I came from spreadsheets to YNAB, and I would say the value for me was being able to do entry on-the-go easily, being able to easily split transactions, and keeping tracking of cash without saving receipts which I was crap at. It also helped me think of different accounts/cash as holistically “one pile of money to be budgeted” which made me make better decisions about money. It lets me feel more comfortable seeing how far out my money goes.
The thing I freaking hate about YNAB is how crap it is at multiple currencies. I have separate YNAB budgets for every currency I have, which is a mess. I have a lot. And then when I move things between foreign currencies/budgets and my US accounts, I need to do the conversion in my main budget…
I also, clearly love the reports, and I was at the point my budgeting spreadsheet had way too many pivot tables.
(Also you can move an emergency fund to “off budget” which means it won’t count in your “to be budgeted” total; or you can just create a category for sinking funds/buffers. I have a rolling $4,000 category that’s “on-budget” that’s just “buffer”.)
Full disclosure: I was also grandfathered in, and pay $45/year; I went a full year past them releasing “new YNAB” before I transitioned because I am cheap. I save way more than $45/year from YNAB, if I was going to pay $85, I would use it like netflix with people I trust to split the cost since you can have unlimited budget. I also refer SO MANY PEOPLE that I don’t think I personally need to pay for it for a few years