I recently had an opportunity to review the website Mvelopes, which features an online home budgeting system. A few things that I immediately liked were two of the phrases I read on their home page. The first one is “Take back your time” and the second one I included in the title: “Managing your money shouldn’t be a full time job.” I like these phrases because I think one thing preventing a lot of people from even attempting to corral their finances is that they think it will take hours out of their day. It won’t. And secondly, any tool that I can introduce into my life that will save me time is something I am always interested in.
My Preconceived Notions
I went into this my research of the Mvelopes products with the strong belief that no one needs this type of service. I originally thought it would be a waste of time and certainly a waste of money. As a matter of fact, before I started writing this review, I was even kicking myself for offering to review the product in the first place.
I say these things because I guess I’m an old-school type of guy. I was as in debt as deep as anybody I can imagine, and I made it out without the benefit of any online budgeting service. I simply eliminated all my unnecessary spending. No tools, no tracking, no nothing. I just cut it all out.
I Took the Plunge
However, rather than simply dismissing Mvelopes, I thought I would give it a try. So, before I even reviewed the site, I signed up for their free trial. My finances have been in order for several years now, so I really didn’t think this free trial would uncover much of anything at all for me.
The Good Stuff
However, before we get into what, if anything, that I learned, let’s go over the features and benefits of the site. Mvelopes is basically a budgeting service that allows you to consolidate your entire household’s financial picture into one snapshot. This can be pretty complicated if you have a spouse and children who are spending money on all different kinds of things in all different kinds of ways.
Mvelopes is supported by all of the major institutions, so chances are, you’ll have no problem easily entering in and linking up all of your financial information.
Mvelopes states that you can recover 10% of your income by implementing this service. This sounds pretty substantial and I was skeptical at first.
Another claim that they make is that by using their service you are not tied to a single computer or PC; their service is completely mobile. Mvelopes is 100% online, so you can access your information anywhere, anytime. And with Mvelopes Mobile, you can fully access your account from your mobile phone as well.
More Good Stuff
The benefits continue.
The site even offers a Bill Pay service, which I had never heard of before with any online budgeting tool. I could be wrong about this because I am by no means an aficionado of online budgeting sites, but still, this option is fantastic. Not only can you track all of your spending with Mvelopes, but you can pay your bills too. This can save you time and money!
The “set up” was pretty painless. Of course, I did not comprehensively enter in every aspect of my financial picture as I was only doing a trial, but it wasn’t hard at all. And it did not take very long.
They also have a net worth tracking tool which I am sure a lot of people had never previously considered useful. I certainly hadn’t during my time in financial crisis. How does the saying go? “You can’t get to where you want to go if you don’t know where you’re at now.” I’m sure I butchered that a little but I think you get my point. Using the Net Worth Tracker can give you a snapshot of where you’re at now, which will help you effectively set your financial goals and track your progress.
What I Found
So, what did I find during my trial? Before I continue, I hope I am not coming off as better than anybody else when I say that I didn’t think I needed the service. My only point was that I went through all of this heartache many years ago and think I have pretty good control over my finances now.
But boy, did Mvelopes give me a pretty good wakeup call. It seems I have gotten a little complacent in the recent past regarding some portions of my finances. Here are just a few of the things I discovered:
- I found that my little jaunts to the toy store every time my son gets a “whim” are really, really starting to add up. Won’t be doing that so much any more.
- I also realized that there is too much “leftover” money in my checking account at the end of every month that is simply sitting there uninvested. I know this is a great problem to have, but I am leaving money on the table by not coming up with a better solution.
- My cable/internet bill went up by almost $20 and I never even noticed it. Another reason not to set up automatic payments for your utility bills.
To be perfectly honest with you, I am loathe to ever spend money to try to save it. It is simply counter-intuitive to me. But, I think that Mvelopes has some pretty impressive features, and I could see it as being a cost-effective tool depending on where you are at financially. They have three plans available in addition to the free trial offer. You can sign up for three months of service for right around $40, you could do the one year plan for $130, or you could sign up for two years for a price of $190.
I’d recommend choosing one of the options and taking the plunge and give it a shot. If it looks like the service is saving you $50 a month or more, then I’d be all over it. If the savings are less than say $15 per month, then it’s just not worth it and you can end your subscription. However, I have a funny feeling that Mvelopes will uncover significantly more than that if you dedicate yourself to all of their services. Heck, if you just utilize their Bill Pay service, you could save yourself about $6 per month in postage alone!
They do have a blog on Mvelopes which gives some pretty good, wide-reaching financial advice. It looks like they’ve recently increased their postings to about one per week. And all the posts are not your typical, self-serving type ones. They contain advice on a variety of topics.
All in all, I’d say that Mvelopes is a pretty good bet for those in need of this type of service. The only thing I would advise however is to take full advantage of all the services they offer in order to get the most bang for your buck. You might think a specific feature will be useless to you, but I bet you’ll find some value in it if you just give it a shot.
Has anyone out there had a direct experience with Mvelopes? Your comments are appreciated below.