Simplifi vs. YNAB 2024: Which Is Best for You?

Both apps can help you budget, but we think Simplifi is easier to use.

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Updated May 21, 2024
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Simplifi and You Need A Budget (YNAB) provide similar budgeting features, including ways to track your income and expenses. They each have many overlapping uses, but we think Simplifi makes sense for beginners, while advanced budgeters can get the most value out of YNAB.

Simplifi focuses on user-friendliness and a streamlined interface, providing a quick and comprehensive look at your overall finances. YNAB takes a bit more getting used to, but enthusiasts swear by its zero-based budgeting approach if you can get over the learning curve.

In our Simplifi vs. YNAB comparison, see which budgeting app makes the most sense for you.

In this article

Key takeaways

  • We recommend Simplifi if you want a simple and affordable budgeting tool. We used the web-based app, which was very easy to navigate and packed with features. We had no issues linking bank accounts and checking accounts for making our different transactions.
  • If you’re already familiar with zero-based budgeting and budgeting apps, we recommend YNAB. The interface isn’t bad, but YNAB takes a different approach to budgeting that might be overwhelming for new users. That’s likely why you have 34 days to try it out.
  • YNAB lets you set multiple budgets, which could be useful if you want to separate business and personal expenses or if you’re running a budget for a family member. You can only set one budget with Simplifi.
  • From our experience, Simplifi had much more responsive customer service. We were chatting with someone within minutes of asking a question online while it took at least a day to receive a response from the YNAB team.

Simplifi vs. YNAB comparison

Simplifi YNAB
  • $24/yr
  • $14.99/mo or $99/yr
  • Budgeting
  • Reports
  • Bank account linking
  • Savings goals
  • Expense categories
  • Budget sharing
  • Budgeting
  • Reports
  • Bank account linking
  • Savings goals
  • Expense categories
  • Multiple budgets
Free trial No — there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee on annual plans Yes — 34 days
  • On desktop via a web browser
  • On iOS devices via the App Store
  • On Android devices via Google Play
  • On desktop via a web browser
  • On iOS devices via the App Store
  • On Android devices via Google Play
Best for… Beginner budgeters and people who want an affordable personal finance app Experienced budgeters or people willing to learn advanced techniques
Visit Simplifi or read our review Visit YNAB or read our review

Our verdict

  • We recommend Simplifi for a simple and affordable budgeting app. If you want a more advanced app with a zero-based budgeting approach, we recommend YNAB.

How does Simplifi work?

  • Offers a 30-day money-back guarantee on annual subscriptions
  • Doesn’t have in-app ads
  • Has a simple and streamlined interface
  • Doesn’t have a free trial
  • Doesn’t have a free version

Simplifi costs $24 per year.

The Simplifi app is easy to use from your phone or computer. After you link your bank accounts, it offers a comprehensive view of your finances.

We found the interface intuitive, and there were plenty of useful features available, including income and expense tracking and the option to create a spending plan. The spending plan could be useful for digging deeper into your expenses and making sure your spending habits are in line with your goals. And you don’t have to spend a lot of time categorizing transactions to create the spending plan. As this Reddit user notes:

A reddit user's review of Simplifi.

For how affordable Simplifi is, we expected fewer features. But there’s more than enough to help beginners take control of their finances. Experienced budgeters should have no problem diving into the different features and aligning them with their needs.

Visit SimplifiRead our Simplifi review

How does YNAB work?

Pros Cons
  • Offers a 34-day free trial
  • Has features for multiple budgets
  • Doesn’t have in-app ads
  • Might feel overwhelming at first for new users
  • Doesn’t have a free version

YNAB costs $14.99 per month or $99 per year.

YNAB can be used for simple budgeting features, such as tracking spending and income. Many users have also found real value from consistently using YNAB over time as they learn and employ advanced features.

We found YNAB a bit challenging at first. Over time, it took less and less effort to maintain. It takes time to figure out your budget and fully understand the approach.

This Reddit user agrees.

A reddit user's review of YNAB.

YNAB offers free online workshops, though, with a live instructor, and those workshops were very helpful. It also has a very active community online, so it’s easy to find a place to ask questions.

Visit YNABRead our YNAB review

Simplifi vs. YNAB: What both companies excel at

  • Savings goals: You can set savings goals, an essential budgeting feature, with both Simplifi and YNAB.
  • Categories: Both apps provide common categories for different types of transactions, but you can customize and rename your own categories or add new ones.
  • Bank connections: You can easily connect your financial accounts to either app so all your transactions show up in one place. Simplifi uses Intuit to connect accounts while YNAB uses multiple partners including Plaid.
  • Device compatibility: Simplifi and YNAB are available to use on web browsers, iOS devices (App Store), and Android devices (Google Play).
  • Reports: Both apps provide reports to easily see spending trends. You can also check specific dates to dig into the details of different spending periods.
  • Export transactions: You can export your transactions to a .CSV file if you use spreadsheets along with budgeting apps.

6 important differences between Simplifi and YNAB

1. Pricing

Simplifi costs $2 per month on an annual plan, which comes out to $24 per year. YNAB costs $14.99 per month or $99 per year ($8.25 per month).

Simplifi is much more affordable than YNAB — it’s not even close. If you’re just starting to learn how to manage your money, we recommend using a simple and inexpensive budgeting app. After all, a budgeting app should help you stay on budget, not add a large expense.

