

One of the principles that we especially appreciate is the age of money principle. By tracking the age of your money, YNAB can help you understand how quick you are to spend money. Have you ever felt like you collect a paycheck and it's already spent? You’re not alone! Understanding the age of your money can help you reign in your spending and boost your savings even when it feels like you don’t have anything left to save. 

Includes Goal Setting

YNAB doesn’t just want you to save for the sake of saving. Instead, YNAB wants to help you hit your financial goals. Using the various goal-tracking tools in the app, you can allocate money toward your debts, monthly savings, regular spending, and specific goals. 

To help you see your progress toward those goals, YNAB also features some very detailed reporting. You can review the data easily to keep better track of your dollars and your goals.

Monarch Money vs. YNAB: The Ultimate Showdown – Round 2

Of course, as much as we love both apps, neither is perfect. For the next round of the Monarch Money vs. YNAB battle, take a look at the areas for improvement across both platforms. 

Monarch Money: Areas for Improvement

Monarch Money Pricing

There’s a lot to love about Monarch Money. Watching the platform grow over the last few years proves that it really does help families improve their finances. However, there are still a few areas for improvement.


There are plenty of free budgeting tools, so it’s worth mentioning that Monarch Money comes with a cost. 

Monarch Money gives you two different options to pay. Users can pay each month or annually. If you pay by the month, you will be charged $14.99 each month. To save more than 40%, you can pay a single annual fee of $99.99. 

We see families getting more than enough value out of Monarch Money to make it worth it. However, we also know that some people might take issue with having to pay for a budgeting tool. 

Cryptocurrency Platform Connections

While cryptocurrency may have lost some of its luster in the headlines as of late, we do believe that crypto is here to stay. Monarch Money does support more than fifty coins. Users can search for any of the supported crypto coins in the investment section. That means that you can monitor their performance the same way you would track other investments.

However, Monarch Money only connects with Coinbase. So if cryptocurrency plays a significant role in your portfolio now or in the future, you may have to work with other apps to get a true picture of your finances. 

Don’t miss an even more in-depth look at all the best features and areas for improvement in our Monarch Money review!

YNAB: Areas for Improvement

YNAB Pricing

There’s no doubt that YNAB has a lot to offer its users. That being said, there are some drawbacks to the app that are worth mentioning. 


Just like Monarch Money, YNAB is subscription-based. The biggest benefit to the subscription model is that users don’t have to worry about distracting ads cluttering up the experience. 

However, with so many people on such tight budgets, not everyone wants to pay for their budgeting tools. YNAB clocks in at $14.99 a month or $99 annually. They also offer users a free 34-day trial. 

Learning Curve

While YNAB fanatics are quick to sing its praises, they also have to admit that the learning curve can sometimes be steep and painful. Of course, YNAB believes that their budgeting method is actually what helps its users find so much success. 

Still, for people who are looking for a quick financial win and don’t have the time to really dig into how a tool works, YNAB probably isn’t the tool for them. 

Take a closer look at our favorite features and room for growth in our YNAB review!

Final Verdict on our Monarch Money vs. YNAB

So who is the winner when it comes to Monarch Money vs. YNAB? It might be too close to call!

Both tools might lose points with some prospective users since Monarch Money and YNAB are both subscription based. Thousands of people find the apps more than pay for themselves. But there are plenty of free tools you can explore too.

If you’re looking for an app that is intuitive and can serve as a great money date starter, Monarch Money might be right for you. But if you have time to work through the learning curve, it might be worth exploring YNAB to see how much money it can put back in your budget each month. 

If we're choosing a winner that fits best with the family-focused theme on this channel, we're going with Monarch Money due to its ability to allow for partners and its easier ramp-up speed.

After all, the hardest part about budgeting and money management is simply getting started. So extra points to Monarch Money for that.

Who has your vote in the Monarch Money vs. YNAB showdown?

Please let us know in the comments below. 

Andy Hill

Andy Hill, AFC® is the award-winning family finance coach behind Marriage Kids and Money - a platform dedicated to helping families build wealth and happiness. With millions of podcast downloads and video views, Andy’s message of family financial empowerment has resonated with listeners, readers and viewers across the world. When he's not "talking money", Andy enjoys being a Soccer Dad, singing karaoke with his wife and relaxing on his hammock.

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