Best Digital Apps and Tools to Use Instead of the Envelope System
If you're looking to up get a better handle on your finances, you might have come across the envelope budgeting system. However, one major drawback is that it requires you to use cash. (Hi. Does anyone carry cash anymore?)
Fortunately there are more tech-forward options that work the same way if you've moved beyond paper.
Many banks nowadays, especially online banks like Simple, have mobile apps that are not only user friendly but also offer built-in savings and budgeting tools.
For example, Simple's app lets you create savings goals — whether it's for rent, vacation or student loans — and allows you to move money into that financial goal on your schedule. You can move money manually or set up auto-savings that take a small amount each day until your meet your goal. Think of it as a digital envelope.
Mint is an all-around great budgeting app for those looking to track their spending. The app lets you see your finances all in one place. Credit cards, loans, bank accounts ... even retirement savings are all gathered into one dashboard so you can get a holistic view of your finances.
By syncing your bank account information, you can better understanding your spending habits and make adjustments. You can even track your bills and due dates through the app without logging into multiple sites. This would make paying your student loan payment on time a breeze.
Plus, Mint has budgeting capabilities that let you auto-categorize certain transactions. Then, by clicking on the budget tab, you can quickly scan to see how much money you have left in any category for the month.
If you're looking to learn lifelong personal finance lessons, along with a system that lets you budget and save, consider You Need A Budget, or YNAB.
This personal finance site allows users to track financial goals, pay down debt, and sync your bank information.
The system is founded on four major budgeting rules — like "Give Every Dollar a Job," which asks you to prioritize how to spend your money — that help you stay on track. This program costs $7 a month, but it offers a money-back guarantee. On average, the company says new users save $600 by the second month.
Like Mint, YNAB can help you categorize your budget into different areas, such as bills, shopping, or rent. Once you've maxed out of each category for the month, YNAB will let you know.
An envelope-like budgeting app, Mvelopes aims to to get you out of debt or save for a big expense. Like the other offerings we've mentioned, Mvelopes is all about planning how you're going to spend your money every month.
The company says it can help users save 10% on their living expenses and reduce debt quicker.
The app also lets you capture purchases in real time and offers financial planning resources.
Prepaid cards with online replenishment
Prepaid cards are no longer just for gift-giving.
The Kaiku® Visa® Prepaid Card, like others, allows you to put money on the card via mobile check deposit, bank transfer, or in-person at participating locations (this last option charges a fee).
This is basically the envelope system in the form of a card. At the beginning of the month, get a prepaid card for discretionary purchases like dining out, shopping, and socializing. And since you're not seeing this money in your bank account, you won't be tempted to overspend.
While these tools will help you improve your finances, budgeting is only one part of it. Take a look at your overall financial health to see what else you can improve.