Mvelopes – Online Envelope Budgeting
I heartily advocate retail therapy when necessary, but I’m more of a practical shopper most of the time. I’m just way too aware of how precarious my financial footing is to lose myself in the joys of acquiring new goodies. Most of the time. So, in order to best prepare for those rainy-day OldNavy.com shopping sprees, I use high tech envelope budgeting in the form of Mvelopes to manage my money.
The envelope system of budgeting has been around for at least as long as paper currency has been, but in today’s fast-paced, digitally remastered society it desperately needs an update. That’s where Mvelopes comes in. Mvelopes is essentially a system for budgeting and personal finance management that organizes your accounts into virtual envelopes. You can divert your income into the appropriate envelopes and then you *really* know exactly how much you have to spend on those amazing shoes without dipping into money you need to pay your necessary bills and expenses.
There are several other web apps that meet the virtual envelope criteria, but Mvelopes has a deep set of features that bring it head and shoulders above the rest. The down side to being full featured is that the learning curve is a bit steep, but it is well worth the time necessary to understand everything Mvelopes can do. The good news is that there is a lot that you can automate, such as which envelopes each paycheck should be funded to and at what amounts.
BillPay is included for the first 15 transactions per month. One feature I love about Mvelopes BillPay is that the funds aren’t withdrawn from your account until the check is actually cashed, just as if you sent a check yourself. Transactions are automatically downloaded from over 14,000 financial institutions and you can manually track offline accounts such as cash. The (currently in beta) Debt Center helps you pay down your debt and tracking your net worth growth is easy. Mobile access is supported via m.mvelopes.com; this feature is especially important for people who manage finances with another person.
We have been able to weather major life obstacles thanks to Mvelopes giving us the insight to make better financial decisions. We have had the emergency funds to handle replacing my car when I found myself in a vehicle sandwich, for example, but we always find ourselves starting our emergency fund over from ground zero for a while after. During those very stressful paycheck-to-paycheck periods, a really useful tool I’ve discovered is using a calendar to predict cash flow. It helps me plan exactly how much needs to go in my mortgage envelope before it gets drafted on the 10th of the month, for example. This is the only area I feel Mvelopes has left significant room for improvement. Until then, I supplement Mvelopes with a free account at Pocketsmith.com when there is more month than money. That’s probably overkill for most people, but I need to feel 100% in control of my money to feel secure and at free and between $8 and $14 per month, both services are cheaper than Xanax!