Winner: Simplifi wins because it costs less.

2. Free trial

Simplifi doesn’t have a free trial. It does have a 30-day money-back guarantee, but that requires you to pay the upfront cost and then talk to customer service if you want to cancel.

YNAB offers a 34-day free trial, which should be plenty of time to test its app. It’s also nice that YNAB doesn’t collect any payment info for you to start the trial (as long as you sign up directly through YNAB).

Winner: YNAB wins here because it has a free trial, while Simplifi has a 30-day money-back guarantee.

3. Investment tracking

Simplifi has an investment tracking feature while YNAB doesn’t have a dedicated investments feature. With YNAB, you would have to manually add and update your investments. With Simplifi, you can connect investment accounts, and they’ll automatically update.

Winner: Simplifi comes out on top because it has dedicated investment tracking.

4. Customer service

We tested the customer support experience with both apps by using the in-app messaging service.

With the Simplifi web app, we were told the average wait time was three minutes, and we were connected to a live representative in about four minutes.

With the YNAB web app, we were told the average response time was one to two days.

Winner: Simplifi bests YNAB because its customer service team was more responsive.

5. Budgeting approach

YNAB uses a zero-based budgeting approach while Simplifi uses a general budgeting method that can work with most strategies.

The YNAB zero-based budget assigns every dollar you make to an expense or savings goal. At the end of the day, you should be left with zero dollars. That doesn’t actually mean you have no money left over; it just means all of your money is being used for something, whether it’s spending or saving.

With Simplifi, you can set up a spending plan to show your total income and expenses. Then you can decide what to do with that information.

Both strategies can be useful. It just depends on which one makes more sense to you.

Winner: It’s a tie because the better budgeting approach depends on your preferences.

6. Multiple budgets

Simplifi lets you create one spending plan and that’s it. With YNAB, you can create multiple budgets for increased flexibility.

Here are a few reasons you might want multiple budgets.

  • You have a budget for personal expenses and a budget for business expenses
  • You have a budget and your significant other has a budget
  • You have a budget and you also have a budget for your parents
  • You have a budget and you’re teaching your child about money with their own budget

You can invite another user to access and edit your Simplifi account, but you’re still stuck with one spending plan.

YNAB lets you invite up to five people to share one subscription. Each member can create budgets and share them with other group members, making it easy to budget in different scenarios.

Winner: YNAB is the winner because you can set multiple budgets while Simplifi only lets you set one.

Which company should you choose?

When you should choose Simplifi

  • You’re new to budgeting and want a simple and intuitive personal finance app
  • You prefer a general budgeting approach that can be adjusted for different budgeting styles
  • You want an affordable budgeting app (starting at $2 per month for an annual plan)
  • You don’t have a need to create more than one budget
  • You only plan on using a budgeting app for yourself or with one other person

When you should choose YNAB

  • You’re familiar with basic budgeting strategies and how to use budgeting apps
  • You prefer a zero-based budgeting approach
  • You don’t mind paying $14.99 per month or $99 per year
  • You want to create multiple budgets
  • You want to share one subscription with multiple people

What factors to consider before choosing

Consider these factors as you compare Simplifi, YNAB, and other budgeting apps.

  • Cost: Simplifi is an affordable budgeting app, while YNAB is slightly more expensive. However, you can test both apps before making a firm decision. Simplifi has a 30-day money-back guarantee, while YNAB has a 34-day free trial.
  • Features: It’s common for budgeting apps to offer expense and income tracking as well as some sort of budget creator feature. But features can be implemented in different ways, so it could help to test out apps and see what you prefer.
  • Interface: Some apps are more intuitive than others, which we think plays a big role in making an app useful. If you can’t figure out how something works, it’s not going to benefit you much.
  • System compatibility: Simplifi and YNAB are available on mobile apps and web browsers, which is how we feel most budgeting apps should be. This allows you to check your budget no matter where you are.
  • Budgeting style: Different budgeting apps use different budgeting strategies. Some might come more naturally to you than others.
  • Customer support: It’s common to have questions about certain tools or features at some point. Hopefully, the app you choose has a dedicated support team that responds quickly with useful information.


Is there a better budgeting app than YNAB?

Some of the best YNAB alternatives include:

Is Simplifi a replacement for Quicken?

Quicken Simplifi is a personal finance app similar to Quicken Classic, but Simplifi provides a simpler and more streamlined experience. You can use Simplifi on the go with its mobile app or web application while Quicken Classic is only accessible via desktop application. Both apps are made by Quicken.

Simplifi vs. YNAB: bottom line

We recommend both Simplifi and YNAB because both apps can help you budget and save money.

However, we think Simplifi makes sense if you want an affordable app and are new to budgeting. YNAB makes sense for people who already know the basics of budgeting and won’t be overwhelmed by advanced strategies.

If these apps don’t seem like the right fit for you, check out our list of the best budgeting apps for alternatives.

Consolidates bank accounts, investments, retirement savings, and more in one place
Supports automated debt balance tracking
Has customizable budgets and savings goals
Offers web and mobile app versions

Author Details

Ben Walker, CEPF, CFEI®

Ben Walker, CEPF, CFEI®, is credit cards specialist. For over a decade, he's leveraged credit card points and miles to travel the world. His expertise extends to other areas of personal finance — including loans, insurance, investing, and real estate — and you can find his insights on The Washington Post,, Yahoo! Finance, and Fox Business.